Banner

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn

What She said:

She

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of old Fred Astaire movies.  Holiday Inn is no exception.  The musical comedy stars both Astaire and Bing Crosby as “frenemies” fighting over the same girl.  Crosby is Jim Hardy, a musical composer with the voice of an angel, while Astaire plays Ted Hanover, a dance performer who falls in love with every woman he sees.  Hardy is worn out by the entertainment scene and so he buys a farm up in Connecticut to live the simple life.  But things don’t work out as he would have hoped.  Basically, it’s not easy for one man to create a profitable farm, and he fails in his enterprise.  So, it’s on to plan B for Jim, operating an inn that’s only open on holidays.  It’s a grand concept.  Good food, good entertainment, and beautiful scenery.  With this vision, Jim hopes to make himself a living on 15 days a year. 

Key to the success of his enterprise is good song and dance.  Jim knows he can handle the song himself, but he has to recruit a dancer.  That’s when the beautiful Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) enters the picture.  She’s a stunner.  Given Jim’s track record with Ted, he decides to hide Linda and keep her a secret.  Things are working out great with Jim and Linda, until Ted shows up drunk at the Inn one night, dances with Linda, and immediately falls in love with her.  Of course, he wants her to come back to the big city with him and be his new dance partner.  Yada, yada, yada, there’s a rough road ahead for Jim, Ted, and Linda.  Hearts are broken, but fortunately there’s also lots of good singing and dancing.

Holiday Inn features one of my all-time favorite Fred Astaire dances—The Firecracker Dance.  Unfortunately, it also features a highly controversial musical act that is the reason why you don’t see this movie around much these days.  When the crew at the Holiday Inn decide to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birth day, they, for some reason, find it advisable to pay homage by doing a blackface minstrel show.  So yeah, that’ll get your movie yanked from TV.  Of course, back then, I guess it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.  But you cannot help but watch the scene and feel rather offended.  It’s a shame they decided to go that direction with what is otherwise an amazing movie. 

The film features songs from Irving Berlin, and so you can feel confident that they’re all very well done.  Also, this is our first introduction to the song “White Christmas.”  You may have thought that tune came from the 1954 movie White Christmas, but it was actually originally conceived by Berlin in 1935, before he finally used it in Holiday Inn in 1942.  The song became such a surprise hit that White Christmas was later made. 

While the “Abraham” misstep cannot be overlooked, particularly in contemporary culture, Holiday Inn is still a pretty fun movie.  If you do see this on TV, there’s a good chance that “Abraham” will not be in the version aired.  Otherwise, if you do rent this, go ahead and fast forward through that scene.  You won’t really be missing too much and it’ll help you to enjoy the rest of the movie without a horrible aftertaste in your mouth.

Thumbs up.

What he said:

He

Jim, Ted, and Linda are a successful musical act in New York. Jim (Bing Crosby) plans on retiring after this show with his fiancé Lila (Virginia Dale) at a farm in Connecticut. The only problem is Lila doesn’t want to retire. Jim doesn’t want to live the lifestyle of a performer anymore, but Lila embraces it. She actually wants to work almost every day of the year and sometimes twice in the same night. The other problem with his plan is that Lila has eyes for Ted (Fred Astaire).  The two of them have secretly fallen in love behind Jim’s back and have yet to break the news to him.

Apparently this isn’t the first time this has happened either. Ted seems to have a habit of falling head-over-heels for many of Jim’s girlfriends throughout the years. Jim is heartbroken, but kind of used to it, and continues on with his plans to retire in the country. These guys are the definition of frenimies. I can’t remember if it was Paris Hilton, one of the wannabe celebs from Laguna Beach, or some other talentless reality TV personality, but I’m almost positive it has its origins courtesy of one of these boobs. I think it might have been Paris who popularized the word. The word is relatively new, but the concept is not.  Jim and Ted have known and worked together for ages. Their personal lives also overlap, obviously. But their relationship is complicated. They seem to have spent so much time together, they have evolved into some kind of friendship, but also don’t hesitate to mess with each other once and a while, especially if one has something the other wants. It happens again when Ted falls for another one of Jim’s potential love interests at his new home and place of employment, Holiday Inn.

Holiday Inn

When Jim left the city, he meant it when he said he wanted to move to the country. He did just that, but finds the country life to be a little more challenging than he thinks retirement should be. He decides to dip his feet back into showbiz, but there’s a catch. He converts his home (an old farmhouse) into an inn that’s only open on the holidays. People can come eat, drink, dance, and watch musical acts on every major holiday. I actually thought the idea was genius. There are people out there who hate cooking on the holidays, so they go out. It’s not everybody’s thing, but it’s not uncommon. So Jim tries to capitalize on this type of person’s interests, while throwing in a little song and dance to boot.

He is the lead in most of his shows, but a young aspiring entertainer named Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) is recruited to be his counterpart. She really wants to break into the biz and thinks this is a great opportunity. The two start to develop feelings for one another, until Ted swoops in, falls in love yet again, and promises to make her a star. The back-and-forth between Crosby and Astaire is quite funny, despite the fact I probably would have punched Ted in the face for pulling this shit once again.

I said it in my review of The Band Wagon (review here) that I don’t love musicals, and I normally don’t. But I think the key with some of these old classics is that the movies are about performers. Not exactly a stretch for the actors, but storyline wise it works for me. I can picture these people singing, dancing, and being a little more dramatic than the average person, because that’s how showbiz can be behind-the-scenes. It makes sense to me.

Holiday Inn

This movie is funny, fills the void for a holiday movie this time of year, and has some great dance numbers too. Astaire has two really memorable ones. The one where his character is supposed to have a load on is hilarious. Imagine not only having to perform a great dance number, but pretending to be drunk while doing it. It’s really amusing. The scene where he performs the 4th of July dance with a bunch of firecrackers was simply awesome. I’m not sure who came up with the concept, but Astaire executed it perfectly. Dude could dance.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie was written for your reading pleasure on December 27, 2012.