Video Review: Holiday Inn
by Jonathan S. Walker

Amazing dance routines, memorable songs, and a fun story about eking out a life worth living can all be found in this wonderful Hollywood classic: Holiday Inn.

Jim Hardy (Bring Crosby) has had it with the constant grind of life in show business: performances every evening of the year-including matinees on holidays. Jim is much more of a home-body anyway. He has bought a farm and he and his girlfriend Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) will marry and settle down. That leaves their partner in the show, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), high and dry. Someone will be left out anyway. As it turns out, Linda is in love with the high life and abandons Jim for the flashier Ted.

After a year on the farm and a minor breakdown, Jim realizes that farm life is not the idyllic dream he envisioned. His new plan is to turn the farm into the Holiday Inn-a hotel with food and entertainment that will only be open the 15 holidays of the year. By luck, he comes in contact with the undiscovered talent of Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) who becomes the partner he needs at the inn. However, when Linda leaves Ted for a Texas millionaire, Ted comes to the inn to steal away the heart and feet of Jim’s new partner.

There are several different kinds of musical films. Holiday Inn should be categorized as the best of a musical-dance revue with a plot. Making the music and dance routines exist logically in the plot is an innovation that has been partially credited to Astaire. Some viewers may become impatient when the plot comes to a halt for Bing’s crooning or Fred’s dazzle, but they should find ample entertainment value in the film if they can keep their desire for plot advancement in check. Between the direction of Mark Sandrich, the music of Irving Berlin, and the flare of Fred Astaire there is much to enjoy.

It is remarkable that with all the dancing and singing there is never a feeling that we’ve seen it all before. Astaire dances with variety: solo and with a partner, with pizzaz and with romance, with firecrackers and intoxicated, and slow and fast (in the same number). Crosby sings with similar effect: with dance, comic, romantic, even emotional. At the end of the film, when Crosby returns to “White Christmas” it is with added emotional and character significance.

Lila: [Open the inn only] fifteen holidays a year! You’re a lazy fella.

Jim: No, not especially. Just have my own ideas about living.

Lila: My father was like you…as long as he was alive we had plenty to eat and clothes to keep us warm.

Jim: Were you happy?

Lila: Yes.

Jim: Than your father was a successful man. I hope I can do as well.

Jim understands the deadening effect of the rat race. He has found that his constant work on stage brought some worldly renown, but has been a hollow life lacking the ballast of family and balanced living. And yet, he has very little confidence that others can make that same observation. His lack of faith stems partly from being burned so regularly by his friend Ted, but also because he lacks the trust in those around him.

Linda was not the first woman that Ted stole away from the much more down-to-earth Jim. After the visions of his happy life with Linda evaporate, Jim becomes convinced that people of talent are incapable of balancing their lives while in pursuit of the limelight. Like a moth to a light, they will fly for it until they burn up in it’s heat. Because of this lack of trust, Jim hides Lila from Ted and never gives her the opportunity choose for herself. When Jim explains to Lila that he was just trying to keep her with him she protests, “What kind of keeping is that? Nothing but tricks.” Tricks can work, just ask Ted and his agent Danny Reed (Walter Abel), but by the end of the film Ted openly admits that his track record in relationships is poor.

Jim’s selfishness, while understandable, logically unravels his partnership with Lila. In this, Ted stands as a perfect example. All of Ted’s relationships fail because they are based on selfishness, deception, and a focus on worldly success. Ted, like Linda, love a lifestyle not people. The only way Jim can salvage his relationship with Lila is in an environment of complete honesty. They must both choose each other, their lifestyle, and happiness with their eyes open.

This holiday season sit back and enjoy a fun story and some of the greatest singing and dancing classic Hollywood has to offer.

 


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