Holiday Inn (1942)

Ⓒ Paramount Pictures
Ⓒ Paramount Pictures

Director: Mark Sandrich Cast: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Abel, Walter Dale

Dinner-dance entertainer Jim Hardy opens an inn in Connecticut, hoping to bring in the crowds by recruiting Linda Mason as his performing partner. However, his previous partner, Ted Hanover, tries to poach Linda for himself, creating a rivalry between the two. Cue cheesy songs from Irving Berlin, some fine tap dancing, and 1940s-standard comedy moments.

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be time to put up a few Christmas movie reviews- and where better to start in my Christmas Crackers series than the movie featuring the ultimate nostalgic festive tune, White Christmas (note: THIS is the movie that features the original performance of the song, not the movie that is confusingly also titled White Christmas). The movie is a comedy, but I think by today’s standards the comedy moments haven’t really aged well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s light-hearted and amusing, but I don’t think people today would find it as sidesplittingly funny as perhaps a 1942 audience would have done.  Also, being 1942, there are a few scenes that would be considered.. well… quite blatantly racist today, so just a word of warning there (from a historical/sociological point of view though, it’s quite fascinating).

The best bit about the film is the singing and dancing- actors back in those days were multi-talented and really deserving of the title entertainers. The setting of the film in a kitsch Connecticut inn (with dustings of fake snow around Christmas), which along with the style and fashions transports the audience back to a simpler time. I would have loved to go to a dinner performance, a fancy meal followed by easy-listening crooners and dancing. I think the nostalgia aspect of the film is what makes it really Christmassy, since that’s what Christmas is about for many people.

So apart from the rather… er… awkward moments that today’s audiences would not be familiar with (look out for the Lincoln’s Birthday celebration), Holiday Inn is a feel-good, mostly inoffensive, family film, ideal for a cosy December evening at home surrounded by twinkling lights and Christmas chocolates.

3 stars

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