It is four days since the ball fell in dowtown Akron, and even though the holiday season is wrapping up and the decorations and lights are being put away, it is nice to know that next year, we will pull this out again and hope for a better year ahead of us. Let’s start the new year right!
For a classic movie fan, many classic films are watched during this time of year, such as 1946’s It’s A Wonderful Life. Rob Hackley states that it is a movie that you “never get tired of it, such a classic story.” One classic, that rarely gets played anymore on television is 1942’s Holiday Inn.
Starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, it is about a song-and-dance duo who split up because one, the Bing Crosby character, wants to live a simple stress-free life on a farm in Connecticut with his female partner, played by Virginia Dale, only to find that life is too stressful on the farm and the female partner has the hots for the Fred Astaire character. So, Crosby has an idea, to turn it into an inn that is only open on the holidays, where he can entertain people who do not have plans to go elsewhere. He finds a woman eager to become a star, played by Marjorie Reynolds and who helps him out. Soon after, however, their former female partner ditches Astaire and he falls into the dancing feet of the eager young woman, and the pursuit begins between Crosby, who wants her to stay with him, and Astaire who wants to tour with her. This plays out in the year with one classic holiday performance after another.
The 1954 film White Christmas was supposed to be an updated remake of this film, even though it turned into something different and sprouted its own into holiday immortality. Holiday Inn is the first time the Irving Berlin song “White Christmas” is heard, sung by Bing, in this movie. This film suffers from being obscure with its fast-paced drama and its musical numbers, as well as its dated attitudes reflected in its performances. Nothing is more obvious about this than in the Lincoln’s birthday number where Bing and his leading lady adopt blackface, common stage practice of white minstrel performers of yesteryear, to sing a song about Lincoln’s greatest achievement, the Emanicipation Proclamation. Louise Beavers, who plays Bing’s housekeeper, even sings a verse in the song, not that it really adds to the overall performance of the blackfaced performers, or adds dignity to the performance either. A better performance in the movie is the Fourth Of July performances which feature Bing Crosby singing “Song Of Freedom” with clips of FDR, fighter planes, and other images celebrating America’s freedoms, followed by Fred Astaire dancing with firecrackers.
Still, amidst its flaws, it is a holiday classic whose music has not lost its timeless, minus the “Abraham” number as stated in the latter paragraph. The author thinks that this film has the right message though- “let’s start the new year right!”
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Happy New Year!