Holiday Inn (1942) B+
At the height of their careers, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire starred in “Holiday Inn,” one of their most commercial popular films, as a nightclub song-and-dance team.
When his heart is broken by his girlfriend, Jim (Crosby) decides to retire from showbiz and the Big City. Going to the opposite extreme, he buys a New England farm, and builds there an inn, which is open to the public only on holidays.
The plot is minimal and unimporetant, sort of an excuse for a display of numerous tuneful Irving Berlin holiday songs (including a blackface number in honor of Lincoln’s Birthday).
Ted (Astaire) wants to make a film about the inn, starring their mutual discovery, Linda Mason (Reynolds). Jim briefly loses Linda to Ted, but wins her back during the shoot of a musical number on a Hollywood soundstage.
The most memorable song is the Oscar-winning “White Christmas,” which is not done as a production number but as a ballad sung touchingly by Crosby to his leading lady Marjorie Reynolds.
Interestingly, Irving Berlin wrote “White Chrismas” in the 1930s and then put it aside for use in the future.
For his part, Fred Astaire’s best moment is his Fourth of July firecracker dance.
As with most of Irving Berlin’s musicals of the 1940s, the highlights of Holiday Inn are too numerous to mention.
This delightful film, which is superior to its 1954 remake, White Christmas, was the sixth top-grosing picture of 1942. What explains the film’s blockbuster status was its release during the first year of the U.S. involvement in WWII, when soliders were homesick and nostalgic for good, old-fashioned Americana.
Oscar Nominations: 3
Best Song: “White Christmas,” music and lyrics Irving Berlin
Original Story: Irving Berlin
Scoring of Musical: Robert Emmett Dolan
Oscar Awards: 1
This is Irving Berlin’s first and only Oscar, despite numerous nominations.
The winner of Original Story Oscar was Britisher Emeric Pressburger for “The Invaders.”
“Yankee Doodle Dandy” won the Scoring Oscar for Ray Heindorf and Heinz Roemheld.
Bing Crosby as Jim Hardy
Fred Astaire as Ted Hanover
Virginia Dale as Lila Dixon
Marjorie Reynolds as Linda Mason
Walter Abel as Danny Reid
Louise Beavers as Mamie
Running time: 100 Minutes.
Directed by Mark Sandrich
Screenplay: Claude Binyon, Elmer Rice
DVD: November 2, 1999
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