After his girl runs off with his performing partner, Jim decides to start an inn which is only open on the holidays. He also finds himself a lovely lady whom he falls in love with. Suddenly his old partner is back and trying to steal his girl once again.
Directed by – Mark Sandrich
Written by – Irving Berlin, Elmer Rice, Claude Binyon, Ben Holmes, Bert Lawrence, Zion Myers, Francis Swann
Starring – Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Walter Abel, Louise Beavers, Irving Bacon, Marek Windheim, James Bell, John Gallaudet, Shelby Bacon, Joan Arnold
In terms of story, Holiday Inn is a little light. Guy steals girl from another guy, guy finds new girl, same guy comes and tries to steal new girl. That’s about it. This film felt more like a showcase for song and dance numbers which would have been great since I was looking forward to watching Fred Astaire, but he only really gets a few good dance numbers. The combination of Astaire and Crosby was great though and they were quite funny throughout the film which made it just a little more entertaining.
I wish they had tried to build a slightly better story but here’s how that plays out anyway. Jim (Crosby), Ted (Astaire) and Lila (Virginia Dale) are a song and dance team and Jim is planning on marrying Lila and moving to a farm. Seems Lila is also in love with Ted and doesn’t want to leave the bright lights of showbiz so Jim is left to run his farm all by himself. Thinking it will be easy but finding it hard, Jim comes up with another idea. He’s going to open an inn that is only open on holidays. He finds a performer, and love interest, in Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds). Everything is going fine until Ted shows up on the scene again. He’s been dumped by Lila and is looking for a new partner and it just so happens that he thinks Linda would be perfect.
I’m not sure how this manages to be a holiday classic exactly. It’s not so much focused on the holiday and it just happens to be around Christmas when certain things happen. Crosby still sings White Christmas so I guess that’s enough. Even though the story can be broken down into a very easy explanation, it’s how Crosby and Astaire go about trying to one up each other that is so entertaining to watch. Not exactly an outright comedy team, the two of them play off each other very well and wind up being pretty funny for it. Their chemistry and timing is perfect and there always seems to be a girl stuck in the middle of it all.
I was really looking forward to seeing Fred Astaire tear it up on the dance floor but there’s only a couple of times that he really goes all out. There’s a quick little dance scene at the beginning that was really good but it slows down after that. Eventually he shows up at the Holiday Inn, drunk after being rejected by Lila, where he jumps out onstage and has a dance with Linda (Marjorie Reynolds) that was both well done and hilarious. He winds up falling face first to the floor in a drunken stupor. Easily the best number is a solo dance from Astaire for the Holiday Inn’s 4th of July celebration. Astaire leaps around the stage as firecrackers burst at his feet, showing off his immense talent and some incredible timing.
You can’t forget the singing skills of Bing Crosby and he has plenty of chances to take the stage. Some of the lyrics may be questionable, and there’s a blackface number that you’d never even attempt now, but I think Crosby could sing about STD’s and it would be enjoyable. I watched both this film and White Christmas yesterday and it was White Christmas that really managed to win me over. Holiday Inn is still a good film but it almost seemed like Fred Astaire was wasted so I’m making sure to check out some of his other films I have kicking around here. (HA, kicking, get it! Cause Astaire dances and all that….okay, never mind.) As far as holiday classics go though, I’ll stick to some of the other offerings.
Under the marquee – Will