Holiday Inn (1942)

holiday inn poster 1942 musical
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good music, nice holiday feel

Unfortunate blackface Abraham song

Movie Info

Movie Name: Holiday Inn

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Genre(s): Musical/Comedy/Romance/Family/Seasonal

Release Date(s): August 4, 1942

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

holiday inn white christmas bing crosby marjorie reynolds

…and a Christmas song is born

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?

Directed by Mark Sandrich, Holiday Inn is a musical romantic comedy and features music by Irving Berlin.  The film was met with a lot of critical success and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“White Christmas”) with nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Score.

holiday inn ending bing crosby fred estaire virginia dare marjorie reynolds

You just always have to showboat, don’t you?

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.

holiday inn abraham blackface bing crosby marjorie reynolds racist


The film features its actors at their best.   You have the likable Bing Crosby as a bit of a sad sack who just can’t catch a break and Fred Astaire as his brass counterpart that has skill and personality that seems to get him ahead.  Both sing and dance their way through the whole musical.  Walter Abel plays the kind of slimy manager who only wants the best for the act.  Marjorie Reynolds is good as the lead caught between her career and Jim.  Virginia Dare comes off as a woman only out for cash and fame.

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.  Though favored, White Christmas does imply that there is a blackface scene in stage performance in that movie as well…but thankfully it is not seen.

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.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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