If you haven't seen it:
In Holiday Inn, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire play successful Broadway song and dance men. They are best friends, but they seem to have a tendancy to fall for the same women.
One of them quits Broadway to pursue his dream of running a little hotel
that only opens a few days a year, on national holidays. He hires a singer/dancer
(Marjorie Reynolds) to perform there, and before long, the old friends
are competing for her.
If you like the old-style caberet, and don't object too strongly to contrived storylines, dodgy acting, and casual racism, there's lots to enjoy here. Not least the fact that this film introduced the song White Christmas to the world.
If you have seen it:
Scroll down past the adverts and the trailer for more.
Click below to watch the trailer:
Jim, his girlfriend Lila, and best friend Ted, are a successful song and
dance act. However, Jim has decided to give it all up and go and
become a farmer (which he believes, for some reason, will be an easier
life) with Lila. What Jim does not know however, is that Lila and Ted
are having an affair, and Lila has no intention of going with him. When
Jim does find out, he takes the news philosphically, and goes off to
his farm alone.
The cocaine parties at the Holiday Inn were legendary
After a while, he discovers that being a farmer is actually hard work. He comes up with another plan instead - he turns the farmhouse into a hotel. In order to minimise the amount of work he has to do, he decides that the hotel will only open on national holidays. He also hires a novice caberet singer/dancer, Linda.On the opening night, Ted turns up at the hotel, having split up with Lila. He is very drunk. He finds himself performing an impromptu dance number with Linda in front of a crowd of fans, but in the morning he cannot remember anything about it. On hearing that his "new partner" was so good though, he resolves to track her down.
No, we couldn't believe this was actually happening either
I am not a big fan of musicals where people burst into song for no reason, so I was relieved that most (but irritatingly not quite all) the songs were in context on stage or in rehersal. Overall, I thought Holiday Inn was quite an enjoyable bit of nonsense. None of the characters behave like real people at all, and the story does not make a lot of sense either, but what I found interesting was the glimpse of the old long-gone art form of caberet.
"You put your left arm in, your left arm out...
C'mon guys, it's fun"
A lot of people get very worked up about Fred Astaire's dancing, angrily
declaring him the best dancer of all time and making unsubstantiated
claims that he could defy gravity. Well, I have never been especially
keen on his particular style myself, but I thought it worked well in
this movie. I enjoyed the "drunk" dance number more than the (more celebrated) "firecracker" number.
It's not all wholesome fun though. Back in the 1980s I remember seeing someone on British TV putting forward the suggestion that Holiday Inn was in fact a racist/Nazi propaganda film. As he said, "Let's examine the evidence, shall we":
Now that I am older and wiser (and have access to Wikipedia) I realise that he made that last point up. Still, no smoke without fire eh?
Dreaming of a blonde Christmas
Astaire is on fine form in Let's say it with Firecrackers but overall the movie is dowdy and thin. The girls are duds and the film lacks festivity and showbiz pizzaz. The 1954 "remake" was a distinct improvement.
"I think the engine is flooded"
Bing Crosby ... Jim Hardy
Fred Astaire ... Ted Hanover
Marjorie Reynolds ... Linda Mason
Virginia Dale ... Lila Dixon
Directed by Mark Sandrich
Music by Irving Berlin