Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Holiday Movie Category: Toe-Tapping Holiday Goodness


Bing the Sap, Fred the Lothario, Mammy the Insulting Turkey-Basting Stereotype, Holiday Inn the Holiday Inn, a cacophony of catchy tunes, some amazing footwork, some amazing racism, and the birth of a ubiquitous X-mas classic.

More details here.


Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) and Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) are a popular song and dance team that's breaking up. Jim wants to retreat to the countryside and retire on a farm with his best girl and co-star Lila (Virgina Dale). But two-faced Ted is also in love with her and the pair plans to screw over Jim and take their new act on the road. Jim takes the bad news with remarkable calm, and heads up to his farm to transform it into an inn that's open only on holidays and features fabulous stage shows. After clearing out the cobwebs, broken doors, and tons of pigshit, Jim opens his dream club on New Years Eve when he woos songstress wannabe Linda (Marjorie Reynolds) and sings “White Christmas” to her beside a fire. On New Year's Eve, Ted gets dumped by Lila and shows up at the inn drunk as a skunk but still manages to out-perform any So You Think You Can Dance doof out the barn door. Blitzed Ted dances with Linda in a routine that knocks the roof off the dump. After seeing the couple perform so well together, Jim prepares himself to be jilted once again. But Jim plays a few tricks to avoid losing Linda, and Ted sticks around the old inn for a few more holidays hoping to win her over which he does. But Jim's not finished yet. In the end, it's a X-mas Eve match of wits between the singer and dancer for the love of a babe and the "White Christmas" cash cow.


Holiday Inn is nothing but pure good-natured corniness, but at least it's well-made and performed corniness. This holiday musical brings together towering entertainment giants Crosby, Astaire, and songwriter Irving Berlin to craft a breezy, fun, and massively entertaining movie that introduced the world to the immortal X-mas classic “White Christmas” and a chain of affordable motels. The film is filled with memorable holiday tunes belted out by Bing. Astaire's magical talent is a wonder to behold, especially the mesmerizing July 4th firecracker dance number. That M-Fer could dance! There's great chemistry between Crosby and Astaire, the script is light and amusing, and the fine supporting cast turns in wonderful jobs all around. But, of course, there's always a dark side to all the fun, this time a literal one. In one segment, Bing puts on blackface for Lincoln's birthday and performs a minstrel show, an ode to Honest Abe who “set the darkie free”. Wow. Also hideously awkward is the Inn's black Mammy (Louise Beavers) who parades around like Aunt Jemima, acts subserviently to Bing, and vitriolically shows off bad grammar. Although dated, embarrassing, and insulting, I hope the sequences are never edited out for the sake of future generations to witness the travesty of the minstrel show, despite the pant-wetting hilarity. Holiday Inn was later remade as White Christmas, a colorful but joyless offering that pales in comparison, and this original should not be absent from any holiday viewing itinerary.

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