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25 July 2011

Holiday Inn (1942) [Musical Film-a-Thon] 5#


Directed by: Mark Sendrich
Genre: Musical, Romance
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Most certainly one of the greatest and brightest musicals ever made in this all singing, all dancing musical extravaganza. Starring Bing Crosby and dancing legend Fred Astaire Holiday Inn is a warm, charming musical film with romance and comedy thrown into the bag. It’s old fashioned, and quite dated, but this film is classic cinema and is one exciting piece of entertainment. It is a simple and thin story of a love triangle showing Astaire at his most energetic, but alongside it’s marvellous dancing and some great musical numbers it remains a great film. The fantastic Irving Berlin Score ‘Let’s say it with Firecrackers’ (which gives Fred his finest moment) makes up for it’s thin and simplistic story.

Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale), who form a musical act, are staples of the Manhattan nightlife scene. On Christmas Eve, Hardy prepares to give his last performance as part of the act before marrying Lila and retiring with her to a farm in Connecticut. Lila, however, decides at the last minute that she is not ready to stop performing, and that she has fallen in love with Ted, and chooses to stay on as his dancing partner. Jim, while heartbroken, follows through with his plan and bids the act goodbye. A Christmas Eve later, Jim is back in New York. Farm life seemed to have failed him (as we see in a montage of Jim coping with difficulty) and required him to spend time and sanatorium to calm his nerves. While recuperating, Jim has dreamed up a new use for his farm. He plans to turn it into an entertainment venue called "Holiday Inn", which will only open on holidays. Ted and his agent Danny Reed scoff at the plan, but wish him luck. From here onwards it’s a story with romance, holiday themed musical numbers and plenty of dancing.
This is the first Astaire film I have seen and I am very impressed with his dancing. It is easy to see why he is usually known as the best American dancer ever. In a featurette on the DVD of Holiday Inn, there was a clip shown of Astaire dancing in another film called Blue Skies, and what a brilliant performance he gave their too. So from only seeing those two clips of Astaire in action (as well as a few others that where their) Astaire is the most impressive dancer I have seen. In shooting of the film, 1941 Astaire was 42 years of age and from the amount of energy shown in his Firecracker number, it makes it even more impressive and the number has become one of my favourite musical film numbers. Age certainly didn’t catch up with him because he went on dancing even in the late 60’s. Astaire’s outstanding dancing definitely boosts the score for this film and it really stole the show in a way.

The film’s music was completely perfect and before I continue, let’s have a little look at the musical number for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Just look at the picture below. Indeed a very weird moment for the film and racist as some will say because of the black face routine but the song itself is quite enjoyable. But I cannot deny how foolish it is. This musical number is quite controversial and in some versions of the film have this cut out. The film has 12 songs, and most of which being very entertaining. The first musical number is about 5 minutes into the film featuring Jim, Ted and Lila in a song called ‘I’ll Capture Your Heart Singing’ and was a pretty fun song. The classic song ‘White Christmas’ appears for the first time in the film ad what a beautiful song it is. Overall is full of old fashioned delightful and memorable music.

Although the film is almost a whopping 70 years old now it still has a spark of energy left in it. Astaire and Cosby may not be the finest actors there are but they sustain plenty of character here. In the end Holiday Inn is a seasonal classic with some great music and impressive dancing.

My Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. A place that opens only on the few holidays sprinkled throughout the year? Not a way to make much money. I found the blackface scene jarring, but the song it was combined with was sincere about its feeling.

    ReplyDelete

 

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