Moving Pictures/Stopping Places: Hotels and Motels on Film
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Mobility has long been a defining feature of modern societies, yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the various 'stopping places'_hotels, motels, and the like_that this mobility presupposes. If the paradoxical qualities of fixed places dedicated to facilitating movement have been overlooked by a variety of commentators, film-makers have shown remarkable prescience and consistency in engaging with these 'still points' around which the world is made to turn. Hotels and motels play a central role in a multitude of films, ranging across an immensely wide variety of genres, eras, and national cinemas. Whereas previous film theorists have focused on the movement implied by road movies and similar genres, the outstanding contributions to this volume extend the recent engagement with space and place in film studies, providing a series of fascinating explorations of the cultural significance of stopping places, both on screen and off. Ranging from the mythical elegance of the Grand Hotel, through the uncanny spaces of the Bates motel, to Korean 'love motels,' the wealth of insights, from a variety of theoretical perspectives, that this volume delivers is set to change our understanding of the role played by stopping places in an increasingly fluid world.
formation of a popular culture in Weimar Germany. The mobilization of the cinematic hôtel de luxe during the late 1920s and 1930s occurred within an emergent regime of travel, tourism, and transport as popular activity and culture, within commercial and state efforts to represent tourism as ‘national-popular’ practice, and within ways that the international paths/networks of travel, communication, and culture both bolstered and problematized national-popular designs and constructions of the
voyeuristic30 anymore than the one of the man standing at the bar of the Folies-Bergère, but rather far more caught up in the movements of travel and the transports of masquerade. The voyageur at the filmic reception desk is a traveler through space, but he or she is often also someone who passes. Just as the barmaid in Manet’s painting is, in Clark’s words, “detached” by her failure to appear in the mirror (1984: 254), reception-desk sequences in war-decade films have a remarkable way of
finding proof that his wife conspired to kill him and that, furthermore, his wife’s lover was charged with the task. Things become especially complicated when the hero is charged with killing the boyfriend. As is often the case in film noir, everything about the moral structure of the narrative encourages us to cheer when the murderous boyfriend perishes by his own fault. We cheer again when the naively trusting husband survives to fall in love with a war widow whose service station needs a real
inherited by its survivors. But it is nevertheless peculiarly optimistic about the world that it produces as a replacement: this broken hotel with the USO dance girl and a wheel-chair bound man who offer roots to the hero.68 Their eagerness to have the veteran “regard [them] as [his] family” seems not only too convenient but immensely trusting. It is as if none of them has ever seen a film noir. At the film’s end, as at its beginning, they seem not to have a clue what can happen when you take up
Sturges, 1941) To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942) This Gun for Hire (Frank Tuttle, 1942) Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943) *Journey Into Fear (Norman Foster with Orson Welles, 1943) *Five Graves to Cairo (Billy Wilder, 1943) *Since You Went Away (John Cromwell, 1944) Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra, 1944) To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks, 1944) I’ll Be Seeing You (William Dieterle, 1944) *Without Love (Harold S. Bucquet, 1945) *Weekend at the Waldorf (Robert Leonard, 1945)