Synopsis by Mark Deming
Vicki Baum, the author of the novel Grand Hotel, also wrote this similarly structured tale about a group of disparate characters brought together in a towering hotel in Germany as the nation teeters on the verge of collapse near the end of World War II. Martin Richter (Helmut Dantine), a member of Germany's anti-Nazi underground, has escaped from a prison camp and is now on the run from the Gestapo; he's hiding out at the Hotel Berlin, once a palace of luxury but now a shadow of it's former glory. Martin used to work with Johannes Koenig (Peter Lorre), once a renowned scientist before he was forced to use his gifts for his Nazi captors; he now lives under an assumed name and scrapes by as a waiter rather than support the Axis war machine. Arnim Von Dahnwitz (Raymond Massey) is a disgraced Nazi general on the outs with Gestapo leader Joachim Helm (George Coulouris), who has a lot on his mind -- he's looking for Martin, he's riding herd over Arnim, and he has designs on Arnim's mistress, Lisa Dorn (Andrea King). Lisa, a stage actress of some success, is one of the few at the hotel who is able to live in some semblance of the glamour of Berlin's glory days; her wardrobe makes her the envy of Tillie Weiller (Faye Emerson), the hotel's concierge who pretends to be everyone's friend but is actually keeping tabs on the anti-Nazi activities of her tenants and is preparing to turn them in to the Gestapo. Hotel Berlin was completed in great haste, since midway through production it became obvious that Berlin would soon fall and the war in Europe would be over. Warner Bros. was so eager to get the film into theaters -- before the war's end would make the film seem dated -- that Hotel Berlin went through the studio's editing department in less than a week.
actor, conflict, courage, devotion [dedication], disguise, double-cross, elevator, escape, fear, fugitive, Germany, Gestapo, help, hidden, host, hotel, identity, informer, leader, lodge, motel, Nazism, panic, refugee, regime, Reich, resistance, scheme, scientist, secret-identity, secrets, suspect, Third-Reich, treachery, treason, underground [counterculture], violence, waiter, war, king