208 of 220 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2006
I just finished watching the newly released Special Edition of Holiday Inn. I was AMAZED at the clarity of the picture. I've never seen a print of this film looking so pristine. Even on just a regular, 20" non-HDTV set, the hairs askew on top of Bing's toupee during the famous White Christmas scene are plainly visible. Now if you can see single hairs on a person's head during a medium shot on a small television set, that's a stunningly clear picture!
The audio as well is crisp and clear with rich bass and treble tones. If you watch the film with the audio commentary on, you'll hear the dulcet tones of Ken Barnes relating some fascinating tidbits about the making of the film, the songs (one particularly interesting part concerns the verse to White Christmas), the cast, etc. All is enhanced by sound bites from Bing and Fred Astaire themselves in archive audio material from the 1970's. As an example, Bing speaks of the continuing sales of his recording of White Christmas as late as 1974, how he felt it was due in part to people giving the record as a Christmas gift.
The real gems are the bonus features, particularly the 45 minute long mini feature A Couple of Song & Dance Men. Ken Barnes is joined by Fred Astaire's lovely daughter Ava sharing biographical memories of both Bing and Fred, along with trivia tidbits. Ava shows and reads some of the letters Fred Astaire wrote to his wife while on a USO tour in England with Bing in 1944, and telegrams to Fred from Bing, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin are also shown on screen. All is pieced together nicely with song excerpts from Bing's films, coming attractions trailers, and newsreel footage, including Bing opening the Stage Door Canteen in 1944.
The other, shorter bonus feature runs 7 minutes and is titled All Singing - All Dancing. Ken shares some rare behind the scenes photos and techniques of how musical numbers were filmed, beginning with the early talkies. He shows how the orchestra and singer were together on the set and recorded as one.
The original theatrical trailer for Holiday Inn is also included.
All is wrapped up nicely with a slip-cover that goes over the DVD case. When compared with the two-on-one DVD of Holiday Inn and Going My Way that's been out for many years now, the difference in quality is plainly visible. The Holiday Inn print looks somewhat fuzzy or "muddy" in quality when watched after seeing the brilliance of the newly restored print used on this Special Edition.
In short, this is a DVD that's well worth having. If you want the definitive presentation of this classic Holiday film, this is it! Bravo Ken & co.
144 of 154 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2008
I've watched both the spotless B&W version with commentary and the dazzling color version of the Universal 3-disc (including CD) edition of "Holiday Inn" and I am very impressed.
If you haven't seen the film for a while, the very high points are the song "White Christmas" and its reprise and two of Fred Astaire's more unforgettable numbers: a solo dance with firecrackers and a falling down drunk number that has to be seen to be believed. But to be fair, all the numbers are memorable, from the classic "You're Easy to Dance With" to the 18th Century-influenced "I Can't Tell a Lie" and the blackface hommage to Abraham Lincoln, "Abraham", one of Irving Berlin's best "unknown" songs. The two underrated female counterparts (Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale) are also quite nimble and copacetic.
This edition has kept all the extras of the 2006 Special Edition: "A couple of Song and Dance Men", a 50 min double biography of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire that has a lot of exciting footage from many of their movies not yet on DVD, hosted by record producer Ken Barnes and Ava Astaire; "All Singing - All Dancing", a 7 min demonstration of how the dance numbers were filmed and put together (dancing to a pre-recorded soundtrack + live recording of the tapping sound with hidden microphones); a very thorough multiple commentary with input from vintage Crosby and Astaire interviews; and a well-preserved theatrical trailer.
It also includes a 12-band CD collection of the film's songs with Crosby and Astaire (from Geffen Records) presented in a cute miniature cardboard 78-RPM sleeve - a genuine collector's item, and a 7 min making-of docu of the color version with Barry Sandrew.
The Legend Films color version, in my opinion, reaches yet another summit in verisimilitude, the skin tones having been somehow improved upon and the indoor/outdoor sets and costumes being handled with the same level of maniacal authenticity as in "It's a Wonderful Life". It actually looks better than a lot of color films of the era and really strives for that saturated Technicolor look, but in a somehow more "relaxed" presentation, as B&W films obviously didn't have to try as hard to dazzle the eye in every department and every second. Still, I had to gawk and stare at a scene where Astaire is hurriedly packing a tangled bunch of vari-colored neckties, wondering at the complexity of the colorization process involved in such a puny but mind-bogling detail. The whole film - with the nicely contrasting exception of a patriotic B&W documentary montage of the USA's entry into WWII shown at the Inn - is bathed in the warm glow of intimate indoor lighting alternating with more gaudy flood-lit and heart-stopping dance numbers. You have absolutely no idea what "oomph" means until you've seen Virginia Dale's sequined night-blue dress shimmy and shake in the "You're Easy To Dance With" number. I found it really hard to come back to the B&W version after that, except for the commentary and the other extras on Disc 1. Yes, I am that shallow.
Both versions are pretty much at the maximum bitrate throughout. The whole experience can only be described as sheer, unadulterated joy and an unparalleled time-travel piece.
89 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2008
Universal Studios Home Entertainment, in association with Legend Films, Inc., honored Bing Crosby on the 31st anniversary of his passing this October 14th by releasing the definitive DVD / CD package of one of Crosby's most beloved films, Paramount's mammoth 1942 Irving Berlin musical masterpiece, Holiday Inn.
Universal digitally remastered the classic b/w film for it's 2006 release, with pristine picture and sound quality. They augmented it with bonus features including a video interview with Fred Astaire's daughter Ava conducted by Crosby & Astaire record producer Ken Barnes, a making of documentary, and archive audio commentary featuring the stars Bing Crosby & Fred Astaire recorded in the 1970's.
Now, Universal has gone a step further and made it a 3-disc box set, featuring the original b/w version complete with the bonus features aforementioned, an audio CD housed in a nifty '40s retro-looking paper sleeve of the commercial soundtrack recordings by Crosby and Astaire, as recorded for Decca Records in 1942 (including Bing's original hard-to-find 1942 recording of White Christmas), and now, finally, a striking new COLOR version of the film! Legend Films has done justice to this perennial favorite by painstakingly colorizing the film, utilizing the help of Jan Mucklestone, who was the personal sketch artist for Paramount costume designer Edith Head. This was obviously a labor of love, and Legend's attention to detail makes for a stunning visual.
Colorization has always been a controversial subject, with those for and against it equally passionate in their beliefs. However, colorization has come a LONG way since it's inception in the early 1980's. The late 1980's colorization of another of Bing's classic films, The Bells of St. Mary's, was a slop-shod embarrassment enough to turn anyone off to the process. So it was with a bit of apprehension when I first heard of someone daring to tamper with a national treasure like Holiday Inn. I quickly learned that this was different, something special, after viewing Legend Films' 2007 colorized version of the 1946 Frank Capra masterpiece It's A Wonderful Life. Then came a small screen video trailer for Holiday Inn on the Legend Films website. This in itself was impressive, but by no means does justice to the brilliance of Legend Films work.
The colors on Holiday Inn are vibrant and full, without being garish or obtrusive. The visual impact is breathtaking, particularly on the Easter Parade number, with Bing's sea-blue eyes all aglow in the close-up. This is how the film was meant to be seen, in all it's color glory. After decades of viewing it from grainy b/w prints on the late show, it's like seeing the film for the very first time! The colors in your mind come to life on the screen, just as you imagine them to be. Bing's corduroy sport jacket during the White Christmas scene is, as you would expect, a rich shade of beige. The curtain behind Bing during the 4th of July production number is spectacular in red, white and blue, as it should be. Not to mention those firecrackers glowing in orange and red hues during Fred Astaire's dance-ode to Independence Day! Once you see this film in color, you'll never want to watch it in b/w again!
You can't go wrong with this DVD set. Those who prefer the original b/w print, can have it, and those who prefer seeing it in color have that too, all together in one attractive package. It's a win-win situation. And to all those purists and nay-sayers who are dead-set against the colorization process, give Holiday Inn a chance. If seeing this wonderful film, in all the rainbow of colors each scene portrays, doesn't change your mind to what colorization can do, then chances are you'd rather not see ANYTHING in color, if it can be viewed in b/w! Bravo Universal Home Entertainment, and Bravo Legend Films! Let's see more of Crosby's classic films done up right in color!
63 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2006
I always felt this movie deserved a restoration to preserve its 1942 style B&W richness. Unfortunately this movie has NOT been restored to its original rich and pristine Black & White splendor! It HAS been remastered meaning no cuts or deletions and also includes an approximate 42 minute mini biography of both Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby and a short piece about the making of the song and dance numbers of Holiday Inn.
A holiday perennial along with Miracle on 34th St. and It's A Wonderful Life, this new release is truly a Special Edition!
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2007
To begin with, let me say that this is a really good movie. Great music, talented and charming principles, and a story that keeps you entertained. It is a classic and it looks crystal clear on the screen in this new transfer. However, don't temp me with extras that are as poorly executed as these. Fred Astaire's daughter has been very informative on other DVDs but this documentary not only reiterates the same old stuff you've heard over and over but is very cheaply produced. I'm not even sure the two people having the dialog were in the same room! This DVD has taught me not to be so anxious to add something to my collection because of attractive packaging and the promise of new information. If you like the movie and don't care about the extras, buy it!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 1997
This is one of the finest holiday films ever made.
Inspired by a story by Irving Berlin, the film features many wonderful Berlin holiday tunes, from "White Christmas" to "Easter Parade". This is the film that introduced "White Christmas", Bing Crosby's signature song (which was almost cut from the final version!).
Holiday hijinks ensue when Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), decides that he's had enough of show business and chooses to retire to a farm in Connecticut. His pal and partner Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) steals his gal Lyla at the last minute, so Jim takes up the life of a farmer on his own. Unfortunately for Jim, the farm life drives him nuts. He decides to turn the farm into an inn, where he can do entertainment shows for every holiday. The result is Holiday Inn, "open holidays only".
Jim meets and falls in love with Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), a fellow entertainer, and she helps out with the shows.
Things are looking up for Jim, but about this time, Ted's girl Lyla leaves him. Heartbroken (and crocked), Ted shows up at Holiday Inn on New Year's Eve and does a new dance number with Linda. It looks like he's found himself a new dance partner. Trouble is, he was so drunk, he can't remember who she is! Jim knows if Ted hooks up with Linda, he'll take her away from the Inn (and him!), so Jim begins some comedic conniving to keep Ted and Linda from meeting up. But poor Jim isn't out of the stewpot yet!
Walter Abel turns in a wonderful supporting perfomance as a scheming talent agent, and Irving Bacon is the quintissential New Englander as Gus the handyman. Fred does an inspired July Fourth dance routine, and Bing is in fine voice.
Holiday Inn has it all. Romance, laughter, crooning, catchy Irving Berlin tunes, and Bing and Fred at their best! We also get a sneak peek at the soundstage and set for Holiday Inn, as a Hollywood crew make a movie within the movie! A Christmas classic you're sure to love, not only at Christmastime, but at any time of the year.
If you need a lift, then come to Holiday Inn!
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2006
This is a wonderful 1940s musical. While the plot is thin, the music by Irving Berlin is fantastic. Fred Astair's dancing in the firecracker number is incredible. I first saw this about five years ago and it is now a holiday tradition. This special edition DVD is the clearest version I have seen.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2000
For us, this movie is far superior to WHITE CHRISTMAS. It stars Fred Astaire and Bing Cosby as competive entertainers. Fred is the dancer (great scenes in this) , BING is the singer. (Bum, bum, bum, bum - - Bing adopted his "style" because he sometimes forgot the words. but, he maintained the music of the melody with his bum, bum, bum, bum s'-- a little trivia) Anyway, Bing grows tired of the cut-throat entertainment biz after his fiance' decides to marry someone else. He moves out of the city and up to a wintry zone, taking over an old motel. Since he is set to become a lazy owner, he vows only to open the motel for HOLIDAYS, hence HOLIDAY INN.
Every holiday is represented, including CHRISTMAS with age-old hit, WHITE CHRISTMAS. Performances with Marjorie Reynolds ( who plays Linda Mason, an upstart want-to-be ) and Virginia Dale ( Lila Dixon, Bing's here today, gone for stardom ex-fiance') are excellent. If you are looking for this movie for Christmas, get it now. Last year, it sold out early, pretty much like every year.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2008
This is one of the great films, with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire doing some of their most memorable work to some of the better music of Irving Berlin, including the debut of his all-time most popular "White Christmas." The plot is clever, if somewhat silly, the writing sharp, with lots of laughs, romance, ups and downs, and a happy ending for all. If you don't already have the movie, this is certainly the nicest set. But if you have the 2006 Special Edition, you may not need to upgrade. The new Collector's Set will have a few new features not in the Special Edition:
-- a colorized version of the movie - don't worry, the original black-and-white version is included too
-- a featurette on colorizing the movie
-- a soundtrack CD (which is the third disc of the set)
The soundtrack CD would be a very nice bonus, I think. The new Collector's Set also includes the special features from the Special Edition:
-- audio commentary by film historian Ken Barnes with archival audio segments from Crosby, Astaire and Crosby's longtime music director John Scott Trotter
-- "A Couple of Song & Dance Men," a biographical documentary about Crosby and Astaire with Barnes and Astaire's daughter Ava Astaire McKenzie (44:30)
-- "All Singing, All Dancing," a featurette on making musicals, again with Barnes (7:15)
-- the original theatrical trailer
The film is preserved in its original 1.33:1 full screen format in both the black-and-white and colorized versions. The studio announcement doesn't say whether the video or sound will be remastered. The image and sound quality of the 2006 Special Edition is good but not exceptional; the new one should be at least that good.
This 1942 film centers on Jim (Crosby), a singer and part of a successful three-person New York nightclub act with dancer Ted (Astaire) and singer and dancer Lila (Virginia Dale). Their act portrays a rivalry between the two men over Lila's affections, spelled out in terms of a contest between singing and dancing. Life imitates art, as Jim decides to leave the harried show business life and buy a farm in Connecticut, thinking he'll take Lila as his bride and they'll happily live the simple life together. But Ted has other ideas, and Lila chooses to stay with Ted in show biz, so Jim starts his new life on the farm alone. Soon learning that the simple farming life isn't as carefree as he had imagined, Jim hatches the idea of turning the farm into Holiday Inn, a lodge with nightclub entertainment open only for public holidays. Naturally, events bring Ted, just dumped by Lila, out to the farm, where a new rivalry develops over Jim's new love interest (Marjorie Reynolds). Much scheming, misunderstanding, singing and dancing and romancing ensue.
Both Crosby and Astaire were at their cinematic peaks in 1942. The way they interact is great fun and worth seeing the film for by itself. The songs included many new Irving Berlin numbers, with highlights "Lazy," "Be Careful, It's My Heart," "White Christmas," of course, and the reused "Easter Parade" all sung by Crosby. Astaire was actually a fine singer himself, and did "You're Easy to Dance With" full justice. As good as Crosby and the music is, what really steals the show for me is some of Astaire's all-time best dancing, especially a hilarious drunken reprise of "You're Easy to Dance With" with Reynolds, and the immortal "Let's Say It with Firecrackers" routine, a solo he's portrayed as improvising with pockets full of firecrackers as his props.
There might be a bit of controversy over a number done in blackface, which was still popular at the time, and which is accompanied by the wonderful black character actress Louise Beavers, as Crosby's maid/cook, portraying some stereotypes not so well appreciated today. There is also a reminder of the time in the form of a patriotic montage supporting the war effort, which was just beginning.
If you like old movies at all, are looking for a classic holiday movie (this one ends up at Christmas), or are a fan of Crosby or Astaire, this is a must.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2008
My family and I have been watching Holiday Inn every Christmas Eve for the past twenty one years! All three kids know the songs by heart. To me, no film has the mixture of sentiment and elegance that this one has.
Our discussion all that time, however, has been "Why won't they colorize it?," along with speculation about what colors gowns and other clothing might be. (Okay, my son could care less.) Never has a film's subject matter and production called for colorization more.
We always figured that the unfortunate racial stereotypical material would keep it from ever being released in an improved version. (At one point Bing slaps some blackface makeup on Marjorie Reynolds for the "Abraham" number, which causes her to say "...and here I was hoping to be pretty!" Ouch.)
But at long last it's available in a colorized version, and it's like watching the film completely anew. Details I had never noticed before pop right off the screen in this one (the salads in the foreground of the kitchen shot, the greenery in the "You're Easy To Dance To" number, the log cabin table center-pieces in the Lincoln's birthday number, Fred's star-spangled 4th of July hankie) - it's really surprising what a difference the color makes in the details.
And I could swear the sound is improved, as well. I had never before heard a triangle being played in the Washington's Birthday number - but it's there now.
Only one disappointment: We had always thought Marjorie Reynolds' gown in the Valentine's Day number was a deep red or maroon, but here it's rendered as black (with a pink heart pin). Perhaps the documentation exists that indicates that was the actual color of the dress or maybe it was a judgement call from the fashion lady doing the color palette design - but we think it would look better as a deep red.
Whatever... this well-wrought release was a long time coming and perhaps it will cause this wonderful movie musical to finally achieve the fame it deserves. (It is far, far better than the later color "White Christmas.")
Get it, and as the Holiday Inn newspaper clipping says, "God Bless America!"