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Holiday Inn (film)

Holiday Inn
theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark Sandrich
Produced by Mark Sandrich
Screenplay by Claude Binyon
Elmer Rice (adaptation)
Story by Irving Berlin
Music by Irving Berlin
Cinematography David Abel
Edited by Ellsworth Hoagland
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 8, 1942 (1942-08-08) (US)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Holiday Inn is a 1942 American musical film directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.[1] With music by Irving Berlin, the composer wrote twelve songs specifically for the film, the best known being "White Christmas". The film features the complete reuse of "Easter Parade", written by Berlin for the 1933 Broadway revue As Thousands Cheer. The film's choreography was by Danny Dare.[2]

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).[3]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • "White Christmas" 3.1
  • Song releases 4
  • Soundtrack 5
  • Legacy 6
  • Adaptations 7
  • Blackface controversy 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


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 and he plans to turn his farm into an entertainment venue called "Holiday Inn", which will only be open 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 makeup, 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. While Linda is charmed, 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 river.

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 deeply depressed, 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 learn of 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 film musical 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. Produced and directed by Mark Sandrich, filming took place between November 1941 and February 1942. Holiday Inn had its premiere at the New York Paramount Theatre August 4, 1942.[6] It was a success in the U.S. and the U.K., 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 U.S. military.[8]

"White Christmas"

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."

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 during the making of a movie with Mason where Hardy appears on set during the filming of the movie.

Song releases

These are the songs recorded in the studio released to the public. The ones below are taken directly from the movie and differ slightly.


These are the songs taken directly from the movie and are often confused with the ones above released to the public. These songs presented in the film are often faster to save time.


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.

A colorized version of "Holiday Inn" was released by Universal on October 14, 2008. The colorization was done by Legend Films. The colorization company used Edith Head’s sketch artist, Jan Muckelstone, as a color design consultant for costume authenticity.

The name of the Holiday Inn hotel chain was inspired by the film,[10] however, it had also earlier inspired the 1946 re-naming of a small 1800's 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.[11]


Holiday Inn was dramatized as a half-hour radio play on the January 11, 1943, broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater, starring Crosby and Astaire with Dinah Shore.

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.[12]

Bing Crosby in blackface in the "Abraham" number.

Blackface controversy

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 what is now considered offensive.[13] 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. Precisely to avoid advertiser objections, the edited version now airs annually on AMC.



  1. ^ "Holiday Inn". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Bookbinder 1977, p. 125.
  3. ^ "Awards for Holiday Inn". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ Holiday Inn end credits
  5. ^ "Full cast and crew 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. ^ Martin, Douglas (2003-02-14). "Kemmons Wilson, 90, Dies; Was Holiday Inn Founder".  
  11. ^ "Bartlett Historical Society". 
  12. ^ "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn" on the Goodspeed Opera House website
  13. ^ Mueller, John (1986). Astaire Dancing - The Musical Films. London: Hamish Hamilton. p. 205.   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.  

External links

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