In this drama, a vengeful woman searches for the man she blames for her sister's suicide. To get at him, the woman masquerades as a mousy maid in the tiny hotel where he stays. The story is set in Gallacia during WW I and while she enacts her plan, the Russians and Austrians take over the town. This does not stop her from getting revenge. This is a remake of a 1927 film of the same title. In Hollywood it has the legend of being a cursed production in that it suffered endless production problems and major changes in cast and crew. Originally Marlene Dietrich was to play the title role, but she and director Henry Hathaway were constantly at loggerheads. With the help of Paramount head Arthur Lubitsch, she got Hathaway to rewrite the script with Grover Jones. The new story was called I Loved a Soldier and things resumed. Unfortunately, Lubitsch had been fired and Dietrich, still miserable, abruptly quit, costing Paramount, a fortune. All production ceased, but later they resurrected the original script and tried again to make the film with Margaret Sullavan. Unfortunately, Sullavan and a co-star were horsing around one day on the set and she ended up with a broken arm. The studio heads demanded she perform the role in a sling. This was too much for Hathaway who immediately quit. Soon after, Dietrich returned with her long-time director Josef von Sternberg and said she was now willing to make Hotel Imperial. The studio heads refused and eventually the lead was given to Italian actress Isa Mira. A major sex symbol in Italy, she made this her U.S. debut. Unfortunately, she spoke little English and was forced to recite her lines phonetically. Meanwhile her co-star Ray Milland nearly died during a scene in which he had to lead a cavalry charge. During the run, he was thrown off his horse and tossed head first into a brick pile. Fortunately he only suffered a concussion. Later Hotel Imperial was remade as Five Graves to Cairo Sometimes, as in this case, the history behind the film is more interesting than the film itself, no?
by Sandra Brennan synopsis