original film poster
|Directed by||Anthony Asquith|
|Produced by||Anatole de Grunwald|
|Written by||Terence Rattigan|
|Music by||Miklós Rózsa|
|Release dates||19 September 1963 (United States)|
|Running time||119 minutes|
The V.I.P.s, also known as Hotel International, is a 1963 British drama film. It was directed by Anthony Asquith, produced by Anatole de Grunwald and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film was written by Terence Rattigan, with a music score by Miklós Rózsa.
It has an all-star cast including Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Louis Jourdan, Elsa Martinelli, Maggie Smith, Rod Taylor, Orson Welles and Margaret Rutherford, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture.
The film is set within Terminal 2 of London Heathrow Airport during a fog. As flights are delayed, the VIPs (very important people) of the title play out the drama of their lives in a number of slightly interconnected stories. The delays have caused serious hardship for most of the characters and have plunged some of them into a deep personal or financial crisis.
The central story concerns famed actress Frances Andros trying to leave her husband, millionaire Paul Andros, and fly away with her lover Marc Champselle. Because of the fog, Andros has the opportunity to come to the airport to convince his wife not to leave him.
Film producer Max Buda needs to leave London, taking his newest protégée Gloria Gritti with him, by midnight if he is to avoid paying a hefty tax bill. The Duchess of Brighton, meanwhile, is on her way to Florida to take a job which will pay her enough money to save her historic home.
Les Mangrum, an Australian businessman, must get to New York City to prevent his business from being sold. His dutiful secretary, Miss Mead, is secretly in love with him. It being a matter of great urgency, she decides to approach Andros and ask him to advance the money which will save Mangrum's company.
Buda spots a poster picturing the Duchess's home. She is offered a sum of money if she will permit Buda to use it as a location in a film, enough to keep the house she loves. Andros, meanwhile, about to lose the woman he loves, is spared a possible suicide at the last minute when he and his wife reconcile.
According to Rattigan, the film is based on the true story of actress Vivien Leigh's attempt to leave her husband, actor Laurence Olivier, and fly off with her lover, the actor Peter Finch, only to be delayed by a fog at Heathrow.
Asquith chose Sophia Loren for Andros's role, remembering the box-office success of the romantic comedy film The Millionairess (1960) he did with Loren in the main role. However, Taylor, scared by the appeal Loren had for Burton, persuaded Asquith to hire her instead; "Let Sophia stay in Rome", she told him.
This was the first time Australian actor Rod Taylor had ever played an Australian character on film. Terence Rattigan allowed him to Australian-ise some of the dialogue. Stringer Davis, Rutherford's husband, appears in a tiny role as Mr. Stringer, a sympathetic hotel waiter in a scene with her. Raymond Austin, a stuntman and a friend of Burton's, appears in the film as Andros's driver. Television personality David Frost portrays a reporter interviewing the VIPs at the airport.
Critical reaction to the film was generally poor. It nevertheless did extremely well at the box office, helped by the enormous publicity attached to Burton's and Taylor's previous release, the dramatic epic film Cleopatra (1963). The movie grossed $15,000,000 domestically, earning $7.5 million in US theatrical rentals on a budget of $4 million. It was one of the 12 most popular movies in Britain in 1963 and the 10th highest grossing in the United States.
The team of Asquith, De Grunwald and Rattigan later produced another portmanteau film, the dramatic composite film The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964). Robert Murphy disapproved of both films, remarking that "Asquith spent his last years making increasingly banal prestige productions like The V.I.P.s and The Yellow Rolls-Royce ".
- Vagg 2010, p. 97.
- Box Office Information for The V.I.P.s The Numbers. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Ryall 2005, p. 149.
- Steverson 1992, p. 135.
- Vagg 2010, p. 94.
- "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39. Please note this figure is rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
- "Most Popular Films of 1963." Times [London, England] 3 January 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- Ryall 2005, p. 21.
- Ryall, Tom (2005). Anthony Asquith. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-6452-4.
- Steverson, Tyrone (30 July 1992). Richard Burton: a bio-bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-27650-7.
- Vagg, Stephen (2010). Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood. BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-511-5.