Cast & Crew
On Christmas Eve in New York, the performing trio of singer Jim Hardy, dancer Ted Hanover, and singer and dancer Lila Dixon, split up when Lila chooses to marry Ted and continue performing rather than marry fiancé Jim, who plans to quit performing to run a farm. After a year of struggling with farm work in Connecticut, and several weeks of recuperation in a sanitarium, Jim decides on a less exhausting occupation and opens Holiday Inn, a country-style inn which features live entertainment and is only open on holidays. As a way of stopping Linda Mason, an ambitious performer who works selling flowers, from pestering him, Ted's agent, Danny Reed, sends Linda to Connecticut to audition for Jim. The two are attracted to each other and Jim offers her a job. On New Year's Eve, after Lila jilts Ted so that she can marry a Texas millionaire, Ted travels to Holiday Inn to drown his sorrows. He arrives drunk, but immediately engages in a dance with Linda. The patrons all think that she is Ted's new dance partner and applaud as Ted collapses in a drunken stupor. In the morning, Ted cannot remember much about Linda but becomes determined to find her and make her his new dance partner. Jim does everything he can to thwart Ted's plans because he has fallen in love with Linda. Although Linda performs on Lincoln's birthday at the inn, Ted does not recognize her because Jim makes her wear blackface make-up for her number. Ted does find her on Valentine's Day, however, and insists that they perform together for Washington's birthday. Ted mercilessly pursues Linda to draw her away from Jim, and stays on at the inn through the next few holidays. When Jim overhears that Ted has brought two Hollywood film producers to see the Fourth of July show, he secretly asks his driver, Gus, who is picking Linda up at the train station, to make sure that she does not arrive in time for the show, and then invites Lila, who did not marry after all, to perform. Gus drives the car into a pond, and when Linda hitches a ride on the road, she is picked up by Lila. Unaware of Linda's identity, Lila tells Linda her story, and on the pretense of taking a shortcut, Linda makes sure Lila drives into the pond as well. Both women show up too late for the performance, but the producers offer to buy the idea of Holiday Inn to use as the basis of a musical. Having earned the enmity of all his friends because of his deception, Jim reluctantly agrees to the idea, but insists on remaining in Connecticut to write the music while Ted and Linda go to Hollywood. On Thanksgiving Day, when a lonely and dispirited Jim reads that Ted and Linda are engaged, his concerned housekeeper, Mamie, convinces him not to give up and to pursue Linda honestly. Jim arrives in Hollywood on Christmas Eve, just before Ted and Linda's wedding. Despite Ted and Danny's efforts, he manages to sneak onto a soundstage which has been set up like his Holiday Inn, and as Linda performs "White Christmas," the first song they ever sang together, Jim sings along and the two are happily reunited. Finally, on New Year's Eve, the two couples, Jim and Linda and Ted and Lila, perform together at Holiday Inn.
Oscar G. Hendrian
Bob Locke Lorraine
Edward Arnold Jr.
Bob Crosby's Band
C. C. Coleman Jr.
Robert Emmett Dolan
Best Writing, Screenplay
The project seemed custom-made for Astaire, who had been freelancing since leaving RKO in 1939. However, budget-conscious Paramount resisted, saying Astaire would be too expensive. But Sandrich was adamant, and threatened to abandon the project without him, so the studio reluctantly agreed. As soon as Astaire, Berlin and Crosby signed on to Holiday Inn (1942), Sandrich told the press, "I call this picture the A B C of American musical comedy. Astaire, Berlin, Crosby. Get it?"
The plot of Holiday Inn was merely an excuse on which to hang 14 Berlin songs. Crosby, Astaire, and Virginia Dale are a musical act, which breaks up when Crosby decides to retire to a farm. But Crosby quickly grows bored and decides to turn his farm into an inn and nightclub, which will be open only on national holidays. He then teams with a new partner, played by Marjorie Reynolds. Suddenly, Astaire, jilted by Dale, pays a visit, and the two men's musical and romantic rivalry starts up again.
Originally, there had been some discussion of getting stars for the female leads. Ginger Rogers and recent Astaire partner Rita Hayworth were mentioned. But Paramount, which was already shelling out big bucks for Crosby and Astaire, balked, and two relative unknowns were selected. Virginia Dale was a nightclub dancer who had played minor roles in over a dozen films. Marjorie Reynolds had been starring in Poverty Row Westerns. When Reynolds won the female lead in Holiday Inn, the Paramount publicity department dubbed her the "Saddle Cinderella." Although neither actress became a major movie star, Reynolds would find small-screen stardom a decade later, playing the wife of William Bendix in the 1950's TV series, The Life of Riley.
Production of Holiday Inn had just gotten underway in late 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the U.S. entered World War II. Rationing of all kinds of items, from cloth to rubber, immediately went into effect. With all those production numbers in Holiday Inn, and 70 costume changes among the four leads, designer Edith Head and her wardrobe department staff were hard-pressed to come up with the material they needed. The studio's publicity department claimed that one of Reynolds' gold-beaded outfits used up the last beads in Hollywood. According to a press release, it seemed that "beads for such garments have been strung by Czecho-Slovakians [sic] for generations, and the stringing part is unknown in the United States. With importing of the beads a thing of the past, American designers have used up all there are." For the Fourth of July number, studio flacks claimed that production designers bought all the now-embargoed rubber balloons in Los Angeles.
But with talents like "ABC," Holiday Inn didn't need beads and balloons to draw big audiences and rave reviews. The musical numbers ranged from Astaire's spectacular firecracker dance, which took the perfectionist Astaire two days and 38 takes to get right, to the yearning simplicity of "White Christmas," which won the Oscar for best song, and remained the best-selling single in any music category for more than 50 years. (It was not until 1998 that Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana, the revised version of "Candle in the Wind," outsold it.) Holiday Inn also received Oscar nominations for Best Original Story and Best Music Score.
Surprisingly, though, "White Christmas" was not the hit of Holiday Inn. The Valentine song, "Be Careful, It's My Heart," was initially more popular. But the popularity of "White Christmas" grew during the war years, as homesick servicemen requested Armed Forces Radio to play it. The song would become the title tune for the remake of Holiday Inn, White Christmas (1954), starring Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
There was one more legacy that Holiday Inn contributed to American culture: the hotel chain, Holiday Inn, was named for the movie.
Director: Mark Sandrich
Producer: Mark Sandrich
Screenplay: Claude Binyon & Elmer Rice, based on a story by Irving Berlin
Editor: Ellsworth Hoagland
Cinematography: David Abel
Costume Design: Edith Head
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson
Music: Irving Berlin
Principal Cast: Bing Crosby (Jim Hardy), Fred Astaire (Ted Hanover), Marjorie Reynolds (Linda Mason), Virginia Dale (Lila Dixon), Walter Abel (Danny Reid), Louise Beavers (Mamie).
BW-101m. Closed captioning.
by Frank Miller
A gentle smile often breeds a kick in the pants.- Ted Hanover
What brings you here on this bright and uninviting day?- Jim Hardy
I don't need a coat, now!- Jim Hardy
Come out and relax on a farm, open holidays only.- Ted Hanover
Open holiday's only? Say, how many of them are there?- Ted Hanover
About 15. That gives me 350 days to kick around in!- Jim Hardy
You would think of that!- Ted Hanover
Is your names Miss Linda?- Mamie
No.- Daphne and Vanderbilt
Get back in the kitchen!- Mamie
Marjorie Reynolds singing was dubbed by Martha Mears.
The animated Thanksgiving sequence is a topical reference to President Roosevelt's failed attempt to change the date of the holiday.
The script originally called for a Labor Day dance number, "This Is a Great Country."
For the "drunk" dance, Fred Astaire had two drinks of bourbon before the first take and one before each succeeding take. The seventh (last) take was used in the film.
Opening credits read "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn." Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals the following information about the production: Renie DeMarco, Richard Denning, Macdonald Carey (erroneously called "Donald Carey") and Janet Blair were tested for roles in this film. Fred Astaire worked for two weeks without pay as a Christmas gift to Paramount. After three days of rehearsal, the firecracker dance sequence became the last scene to be shot and took two days to film. A Paramount News news item indicates that Julia Faye, Mildred Harris, Jane Novak and Ruth Clifford were slated to appear in the film. However, Clifford was not identified in the viewed print, and the participation of the other actresses in the film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Paramount planned to include a special musical dance sequence to commemorate Navy Day, using a revamped version of an old Irving Berlin song, "This Is a Great Country," but the number was dropped and was probably never shot. Plans for an elaborate opening in Los Angeles in August 1942 were abandoned due to wartime conditions on the Pacific coast. Proceeds from the New York premiere went to the Navy Relief Society. In September 1942, the shoes Fred Astaire wore in the firecracker sequence were sold at a Cleveland, OH, auction for $116,000 worth of war bonds, and then one shoe and both laces were later resold for another $22,000 worth of war bonds. According to modern sources, Berlin devised the concept for this film after he wrote the song "Easter Parade" for the 1933 Broadway play As Thousands Cheer, and subsequently planned a musical revue based on major American holidays. The musical play was never produced, but Berlin later pitched the idea to Mark Sandrich, who had worked with him on three Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers pictures at RKO. A modern source notes that Berlin's contract stipulated that his music would not be altered once filming began, and lists Walter Scharf as a music arranger and director. Berlin won an Academy Award for his song, "White Christmas," and the film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Writing (Original Story), Irving Berlin; Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture), Robert Emmett Dolan. Berlin's "White Christmas" went on to become one of the most popular recorded songs in history. Although a 1960 article in L.A. Mirror News indicates that Berlin originally wrote "White Christmas" in 1938, a Berlin biography and other modern sources agree that the song was an original written for Holiday Inn. "White Christmas" was a favorite with homesick soldiers during World War II, and Crosby frequently sang it during USO tours. For many years it remained the largest-selling "single" in history and was only supplanted from that position in 1997 by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," revised to commemorate the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The Abraham Lincoln number is often cut from television prints due to the offensive nature of the performers in blackface. One of the notable dance numbers in the film was "Say It With Firecrackers," in which Astaire hurls firecrackers from his pocket and steps onto charges especially laid out in the floor to create small explosions in honor of Independence Day. Another number frequently shown in documentaries on Astaire is the "drunk dance," in which he appears to be drunk as partner Marjorie Reynolds helps him to stay upright. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire again co-starred in the 1946 film Blue Skies, directed by Stuart Heisler, which also featured songs by Irving Berlin. In 1954, Paramount released the film White Christmas, which was loosely inspired by Holiday Inn. Robert Emmett Dolan produced the later film, which was directed by Michael Curtiz, starred Crosby and Danny Kaye, and featured songs by Irving Berlin, including the title song.