January 28, 2008

The Fontainebleau Hotel

pic from

From the Wikipedia entry (any small, bold text):

The Fontainebleau Hotel is one of the most historically and architecturally significant hotels on Miami Beach. Built in 1954 and designed by Morris Lapidus, it was considered the most luxurious hotel on Miami Beach at the time of its opening and for a long time after that, and is also thought to be the most significant building in Lapidus's career.

According to this Lapidus biography:

"By the early 50s he had developed a bunch of principles that he called theories:

* Get rid of corners
* Use sweeping lines
* Use light to create unusual effects
* Use plenty of color
* Try to get drama
* Keep changing the floor levels
* People are attracted to light (The Moth Complex)"

In his 1996 autobiography Too Much Is Never Enough, Lapidus wrote that if: "American taste was being influenced by the greatest mass media of entertainment of that time, the movies.... So I designed a movie set!" Lapidus conceived of the ideas for the hotel each morning as he took a subway from Flatbush to his office in Manhattan.

1954 construction

The Fontainebleau was the setting for Jerry Lewis's comedy film, The Bellboy (1960).

The main street in this shot is Collins Avenue. Indian Creek is a block over, to the right. There are shots in Tony Rome (1967) that appear to have been done from the same room, the view is so similar. That scene in the day:

the lobby

huge conference/convention space

Inside and outside the lobby entrance:

Miscellaneous interiors:

out by the pool and cabanas:

night and day:

It (The Fontainebleau Hotel) was also featured in the James Bond movie Goldfinger (1964), most notably in the sweeping aerial shot that follows the opening credits and accompanies composer John Barry's big-band track "Into Miami" (so awesome):

"Just here?" Gotta love that.

The hotel was used in several scenes in one of my favorites, Tony Rome (1967):

This is the shot I think is so similar to one in The Bellboy. It's as if filming on both was done in the same room. If this was the case, perhaps that room offered the best view of Miami Beach and Collins Avenue.

The hotel, predominantly the pool area, was featured in the 1983 film Scarface. Other movies filmed there include Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, The Specialist and Bodyguard.

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Anonymous said...

Seeing this hotel was one of the only reasons I visited Miami Beach about 10 years ago. It was ultra cool and so well worth the trip. Not quite as cool as The Flagship, but awesome nevertheless! I was disappointed in my trip there overall - mostly Eurotrash - but seeing the hotel brought back so many memories of watching the opening to "The Jackie Gleason Show" when I was just a kid. Uber hip. Hope all is well.

Chris said...

Eurotrash in Miami Beach?? Weird. I'd forgotten about the opening of "The Jackie Gleason Show." Are you referring to The Flagship Hotel down in Galveston, Texas?? There's no way it's as cool as the Fontainebleau!

Anonymous said...

Come on! The Flagship is equally cool! Just kidding. You obviously didn't remember our conversation about the hotel last year. Of course, in 1968, I did think it was pretty neato.
You should do one of your pieces on the Jackie's show. "The Great One" was without question one of the best entertainers ever, if you'll forgive his "Smokey and the Bandit" bit. It was one of my parent's favs and we watched it religiously on our B&W Admiral tv.

Chris said...

How could I forget your "jumping off the seawall and busting my butt" anecdote??

I thought it was possible one of the three structures that now comprise the Fontainebleau might be called "The Flagship."

Oh, I love Gleason in Smokey and the Bandit. He's the best part of that movie! To this day, I still say "Sombitch" whenever given the opportunity.

erik hogstrom said...

That hotel just looks fabulous!