Hotel Reserve (1944) starring James Mason, Lucie Mannheim, Raymond Lovell, Julien Mitchell, Herbert Lom, Martin Miller directed by Lance Comfort, Mutz Greenbaum, Victor Hanbury Movie Review

Hotel Reserve (1944)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Clare Hamilton and James Mason in Hotel Reserve (1944)

Hotel in Need of Hitchcock

It says something about how great Alfred Hitchcock was that you watch a film and wonder what he would have made of it. It is that thought which kept coming into my head whilst watching "Hotel Reserve" because it is a Hitchcock style thriller except one directed by a trio of directors Lance Comfort, Mutz Greenbaum and Victor Hanbury. But unfortunately whilst the trio of directors do a good job, they create atmosphere and deliver moments of style it just doesn't quite come together and in the end you end up watching "Hotel Reserve" less for the storyline but for James Mason's performance as an innocent man trying to discover which guest at a hotel is a spy.

Whilst on holidaying in the south of France, medical student Peter Vadassy (James Mason - North Sea Hijack) finds himself arrested on suspicion of espionage. But he learns that the police know he isn't a spy but know that one of the other guests at the hotel is and they want Peter to flush the spy out. Forced with the threat of being deported back to Austria if he doesn't help Peter finds working out who the spy is not simple but also dangerous.

Herbert Lom as Andre Roux in Hotel Reserve (1944)

I mentioned Hitchcock earlier and the reason being is that the storyline feels like something he would have had great fun working with. We have this hotel with a diverse collection of guests, from gossipy Major's to pretty women, secretive German's and an eccentric fishermen but more importantly there is Peter Vadassy who finds himself at the centre of an espionage investigation. Now the storyline is simple, the local police who are aware that one of the guests is a spy use Peter to try and flush them out, forcing him to help or else being forced to return to Austria. And so after his initial meeting with the police we watch Peter return to the hotel and try and wheedle out who the real spy is.

But the thing about "Hotel Reserve" is that whilst the storyline is solid and delivers a pleasant twist during the final third the actual direction lets it down a bit. With three directors there are times where it just doesn't flow going from some rather ordinary looking scenes to ones which explore different camera angles. It almost feels like someone thought that the combination of skills from Comfort, Greenbaum and Hanbury would make one Hitchcock but unfortunately they don't and you lose the flow. Fortunately what you don't lose is the atmosphere and we get the right balance of jokey with tension especially when Peter feels like time is running out for him to flush out the real spy before being deported back to Austria.

Because the style sometimes jars there are numerous moments when you expect things go a miss but thankfully at the centre of this movie is James Mason as Peter. Now alongside Mason there are such stars as Herbert Lom and Patricia Medina but it is on Mason's shoulders that the movie rests and he carries it nicely. Early on you have the jokey side to his character, the almost cocky educated element who knows his rights yet you watch as he becomes increasingly panicky the less time he has left to flush out the spy. Talking of which well I won't name names but in one directional mistake they make it very obvious who the spy is early on and the actor does a typically good job of playing a dangerous character.

What this all boils down to is that if you like Hitchcock style thrillers than "Hotel Reserve" will be right up your street. It does lack the consistent flow of a Hitchcock thriller but the story is good and the performance of James Mason makes it well worth a watch.