Thursday, January 2, 2014

May your every wish come true

Happy New Year!

I’m back! Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I said that…
It’s a New Year and it’s a new attempt to rekindle some life into this blog of mine. This year, I’m going to simplify things: I will publish one post every Thursday and each month will have a theme. The theme for January, for instance, is New Year’s. By the end of the month this theme might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s still the beginning of the year, so I’m going to say it’s fine.

So, we’re going to start with Holiday Inn. Yes, it’s often considered a Christmas movie and, by now, you’re probably all Christmased out. But there are two New Year’s celebrations in the film, one of which is the finale, so I’d say it’s as much a New Year’s film as it is a Christmas film (if not more). Not to mention the fact that I watch this movie every Fourth of July – let’s face it: it’s Holiday Inn and it works for just about every holiday.

Holiday Inn (1942)
Director:  Mark Sandrich
Featuring: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Walter Abel, Louise Beavers, and Irving Bacon

Plot in a nutshell: 

Tired of the hectic lifestyle as a performer, singer Jim Hardy (Crosby) decides to open an inn in Connecticut that will be open only on holidays. When Jim falls in love with his newest entertainer, the beautiful Linda Mason (Reynolds), things get pleasantly more complicated. And when Jim’s friend, dancer Ted Hanover (Astaire), begins to compete for Linda’s affection, things get even more complicated, although in a less pleasant way. As the threesome wend their way through a calendar of red-letter days, antics ensue and a score of Irving Berlin songs mark each holiday.


- Irving Berlin got the idea for the film after writing the song "Easter Parade" for his 1933 show "As Thousands Cheer," and planned to write a play about American holidays, but it never materialized. He later pitched the idea to Mark Sandrich, who go the ball rolling for the film. (IMDb)

- It was a success in the US and the UK, the highest grossing musical film to that time. It was expected that "Be Careful, It's my Heart" would be the big song. While that song did very well, it was "White Christmas " that topped the charts in October 1942 and stayed there for eleven weeks.
- The success of the song "White Christmas" eventually led to another film based on the song, White Christmas (1954), which starred Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. It was a loose remake of Holiday Inn, with a plot-line again involving an inn, but otherwise different from the earlier film.

Thoughts on the film:

Although this is a classic movie with some great lines, some wonderful songs, and some fantastic dances, I can’t lie when I say that it isn’t my favorite. It’s a wonderful movie – don’t get me wrong! But I love Fred Astaire and I don’t like his character very much at all in this film. Ted is a manipulative, selfish, back-stabbing friend. And as much as I like Bing Crosby, I don’t think his character deserves the girl either. He’s also selfish and manipulative in his attempts to win Linda. Neither of the two friends seem to really care what Linda wants or thinks; they trick and scheme rather than actually talk it out. I get all excited every time I decide to watch this movie and then as soon as Ted arrives at the inn I remember how frustrating the next hour is going to be.

Favorite quotes/clips:

That being said, the songs really are wonderful. I love both scenes of “White Christmas” – they’re homey and romantic. It’s no wonder the song did so well when it had such a good send-off in this film. “You’re Easy to Dance With” is a really cute scene that I’ve always enjoyed. And I really like “Let’s Start the New Year Right.” For a holiday that’s pretty raucous, I like that the main song for the holiday is an intimate little number that Jim sings to Linda while they serve up dinner in the kitchen. As I said before, I love the firecracker scene. But that’s getting way ahead of myself. I’ll wait until July to elaborate on how it’s one of the best Fred Astaire solos of all time.

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