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Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing and dance their way into your heart in the sensational musical comedy Holiday Inn. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards, this special edition features 13 holiday songs by famed composer Irving Berlin, including "White Christmas" - one of the biggest-selling recordings in music history! Crosby plays a song and dance man who leaves showbiz to run an inn that is open only on holidays. Astaire plays his former partner and rival in love. Follow the two talented pals as they find themselves competing for the affections of the same lovely lady (Marjorie Reynolds). This classic features an all-new digitally remastered picture and never-before-seen bonus material. 'Tis the season for one of the most enjoyable films of all time!
In 1942, Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby teamed up at Der Bingle's Paramount Pictures for Holiday Inn, a black-and-white musical that proves more entertaining than Crosby's color semi-remake White Christmas in 1954. Astaire and Crosby play partner/rival song-and-dance men who compete for the hand of their performing partner, played by Virginia Dale. After Crosby loses, he moves to the Connecticut countryside where he creates a resort that is only open on holidays and puts on the shows with the help of Marjorie Reynolds. Dumped by Dale, Astaire makes a drunken arrival at the inn on New Year's Eve and dances with Reynolds. He decides she'll be his new partner, but doesn't remember what she looks like, setting off a frenzied search at every subsequent show while the once-bitten Crosby does his best to steer him off track. The theme gives Irving Berlin an excuse to craft or recycle a number of holiday-themed songs, such as (in the former category) "Washington's Birthday" or (in the latter) "Easter Parade." The most famous of the new material, of course, is "White Christmas," which became one of the bestselling songs of all time and the title song of Crosby's 1954 film. Astaire and Crosby also team up for "I'll Capture Her Heart," which playfully contrasts the stars' specialties, and Astaire's "It's So Easy to Dance with You" became one of the signature songs of his post-Ginger Rogers career. Astaire and Crosby teamed up again for Blue Skies in 1946. --David Horiuchi
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First off, I love dancing, and Fred Astaire is so fantastic, that he really makes the movie for me. The storyline is fun. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire have a dinner show act, along with a woman, that features singing (Bing) and dancing (Fred), the woman being their partner in each. Bing gets tired of life on the road and buys a run-down resort that he calls the Holiday Inn, because he only has big shows on the holidays. The fellows have a running rivalry when it comes to women, and Astaire is pretty funny with his over-the-top confidence that he can get anyone he wants.
At one part of the movie, it shows a number from each show as the year proceeds. There's Christmas, of course, and Valentines Day and then there's Abraham Lincoln's birthday. (This was before Lincoln and Washington were combined into President's Day.) For this number, all the Caucasian dancers and singers are in blackface with stereotypical hairstyles and mannerisms. The song is a celebration of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves. The times, they are a'changing, and I was very uncomfortable with the black face number, particularly the mannerisms. The feeling affected my opinion of the whole movie. If they would release the movie with that holiday scene/dance cut out, "Holiday Inn" would get five stars from me. (And I think "White Christmas" is four stars.)
I gave my DVD away.
EDITED TO ADD: I have obviously struck a nerve, given the comments I've gotten. But though people can certainly disagree with me, they are ignoring one point. I hadn't seen the movie for years and didn't remember it - I just thought, "Oh, a classic Christmas movie, let's get it". If I had remembered the blackface number, I wouldn't have purchased the movie. If the blackface number, for whatever reason, doesn't bother a buyer, then it isn't a problem. But a person like me, who doesn't appreciate the number, can be told about it in advance, and save some money.
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.