Friday, December 24, 2010

Movie Review: Holiday Inn, 1942

Marjorie Reynolds during her screen test for the movie
Photograph: Elliot Elisofon; LIFE Photo Archive
When it comes to holiday movies there are plenty of choices.  It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and Miracle on 34th Street, to name a few.  However, there is nothing like the combination of Christmas, a love triangle, Fred Astaire, a great story, and singing and dancing numbers a plenty, which you can find in the classic movie Holiday Inn (Paramount Pictures, 1942), starring Bing Crosby (Jim Hardy), Fred Astaire (Ted Hanover), Marjorie Reynolds (Linda Mason), and Virginia Dale (Lila Dixon).  The story begins with performers Jim, Ted and Lila.  Ted steals Lila away from Jim and the two begin their own performances leaving Jim behind.  Jim leaves the limelight and starts farming, because that is his dream - the simple life.  A year goes by and Ted gets the idea of opening up a nightclub that is only open during the holidays (in order to continue his lazy ways - which I love, since I excel at laziness).  When Jim meets up with Ted and Ted's manager again, he lets them in on his new idea.  They dismiss it, but Ted's manager gives Jim's card to a floral shop girl who is looking to break into show business (Linda).  Linda ends up at the Holiday Inn and soon her and Jim are on a roll with performances throughout the year for each holiday.  When Lila ends up leaving Ted for someone better (a guy she thinks is a billionaire), Ted comes crawling back to Jim, and subsequently he also falls for Linda.  The whole stealing Jim's girls away is sort of a hobby for Ted, and I think that's why I was totally rooting for Jim the whole time.  Towards the end a Hollywood deal comes the way of the Holiday Inn, but Jim declines it, still hoping for that simple life, and Ted and Linda leave him in the dust.  But Linda is really in love with Jim and is getting miserable out in Hollywood.  Jim also misses her and business isn't the same at the inn without them, so he goes out to Hollywood to get her back.  In the end Lila also comes back to Ted, and Jim and Linda reunite, with both couples dancing and singing the night away into the new year.

Honestly I have to admit that sometimes musicals bore me, especially modern day ones (I walked out of the theater during Chicago), but for some reason musicals like Holiday Inn are completely endearing to me (maybe it's just that old Hollywood charm).  I know White Christmas starring Crosby in 1954 is kind of a re-working of Holiday Inn, but honestly I would give this one a try first.  It's quieter, less flashy, and in black and white, but it's also pretty darn good.

Here's some more trivia on the film, and I hope everyone's days are merry and bright in the coming year.  Happy Christmas Eve!
  • The Holiday Inn hotel chain is named after this movie (it was founded in 1952 by Kemmons Wilson).
  • The song "White Christmas" was written for this movie by Irving Berlin.  It won the Academy Award for best original song in 1943, and to this day it is the second best selling music single ever (the first is Elton John's re-working of "Candle in the Wind", "Goodbye England's Rose", which only surpassed it in 1997). (Note: this article still says "White Christmas" is the best selling music single ever)
  • As a Christmas gift to the studio, Fred Astaire worked for two weeks without pay during filming of Holiday Inn.
  • The Navy Relief Society received the proceeds from the New York premiere of the film.
  • The sets from Holiday Inn were re-used during the filming of White Christmas (Paramount Pictures, 1954).
  • The shoes worn by Fred Astaire during the firecracker dance sequence were auctioned off for $116,000 dollars' worth of war bonds.
  • The "drunk dance" in the film reportedly had Fred Astaire drinking two shots of bourbon before the first take and one shot before each subsequent take, until they finally got the shot during the seventh take.


  1. I don't know if I've seen this one. Great review though!

  2. Fred's firecracker dance scene is a highlight. Ending of his impaired routine is a hoot too. What a treat to hear, and see, Bing sing White Christmas. Too bad he's "playing" the piano too.