Based on a Hungarian play by Lajos Biro, Hotel Imperial stars Pola Negri as a chambermaid in a small Gallacian hotel. When World War I erupts, the town in which Pola lives is alternately occupied by both the Russians and the Austrians. As the film's various intrigues play themselves out, we learn that Pola is actually an aristocrat, posing as a maid to find her sister's murderer, which she does with the help of handsome Austrian officer James Hall. Hotel Imperial represented the last directorial effort of Mauritz Stiller, who returned to Sweden after being rejected by the love of his life, Greta Garbo. This, coupled with the death of Pola Negri's ex-lover Rudolph Valentino during production of Hotel Imperial, earned the film a reputation as a "jinx." The curse evidently carried over to the 1939 talkie version, which had an even more benighted production history.
by Hal Erickson synopsis