Holiday Inn (1942)
Holiday Inn (1942)
Director: Mark Sandrich
Cast: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds
Synopsis: At an inn which is only open on holidays, a crooner and a hoofer vie for the affections of a beautiful up-and-coming performer.
Fred Astaire relies on his abundant reserves of charm to disguise the dubious morals and motivation of his character in Irving Berlin’s classic, Holiday Inn. He plays Ted Hanover, a song-and-dance man, who thinks nothing of stealing Lila (Virginia Dale) away from his partner, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby – The Country Girl, High Society) on the very eve of the couple’s planned retirement from the show business. When Lila then dumps him for a man she mistakenly believes to be a millionaire, a self-pitying Ted drunkenly pitches up at the farm Jim had intended to share with Lila, but which he has now converted into a cosy nightclub which only opens for business on national holidays. Almost immediately, Ted finds a new dance partner in perky young Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds – Gone With the Wind, Bad Men of Tombstone), but is so drunk that the following morning he can’t even remember what she looked like. That suits Jim just fine, as he has his own plans for Linda, and so goes to great lengths to ensure Ted doesn’t learn the identity of his mystery dance partner.
It’s testimony to the carefree style of both the cast and the film that all the characters involved in Holiday Inn remain likeable despite their aptitude for duplicity and deception. But, of course, this is the kind of instant classic that Hollywood seemed to turn out at will back in the 1930s and ’40s. Crosby and Astaire are a complementary couple – Fred is light on his feet but struggles to carry a tune, while Bing’s rich bass-baritone makes up for the fact that he can’t dance. While Bing has the good sense to refrain from intruding on Fred’s speciality, Astaire’s efforts at song prove to be Holiday Inn’s weakest aspect. Otherwise, its breezy screenplay puts across a story of romantic deception and subterfuge with grace and good humour. Crosby and Astaire work well together, particularly as comic foils, and Walter Abel (The Indian Fighter) provides solid support as Ted’s complicit agent, but while Marjorie Reynolds is a pretty addition to the cast, she lacks the necessary personality to make much of an impression.
(Reviewed 18th December 2015)