Back in the mid 1930’s the movie “It Happened One Night” won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Writing. It was I would say a hit! And with that movie Frank Capra was well on his way to achieving legendary status in Hollywood. For an emerging writer it is one terrific story.
Frank wrote that story at The Hotel La Quinta (now called The La Quinta Resort and Club) here in the greater Palm Springs area. He rented the San Anselmo Casita (suite 136) with his wife Lucille and hammered out a script that would open doors in ways he could have never imagined. Frank, they say, was slightly superstitious and believed that magic occurred at The Hotel La Quinta. He credited the success of that film to the location where it was written.
Sure it sounds like a fairy tale but then Frank returned to The San Anselmo Casita many times over the following years and used the same suite and the same hotel desk to pen other classics such as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” “Lost Horizon,” “You Can’t Take It With You,” and of course the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” All of these now infamous Hollywood movies were scripted in the same room at The Hotel La Quinta. Frank referred to this desert getaway as his “Shangri-La” for script writing.
Is there really magic at The Hotel La Quinta? I had to find out for myself and made plans to tour the grounds. The hotel was built in the 1920’s and soon became a hot spot for Tinsel Town celebrities. It was the perfect spot to disconnect and get away from it all as it was positioned well off the beaten path. The closest night life was 20 miles away in Palm Springs. The Hotel La Quinta was a place to unwind and its Spanish Revival architecture looms large from the jagged desert rocks which provide a back drop. In the middle of January the hotel grounds offered an oasis of color including deep green grass, multiple blooming flowers in all colors and a plentitude of orange trees bursting with fruit. Walking the pathways made it difficult to believe it was the middle of winter. It felt pretty magical.
The San Anselmo Casita is located in the center of the grounds at the end of a tree lined side walk. It is a self contained guest house with mountain views and covered front porch. It has a certain early California charm and seems to have a welcoming aura. It too felt magical.
The Promenades and the courtyards of The La Quinta Resort and Club are truly magical. Walking through the compound is like stepping back in time to another era in another land. It is almost fantasy. So Frank was right about the place and it certainly breathed life into his words and I’m hoping to take just a little iota of that magic for myself. Someday, one day, I’ll stay in that San Anselmo Casita just to see what words are channeled through me.