July 27, 2011

"There's a Small Hotel"

from the "There's a Small Hotel" sequence of Pal Joey

"There's a Small Hotel" is a 1936 popular song composed by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Lorenz Hart originally written for but dropped from the musical Billy Rose's Jumbo (1935), then used in On Your Toes (1936), where it was introduced by Ray Bolger and Doris Carson and also interpolated in the film version of Pal Joey (1957) with a fine Frank Sinatra-Nelson Riddle collaboration.

The Stockton Inn

According to Lorenz Hart's biography, Lorenz Hart - A Poet on Broadway, the song was inspired by a visit by Richard Rodgers to the Stockton Inn, in Stockton, NJ. Hart reputedly found the melody insistently cloying and often ad libbed raunchy parody verses much to Rodgers' chagrin.

The Montecito Inn

Another claimant to be the inspiration is the Montecito Inn, in Santa Barbara, California. Renovations to the hotel in the 1950's replaced the wishing well, mentioned in the song, by a floral fountain.

I'd say the Stockton Inn story is more plausible. Anyway, there's something so elegant about the aesthetics of the time, clothing, music, etc. in this. 'Tis a shame it's all gone:

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