Holiday Inn (film)

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Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn poster.jpg
theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark Sandrich
Produced by Mark Sandrich
Screenplay by Claude Binyon
Story by Irving Berlin
Music by Irving Berlin
Cinematography David Abel
Edited by Ellsworth Hoagland
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • August 4, 1942 (1942-08-04) (New York)[1]
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,750,000 (US rentals)[2]

Holiday Inn is a 1942 American musical film directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.[3] With music by Irving Berlin, the composer wrote twelve songs specifically for the film, the best known being "White Christmas". The film features a complete reuse of the song "Easter Parade", written by Berlin for the 1933 Broadway revue As Thousands Cheer. The film's choreography was by Danny Dare.[4]

The film received a 1943 Academy Award for Best Original Song (Irving Berlin for "White Christmas"), as well as Academy Award nominations for Best Score (Robert Emmett Dolan) and Best Original Story (Irving Berlin).[5]


Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds in Holiday Inn

Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) have a musical act popular in the New York City nightlife scene. On Christmas Eve, Jim prepares to give his last performance as part of the act before marrying Lila and retiring with her to a farm in Connecticut. At the last minute, Lila decides she is not ready to stop performing, and that she has fallen in love with Ted. She tells Jim that she will stay on as Ted's dancing partner. While heartbroken, Jim follows through with his plan and bids the act goodbye.

One year later on Christmas Eve, Jim is back in New York City. Farm life has proven difficult; he plans to turn his farm into an entertainment venue called Holiday Inn, to be open only on public holidays. Ted and his agent Danny Reed (Walter Abel) scoff at the plan, but wish him luck. Later, at the airport flower shop while ordering flowers for Lila from Ted, Danny is accosted by employee Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) who recognizes him as a talent agent and begs him for a start in show business. Danny refers her to Holiday Inn and gives her a pass to Ted's club. That night, Linda sits at the performer's table with Jim, who pretends he owns a big club and isn't sure he could use an act like Hanover and Dixon. Linda pretends she's a celebrity and friend of Ted's, then escapes when the two performers come to Jim's table.

The next morning, Christmas Day, Linda arrives at Holiday Inn, where she meets Jim—both realizing they were fooling each other the previous evening. Jim is preparing the place for New Year's Eve, and they take to each other immediately. Jim sings her his new song, "White Christmas", which he would have performed had the inn been open that night. Later that week, on New Year's Eve, Holiday Inn opens to a packed house.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Ted learns that Lila is leaving him for a Texas millionaire. Drinking heavily, he drives up to Holiday Inn to talk with Jim, arriving at midnight. While wandering aimlessly across the dance floor, Ted sees Linda, who remembers him from Christmas Eve. They dance, with Ted bringing down the house despite his inebriated state. Danny arrives just as the dance ends and is ecstatic that Ted found a new partner. The next morning, however, Ted remembers very little and doesn't remember Linda at all. Jim doesn't say anything and hides Linda away, afraid that Ted will steal her away from the inn.

At the next performance, Lincoln's Birthday, Ted and Danny return to Holiday Inn in search of Linda. Jim is ready for them and decides to run the night's big minstrel show number "Abraham" with disguised performers, including Linda, in an effort to foil the search. While applying Linda's blackface make-up, Jim asks if she will stay with him between holidays, and Linda takes this as a proposal. Having come up empty, Ted and Danny will not give up and plan to be back for the next holiday.

During rehearsals for the Valentine's Day performance, Jim presents Linda with a unique Valentine, a new song called "Be Careful, It's My Heart". While Jim sings with his back to her, Linda begins dancing alone, and as Ted enters, he spots Linda and launches into an impromptu romantic dance with her. Convinced that Linda is the girl he danced with on New Year's Eve, Ted demands that Jim provide a number for them to perform on the next holiday, and Jim reluctantly agrees.

On Washington's Birthday, Ted and Linda perform in elaborate 18th century period costumes, while Jim attempts to sabotage their dance, changing the tempo from a minuet to jazz every time the couple attempts to kiss. Afterwards, Ted asks Linda to join him as his new dance partner. Linda refuses, saying she has promised to stay at the inn and that she and Jim are to be married. When Ted asks him about the marriage, Jim plays it off, but Ted is unconvinced, telling Danny he will continue to pursue Linda.

At Easter, romance continues to blossom between Jim and Linda as they travel home from church in a carriage. When they reach the inn, Ted is sitting on the porch waiting for them. Ted asks Jim if he can remain in his shows, claiming he wants to experience "the true happiness" they've found at the inn. Linda is charmed, but Jim is suspicious.

Jim's suspicions are confirmed on Independence Day when he overhears Ted and Danny discussing an offer Ted received from Hollywood representatives, who will attend that night's show and determine if Ted and Linda are suitable for motion pictures. Desperate, Jim bribes hired hand Gus (Irving Bacon) to ensure that Linda does not arrive at the inn. After Gus drives the inn's car into a creek attempting to delay her, Linda tries to return to the inn and is picked up by Lila, who left the Texas millionaire after his tax problems were revealed. Lila tells Linda, who is pretending to be a waitress, about the studio tryout and that Lila will be Ted's partner. Assuming that Jim arranged for her to take Linda's place, Linda directs Lila into the same creek.

Back at the inn, Ted is forced to perform a solo dance. When Linda eventually makes her way to the inn, she finds that Ted has impressed the studio honchos with his improvised solo and the opportunity stands. Irritated with Jim for not trusting her to make her own decision, Linda takes the offer and leaves for Hollywood. The producers want to make a film about Holiday Inn, and Jim reluctantly agrees.

At Thanksgiving, the inn is closed and Jim is depressed and sullen, barely touching the turkey dinner prepared by his housekeeper Mamie (Louise Beavers). Jim is prepared to mail to Hollywood a recording of his new Thanksgiving song, but, before he does, he plays it on a record player and makes negative comments over the positive ones in the recording. Realizing what is wrong and ignoring decorum, Mamie implores him to travel to California to win Linda back by telling her how he really feels.

Jim arrives at the studio on Christmas Eve, just as Ted is preparing to leave with Linda to get married. Jim confronts Ted in his dressing room, then locks him in it. Before Linda films the final scene for her movie, which features a recreation of Holiday Inn, Jim walks around the set with the director, who boasts it is the most exact recreation ever created for a motion picture. Jim leaves his pipe on the set's piano and hides nearby. Linda enters the room and sits at the piano, performing "White Christmas". Startled by the pipe's presence, she falters, then continues as Jim's voice joins her. Jim appears and Linda runs to him as the director yells, "Cut!" Meanwhile, Ted and Danny finally understand Jim's plan, but they are too late to stop him.

At Holiday Inn on New Year's Eve, Ted is reunited with Lila, who is ready and willing to perform with him again. Jim and Linda prepare to stay together and run the inn.



In May 1940, Irving Berlin signed an exclusive contract with Paramount Pictures to write songs for a musical film based on his idea of an inn that opened only on public holidays. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire were the stars of Holiday Inn with support from Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale. Filming took place between November 18, 1941 and January 30, 1942. Produced and directed by Mark Sandrich, Holiday Inn had its premiere at the New York Paramount Theatre August 4, 1942.[6] It was a success in the US and the UK, the highest-grossing film musical 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. Another Berlin song, "Happy Holiday", is featured over the opening credits and within the film storyline.

Filming outside the studio occurred at the Village Inn Resort in Monte Rio on the Russian River, in Sonoma County, California.[7]

Many segments of the film are preceded by shots of a calendar with a visual symbol of the given holiday. For November, an animated turkey is shown running back and forth between the third and fourth Thursdays, finally shrugging its shoulders in confusion. This is a satirical reference to the "Franksgiving" controversy when President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to expand the Christmas shopping season by declaring Thanksgiving a week earlier than before, leading to Congress setting Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November by law.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii occurred halfway through filming. As a result, the Fourth of July segment was expanded beyond Fred Astaire's firecracker dance to include the patriotic number that highlights the strength of the US military.[8]

The song White Christmas[edit]

White Christmas (Decca Records 1942)

The song that would become "White Christmas" was conceived by Berlin on the set of the film Top Hat in 1935. He hummed the melody to Astaire and the film's director Mark Sandrich as a song possibility for a future Astaire-Ginger Rogers vehicle. Astaire loved the tune, but Sandrich passed on it. Berlin's assignment for Paramount was to write a song about each of the major holidays of the year. He found that writing a song about Christmas was the most challenging, due to his Jewish upbringing.[9] When Crosby first heard Berlin play "White Christmas" in 1941 at the first rehearsals, he did not immediately recognize its full potential. Crosby simply said: "I don't think we have any problems with that one, Irving."

Although White Christmas has become iconic, this was not the original intention. The song Be Careful, It's My Heart, played during the Valentine's Day section of the film, was originally intended to be a bigger hit when production of Holiday Inn commenced.

The song is used during the Christmas holiday sections of the movie, most notably when it is introduced to Linda Mason (Reynolds) by Jim Hardy (Crosby) while she is trying to obtain a position in the shows at the inn. Hardy begins playing the song to her allowing her to join him and eventually perform solo. The song is also reprised near the end of the movie. Chrysotile asbestos was used to make the fake snow used this scene.[10]

Song releases[edit]

Song Hits from Holiday Inn (Decca Records 1942)

Full-length studio recordings of the film's songs, differing slightly from those in the movie, were made for commercial release. Initially issued on 78rpm records, they were later collected on LP, cassette and CD.


These are the song recordings taken directly from the motion picture soundtrack and are often confused with the studio recordings released to the public.

Home media releases[edit]

Holiday Inn was first released on VHS and Beta formats in September 1981 by MCA Home Video, re-released in 1986 and again, on VHS only, in 1992.

It was first released on DVD paired with another Crosby vehicle, Going My Way (1944). It added a trailer for each film and some text-based extras. This version is also available in many boxed set collections of holiday-themed or Crosby-themed movies.

In 2006 it was released as a single-disc "Special Edition" featuring a commentary by Ken Barnes, with interspersed archival comments by Crosby and Astaire. It also included A Couple of Song and Dance Men, a documentary on Astaire and Crosby; All-Singing All-Dancing, a featurette on audio recording of movie musicals; and a reissue theatrical trailer.

In 2008 it was released as a three-disc "Collector's Edition" containing the previous DVD and a second disc with a newly computer-colorized version and Coloring a Classic, a featurette on the colorization. Also included was a CD of the 12-track Song Hits from Holiday Inn album, featuring original full-length studio recordings of the film's songs.

In 2014 it was released on Blu-ray as a single disc edition featuring both black and white and colorized versions and all previous DVD extras.

In 2017 it was released again on both formats, this time including a second disc featuring a performance of the 2016 Broadway adaptation.


The film was placed at No. 8 in the list of top-grossing movies for 1942 in the US.

Theodore Strauss of The New York Times described the film as "all very easy and graceful; it never tries too hard to dazzle; even in the rousing and topical Fourth of July number, it never commits a breach of taste by violently waving the flag. Instead, it has skipped back over the year in an affectionate and light-hearted spirit."[11] Variety called it "a winner all the way" with "sterling" performances by the male leads.[12] Harrison's Reports called it "a most delightful entertainment... The performances of the leading players are very good."[13] Film Daily described it as "a completely satisfying musical filled with crisp comedy, fetching music, snappy dance routines, first-rate acting, smart story touches, and lavish and beautiful settings".[14]


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 an extremely loose remake of Holiday Inn, with a plot again involving an inn, but otherwise different from the earlier film. Fred Astaire was offered the second lead in the new film, but after reading the script, he declined. The role was then offered to Donald O'Connor, but he was injured before filming began. Danny Kaye ultimately took the role.[citation needed]

In 2004, the American Film Institute listed White Christmas at No. 5 in its 100 Years...100 Songs.[15]

A colorized version of Holiday Inn was released by Universal on October 14, 2008. The colorization was done by Legend Films, who used Edith Head’s sketch artist, Jan Muckelstone, as a color design consultant for costume authenticity.[citation needed] The colorized version bears a noticeable error in the "Abraham" sequence, as Crosby's and Reynold's make-up is brown, rather than the black of burnt cork.

The name of the Holiday Inn hotel chain was inspired by the film.[16] The title of the film had also inspired the 1946 renaming of a small 1800s inn in Intervale, New Hampshire. The owners of that inn were able to bar any other use of the name in that area of New Hampshire until they chose to relinquish the name, as their use preceded the naming of the chain.[17]


Holiday Inn was dramatized as a half-hour radio play on the January 11, 1943, CBS broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater, starring Crosby and Astaire with Dinah Shore.[18] On December 15, 1952, The Railroad Hour presented a half-hour adaption of the film. The episode starred Gordon MacRae and Dorothy Warenskjold.[19]

In 2013, Universal Stage Productions, the live theater division of Universal Pictures, invited Goodspeed Musicals to develop a stage adaptation of the film. With book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, music from the films Holiday Inn and White Christmas plus other Berlin songs, and directed by Greenberg, the musical premiered at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut on September 19, 2014.[20] The Roundabout Theatre Company production of Holiday Inn began previews on Broadway at Studio 54 on September 1, 2016 before the official opening on October 6. The cast includes Bryce Pinkham as Jim, Megan Lawrence as Louise, Corbin Bleu as Ted, and Lee Wilkof as Danny.[21][22]

Blackface controversy[edit]

Beginning in the 1980s, some broadcasts of the film have entirely omitted the "Abraham" musical number, staged at the Inn for Lincoln's Birthday, because of its depiction of a blackface minstrel show incorporating images and behaviors that are now considered offensive.[23] However, because Turner Classic Movies airs films uncut and unedited, the network has left the "Abraham" number intact during their screenings of Holiday Inn. AMC also aired the film intact before they became an advertiser-supported channel. To avoid advertiser objections, the edited version now airs annually on AMC.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "Holiday Inn". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  2. ^ "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
  3. ^ "Holiday Inn". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  4. ^ Bookbinder 1977, p. 125.
  5. ^ "Awards for Holiday Inn". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  6. ^ Rainho, Manny (August 2015). "This Month in Movie History". Classic Images (482): 24–26.
  7. ^ "Locations for Holiday Inn". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  8. ^ "Bing Crosby recorded Irving Berlin's song "White Christmas" today in 1942". Carl Leonard. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  9. ^ White Christmas
  10. ^ Monaghan, Gabrielle (2017-12-24). "White Christmases are becoming a daydream". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  11. ^ Strauss, Theodore (August 5, 1942). "Movie Review - Holiday Inn". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  12. ^ "Film Reviews". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. June 17, 1942. p. 8.
  13. ^ "'Holiday Inn' with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire". Harrison's Reports: 99. June 20, 1942.
  14. ^ "Reviews of the New Films". Film Daily. New York: Wid's Films and Film Folk, Inc.: 6 June 15, 1942.
  15. ^ "America's Greatest Music in the Movies" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2004. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  16. ^ Martin, Douglas (2003-02-14). "Kemmons Wilson, 90, Dies; Was Holiday Inn Founder". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Bartlett Historical Society".
  18. ^ "Screen Guild Theatre, the: 'Holiday Inn' {Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore} (Radio)", accessed October 6, 2016
  19. ^ "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 38 (4): 36. Autumn 2012.
  20. ^ "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn"
  21. ^ Clement, Olivia (May 27, 2016). "See Who's Heading to the Holiday Inn on Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  22. ^ "Critics Review Holiday Inn on Broadway". Playbill. October 7, 2016. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  23. ^ Mueller, John (1986). Astaire Dancing - The Musical Films. London: Hamish Hamilton. p. 205. ISBN 0-241-11749-6. Mueller comments: "This scene, as well as the number which follows are often cut when the film is shown on television, presumably because of the offensiveness of the blackface"


  • Bookbinder, Robert (1977). The Films of Bing Crosby. Secaucus: The Cidadel Press. ISBN 978-0806505985.

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