Holiday Inn (1942) – Film Reel Reviews

Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire were hilarious together but I was hoping for more dancing from Astaire. – Will

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.

Jim and Linda get to know each other at the piano.

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.

One of the highlights is the 4th of July production towards the end of the film.

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

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4 Responses to Holiday Inn (1942) – Film Reel Reviews

  1. Jen says:

    I agree that the blackface number wouldn’t be attempted now (it was done as an instrumental in white christmas), and that it’s lighter than most, but that was the time. A lot of musicals during that period were light – people needed it.

    Just a thought – in ANY crosby vehicle where he sings, his partner is always 2nd banana – it’s the kind of guy bing was

  2. It’s interesting to see the changes in cinema throughout the years. What was okay at one time wouldn’t be now. If ever there was a time for light entertainment it would be that time for sure.

    Crosby always does seem to come out on top in his films! I found it a little odd that poor Fred Astaire never really got enough time to shine though. The egos of Hollywood I guess!

  3. red2blues says:

    Oh, I don’t know about that. Astaire gets to do 2 partnered dances that are very well done, and class quite high on the list of his best dances. The one with Virginia Dale is classy and funny, and romantic at the same time. A lot of tricky moves, and exploration of dancing themes, that are done as usual: as if they were nothing. Then the favorite of Lovers of smooth American ballroom, Be Careful It’s My heart with Reynolds. As as smooth, delicious and romantic (without being overdramatic) as anything he has ever done. Then the hilarious costumed number where he and Reynolds switch dancing styles on the run. It’s true that his character “does not get the girl”, but it does not seem as if he is really seriously wounded. He takes it all pretty easily. This is not high drama guys- it is fun, frothy and extremely entertaining. Everything seems to come easy and naturally.

  4. Pingback: Holiday Inn (1942) Movie Trailer

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