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Finally Paramount gave Crosby a big budget musical and didn't rely on
his charm and personality to carry the film. The budget went to hire
such outside talent as Fred Astaire and Irving Berlin. And none of them
In the first of two films Astaire and Crosby did together the characters are remarkably the same. Astaire is the elegant and charming show business professional who's ambitious for success. Crosby is the talented, but lazy partner who just wants a life of ease and comfort and not to work more than he has to. Small wonder that their double act broke up. But now enter a complication. They both get interested in the same girl who in this film is Marjorie Reynolds.
Crosby dreams up the idea of a nightclub/hotel called Holiday Inn where they only work on holidays. He wants Reynolds to help with the shows there. Astaire wants her for his act after his other girl partner Virginia Dale runs off with a millionaire. And the fun starts. Now since this was Crosby's home studio and he's first billed, just who do you think gets Reynolds in the end? As maid Louise Beavers put it, don't sit and mope because some slicker stole your gal.
Irving Berlin writes a majority of new songs to supplement a couple from his vast trunk of songs mostly about our holidays. By that time Berlin had extracted an agreement which became standard for all the films he wrote for. Not one note of non-Berlin music is ever heard in a score he writes. Just listen to this and just about any other film Berlin is associated with. Even music in the background is his.
The hit song in this was supposed to be Be Careful It's My Heart, the Valentine's Day song, sung by Crosby and danced to by Astaire and Reynolds. It did have a good deal of success. But the success of White Christmas was exponentially phenomenal. It netted Irving Berlin his one and only Academy Award and for Bing Crosby his number one item on vinyl. In fact everyone's number one item on vinyl.
I don't know if Bing Crosby ever set out to become the voice of Christmas, but if he did he was a marketing genius. If he's known and appreciated for anything with today's audience, it's for that. White Christmas became the first Yule song he was identified with although he had recorded some Christmas material before that. After this he started doing the holiday music in serious. Just think, along around Columbus Day, record companies even now reissue his Christmas stuff every year and his totals as largest selling recording artist in history grow once again. That's why the Beatles and Elvis, etc. don't have a prayer of overtaking him.
In fact White Christmas's initial success was so great that Decca wore out the original master putting out records to meet the demand. So in 1945, Decca got Bing, the Ken Darby Singers and John Scott Trotter to re-record it almost note for note. The original 78 had White Christmas with the flipside of Let's Start the New Year Right also from Holiday Inn. The newer version which most people hear has as it's flipside God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
I don't want to ignore Fred Astaire's contribution here. He does a nice comic turn with I Can't Tell a Lie, the Washington's birthday number where Crosby keeps changing the tempo to upset him and Reynolds. The Fourth of July yields a number for each. Reynolds is kept from the show by Bing's machinations and Astaire has to "improvise" something. He "improvises" Firecrackers and anyone who knows anything about Astaire knows how hard he worked to get that spontaneous feeling in his dancing. Bing sings The Song of Freedom, reminiscent of James Cagney's Grand Old Flag number from Yankee Doodle Dandy also out in 1942 and Song of Freedom is also reminiscent of what Paramount could have given Bing in the 1930s had they hired someone like Busby Berkeley to give Bing some of the production numbers that Dick Powell had at Warner Brothers.
So what more is there to say, but sit back and enjoy the fun.
In Holiday Inn it isn't Bing Crosby or Fred Astair that makes the movie
outstanding, but rather the relatively unknown "B" movie star of the
time, Marjorie Reynolds. As you watch this movie you can "feel" the
mood that Marjorie is portraying at the time, just by the look on her
face. For example, during the the "Easter" scene, her eyes and smiles
say it all, you can see she is in love, and as she sings "White
Christmas" at the end you can feel the sadness of her character -
throughout the entire movie she says more with her facial expressions
then the most popular movie stars do today in their entire careers...
If you love truly good acting, Holiday Inn will make you smile and make
you cry, it will bring back memories of a time when ladies could truly
dance in high heel shoes, we don't see that type of dancing these days
in movies. Picture quality, sound and special effects are not of
primary importance in these kinds of films, these are the kind that
rely on your own imagination and feelings, much in the way you do when
you read a good book.
These older movies serve up so much good feelings they could be used to replace prescription meds for those feeling bad.
Everyone has a favourite Christmas movie. For some it's "A Christmas
or "Miracle On 34th Street", perhaps "It's A Wonderful Life", or maybe
The Grinch Stole Christmas". Even Bing's later "White Christmas" gets
locally every Christmas Day, while "Holiday Inn" is far more obscure.
this film is my favourite holiday season film. Made long before I was
I saw it as a child & it had an influence on me. Perhaps the film is
with its B&W war-time feel but that 1940's elegance is part of the charm.
Returning to the "Inn" is like re-visiting old friends at a magical,
mythical place. It's a treat to see a younger Bing Crosby (compared with
performance in "White Christmas")& Fred Astaire, as well as the beauty of
Marjorie Reynolds. What may not be well known is that the film provided
inspiration for the name of the Holiday Inn chain of motels & hotels. A
Memphis businessman named Kemmons Wilson planned a national chain of
He hired a draftsman to draw up the plans. It happened that the draftsman
watched the movie while he was working, and he sketched the name of it at
the top. Wilson saw it, liked it, and stuck with it. Holiday Inn was born
the first opened in August of 1952, some 10 years after the
Sure, not all the holidays are treated in the film. And the Independence Day segment contains some war-time "propaganda" with newsreel shots of McArthur, FDR, & military hardware. But this was the era when Hollywood went to war & stars did pitches to audiences to buy war bonds, etc. Yes, the black-face Al Jolson style "Abraham" number causes me to cringe a bit, but the tune is snappy, and the justification is in keeping with the plot as Bing tries to hide Marjorie Reynolds from Astaire. The supporting characters are also fine. There's "Gus" the cab driver for the Inn, whom Bing gives 10 bucks to take a detour to keep Reynold's away from the Inn the night the Hollywood men are there. Bing says for that kind of money Gus should take her by way of "Medicine Hat" (a prairie town in Canada). I also enjoy character actress Louise Beavers portrayal of "Mamie", the Inn's cook. She's not only a mother figure to her two charming kids, but also to her boss. During Thanksgiving, Bing mopes while Astaire & Reynolds are filming in Hollywood together. He puts on a recording of himself singing "I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For", while he comically criticizes himself - even saying "you're flat". Mamie tells him that all he did was tricks to keep Miss Linda. He was never honest with her & instructs him to go to Hollywood & tell her how he feels. The song "White Christmas" became a huge hit with this movie. It's sung twice. The first time, Bing is teaching it to Reynolds on the piano & they sing a duet with his coaching. The second time, at the end, it's an unplanned duet. Reynolds is singing it on a sound stage "mock-up" of the Inn, once again at a piano. She finds that at the same spot in the song as Bing had done earlier, she picks up his pipe & rings bells on a tree. Then Bing begins to whistle in the wings. Her solo is interrupted as Bing then sings a line or two. The song isn't completed this time! In the later film, Bing sings the immortal song "just like the record". "Easter Parade" was another Irving Berlin hit from this movie. It would inspire another Astaire movie later with that title.
This is not a perfect film but it has been an inspiration to me (& to others). The Inn is timeless. I can always re-visit every year or so & the comedy, songs & dance are eternal. Styles change. If "Jim Hardy's" Holiday Inn had been a real place, it probably wouldn't survive. The resorts of the Catskills, such as those in "Dirty Dancing" fell to changing times. Jim probably would have had to have rock acts in the 1950's (or Rap in the 1990's)! But I can always go home to this Inn & know what kind of enertainment is on tap. And also enjoy Mamie's cooking!
In any endeavor there are greats, and there are legends. Bing Crosby
crooned his way to the latter status years before this movie, and he is in
fine voice here. It is such a shame that things like talent aren't present
in music anymore, but if you want to remember it, this is a great vehicle.
Irving Berlin, Crosby's long time friend, wrote magical numbers for the
film, including the unforgettable White Christmas.
Fred Astaire gave a tour de force performance, singing, and, of course, dancing his way through this delightful piece in rare form. It is said that he worked so hard during rehearsals that he wasted away to 85 pounds by the time he filmed the firecracker number. He might just as well have been weightless, because he defies gravity with his every move.
Marjorie Reynolds was seriously outclassed in a role that was intended for Mary Martin, who probably could have improved the chemistry of the starring cast. Reynolds nevertheless does a creditable job, and Holiday Inn remains her finest hour.
Years later, Paramount undertook a vastly inferior remake entitled White Christmas, which failed to capture a fraction of the magic of Holiday Inn. Astaire was replaced with funny man Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney gave it her torch song damndest, but it didn't gel. Holiday Inn has more wit, sincerity, charm and, despite being over a decade older, freshness. Holiday Inn is an uplifting and heartwarming remembrance that is a legend in its own right.
HOLIDAY INN (Paramount, 1942), directed by Mark Sandrich, with
adaptation by Elmer Rice, based on the idea by Irving Berlin, stars
crooner Bing Crosby and dancer Fred Astaire for the first time (their
second would be BLUE SKIES in 1946). In their best on-screen
collaboration, they play a couple of song and dance men who vie for the
affection of a female dancing partner. While the movie itself has been
long associated with Christmas, hence the introduction to Irving
Berlin's Academy Award winning tune of "White Christmas," HOLIDAY INN
features songs for almost all holidays, however, this is the kind of
movie that can be aired on television at anytime, whether it be Easter
or Fourth of July, but it is that wonderful time of Christmas that has
long become associated with the musical of HOLIDAY INN.
Opening and closing with a focus of a calendar, which is used throughout the film when centering around a certain holiday, the plot, set in a two year span, centers upon Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) and Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), friends and entertainers working at the Club Pierre in New York City with Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) as the third party to the trio. Although Jim has plans on retiring from show business and spending the rest of his life on the farm with his future bride, Lila, the big surprise comes when Jim discovers Lila loves Ted and intends to marry him instead. So as Jim resides alone at his farm in Midville, Connecticut, he becomes lonely, and a year later, decides to combine the best of both worlds by turning his farmhouse into a night club opened only on holidays, leaving Jim "347 days in which to kick around in," appropriately calling it Holiday Inn. Jim later hires Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), a former flower shop girl wanting a career in show business, as one of the entertainers at the inn. On New Year's Eve, Ted gets a "Dear John" letter from Lila that she has broken their engagement to marry a Texas millionaire instead. Depressed and later drunk, Ted comes to Jim's Holiday Inn where he unwittingly stumbles upon Linda on the dance floor and starts dancing with her, much to the pleasure of the patrons. Ted's agent Danny Reed (Water Abel), who has only seen the girl from the back, convinces Ted that this girl (whom he'd remember if he danced with her again) would make him a fine new dancing partner. Not wanting to lose another girl to Ted, Jim decides to keep him and Linda apart through various schemes, and after Ted and Linda do form a partnership, it appears that history is destined to repeat itself.
Aside from two guys and a girl theme, the score by Irving Berlin and performance by the two leading men make up for some of the weak spots. Songs include: "Happy Holidays" (sung briefly during opening credits); "I'll Capture Your Heart Singing/Dancing" (sung by Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Virginia Dale); "Lazy" (medley, sung by Crosby); "You're Easy to Dance With" (sung by Fred Astaire/danced by Astaire and Dale); "White Christmas" (sung by Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds); "Happy Holidays" (sung by Crosby, Reynolds and chorus); "Let's Start the New Year Right" (sung by Crosby); "Abraham" (sung by Crosby, Reynolds, Louise Beavers and chorus); "Be Careful, It's My Heart" (sung by Crosby/ danced by Astaire and Reynolds); "Washington's Birthday March (I Cannot Tell a Lie)" (sung by Astaire/ danced by Astaire and Reynolds); "Easter Parade" (sung by Crosby); "The Song of Freedom" (sung by Crosby/ firecracker dance by Astaire); "I've Got Plenty to Be Thankful For" (sung by Crosby); "White Christmas" (reprise by Reynolds and Crosby) and "I'll Capture Your Heart" (with Crosby, Astaire, Reynolds and Dale).
While HOLIDAY INN was intended to feature songs for all holidays of the year, some were obviously omitted, intentionally or unintentionally, including a song or a song to Memorial Day and Labor Day, yet a production number for Valentine's Day (February 14th) is hardly considered a holiday of any kind, but is included as part of a holiday number just the same. While Irving Berlin could write so many songs, it leaves one to wonder what he could have done with a song for Halloween Once upon a time, birthdays to two U.S. Presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, were national holidays. While Washington's birthday is currently celebrated as a day off in many states, Lincoln's birthday is no longer considered a time off from school or work. Since the 1970s, the production number, "Abraham," dedicated to Abe Lincoln, usually got deleted when aired on commercial television. Even the original 1979 motion picture soundtrack from Sunbeam Records included every song from the film except for "Abraham." The "Abraham" number was later restored when distributed to video cassette in the 1980s.
Also seen in the supporting cast consists of Louise Beavers Mamie, Jim's housekeeper; Irving Bacon as Gus; John Gallaudet as Mr. Parker; James Bell as Mr. Dunbar; and Shelby Bacon and Joan Arnold as Mamie's children, Vanderbilt and Daphne.
Aside from its annual revivals on commercial television on Christmas Eve, HOLIDAY INN has played on any given time on cable television's American Movie Classics from 1994 to 2000 to Turner Classic Movie where it premiered July 16, 2003. Having once aired on the Disney Channel in the 1990s, it eliminated the segment leading to the "Abraham" number. While HOLIDAY INN is a reflection of the times, it hasn't really aged a bit, making it a wonderful package to Holiday movies, improving every time it airs. At 101 minutes, the film goes by very quickly. Even with black and white photography, it's a very effective film, ranking it one of the best musicals to come out from the 1940s. In spite of their on screen rivalry, Crosby and Astaire make a fine twosome who'll capture your hearts singing and dancing. (***1/2).
I always feel that a true classic is either a film or a song that
within a few feet of film or a few bars of a tune, you know exactly
what the song or film is and in most cases the cast or artist who was
involved with it.
This film, in my opinion, is no exception. The casting of this film (Bing Crosby as Jim Hardy and Fred Astaire as Ted Hanover) is pure genius. Both stars were really at their professional peaks at the time and they show it in this movie musical.
Both Marjorie Reynolds as Linda Mason and Virginia Dale as Lila Dixon were not as well known, but I feel they both more than proved themselves in holding their own against the talents of Astaire & Crosby.
The supporting cast were fine too. Louise Beavers as well as Walter Abel gave some comedic relief in their roles as Mamie & as Danny Reid.
The firecracker dance sequence with Astaire is well worth the price of admission alone! I also enjoyed the dancing sequence between Astaire & Dale during the "Your Easy to Dance With" number and between Astaire & Reynolds during the "Be Careful Its My Heart" number.
Truly a wonderful film despite the controversy surrounding the "Abraham" black face routine.
When I first saw this film, I never thought about it as being filmed to offend anyone, I just considered it was the only way to explain in the plot why Ted & Danny don't recognize Linda since Jim has been hiding her from them. I have never changed my feelings on this and still feel the same way some 35 years later after my original viewing.
They don't get much better than this: Astaire with the drop dead dancing
cool, and Crosby with the honey crooning, both competing for the same gal.
Crosby decides to let it all go and settle in the country, then on a whim
realizes he can open his country house as a club open on holidays only. The
girl he ends up drafting for the floor shows ends up being the love of his
life, and the dancing partner Astaire has always been searching
Astaire, Crosby, and Reynolds have great chemistry together: I thought it quite convincing how Crosby's overprotective zeal scared Reynolds away for a while, and Astaire was very cool and believable as a kind of an inoffensive opportunist who exploits Crosby's passionate responses to whatever threat he perceives in Astaire.
Top it off with many of Irving Berlin's best classic tunes, performed in interesting interpretations, and you have a very good musical film.
The source of the song "White Christmas" would be worth watching just
for that, but in addition the movie has a bunch of wonderful dancing,
and quite a lot of charming songs; "I'll Capture Your Heart Singing",
"Come To Holiday Inn", "You're Easy to Dance With", "Oh How I Hate to
Get up in the morning", "White Christmas", and "Happy Holiday" (all by
Irving Berlin) are some of the highlights.
Anyone who is a fan of Crosby or Astaire will enjoy this movie. Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale play perfect foils for Crosby and Astaire, supporting them.
The plot, what there is of it, is just enough to hang enough Muscial numbers on to keep the movie running along apace.
This movie has so much and if you can make the chemistry thing the sparking between Bing and Fred and ignore the sidebar romances that don't quite grab you, then you will truly enjoy it. "White Christmas" - the first performance of the standard and it always grabs me. And I must have seen it fifty plus times. The dancing scene with Fred and the firecrackers, stupendous, incredible, how DID he do it?? Forget the blackface bits, slightly offensive, even considering the era. And the rah-rah-rah for WW2. Evocative of 1942 and FDR. Everything comes together beautifully down to the encore of "White Christmas" and Bing in the best of voice all through. Story is just about zero and no credibility - imagine an inn open fifteen days of the year with an enormous cast for the floor show (with full orchestra, no less). Bankrupt after the payroll for one holiday would be my guess :>). But lovely and nostalgic and worth watching over and over, just for the boys, Fred and Bing. 7 out of 10.
This is truly one of the great musicals to ever grace the silver
screen. Between the great song, the dance numbers and the chemistry
between Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, this film really is one of the
the all time classics. What really makes it great is that it pretty
much plays like a great Broadway review that uses the different
holidays as an excuse to display the individual talents of each of the
film's stars. However, the thing that this film will truly be
remembered for is the fact that it introduced one of the all time
classic song's to the world, "White Christmas".
Another thing that makes this film so beloved is that it came out during a time when America needed somewhat of a diversion, World War II. This film helped to give people something to put smiles on their faces as the whole world was going to hell. At least for two hours, this film helped America to forget its troubles and put a smile on everyone's faces.
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