The Cold-War era story depicted in the new Steven Spielberg movie, “Bridge of Spies,” also showcases the resources of the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.
The movie’s artistic director consulted with Professor Mark Young, director of the college’s Massad Family Research Center and Hospitality Industry Archives, for help in their depiction of the Berlin Hilton Hotel, which played a significant role in the spy exchange.
“They wanted to underscore how important the Berlin Hotel was in those negotiations, so I applaud their desire to get it right,” Young said. “They asked about the hotel’s décor and the uniforms of the employees, which reflected the German culture. I shared images and postcards from our archive and gave them some of the history of the hotel.”
The movie stars actor Tom Hanks as the Brooklyn lawyer who negotiates with the Soviet Union to exchange a captured American pilot for a Soviet spy.
Young says the Berlin Hilton differed from other Hilton hotels of that day in that its design was understated compared to the Hollywood splash of the Beverly Hilton and the flying carpet design of the porte-cochére at the Hilton Istanbul.
“The rubble and destruction from World War II was still very visible all around them,” he said. “Hilton intentionally opted not to give it a very luxurious design. It was very sleek and modern, but understated, so as not to insult the Berliners.”
Young has been a resource for other productions such as the Ron Howard film “Rush,” which detailed the real-life story of Formula One drivers. He also was consulted for the Emmy award-winning television drama “Mad Men,” which featured a story arc on famed hotelier Conrad N. Hilton, and the short-lived series “Pan Am.”
Established in 1989, the Hospitality Industry Archives include more than 3,000 linear feet of material, much of it devoted to the history of Hilton Hotels. The archives include memorabilia, advertising, publications and reports for other hospitality companies, such as Marriott International, Howard Johnson, Walt Disney and Brinker International, and contain the personal and corporate papers of Conrad, Barron and Eric Hilton.