Seventy-nine years ago today, the film Holiday Inn premiered. This is a good film, but not as good when seen through current eyes.
Title: Holiday Inn
Directed by: Mark Sandrich
Produced by: Mark Sandrich
Screenplay by: Claude Binyon
Story by: Irving Berlin
Starring: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Walter Abel
Music by: Irving Berlin
Cinematography: David Abel
Edited by: Ellsworth Hoagland
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures (original), Universal Pictures (current)
Release date: August 4, 1942 (New York City)
Running time: 101 minutes
Box office: $3,750,000 (US rentals)
Jim Hardy, Ted Hanover, and Lila Dixon have a popular New York City musical act. On Christmas Eve, Jim prepares for his final performance before retiring with Lila to a farm in Connecticut. Lila tells Jim she has fallen in love with Ted instead; heartbroken, Jim bids them goodbye.
The following Christmas Eve, Jim is back in New York City, with plans to turn his farm into “Holiday Inn,” an entertainment venue open only on holidays, to the amusement of Ted and his agent Danny Reed. Danny is accosted by aspiring performer Linda Mason; he refers her to Holiday Inn and Ted’s club. There, Linda encounters Jim, who pretends to own a rival club, while Linda pretends to be a celebrity friend of Ted’s, but escapes when Ted and Lila approach.
On Christmas Day, Linda arrives at Holiday Inn and meets Jim, realizing their deception. Jim sings Linda his new song, “White Christmas”.
On New Year’s Eve, Holiday Inn opens to a packed house. Ted learns that Lila is leaving him for a Texas millionaire. Drinking heavily, he arrives at Holiday Inn at midnight and finds Linda. They dance, and the inebriated Ted brings down the house. Danny arrives and is ecstatic that Ted has found a new partner, but in the morning, Ted does not remember Linda. Jim hides Linda, afraid Ted will steal her away.
On Lincoln’s Birthday, Ted and Danny search for Linda, but Jim runs the minstrel show number “Abraham” to foil them. While applying Linda’s blackface makeup, Jim asks her to stay with him between holidays, which she interprets as a proposal. Empty-handed, Ted and Danny plan to return.
Rehearsing for Valentine’s Day, Jim presents Linda with a new song, “Be Careful, It’s My Heart”. Ted arrives, and launches into an impromptu dance with Linda. Recognizing her from New Year’s Eve, Ted demands that Jim prepare them a number to perform.
On Washington’s Birthday, Ted and Linda perform in elaborate 18th century period costumes, while Jim sabotages their tempo from a minuet to jazz every time they attempt to kiss. Linda refuses Ted’s offer to become his dance partner, saying that she and Jim are to be married. When Ted asks him about the marriage, Jim plays it off, but Ted is unconvinced.
At Easter, romance blossoms between Jim and Linda. They are met by Ted, who asks to remain in Jim’s shows to experience “the true happiness” they have found. Linda is charmed, but Jim is suspicious.
Jim’s apprehensions are confirmed on Independence Day when he overhears Ted and Danny discussing an offer from Hollywood representatives, who will use that night’s show to audition Ted and Linda for motion pictures. Jim bribes hired hand Gus to stall Linda. Gus drives Linda into a creek, but she is picked up by Lila. Having left the millionaire, Lila tells Linda that Lila will be Ted’s partner for the studio tryout. Assuming that Jim arranged for Lila to take her place, Linda directs Lila into the creek.
At the inn, Ted is forced to improvise solo. Linda arrives to discover Ted has impressed the studio honchos. Irritated that Jim did not trust her to make her own decision, Linda leaves for Hollywood. Jim reluctantly agrees to let the producers make a film about Holiday Inn.
Thanksgiving finds the inn closed and Jim depressed. He prepares to mail Hollywood his new song, which he plays to his own negative commentary. His housekeeper Mamie implores him to win Linda back.
Jim arrives in California on Christmas Eve, just as Ted is preparing to marry Linda. Jim confronts Ted in his dressing room, then locks him inside. On the set of Linda’s movie, a recreation of Holiday Inn, Jim leaves his pipe on the piano and hides as Linda enters and performs “White Christmas”. Noticing the pipe, she falters, then continues as Jim’s voice joins her. Jim appears and Linda runs to him as the director yells, “Cut!”
At Holiday Inn on New Year’s Eve, Ted is reunited with Lila, and Jim and Linda prepare for life together at the inn.