Hotel Berlin is a drama film set in Berlin near the close of World War II, made by Warner Bros. in late 1944 to early 1945. Directed by Peter Godfrey, it stars Faye Emerson, Helmut Dantine, Raymond Massey and Andrea King. It is based on the novel Hotel Berlin '43 by Vicki Baum (New York, 1944), a sequel to Menschen im Hotel, which was itself adapted to film as Grand Hotel (1932).
Poster from Hotel Berlin
|Directed by||Peter Godfrey|
|Produced by||Louis F. Edelman|
|Written by||Alvah Bessie|
|Based on||Hotel Berlin|
by Vicki Baum
|Music by||Franz Waxman|
|Cinematography||Carl E. Guthrie|
|Edited by||Frederick Richards|
|Distributed by||Warner Brothers|
The lives of various desperate people intersect at the Hotel Berlin, a hotbed of Nazis, officers, spies and ordinary Germans trying to weather the inevitable defeat. Martin Richter, a leader of the German underground who has escaped from Dachau concentration camp, is hiding there, aided by some of the staff. He is hunted by Joachim Helm, who has his headquarters in the same building. Another hotel guest is Nobel laureate Johannes Koenig, Richter's friend from before the war and in Dachau.
General Arnim von Dahnwitz, the last of the leaders of a plot against Hitler still at large, goes to his friend von Stetten to see if his clique can help him, but is told that nothing can be done. He has at best 24 hours to shoot himself and save the Nazi regime the embarrassment of publicly dealing with him. At the hotel, von Dahnwitz encounters Lisa Dorn, his lover and a famous actress. He asks Dorn to marry him and flee with him to Sweden, but she is aware his situation is hopeless and declines. Later, von Dahnwitz commits suicide.
Meanwhile, von Stetten is arranging for the escape of his group to South America, where they hope to secretly rebuild their strength for another grab at power. He invites Koenig to join them (to provide a cover for their activities).
Hotel "hostess" (and informant) Tillie Weiler warmly greets Major Kauders, a pilot determined to make the fullest use of a short leave. They quarrel and part when he finds her photograph of a man who he thinks looks Jewish. Later, Sarah Baruch comes to her and begs her help in getting medicine for her husband, dying of cancer. The older woman also reveals that her son Max, Tillie's former employer and love, is alive, having been liberated from a labor camp by the Allies. When they take shelter from an air raid in the basement, Sarah is recognized by Hermann Plotke, who orders her to put on the Star of David badge required of all Jews. This is too much for Tillie, who reveals to all that Plotke used to work in the Bauers' department store, until he was caught stealing. Max gave him another chance, only to have Plotke appropriate the business when the Nazis came to power. Plotke orders her arrest, but is himself taken into custody for stealing from the government.
Richter is given a waiter's uniform and sent to serve Dorn dinner in her suite. When she becomes suspicious, he is forced to reveal his identity. She offers to assist him in exchange for her own passage out of Germany. Later, however, Tillie snoops in Dorn's suite (envious of her extensive wardrobe) and finds a suspicious discarded waiter's jacket, which she reports to Helm. Helm captures Richter by himself, but Richter is able to disarm him and knock him out. He throws Helm down the shaft of a disabled elevator. Though the hotel is surrounded, Dorn persuades admirer Major Kauders to escort a seemingly drunk Richter (now in an SS uniform) through the cordon. When Richter sends word where to meet him, however, she betrays him. She is suspected, and her phone call to von Stettin is overheard. As a result, she is taken prisoner to the underground headquarters. Despite her desperate attempts to justify herself, Richter shoots her.
- Faye Emerson as Tillie Weiler
- Helmut Dantine as Martin Richter
- Raymond Massey as Arnim von Dahnwitz
- Andrea King as Lisa Dorn
- Peter Lorre as Johannes Koenig
- Alan Hale as Hermann Plottke
- George Coulouris as Joachim Helm
- Henry Daniell as Von Stetten
- Peter Whitney as Heinrichs
- Helene Thimig as Sarah Baruch
- Steven Geray as Kleibert, the hotel manager
- Kurt Kreuger as Major Kauders
- Erwin Kalser as Dr. Dorf, the hotel physician
Elliott Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, married Faye Emerson during filming. According to Robert Osborne, this resulted in Emerson receiving top billing, switching places with King.
It was in production between 15 November 1944 and 15 January 1945
Warner Bros. rushed the release of the picture to coincide with the Russian and Allied drives on Berlin. The story was updated to include late war events during the spring of 1945.
It is available on dvd of Warner Brothers Archive Collection.