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Week-End at the Waldorf

Week-End at the Waldorf(1945)


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Some contemporary sources list this film as WeekEnd at the Waldorf. The film is a remake of the 1932 M-G-M film Grand Hotel, directed by Edmund Goulding and starring Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.1697). According to a March 1932 New York Times article, Vicki Baum based her novel and play Menschen im Hotel, the source of Grand Hotel, on a true story about a scandal at a hotel involving a stenographer and an industrial magnate, and on her own experiences working as a chambermaid at two well-known Berlin hotels. In addition to Week-End at the Waldorf's change in locale from Berlin to New York, the ballerina character "Irene Malvern," played by Garbo in Grand Hotel became movie star "Irene Malvern," played by Ginger Rogers in the latter film. In one scene of the 1945 film, actor Walter Pidgeon mimics a scene between the ballerina Irene and the jewel thief played by John Barrymore in the earlier film.
       A November 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that writer Erik Charell was involved with producer Arthur Hornblow, Jr., in the early preparations of Week-End at the Waldorf, but his contribution to the released film has not been determined. An October 1944 New York Times article notes that M-G-M almost changed the locale of the $2,000,000 Week-End at the Waldorf to San Francisco and the title to Palace in the Sky following some legal disputes between the studio and the Waldorf-Astoria management. One dispute involved whether the picture should be filmed in color or black-and-white. The hotel management, according to the article, argued that black-and-white photography would not do the hotel justice. Modern sources indicate that the Waldorf-Astoria did not charge M-G-M for the use of its name.
       According to an April 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item, Judy Garland was originally considered for a starring role. An October 1944 New York Times article lists Signe Hasso in the cast, but she did not appear in the final film. Although Constance Collier is listed in the CBCS and appears in a still photograph from the film with Rafaelo Ottiano, neither actress is in the released film. Ludmilla Pitoeff is also listed in the CBCS, but did not appear in the released film. An undated memorandum contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library notes, without explanation, that Collier and Pitoeff were "not in the picture anymore." Hollywood Reporter production charts list Connie Gilchrist in the cast, and Hollywood Reporter news items include May McAvoy, Jean Acker and Cleo Mayfield and dancers Gloria Arden, Frances Taylor, Mitzi Uehlein, Stephani Stephens, Nancy Hale, Dianne Meredith, The Garcias and Joyce Janis in the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.        Mrs. Lucius Boomer, who served as a technical advisor, was the wife of the president of the Waldorf-Astoria Corp. Ted Saucier, another technical advisor on the film, was the public relations man for the hotel. Various Hollywood Reporter news items suggest that although some interiors and exteriors of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel were filmed on location in New York, the majority of filming took place at the M-G-M studios, where replicas of the hotel's Starlight roof garden, lobby and about sixty other sets were constructed.
       The 1959 German film Menshen im Hotel was directed by Gottfried Reinhardt and starred O. W. Fischer and Michele Morgan. On November 12, 1989, a musical version of the story, Grand Hotel, opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York. The musical, which was adapted and choreographed by Tommy Tune, starred Liliane Montevecchi and Karen Akers.