The V.I.P.s (film)

The V.I.P.s (also known as Hotel International) is a 1963 British drama film in Metrocolor and Panavision. 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.

The V.I.P.s
Original film poster
Directed byAnthony Asquith
Produced byAnatole de Grunwald
Written byTerence Rattigan
StarringRichard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor
Louis Jourdan
Maggie Smith
Orson Welles
Rod Taylor
Elsa Martinelli
Margaret Rutherford
Music byMiklós Rózsa
CinematographyJack Hildyard
Edited byFrank Clarke (editor)
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
13 September 1963 (United States)[1]
Running time
119 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$4 million[2]
Box office$15,000,000[3]

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 3 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 (Elizabeth Taylor) trying to leave her husband, millionaire Paul Andros (Richard Burton), and fly away with her suitor Marc Champselle (Louis Jourdan). Because of the fog, Andros has the opportunity to come to the airport to persuade his wife not to leave him.

Film producer Max Buda (Orson Welles) needs to leave London, taking his newest protégée Gloria Gritti (Elsa Martinelli) with him, by midnight if he is to avoid paying a hefty tax bill. The Duchess of Brighton (Margaret Rutherford), meanwhile, is on her way to Florida to take a job, which will pay her enough money to save her historic home.

Les Mangrum (Rod Taylor), an Australian businessman, must get to New York City to prevent his business from being sold. His dutiful secretary, Miss Mead (Maggie Smith), is secretly in love with him. It being a matter of great urgency, she decides to approach Andros and ask him to advance a sum of money that 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.[4]


Asquith intended for Sophia Loren to play Taylor'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.[5]

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.[6] Stringer Davis, Rutherford's husband, appears in a tiny role as 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.


The film was shot entirely at MGM-British Studios, Borehamwood, Herts., with a few establishing shots filmed at what was then known as London Airport, later Heathrow. The terminal set was one of the largest ever constructed in the UK.


Box office

Critical reaction to the film was mixed. It nevertheless did extremely well at the box office, helped by the enormous publicity attached to Burton and Taylor's soon to be released epic film Cleopatra (1963).

The film grossed $15,000,000 domestically,[3] earning $7.5 million in US theatrical rentals[7] on a budget of $4 million. It was one of the 12 most popular films in Britain in 1963[8] and the 10th highest grossing in the United States. It had admissions of 765,804 in France.[9]


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised The V.I.P.s as "a lively, engrossing romantic film cut to the always serviceable pattern of the old multi-character 'Grand Hotel,' and some of the other people in it are even more exciting than the top two stars. Louis Jordan, for instance."[10] Variety called the film "a smooth a cunning brew with most of the ingredients demanded of popular screen entertainment. It has suspense, conflict, romance, comedy and drama ... Its main fault is that some of the characters and by-plots are not developed enough though they and their problems are interesting enough to warrant separate pix. But that is a risk inevitable in any film in which a number of strangers are flung together, each with problems and linked by single circumstance."[11] Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "They can say it's in the tradition of MGM's 'Grand Hotel' and 'Dinner at Eight' all they want; to me it's a grounded 'High and Mighty.' And I do mean grounded—not only at London airport, but in the writing, directing, and some of the acting as well."[1] Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post called it "very good fun—sleek, adroit and enjoyable."[12] The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "The V.I.P.s is a pretty little cinematic souffle that melts in the mind, but its flavour is spicy and sweet."[13]

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".[14]


The theme music was used as the intro to the Flemish children's TV series Johan en de Alverman.[15]

See also


  1. Scheuer, Philip K. (September 13, 1963). "VIPs Liz, Burton Grounded by Film". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 11.
  2. Vagg 2010, p. 97.
  3. Box Office Information for The V.I.P.s The Numbers. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  4. Ryall 2005, p. 149.
  5. Steverson 1992, p. 135.
  6. Vagg 2010, p. 94.
  7. "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39. Please note this figure is rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
  8. "Most Popular Films of 1963." Times [London, England] 3 January 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
  9. French box office for 1963 at Box Office Story
  10. Crowther, Bosley (September 20, 1963). "Screen: 'The V.I.P.s' at Music Hall". The New York Times. 28.
  11. "Film Reviews: The V.I.P.s". Variety. August 14, 1963. 6.
  12. Coe, Richard L. (September 27, 1963). "Will Wonders Ever Cease?" The Washington Post. B9.
  13. "The V.I.P.s". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 30 (357): 144. October 1963.
  14. Ryall 2005, p. 21.
  15. "Johan en de Alverman (1966-1967) | Complete series | Waar keek jij vroeger naar?". 28 April 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
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