Week-End at the Waldorf
|Week-End at the Waldorf|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Z. Leonard|
|Produced by||Arthur Hornblow, Jr.|
|Written by||Samuel and Bella Spewack
|Based on||Grand Hotel
by Vicki Baum
|Music by||Johnny Green|
|Cinematography||Robert H. Planck|
|Editing by||Robert Kern|
|Running time||130 minutes|
Week-End at the Waldorf is a 1945 American comedy drama film directed by Robert Z. Leonard. The screenplay by Samuel and Bella Spewack is based on Guy Bolton's adaptation of the Vicki Baum novel Grand Hotel, which had been filmed as Grand Hotel in 1932.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2010)|
The film focuses on various guests staying at New York City's famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Among them are lonely screen star Irene Malvern, in town with her maid Anna for a childhood friend's wedding and the premiere of her latest movie; war correspondent Chip Collyer, mistaken for a jewel thief by Irene but playing along to catch her attention; flyer Capt. James Hollis, wounded in World War II and facing perilous surgery in three days; wealthy shyster Martin X. Edley, who is trying to sign the Bey of Aribajan to a shady oil deal; Oliver Webson, a cub reporter for Collier's Weekly hoping to expose Edley; and bride-to-be Cynthia Drew, whose upcoming wedding is endangered by her belief her fiancé Bob is in love with Irene Malvern. Also on the scene are Bunny Smith, the hotel's stenographer/notary public, who hopes to escape her low income roots by marrying Edley, and reporter Randy Morton, who loiters in the lobby hoping to stumble upon a scoop for his newspaper.
In the opening scene, Randy Morton describes a typical Friday afternoon at the Waldorf. A newlywed couple discover there are no rooms available, and are given use of an apartment by a Mr. Jesup, who is going away for the weekend. Edley finds Jesup in the lobby and tries to involve him in a deal with the Bey of Aribajan, a wealthy oil shiek. Jesup refuses, but Edley knows that Jesup will be gone all weekend and has until Monday morning to get the Bey to sign a contract based on Jesup's presumed involvement.
Chip Collyer, a war correspondent, arrives for several days of rest. He had attended a long string of formal dinners and receptions and was going to hide in his apartment until he flew back to Europe on Monday morning. Before the war Collyer had foiled one of Edley's schemes; Edley sees him in the hallway and is sure that Collyer is there to stop the deal with the Bey.
Irene Malvern, a film star, is in town for a friend's wedding and the premiere of her new movie. She is tired of constantly working, and is unhappy that after this weekend she will be taking a four day train ride to California and immediately starting on her next picture.
Edley, Collyer, Malvern, and the Bey of Aribajan are all staying on the 39th Floor of the Waldorf Towers, in large apartments with terraces.
Hotel stenographer Bunny Smith is called to the suite of Dr. Robert Campbell, who has just examined Captain James Hollis, an airman with a piece of shrapnel dangerously close to his heart. Dr. Campbell dictates a letter to a doctor at Walter Reed, saying that Hollis has an even chance at surviving an operation scheduled for the following Tuesday, but he needs the will to live.
Hollis leaves the bedroom of Dr. Campbell's suite directly into the hall, never seeing Bunny Smith. On the way to the elevator he drops sheet music written by a fellow crew member who was killed on the mission that wounded Hollis. A room service waiter delivers it to house band leader Xavier Cugat. Hollis visits Cugat to retrieve it. Hollis tells Cugat that he is taking it to his late friend's mother; Cugat plays the piece and suggests that he perform it on his radio show the following night at the Starlight Roof, the nightclub on the 18th floor of the hotel.
Hollis visits the hotel stenographer's office and asks Bunny to type up his will. They talk, and she realizes that he is the man that Dr. Campbell had written about. He asks her to join him at dinner at the Starlight Roof to hear his friend's song performed.
Chip Collyer is approached by Webson hoping for help on the Edley story. Collyer suggests talking to the Bey of Aribajan regarding the proposed deal, and demonstrates how to sneak into the Bey's apartment by hiding in a maid's cart. Collyer finds himself trapped in the cart when the maid returns, and enters Irene Malvern's apartment to avoid being seen by Edley and his assistant.
Irene Malvern's door was open because she had requested someone from hotel security to take her jewelry to the hotel safe and station a guard outside. Earlier, her maid had admitted becoming involved with a man who intended to steal Irene's jewelry. The maid insisted that he was a good man in a difficult situation, so Irene agreed to meet him and see if this was true. When she discovers Collyer hiding in the room she assumes he is the jewel thief; he tries to deny it. She catches him pocketing a gold table lighter, and he recites a line from Grand Hotel in which the Baron returns the ballerina's jewels. Irene is confused. (Before she learns his name she refers to him as "The Baron".) She takes pity on him and tries to dispel the guard outside, who will not leave because he is also guarding the Bey next door. She allows him to sleep in the living room.
The next morning Malvern slips into the living room unnoticed and looks in Collyer's billfold at his military identification. She confirms that Mr. Collyer is a guest at the hotel and confronts him. He insists, correctly, that it was she who created the misunderstanding and encouraged him to stay. Cynthia Drew, an heiress marrying Dr. Campbell, a childhood friend of Malvern's, comes to Malvern's apartment and tells her that the wedding will be cancelled because she is sure that Malvern still has feelings for her fiancé. Irene is only able to convince Cynthia that this is not true by introducing her "husband," Chip Collyer.
Cynthia tells her mother, and several friends, about the "secret" marriage between the film star and the famous war correspondent. Mrs. Drew tells Randy Morton, the newspaper columnist. Collyer attends the wedding using Webson's invitation as a member of the press, but is seated next to his "wife."
Edley has Bunny come to his apartment to dictate a proposed contract for his deal with the Bey. He tells her that if the deal goes through he will be moving to New York and wants to hire her as his private and social secretary. He tells her to attend dinner at the Starlight Roof with himself, the Bey, and other parties to the deal. While he does not indicate any romantic interest in Bunny, he clearly becomes jealous when she tells him she has a date. He orders her to cancel it or the job offer is withdrawn.
Hollis is seated at a table at the Starlight Roof. He orders an elaborate and expensive dinner before a note is delivered from Bunny, giving her regrets. After a performance by Xavier Cugat ("Guadalajara"), he sees Bunny enter with the Bey's party. Cugat then introduces singer Bob Graham, who performs Hollis' friend's song, "And There You Are."
Bunny excuses herself and goes to Hollis to apologize for having to accept Edley's invitation. They go out to the terrace to talk. Hollis tells her about his hometown of Jasmine, California; she tells him about her unhappy life on Tenth Avenue. She reveals that Edley's job offer is a way out of poverty, and she doesn't have any romantic interest in him. They kiss, and Edley's assistant comes out to tell her that Edley is looking for her.
Irene Malvern and her manager leave the hotel to go to the premiere of her new film. After the premiere, Collyer has let himself into Malvern's room; Morton broke the story in the paper that day and no one doubts that they are married. He presents her with several law books to verify his claim that being introduced as one's spouse creates a common-law marriage (this was more likely to stand up to a legal claim in 1945; today common-law marriages are not recognized in most states).
Malvern's manager speaks to Collyer and persuade him to sign a statement denying the existence of the marriage. His insistence on the phrase "we're not even pals" annoys Malvern and her manager. The manager extols the virtues of being an unmarried person with complete control over one's actions, which causes Malvern, already unhappy with her constant working, to realize that being alone is a miserable existence. Collyer comes to see her and they make up.
Monday morning the various parties prepare to leave the hotel. The main headline on the newspaper is Webson's story about Edley's fraudulent oil deal. Edley rushes to the Bey's apartment as the Bey's luggage is being taken out. Jesup has returned and has spoken to the Bey, clarifying the situation. The Bey is revealed to speak perfect English; he was known to speak Arabic and French, but until this final scene he would only speak to Edley through an English translator.
Bunny Smith races through the hotel lobby trying to find Captain Hollis before he leaves for his surgery in Washington. She finds him just inside the Park Avenue doors of the hotel and says that she wants to come with him, not only to Washington but also to Jasmine. (It is unclear if she knows that the collapse of Edley's deal means that his job offer is withdrawn, but she did still have the position at the Waldorf.)
Irene Malvern is about to take a four-day train ride to California. She receives a call from Chip Collyer, who is at the airport. She surprises her manager by eagerly taking the call, then rushing to the roof to wave a handkerchief at Collyer's passing plane. We last see Collyer lighting a cigarette with Malvern's gold monogrammed lighter.
A minor plot line concerned Randy Morton's pregnant Scottish Terrier, Suzie. During the opening scene he struggles to find a Bide-a-Wee to take her in; in the final scene Morton returns with Suzie and three puppies.
The film was released in early October 1945, a month after the official end of World War II, but there are several references indicating that during the weekend of the story the war is still ongoing. Chip Collyer describes Edley's deal to Webson as being bad because it will become effective "after the war is over," meaning that "Nazi or Jap money" could get Aribajan's oil reserves. Captain Hollis expects that if his surgery is successful he will return to California, but this is due to a medical discharge and not the end of the war.
- Ginger Rogers ..... Irene Malvern
- Walter Pidgeon ..... Chip Collyer
- Van Johnson ..... Capt. James Hollis
- Lana Turner ..... Bunny Smith
- Edward Arnold ..... Martin X. Edley
- Keenan Wynn ..... Oliver Webson
- Robert Benchley ..... Randy Morton
- Leon Ames ..... Henry Burton
- Phyllis Thaxter ..... Cynthia Drew
- Warner Anderson ..... Dr. Bob Campbell
- Rosemary DeCamp ..... Anna
- George Zucco ..... Bey of Aribajan
- Xavier Cugat ..... Himself
The film pays homage to its source by including a scene in which Chip Collyer recreates a scene from the 1930 play based on the Vicki Baum novel, and Irene Malvern identifies it as an excerpt from Grand Hotel.
Waldorf-Astoria management wanted the film shot in color in order to show the hotel at its best advantage, a demand that almost led MGM executives to switch the locale to San Francisco and change the title to Palace in the Sky.
Mrs. Lucius Boomer, wife of the president of the Waldorf-Astoria Corporation, served as a technical advisor on the film, as did Ted Saucier, who handled public relations for the property. Some interiors and exteriors of the hotel were filmed on location, but the lobby, Starlight Roof, guest rooms, and other public spaces were recreated on the backlot of the MGM Studios in Culver City, California.
According to MGM records the film earned $4,364,000 in the US and Canada and $1.8 million elsewhere resulting in a profit of $1,474,000.