Movie Name: Holiday Inn
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date(s): August 4, 1942
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) finds himself alone in his new country home after his partner Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) runs off with his fiance Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale). Jim comes up with a plan for a new attraction at his inn and decides to have a mini-musical each holiday…opening the inn up for guests. Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) finds herself trying to break into performing and is sent to Jim’s inn as a joke by Ted’s manager Danny Reed (Walter Abel). Jim finds Linda is a great performer but finds his new perfect life ruined when Ted and Danny return searching for a new dance partner from Ted. Can Jim keep Holiday Inn open, continue to put on productions, and keep Ted from taking Linda from him?
Holiday Inn was directed by Mark Sandrich and boasts music from Irving Berlin. The film was met with a lot of critical success and the song White Christmas not only went on to be a classic but also garnered an Oscar.
Holiday Inn‘s structure if fairly simple and based on the calendar. The movie jumps holiday to holiday and first shows Jim’s frustrations, then his romance with Linda, and then his depression. It is a great format for storytelling and allows the viewers to fill in the gaps of what could have occurred between the holidays. The filmmakers also had some fun with an animated turkey on the Thanksgiving holiday since FDR tried to move Thanksgiving a week earlier to get in extra shopping (which led to the official established fourth Thursday rule).
Irving Berlin’s music really helps fill out this movie and it is impossible to talk about Holiday Inn without talking about “White Christmas”. It wasn’t intended to be the smash hit of the film. Instead, the kind of sappy “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” was expected to be the break-out hit. Instead, “White Christmas” became the chart topper (and in October…for those who think Christmas is celebrated too early now). The song was so popular that the movie White Christmas (1954) was structured around it and also had some themes similar to that of Holiday Inn.
It is unfortunate that Holiday Inn has one segment that mars an otherwise good film, and it is a culture thing that probably wasn’t seen as too crazy at the time. When Ted begins to try to find Linda, Jim tries to hide her. When he learns Ted is in the audience of the Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday performance, he decides to disguise her by having the performance in blackface. It is pretty shocking by today’s standards because both he and Linda really go for the stereotypes. Some versions of the film edit this segment out, but as mentioned the “Abraham” portion is kind of important to the plot so it is hard to take it out without altering what is going on.
Holiday Inn is a weird movie…kind of like The Nightmare Before Christmas. Primarily it feels like a Christmas movie but could be watched anytime since most holidays are hit upon. It was released in August so the intent wasn’t a Christmas movie but due to “White Christmas”, you can often find it floating around the channels around the holiday season. Watch Holiday Inn, it is a good film and just try to remember the time period if the “Abraham” song is in. It is also a bit of a good lesson on how things have changed.