starring Pola Negri and James Hall
April, 1927

"Hotel Imperial" simmers and sputters a good deal without ever coming to an honest boil, but it gives Pola Negri opportunity for an arresting performance in a role that promises to be unusual but really is not far removed from routine. It is that of Anna Sedlak, chambermaid in a hotel -- the Imperial -- in Galacia. The time is 1915, so it deals with the war, but instead of presenting our late allies the Russians in their usual heroic guise, they are villains of deepest dye, and the Austrians, once hated, are made heroes. Not that it matters if a good story hangs in the balance, but times have certainly changed since the Liberty Loans -- if you remember them.

Anna is a bona-fide servant, not a grand duchess in disguise, and is in love with Paul Almasy who, disguised in the dress suit of a waiter, serves tea to the Russian General Juschkiewitsch in order to learn his secrets. The General meanwhile has cast an amorous eye on Anna and decks her in fine feathers that she may further please the eye. Most of the action is given over to Paul's maneuvers to get the plans and Anna's simultaneous efforts to checkmate the General while seeming to encourage him, and the ending is a happy one.

There are many interesting shots, and on the whole the camera work is excellent, but it seems to me that neither Miss Negri nor James Hall as Paul achieve convincing characterizations. Miss Negri, with a shawl over her head, is still Miss Negri, and Mr. Hall is a leading man in evening clothes, but with a black waistcoat instead of a white one. Surely he could never have passed as a waiter before the suspicious eyes of enemy Russians. But he does.

starring Pola Negri and James Hall
January, 1927

Eric Pommer, that intrepid German producer, has made, thru the excellent direction of Mauritz Stiller, a very great picture. It accomplishes almost to perfection those photographic effects which directors have been striving for. And so simply and directly that one is unconscious of the freakishness of he camera work in one's absorption in the dramatic unfolding of the plot, with its rapid suspense-building. Pola Negri does her best work since coming to America. James Hall has charm and should shoot straight into the star class on the release of this picture. Every character lives thru the story, and the types are perfectly chosen. It is a smooth, eloquent tale told in an entirely new language -- a thrilling language of pictures. It tells of the courage and cleverness of an Austrian peasant girl who in a hotbed of Russians, saves the life of a young Austrian officer and helps him to glory. Tho one is ever conscious that it is essentially a war story, and the menace of war times is constantly present, there are practically no actual battle pictures. It is almost altogether a story of he reaction of individuals to war. Don't miss this great picture.

Video source: Facets

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