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ROD TAYLOR IN 'HOTEL' WITH KEVIN MCCARTHY & RICHARD CONTE

Catherine Spaak and Kevin McCarthy in HOTEL Year: 1967 Rating: ****

The 1967 film HOTEL occurs at a strange and contradictory crossroads for women: While Catherine Spaak plays the typical young and complacent, older rich man's trophy girlfriend, she can't stand him — and even tells him so. That being Kevin McCarthy, whose Curtis O'Keefe represents two things Hollywood despises: He's supposedly a Christian, leading a bizarre prayer ritual that sounds as if God were his own personal accountant; and he's a corporate raider who's actually pretty sharp, knowledgeable and experienced: Yet we're not supposed to appreciate (or even notice) these things because no one in the movie does...

As a phony-polite, sophisticated villain, McCarthy plays the kind of boss even his closest, well-paid employees roll their eyes at. And yet he's the most interesting character — especially when opening-up to Spaak's Jeanne about how he was once young, broke, and denied a job as assistant desk clerk at the St. Gregory i.e. our titular HOTEL...

Rod Taylor and Kevin McCarthy in HOTEL

From that story alone we learn more about McCarthy's character and motivation than the handsome, square-jawed Rod Taylor who, as the hotel manager, is more about the present time — always thinking and moving ahead: His Peter McDermott is owner Melvin Douglas's right and left hand man: as well as heart, soul, brain, and moral conscience...

And in the role, Taylor is his usual capable, strong silent type who seems like he knows almost everything — and can eventually figure out what he doesn't. Taking interest in the gorgeous French girl from the onset, it's intentionally predictable they'd eventually hook up...

Jessica Rabbit body-model Vikki Dougan in HOTEL

But there are more important stories tucked away in other rooms: Like an elegant yet paranoid and/or guilt-ridden Countess and Count played by well-dressed beauties Merle Oberon and Michael Rennie, covering up for a lethal drunk driving car accident with the help of slick and slimy Richard Conte as the hotel's crooked house detective...

Meanwhile, the most fun's had with Karl Malden as a roving, room-to-room thief, who even overacts when just his eyes are shown. He'll do anything to snake other people's money, and at one point teams up with a neighboring strip joint's b-girl for a random cash-in-pocket heist (former 1950's backless dress model/starlet Vikki Dougan, who inspired the iconic cartoon sexpot "Jessica Rabbit" from the neck down)...

Rod Taylor and Kevin McCarthy in HOTEL

While it seems that actor turned director Richard Quine's pleasurable, addictive, New Orleans-jazz blaring HOTEL is the kind of all-star ensemble that'd saturate the following decade's Irwin Allen pictures, or Agatha Christie adaptations, these actors and actresses were, at the time, more distinguished than relevant except for Taylor, the star of two already established (and at that time, semi-recent) classics, THE TIME MACHINE and THE BIRDS...

He walks around with a sharp eye — figuring how to thwart McCarthy's plans to morph the turn-of-the-century hotel into a proverbial shopping mall — all the while making side-deals, trying to keep his boss modern, and avoiding a local-media scandal...

Richard Conte in HOTEL

So when not wasting time with the glorified French harlot, who is downright gorgeous with a good-enough screen presence for her otherwise robotic delivery to not really matter, Taylor juggles various problems in a suave, smooth manner...

And, thankfully, the political/racial elements aren't dated or preachy, connected tightly within a story-line that rarely strays from providing a cozy two-hours of pleasurable, top rate, four-star entertainment.

More impressive than the Hotel is Rod Taylor's f-pad where he beds the glorified Frog Whore in HOTEL
Rod Taylor and Merle Oberon in HOTEL
Karl MaldenVikki Dougan in HOTEL
Debbie Dean and Adele Claire as 2nd and 1st Hooker in HOTEL (1967

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