Classic Christmas Movie Review #4 – Holiday Inn
Welcome to the fourth of my Christmas movie reviews: Holiday Inn. Made in 1942, Holiday Inn is a musical about a performer, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), who becomes tired of his job and wants to take it easy on a farm. It also stars Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, and Virginia Dale. Featuring songs from Irving Berlin, such as White Christmas; Easter Parade; Be Careful, It’s My heart; and many others.
As part of a dancing and singing trio, Jim Hardy’s desire is to leave show business and relax “like everyone else”. His partner, Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale), has agreed to marry him and the two are almost set for a life on a farm in Connecticut. But unfortunately for Jim, Lila doesn’t want to leave show business. In fact, she’s not even sure she loves Jim. Ted (Fred Astaire) tells Jim that the two of them, him and Lila, belong together, “dedicating their lives to making people happy with their feet”.
Despite the news, Jim leaves for Connecticut anyway. He starts his farm and works it. But it isn’t long before he realizes farming isn’t what he thought it was. While resting up in a Sanitarium, he cooks up an idea to turn the lodge into an inn, “but what an Inn!” Performances only on the holidays leaves him most of the year to kick around in. So he heads back to his old friends to find some talent and tell them his idea.
His first, and only, audition is with an ambitious singer/dancer named Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds). The two hit it off well and before long Jim Hardy’s dream idea becomes a reality.
New Year’s Eve arrives and Holiday Inn is open for business. The Inn is packed and everyone is ready to bring in the new year, everyone, that is, except Jim’s former dancing partner, Ted Hanover. He receives a telegram from Lila telling him that she has left to marry a Texan with millions. On a binge, he sets out for Connecticut and his dear friend Jim.
He meets Linda and while in a drunken stupor, dances a routine with her leaving everyone to think she’s his new partner. Having already “proposed” to Linda, and envisioning another “Lila” instance, Jim rushes Linda home before Danny Reed, Ted’s agent, is able to see her.
Another holiday passes but Jim manages to keep Linda from Ted and Danny by doing a black face number. Ted and Danny are only the more insistent on finding the “elusive” dancing partner and Jim is afraid he can’t keep Linda from them for long.
Only working at the Inn on holidays, Linda arrives for Valentine’s Day. During the rehearsal of Jim’s latest song, a song he wrote just for her, Ted and Danny appear, discover Linda, and realize Jim has known about her all along. They offer her the job of being the famous Ted Hanover’s dancing partner, to which Linda gladly accepts, but having made the commitment to play in all of Jim’s shows for the rest of the year, refuses to leave the Inn.
The next holiday has come and it’s the birthday of George Washington. No longer center stage and sore over having lost once again to Ted, Jim throws a few twists into the routine. Afterward, Ted hears from Linda of the two’s engagement and prepares to bow out until Jim acts surprised, having considered it hopeful but not set in stone. Ted thinks that if a man doesn’t know he’s engaged, he can go ahead with his plans “with a clear conscience”.
His plan materializes on Easter Sunday when he shows up at the Inn declaring he wants to spend lifes simple pleasures with them at the Inn. Jim knows something is up Ted’s sleeve but he can’t do anything. Skeptical, but not nearly as much as Jim, Linda accepts Ted back and the two prepare for the next holiday performance, the fourth of July.
Meanwhile, Jim overhears Ted and Danny discussing bringing in Hollywood producers to see Ted and Linda dance. Fearing this will be the one thing that will take Linda away from him, he plots to keep Linda from getting to the Inn by having his driver stall when picking her up at the train station. Gus, the driver, chooses to drive into a river.
Soaked to the skin, Linda hails an oncoming car to give her a lift to the Inn. She comes to find out the driver of the car is none other than Lila Dixon. Lila claims that Jim called her to come dance with Ted that night for the Hollywood directors.
By the time she arrives the show is over and Linda confronts Jim. She accuses him of selfishness and Jim sees that his plans didn’t work out like he had hoped.
The men from Hollywood, on the otherhand, prove to be more interested in the Inn than the dancing partners. They offer to buy the idea from Jim, with Ted and Linda thrown in. At first reluctant, Jim finally caves and throws his hopes away with it.
Its off to Hollywood with Ted and Linda. Becoming the dancing team of the public, its not long before they announce their engagement.
Jim once again is faced with losing another girl to his pal, Ted. Thanksgiving Day finds him back where he started, sulking and alone. His maid, Mamie, gives him a piece of her mind, telling him all he needs to do is go up there and tell Linda he loves her. At first Jim just pushes her words aside until he remembers what Ted did despite their being engaged.
When Jim arrives in good spirits, Ted and Danny’s suspicions are aroused. In light of the quarreling going on between the two former “partners” neither one trusts the other. Danny tricks Jim and locks him in Ted’s double sided closet. Jim manages to slip out the other door and lock the two in their room. Frantic now, Ted and Danny climb out the second story window of his dressing room but arrive too late to enter the set.
The set is a complete look alike to the Inn in Connecticut, which only makes Linda all the more homesick for Jim. During filming, she sits down at the piano to sing White Christmas. She stumbles over the words when she sees Jim’s pipe on the top of the piano and runs into Jim’s awaiting arms when he appears on the set the next moment.
Back at the Inn, Jim and Linda are finally together, while Ted gets another dancing partner in the form of Lila. The Inn is full and the new year bright.
The idea for an inn that is only open on the holidays was created by Irving Berlin, I believe, and then the movie was written. Its a great idea, full of romance and excitement. Too bad it couldn’t work today. I love the music the most. Irving Berlin wrote some definite hits, many of which also appear in his later movie also starring Bing Crosby, called White Christmas. Stick around, I’m hoping that one will be next on my list of reviews.
Because this is a movie I have watched every year for as long as I could remember, I grew up thinking Fred Astaire was a one of those actors typecast as a nasty person, always stealing other guys girls, making life tough on everyone else, that sort. But as I started watching other movies, especially the many he did with Ginger Rogers, I began to like him a lot more. This really is a funny role for him in that he is so selfish. In many other movies he’s the one your rooting for.
Marjorie Reynolds as Linda Mason does very well but I can’t help wishing every year that she wouldn’t be so fooled by Ted’s fame and stay instead with Jim. But that’s not gonna happen. And it all works out anyway. So in a way I get what I want.
Well, thanks for reading my fourth review. As usual, I hope you liked it and would love to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment, or email me at the address mentioned in my bio just above.