We see a hand hanging WESSEX HOTEL signs with matching pushpins inside of a decorative case
with a red velvet background. The sign is hung and with one final swipe of the palm, the signs are now perfect.
As the camera pans back, the case is being closed and we reveal the signs were hung by the lovely concierge of
the Wessex, Judith Teller. It is likely she hung the middle sign first, perfectly center, and then worked
counterclockwise, starting from the bottom left. She is probably used to hanging signs such as these, and does
it with a flair and a certain gusto prevelent of her personality.
|On Closer Inspection...:|
|The signs inside of the case read, in order from top left:|
|It is interesting to note, as these scenes were filmed in the infamous,
yet now demolished, Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, that all of these locations, The Pub, Embassy Room,
Garden Cafe, Regency Room and Front Room, were all real locations within the hotel, and they were all located
on the hotel's first floor, all within general proximity of one another. For example, we will see, as the
camera pans back, that the sign is directly adjacent (it's on the left) to the Regency Room. (The word REGENCY
is written above the door, in the same 4" tall gold letters used to spell REGISTRATION above the check-in desk.)
Coming from the entrance, the room is just to the right of the Registration Desk.
The Garden Cafe is in the middle or back of the hotel, and is where Elaine and Alan have been meeting for
breakfast. The Embassy Room, located in rear of the hotel, is almost directly behind the checkout desk, and
whose kitchen area was more than likely used to film later scenes was also the location in the which the history
changing, real-life murder of Robert (Bobby) Kennedy took place. The Front Room is more than likely the one at
the far left of the entrance, and is to be renamed the Venetian Room. We will see in the movie later that the
Venetian Room is set to open June 11. The Front Room might have also been referring to either the Palm Room,
Rose Room or Colonial Room, also on the first floor.|
Judith: No, I was a flight attendent. They put us up
night and I just fell in love with the place. I was tired of
flying anyway, so I applied for the
Elaine: I'm kind of tired of living out of a suitcase myself.
It is here that Elaine confirms that she is finally getting tired of all of the years spent flying and visiting
resort destinations, carefully seeking information relative to writing award-winning articles that would make
readers yearn to visit the same location. Maybe it is time for Elaine to think about settling down and
doing something different with her life. After all is said and done, that's probably exactly what she intends on
Judith: Well for the next couple of days you can just relax.
By the way, how do you work?
Elaine: If it's alright, I like to just wander around and kind of
discover things. If there's anything I miss you can feel me
|How will Judith know what Elaine has and hasn't seen? And if Elaine has
not yet found it, how will she ever know she missed it? And will Judith really tell Elaine all of the
secrets within the hotel...?|
Judith: Sure, whatever you want, hotel's all yours...
|Changing Future History:|
|Judith should have never, ever, have told Elaine the hotel was all hers.
We've already established Elaine's quizzical and curious nature, and so as thus, Elaine will go out of her
way to discover everything she can about her new "home". This information will come very much in handy when
it comes to writing her article. She may, however, find out more about the hotel that she should have been
Elaine watches Judith intently, hoping for approval. Now that she has received it, she is happy as can be. She
and Judith both turn, smiling. Elaine seems to be smiling wider than Judith, and for good reason. Finding out
everything she can about the location is valuable in helping to write her article...
|On Closer Inspection...:|
|It is here where we can see the word REGENCY printed above the door to the
right of the display board Judith was hanging signs in. It is in the center of the ornate split pediment.|
As the camera pans back, it follows Elaine and Judith as they lead off screen to the right. As it is panning, the
camera's focus stops at it's attention gazes upon a glass-beaded ceiling light. The camera zooms in, fixating on
the ornate ceiling light.
|If the camera hadn't of stopped panning to focus in on the ceiling light, and
had continued panning straight down the hallway, we would have been able to see the entrance to the former world
famous "Cocoanut Grove", an entertainment paradise built into the, unfortunately, now demolised Ambassador
Hotel. We will see a glimpse of it later, however.|
|Note the ominous music that plays during the scene transition. This is
representative of the ominousness that is to follow.|
|Foreshadowing the Future:|
|Focusing on the ceiling light is a very important plot element. Not just in
relating to what we've already talked about, with the meaning of the usage of light and dark elements and their
relation to lonliness, but also because of another, more interesting reason. The hotel, built in 1898, goes along
perfectly with Californian history, as gas lights were introduced in Los Angeles, in 1867. By 1898, gas lights
would be standard in all newly built buildings. The first electric lights appeared in LA in 1882, although
electric didn't begin to become standard in replacing gas lights until several years later. Therefore, the hotel
would have used gas lighting on all floors within the hotel. Because the flame from the light must go up, they
were used primarily in wall sconces, when the height of the ceiling off of the floor was only 10 feet. A gas-lit
ceiling light was harder to achieve, as that kind of "technology" (reminiscent of earlier, candlelight-driven
chandeliers) required the room to possess a higher ceiling, so that the fire used for lighting within
the chandelier would be high enough to be out of reach of patrons and low enough to not catch the ceiling on
fire. The ceiling height on the first floor of the hotel is much higher than subsequent floors. Therefore, while
the ceilings on the first floor would have been able to contain "middle-of-the-run" gas, ceiling lights, higher
floors, with their mere 10 foot ceilings, would end up lacking overhead lighting, and only rely on the wall
sconces to provide lighting throughout the floor. This lead to a rather ominous experience, as these floors
wouldn't receive ceiling lighting until electric lighting was added to the hotel when it recieved a complete
rennovation in 1901, in an effort to revamp thier look and to change patron's perceptions of the hotel acquiesced
through an earlier, history changing event... We will see later, that the "hidden" 13th floor, anachronistically,
still uses the original gas lights, and appears untouched by history. It proves the theory of the hotel
originally lacking ceiling lights on patron floors and adds to the general idea of the quintessential need for
overhead lighting to help achieve a lighter and brighter, most visitor-friendly ambiance. It was a must, and the
camera's concentration on the light helps reveal the struggle the hotel went through to keep up with modern
Elaine - Elaine is an Old French variant on Helen, and is used
throughout Arthurian legend. It is a name of eloquence and means torch, or bright light; It is also Old Greek
for bright one or shining one. Elaine's bubbly and ambitious personality mixed with her curiousness to shine a light on the truth definitely fit her name well. Her name also goes along perfectly with the aforementioned concepts of the usage of light and darkness. The shot of the ceiling light is reminiscent of Elaine.
Kalisher - Elaine's last name, one of three so far that end in
-er: (Kalisher, Beecher, and Teller), is speculative as to it's original origins, but texts hint that it
could have been based on a trade or profession. It is also stated to possibly be a shortened version of a
religious phrase, such as "Worthy of praise", to which Elaine's travel articles definitely fit the category.
Solving the mystery of the Wessex is also worthy of praise.
As the ceiling light's light transitions into a new scene, the first thing that our eyes focus upon is a chainsaw
in action... The chainsaw is put down and a chisel is picked up and began being used on the base of the statue
that is being carved.
|The use of a chainsaw, a chisel, and a carving in general are important
plot metaphors for expressing the idea of danger. Even in an eloquent location such as the Wessex Hotel, the use
of dangerous, and sometimes deadly, tools, are being anthrotomorphed to show that they can be a good thing, as
well, when used properly to create works of art, like this lovely statue of a horse being carved from a gigantic
block of ice, and not by being used to cause damage or harm. This idea is expressed, and elaborated upon, better
at the end of the movie...|
|So far, Elaine's trip to the Wessex has been an absolute thrill. The
article is going to come along great, as everyone is doing everything they can to ensure her visit is the best
ever. From the start, Elaine has encountered a friendly and helpful doorman, a proficiently helpful porter, a
friendly, well worded desk clerk, a sweet and very organized concierge, and even a sweet traveler that lives in
a place she has written about in the past. They are even going to have breakfast in the morning in the hotel's
Garden Cafe. First impressions definitely mean a lot, and everyone has given her a good one. And then she
meets Louise Fletcher's character, Letti Gordon. Letti is tough as nails, and tends to be a little sardonic, but
she also keeps the entire bottom two service floors of the Wessex running smoothly and efficiently. Elaine,
having studied and reviewed many hotels in the past, has more than likely met several other Service Managers
exactly like Letti. Elaine is more than willing to overlook Letti's slight attitude problem, as she knows that a
good Service Manager must act somewhat like a prick, so that outside vendors, caterers, flower deliverers,
and laundy service workers do not take advantage of her or the hotel. She is ideal at keeping the aforementioned
workers from getting over on her or the hotel, and, as an extremely hard worker, therefore, can be deemed as a
master of her craft; a vital staff member for keeping the hotel from crumbling. Hospitality administration is
slowly becoming of Letti Gordon... slowly. |
|Letti is wearing the black skirt and top with small white polka dots and
white sweater jacket that she was wearing when we saw her earlier. The sweater jacket implies that the service
areas are kept colder than other areas in the hotel, which is typical, but she wears her nametag with pride. She
is holding a clipboard, containing a checklist of things that she must see are completed before the night's
Letti: This is supposed to be a horse? Looks more like
Lassie... Maybe if you flair the nostrels or something.
The Ice Sculptor, listed as "Artist" in the credits, has obviously been working on the horse statue for quite
awhile, and it is definitely shaping up beautifully. Letti disagrees, and has probably given the poor Artist
quite an earful the entire time. He is wearing a blue button-up shirt with white buttons and is wearing a
white apron. The black fingerless gloves he is wearing provide added grip on his carving tools.
He stop, looks at her, chisel in hand, and asks:
Artist: This is ice, Letti. What do you think I am,
Without hesitation, Letti quips:
|While no alternate language speaker ever truly sounds the way a character
looks, the speaker who plays the part of the Artist in the Italian version of this film, definitely makes you
scratch your head at first. While in the American version, Chip Hipkin's character sounds like a grown-up, male
craftsman tired of Letti's sarcasm, in the Italian version he comes off sounding more like a young, Italian
artisan, saddened by Letti's scolding. He sounds nothing as he looks, but neither do any of the
Letti: Never crossed my mind.
Elaine appears from behind the column in the room's upper left. She is speaking as she approaching, as she is
so in awe that can't abstain her feelings:
Elaine: This is beautiful! You really do lovely work.
The sculptor can't abstain his feelings, either, and smiles.
Letti: Yeah, I know.
The sculptor turns and gives Letti an, "I don't believe you" smirk. He's happy, though.
Letti: Listen sweetie, guests aren't s'posed to be back here.
|During a time before a federal ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and
hotels kicked into effect, Letti Gordon smokes everywhere inside of the hotel. Walking through the kitchen,
riding in the elevator, you name it... She didn't have a cigarette when we saw her earlier, outside clipping
flowers, so she either just put one out, or she only smokes indoors... She does end up coming outside, later in
the movie, to enjoy a cigarette, but she still smokes indoors at a rate of 5:1.|
Letti isn't being rude, she's just telling the truth. For safety and sanitation reasons, many locations such as
the Wessex hotel dissalow guests from entering the kitchen or other service areas... This definitely doesn't
deter the lovely Miss Kalisher.
Elaine: I didn't think it'd be a problem. Judith Teller said I
Letti: Oh! Well! If Judith says it'll be alright...
Elaine's response is definitive, and sounds vaguely similiar to a "There's nothing you can do about," type of
response. Judith gave her access and she intends on using it.|
Letti's eyes get really big, not really out of shock, more out of sarcastic relief. Being the hotel's
concierge, obviously Judith is over Letti, even though Letti will probably never admit it. Letti seems a bit
sarcastic, but she takes care not to be too sarcastic, just in case Judith's "friend" is some kind of
corporate bigwig. She would be almost right, however. She hasn't yet learned of Elaine's journalistic nature,
but as Elaine's article could make or break the Wessex, it's a good thing she isn't too mean to
Elaine: What's all this for?
Elaine has found her "Get out of Jail Free" card. No matter where she goes in the hotel, she can't get into
trouble because she can always use the "Judith said I could" excuse... and get away with it. She understands
Letti's need to be slightly sardonic in an effort to maintain order within such a massive space, having to man so
large of a service staff. She is more than happy to forgive Letti's slight attitude, because she now knows the
"Judith said I could" excuse really does work, and hence she knows access to hidden and secret "off limits" areas
of the hotel are now viewable to Elaine's curious eyes...|
The Ice Sculptor responds before Letti gets a chance, delighted to speak to Miss Kalisher as an
acknowledgement for the appreciativeness she showed toward his statue. That, and to get more than one line on
Artist: Reception in the ballroom tonight.
|It is unlikely Elaine knows for a fact at this point that Letti is in charge
of the Service Department, but she definitely senses it by Letti's general sense of order and supervision that
she has been providing her workers. That and because she was the first to inform Elaine she wasn't supposed to
be back there, reminiscent of any member of management, it automatically drills into Elaine's head that Letti is
in charge of the Service Department (as well as by reading her name tag). Knowing this, even with or
without having had Judith's prior approval, Elaine smiles and looks to Letti for approval, hinting with a
sweetness in her voice.|
Elaine: I'd like to take a look...
It's not like Letti really had a choice on letting her look or not, as Judith has already given Elaine prior
consent. If Letti had declined Elaine's request, Elaine would have ran back to Judith, and Judith would have
scolded Letti, and Letti doesn't want to hear any of it. She is more than happy to let Elaine go look. It's
not like she has anything to hide... Even the sarcasm in her voice has dropped to a minimum.
Letti: Be my guest. Top floor. Elevator's right over there.
Letti clutches the clipboard she is holding in her left arm while she gestures with her right arm towards the
elevator, and all three characters glance towards the direction in which Letti is pointing. Letti and the
Sculptor have their work cut out for them to get finished on time, and thus turn their attentions back towards
the ice-horse statue, and the reception in the ballroom later that evening.
Elaine: Thank you.
Letti nods to Elaine as if to say, "You're welcome." Maybe
Letti is one of the good guys, after
Elaine takes one last look at the
horse, obviously forming a mental "before" picture in her mind. During the reception tonight, to which she is
more than likely to attend, she will get to see the "finished" version. A curious, quizzical and
perceptive person such as Elaine would seem to get a thrill seeing the crafting of a beautiful piece of art from
nothing more than a solid chunk of ice. And seeing it through different incarnations during its fabrication
seems to be a somewhat rewarding experience. The amount of time and attention to detail put into making events
such as these special at the Wessex, could definitely be solid strong points for the foundation of Elaine's
Elaine seems relatively happy and wanders towards the elevator, being sure to take in everything that is going
on. The place is crawling with flower arrangers, and other kitchen staff, busily preparing for the evening's
event. While she has more than likely wandered through several hotel backrooms on her travels, Elaine still
seems to be in awe as she inspects the magnitude of work being performed, all in an effort to impress the
patrons, on the service floors just beneath the patron floors. Ironically, the reception is being held on the
top floor, above all of the patron floors. This, symbolically, is a reminder of all of the work that goes on
behind the scenes of an eloquent and elaborate hotel, such as the Wessex, just to be able to impress their
guests. Above them, below them, work is going on all around them. It sure takes a lot to keep a place like
this running smoothly and effortlessly.|
|Elaine passes by an area that seemingly enough appears darker than all of the
other areas within the backroom. To her left, at the end of the darkened hallway, we see a soft,
blueish-illuminescence of light coming from under a set of double doors as well as through the two tiny windows
built into each door. The use of the darkened hallway and the light coming from the doors at the end of it are
metaphoric of the "light at the end of the tunnel" cliche. The dark, lonely hallway is only a stepping stone to
another area, full of light and bustling with activity and life. Simply, it's usage is still more symbolism that
not only builds more upon earlier discussions of the usage of light and dark to portray mood and ambiance, but to
pay homage to the concept that darkness equals loneliness and death which light equals serenity and
The farther Elaine goes from the main action, the more isolated the area seems to become.
While Elaine has already passed the darkest area, and the area lightens up a bit, the lighting still isn't
nowhere near as bright as the area in which Elaine first entered. The ambiance in this anteroom gives a dark
and dreary feeling. If the lobby and reception area are the hotel's focal point of pristineness, this area here
is a reminder of just how dark and dreary an area can get if not properly kept up. The walls are in
desperate need of a coat of paint, and that's exactly what they need to restore the room into a bright and
The tiling around the elevator controls hint toward either a historically bigger control box, or the usage of
replacement tiles throughout the years. The control box also doesn't quite seem to be flush mounted, rather, it
appears to be imbedded the width of the tile, implying perhaps the tile was an afterthought, added years later.
Of course, it could have just been put together this way. Either way, a touch of paint would definitely help to
clear the anteroom of the dingy, dreary perspective it creates in our minds...
To the right of the elevator we see Letti's desk, set in a spot which seems to give her immediate control over
the service elevator - at least she would know who goes up or down - or who goes up and won't come down...
There also appears to be some kind of room to the left.
There appear to be both an Up and a Down button, implying that this is the floor assigned the desgination B1, as
seeing the elevator buttons later reveal the hotel actually contains 19 floors. Floor B2 is below this floor,
and is likely the location of the boiler rooms, and perhaps wine cellar. The floor above this one would then
be designated 1 and would contain more kitchen and confectioner's areas. The first area Elaine arrived in, the
Mezzanine floor, falls in between floors 1 and 2 and is given the designation M.
|The serene and solemn chords that begin to play as Elaine is entering the
elevator change will ominously when Elaine presses the button for the 16th floor...|
As Elaine presses the Up button, we hear a loud *RING*. The door opens to reveal an older, anachronistic
feature of historic elevators lacking both an interior and exterior door - a retractable metal gate that
requires physical contact to be applied to it, in order for the exterior door to close. The exterior door
opens, a person opens the retractable gate, shuts the gate and the door shuts. You would think that with just
metal grating for a door that you would be able to see the floors and doors as the elevator is ascending, hence
you should able to see the 13th floor as the elevator passes from floors 12 to 14, but I guess not... We
will learn the answer on the following page.
|On Closer Inspection...:|
|There is a sign to the left of the elevator reading "In case of fire, use
stairs." The stairs should be nearby, although it seems nobody uses the service stairs (at least not until the
end...) and it makes you wonder how the difference would be compensated for, as it would obviously now take twice
the number of stairs to go from floors 12 to 14 versus going from say, 11 to 12 or 14 to 15... Unless the design
of the 12th floor staircase gives the illusion of grand 20 foot ceilings, versus the standard 10... One way or
another, there has to be a reason why nobody has ever noticed, and the answer, clearly, must lie in a clever
architectural hodgepodge - a structural oddity that proudly achieves its purpose.|
|It is more than likely that the room to the left of the elevator is either a
broom closet, an elevator maintenence room, or an office. Is is doubtable that the service stairs are
accessible from this room, as later, when the staff enters the 13th floor, they will enter from a room nowhere
near the elevator. It is possible, however, that the staff entered through a hidden, locked away stairwell not
accessible by patrons. If the latter is to be true, the service stairs could in fact be located next to
the service elevator, as an alternate, hidden route would have no chance of discovery by hotel guests while a
door to the floor in a stairwell used by patrons, even servicemen, would be a dead giveaway.|
Elaine pulls the retractable gate back and steps inside of the elevator.
Excited, and ready for a sneek peak of tonight's event, Elaine closes the metal gate and the elevator door comes
to a close.
|As the doors close in front of Elaine, we no longer see her because of it.
This is slight symbolism used to show comings and goings as the film shows light and dark. We are lucky that
Elaine didn't take the one faithful trip in the elevator that results in her never coming back. Some of the
guests that are sent up here don't come back, so seeing her in the elevator, partially covered by the metal
grating, and then seeing her "consumed" by the elevator create a lonely sense of desolation and solitude. A
feeling of isolation looms over the ancient elevator as the steel door closes to conceal it's victims within
itself. Sometimes, seeing the person enter the elevator is the last time that they will ever be seen again,
so it's a strong reminder about the value of a life.|
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