Over the Christmas holidays I watched loads of Christmas movies! There is something so magical about these kind of movies which just instantly cheers you up. One movie which I saw was one called 'Holiday Inn'.
Holiday Inn is an American movie which comes under the musical genre. The film was released in 1942 and so is almost seventy years old. The film stars Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds. The movie is a U which means that it can be viewed by persons of all ages, including young children, which means that this movie is perfect for the whole family. The DVD is currently available to buy from Amazon for a price of
In this movie : What will happen when after meeting Linda, Jim decideds to turn his farm into a Holiday Inn ? Watch Holiday Inn Movie to find out!
First of all, the thing that stands out the most for me is the acting. Now obviously, this movie is quite old and so I have no idea who the actors were and have not seen any of their other films, but I was really impressed with the talent in this movie. I thought that the actors had great on-screen chemistry and played their parts really well ; their
characters were so believable.
I love the whole 1920's to 1940's era, and so watching this when it was actually filmed and set in the 40's (and not set in the 40's but filmed in the 2000's). I love the whole 'old fashioned' thing of it all ; everything about it ; the music and the way they danced etc. It really was an interesting time, and this certainly came through in the movie. I loved the whole 'going back in time' thing.
Considering, that at the time of filming, they didn't have the special technology effects that film makers these days have, although I have to say that this movie is excellent compared to a lot of the 'films' in the cinemas these days.
I loved watching the dancing in this movie as it was really fun, and has the kind of music which just makes you smile. My favourite dance was definately to the song "Be Careful Its My Heart".
If you are looking for a great pick-me-up kind of film, then watch this! It is sure to bring a smile to your face!
Thanks for reading!
January 2nd 2011
xd-o-n-z-x (also posted on Ciao under xdonzx)
I bet you're all wondering why a Jewish girl would be writing a review about the movie where the famous song "White Christmas" was premiered (and won an Oscar for). Furthermore, why would someone who lives in Israel (and writes for a UK site) write a review of a movie that focuses on American as well as Christian holidays? Well, despite all these drawbacks, if you're a fan of Fred Astaire's dancing or Bing Crosby's singing or Irving Berlin's songs or any combination or all three, then this has just got to be one of the finest movies and a must to own. And while I don't have any traditions for Christmas, on New Year's Eve this is the film I must watch.
But it's hardly ever aired on TV, and I've actually never seen it aired on Israeli television. So, years ago when I got my first video player, THIS was the first film I bought for it. Mind you, it wasn't easy to find back then - but that was before the era of Amazon. But what makes this film so great? Well, there are many reasons however the plot really isn't one of them, so I'll start there.
Simply put, Crosby and Astaire play the song and dance act of Hardy and Hanover (respectively) who are both in love with the third member of their act, a Miss Lila Dixon (played by Virginia Dale), but after breaking Crosby's heart by choosing Astaire, Bing decides to give up show business and live on a farm where he can have holidays off. However, anyone who knows the smallest thing about rural life also knows that there are no holidays off on a farm. He then comes up with the idea to start an Inn that will be open ONLY on holidays - of which there were (back then) only 15 a year. Of course, Miss Dixon breaks Astaire's character's heart as well, and Bing's character spends most of the rest of this movie trying to keep his new love interest and star - Miss Linda Mason (get it? Mason-Dixon? That was what the US boarder between the North and the South were called during the Civil War), played by Marjorie Reynolds - out of his rival's amorous advances. Your classic "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl" story, done this time with two couples and some partner swapping along the way.
Basically, this was Irving Berlin's story which was a thin veil used to showcase songs that he probably hoped would become classics for every holiday on the calendar. In fact, Berlin succeeded with White Christmas and Easter Parade - both of which ended up being central in later films of the same names. However, in my mind, many of the other songs should have gained at least some off-film popularity since there are some real gems here that only come shining out while you're watching this film. Why they faded into the background afterwards is beyond me.
So this takes you to the music. As I mentioned, there's a song for every holiday celebrated in the US at that time - with the exception of Columbus Day, Veterans Day (which have since been replaced by Memorial Day and Labor Day) and, strangely enough, Halloween. These include:
"Let's Start the New Year Right" - you guessed it, a sprightly tune that tells us "how can the year go wrong when, we start the new year right" by kissing the old year out and kissing the new year in. Of course, in this movie a kiss is not always just a kiss and it can get you into whole piles of trouble.
"Abraham" - a song for Lincoln's Birthday and a good reason to do a "black-face" number. Civil rights weren't on the boards in 1942 when this film was released, but we all know how liberal Hollywood was. Well, liberal enough to put in a back-talking black maid/cook and her two cute kids and even give them a feature in this song. I wonder what kind of a song Berlin would have written for Martin Luther King's Birthday?
"Can't Tell A Lie" - for Washington's Birthday (which, together with Lincoln's Birthday have since been combined into President's Day in the USA) which tells us that on this day of the year, even if we wanted to, we can't lie - just like the famous story of how George Washington cut down a cherry tree and then couldn't lie to his father when asked who had done it. There's more to this song in the film than just the words. Watching the characters dressed up in powdered wigs and 18th century dress, most of which goes askew when Bing thwarts Astaire from kissing Reynolds by switching to a jazz version of the song.
"Be Careful, Its My Heart" - for Valentine's Day and one of the types of dance routines that Astaire has always been famous for. The sweeping ballroom quality matched with the charm and flair that only Fred can pull off without looking sappy was a must for any movie he appeared in, and this is no exception.
"Easter Parade" - we all know the song, and Bing does a great job with it, but other than that, there's nothing much to this number except the blossoming of love among the blossoming trees. Truly, the winter's sap got too heavily into this song. And yet, this song was the basis of another movie years later with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland.
"Song of Freedom" & "Firecrackers" - these were for the American Independence Day, otherwise known as the 4th of July. While the first song is hardly memorable, we have to remember that this film was produced in 1942 which was smack dab in the middle of America's involvement in WWII. Any musical produced at that time had to have some sort of a patriotic song attached as a matter of course.
As for "Firecrackers", you won't find a recording of this song anywhere because it's just a dance number. But WHAT a dance number this is! While some would argue that Fred's "dancing on the ceiling" number in Royal Wedding was his best work, I'd have to disagree and go for this one. You see, in my mind the ceiling dance was great mostly because of the film trick that had never been used before. However, this dance number is all Fred with practically no tricks besides a few set explosions on the stage where he's dancing. And if you think about it, his ability to dance around those carefully set explosions, and getting them to go off at the right time while lighting some of his own and not catching on fire, well, it's nearly miraculous. I read somewhere that this was done in only one take because the damage to the stage afterwards wouldn't allow for more than this. Sadly, I've witnessed this number - of all the numbers - being cut from some television showings in order to shorten the film (obviously so it will fit in to the time slot with the added commercials). How cruel can the world get? Of course, that also means the Freedom song is cut, but that's no great loss.
"I've Got Plenty to be Thankful For" - this one is for Thanksgiving, and while it's a nice little song, it's one of the few songs that is actually used more as impetus for the plot than as a musical number. Sort of like, instead of a voice over of someone's thoughts, put a song on and have someone insult themselves singing it and then suddenly realize what an idiot they've been. Too bad, as I do like this one and it's sorely under-rated. For those who see this film, there's a bit of a cartoon here where a turkey jumps back and forth on a calendar (something that's also cut sometimes). To explain this, in 1942 there was heavy debate to decide if Thanksgiving should be celebrated on the third or fourth Thursday of every November. Well, really, who cares, right? Highly outdated and totally irrelevant, I haven't a clue why this is sometimes kept in on television screenings when the Firecrackers dance gets cut. Go figure!
"White Christmas" - well, we all know this one, don't we? And this is the film that made it famous, and earned it its Oscar. We get this song twice during the film, and yet, it isn't overly used so it doesn't become boring or even sappy or silly. And since its Bing Crosby singing it once, and then partially the second time, you'll truly have something to enjoy. I believe that this particular song actually shows off Bing's voice probably better than any other song I've ever heard him sing.
There are other songs in this film which include songs for the Inn ("Happy Holidays" and "Holiday Inn"), a couple of songs that are done by the original nightclub trio and reprised as nightclub quartet pieces ("I'll Capture Her Heart" and "Easy to Dance With") and a number called "Lazy" which is used as an ironic backdrop to show you just how NOT lazy one has to be if they want to run a farm.
I understand that Astaire did all his own choreography for this movie, as he did on many of his earlier movies. In the Firecrackers dance alone, we see what true genius he had both as a choreographer and as a dancer. As an actor, and especially as a romantic comedian, Astaire shines in this movie, despite his poor acting skills. He's still young enough and handsome enough to be believable as a heart-throb and his comic timing in this one is at its best.
Of course, we know that Crosby wasn't chosen for this part because of his ability to play a romantic lead or even his comic abilities. He was chosen for his voice and nothing else. If you can't stand to listen to his crooning style, then this won't be a movie for you. But if you can handle it, you'll find that a very good performance was given by Crosby here, and he seems far less wooden in this movie than in many of his I've seen - both before and afterwards. For instance, years later when he joined up with Danny Kaye to do the movie "White Christmas", he renders a barely two dimensional character, and it's obvious that his famous recording of the title song was the only reason he appears in that movie at all. Especially since, looking his full 52 years of age, he's no longer young and attractive enough to get the girl in that film. But here he's perfect and looks way younger than his actual 42.
Now this is a Black & White film and I don't believe that they've rendered it horrific by trying to colorize it in any of the new releases. It's also recorded in mono (remember that?), but that doesn't seem to effect the lovely songs here. There's something very comforting in watching an old B&W film, actually. Something warm, almost, and director Mark Sandrich was well known for his B&W films, especially his musicals - many of which included the famous dance couple of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. And while the script here may make Crosby's character seem petty and back-biting and underhanded, it's all done with the great aplomb and style that Sandrich was famous for.
Sandrich teamed up on this film with one of his favorite cinematographers - David Abel - which was an excellent choice, since he uses filters carefully enough to set the mood exactly as it should be. They use some cute editing tricks that must have been pretty fancy looking back then, but today, are just nice looking touches. For instance, the nightclub scenes are done so that you feel like you're in the audience. Close ups are reserved for the love scenes and some comic double-takes, while pan shots give us atmosphere and depth. There are some old looking "time is passing" tricks that seem a bit old fashioned, but hey Even so, this doesn't mean that there's anything stupid looking here, and that means that this film has easily withstood the test of time.
In conclusion, if you wanted to start the New Year right, you'd have done like I do almost every year - pop this baby into the VCR (or DVD), cuddle up with your best bloke or babe, and together - with a bowl of hot buttered popcorn and a big mug of hot chocolate - just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Five stars despite the unfortunately thin plot!
Thanks for Reading!
Davida Chazan © December, 2002 - updated February, 2006
For more information on this film see: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0034862
Presently this is available for purchase on DVD in the UK via Amazon.co.uk for a whopping £17.99, however its only £13.49 delivered, from Amazon Jersey, or used & new from £2.70. Fortunately, its also available for rental from Amazon.co.uk!