Taglines: The successes and failures of an American family.
The Hotel New Hampshire is narrated by John Berry and opens in flashback to the time when his parents met and fell in love while working summer jobs at a New England hotel around World War II. They are brought together by Freud, a European refugee who travels with a performing bear.
In the 1950s, Win Berry and his wife have five children, John, Franny, Frank, Lilly, and Egg. The Berrys decide to open a hotel near the prep school that John, Franny, and Frank attend; they call it the Hotel New Hampshire. John loses his virginity to the hotel waitress. Frank comes out to Franny and John; Franny is raped by big man on campus Chip Dove and his buddies, and is rescued by Junior Jones and other black members of the school football team; John confesses that he’s in love with Franny; the family dog, Sorrow, dies and Frank has him stuffed. Sorrow’s reappearance at Christmas causes Berry grandfather Iowa Bob to suffer a fatal heart attack.
A letter arrives from Austria. It’s Freud, inviting the Berrys to move to Vienna and run Freud’s gasthaus. The family flies to Europe; tragically, the plane carrying Mrs. Berry and Egg explodes, killing them. In Vienna, the family moves into the gasthaus and renames it Hotel New Hampshire. An upper floor houses prostitutes and the basement is occupied by radicals of various political stripes.
Assisting Freud, who has gone blind, is Susie the Bear, a young lesbian who lives her life almost completely in a bear costume. One of the radicals, Ernst, resembles Chipper Dove (and is also played by Modine) and Franny becomes infatuated with him. Susie and John, who are both in love with Franny, try to keep her away from him. Susie is initially successful in seducing Franny but soon she ends up with Ernst. Lilly, who is a dwarf, begins writing a novel called Trying to Grow. One of the radicals, Miss Miscarriage, grows very fond of the family, and especially of Lilly.
She invites John to her flat and sleeps with him, then warns him to get the family out of Vienna. For her trouble, another of the radicals murders her. Back at the hotel, John and the rest of the family are caught up in the radicals’ plan to blow up the Vienna State Opera with a car bomb. The blind Freud, to spare the family, volunteers to drive with one of the radicals. As he leaves, the Berrys attack the remaining radicals and Freud detonates the bomb right outside the hotel. Ernst is killed and Win is blinded in the explosion.
The Hotel New Hampshire is a 1984 British-Canadian-American comedy-drama film written and directed by Tony Richardson based on John Irving’s 1981 novel of the same name. The film stars Jodie Foster, Beau Bridges, Rob Lowe, and Nastassja Kinski, and also features Wilford Brimley, Amanda Plummer, Matthew Modine, and a young Seth Green in a supporting role. The film is a co-production from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
In an introductory foreword that he wrote for a later edition of the novel, author Irving stated that he was thrilled when Richardson informed him that he wanted to adapt the book to the screen. Irving wrote that he was very happy with the adaptation, complaining only that he felt Richardson tried to make the film too faithful to the book, noting the manner in which Richardson would often speed up the action in an attempt to include more material onscreen.
The Hotel New Hampshire (1984)
Directed by: Tony Richardson
Starring: Rob Lowe, Jodie Foster, Paul McCrane, Nastassja Kinski, Beau Bridges, Lisa Banes, Jennifer Dundas, Seth Green, Joely Richardson
Screenplay by: Tony Richardson
Production Design by: Jocelyn Herbert
Cinematography by: David Watkin
Film Editing by: Robert K. Lambert
Costume Design by; Jocelyn Herbert
Art Direction by: John Meighen
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: March 9, 1984