Saturday, December 19, 2009

'Tis the Season for an Excellent Holiday Film

As I was contemplating the next film I was going to write about, it donned on me that I have yet to write about any holiday films. There are so many great ones to choose from. You can't go wrong with the many incarnations of the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol". One of my favorite versions is the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. But that's not the film I want to discuss. One of my favorites is the 1942 film "Holiday Inn" starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. As I mentioned in one of my earlier entries, I'm a sucker for a musical. But it also has to have a great story behind it. This film certainly does not disappoint on either front.

Crosby and Astaire star, naturally, as show-biz partners, Astaire as the hoofer and Crosby as the crooner. Starring with them are two women, one being a sweet, albeit naive singer and dancer named Linda (played by Marjorie Reynolds), and the other being a somewhat of a femme-fatale, Lila, played by Virgina Dale. In the beginning, Lila and Crosby's character, Jim Hardy, are an item. But Astaire's Ted Hanover has made no secret of stealing Lila away to begin a separate career. With this news, Hardy decides that it's time to take himself out of the limelight. He buys a rundown old farmhouse in the Connecticut countryside, with the intention of turning it into an inn. But not just any inn. He decides that he only wants to open 15 days a year, on every holiday.

Eventually, sweet naive Linda is out of work, and comes to Jim's inn seeking work. As the months ensue, love blossoms between Jim and Linda. But all of this is about to be upset. Ted comes to the inn as well, after being dumped by his wife to be, Lila. He too sees Linda, and so begins the love triangle.

The film is set against a beautiful background, showing very well the changing New England seasons. Equally excellent is the Irving Berlin score. He wrote a song for every holiday, even the minor ones, such as Washington and Lincoln's birthdays. We are also introduced to the classic Irving Berlin tune "White Christmas" which would later, in 1954 have a movie made based off of it (another equally excellent film, starring Crosby and Danny Kaye). In addition to Crosby and Astaire playing their respective roles as dancer and singer, both men show their excellent comedic skills as well. The two leading ladies show excellent comedic prowess throughout the film as well. Finally, there are several supporting players throughout the film. The group's comically unsure, and somewhat inept manager, Danny, played by Walter Abel, and the headstrong, matronly cook at the inn, Mamie, played by Louse Beavers.

This is my go to film for the Christmas holiday. It's not a Christmas film, per se, but it has enough of that amazing holiday cheer. Plus, it's just a feel-good movie in general.

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