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Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Perfect Movie for Any Holiday... Holiday Inn

I have to admit that I was a little torn about what to write about today...  Melissa put one of my favorite movies, Holiday Inn, on last night and that became my first idea.  Then, today, she put on our video of the Christmas episode of The Judy Garland Show.  We'll come back to that in a few weeks and stick with a stay at Bing's Holiday Inn.

Released in 1942, Holiday Inn is as patriotic as it is Christmasy.  The story of a New York song and dance man, part of a trio made up of Fred Astaire and Virginia Dale.  When Fred and Virginia's characters decided to make a twosome, Bing gives up big city show business to run an inn in the country.  This movie is filled with some of the best music to appear on the screen, including one of the world's all-time hit songs, White Christmas.  The famous Easter Parade also makes it's debut here.

Holiday Inn is just the kind of place you wish really existed...  A charming place in the country, open only on holidays, serving up delicious food, fabulous entertainment and dancing until the wee hours.  Every dance number is staged with Busby Berkley-like precision and each song makes you want to sing along.

Fred Astaire makes history with some of his dance routines, most notably his Fourth of July number danced with and among live, crackling firecrackers.  It reportedly took three days of rehearsal to get it right, and boy was it worth it. 

Some of the references and routines in Holiday Inn are just a little uncomfortable to watch today.  For example, the number celebrating Abraham Lincoln's birthday seems shocking by current standards.  Seeing a stage full of white performers in black face and singing in exaggerated accents seems like a rather unfortunate way to honor the Great Emancipator but, considering the times, their hearts were in the right place, if their politics were more than a little incorrect.

Holiday Inn is, primarily, a Christmas movie, starting and ending with the great Yuletide festival, but every major holiday on the calendar is covered.  We watch it on New Years, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and then throughout the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, and I never really get tired of it.  I love the sleekness of the early 1940's night club scenes, the charm of the inn and it's decoration, and the fabulous music.  It's a great movie anytime, but I promise you that one visit to Holiday Inn will keep you coming back again and again!

P.S.  White Christmas, the movie, is a semi-remake of Holiday Inn.  Even some of the earlier movies sets were revamped for the later, Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye vehicle...

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