Holiday Inn (1942)
December 12, 2022 8:31 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] Jim (Bing Crosby) and Lila are members of a performing trio who plan to quit and run a country hotel. When Lila says she has fallen in love with the dancer in the act, Ted (Fred Astaire), Jim leaves town with a broken heart. After turning the inn into a holidays-only live entertainment venue, Jim winds up booking -- and falling for -- Linda (Marjorie Reynolds). But when Ted shows up at the place after being dumped by Lila, he too sets his sights on beautiful Linda.

Also starring Virginia Dale, Walter Abel, Louise Beavers, Irving Bacon, Marek Windheim.

Directed by Mark Sandrich. Screenplay by Claude Binyon. Songs by Irving Berlin.

100& fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently available for digital rental in the US. JustWatch listing.

Today, I'm going to post six movies that are problematic and/or made by/starring problematic people, but also either: have merit/are acclaimed; won some awards; are/were very popular; are/were culturally notable; or have a certain amount of cultural cachet or staying power. I'll be tagging these #problematicmovies.

Maybe, like me, you grew up watching Holiday Inn every year on TCM. You'd hector people who like White Christmas as philistines who watch the color remake. After all, isn't this version better? Doesn't it have more holidays and more great songs? What about the firecracker dance?

How could this be problematic, you ask?

Well, if you watch the full version on video, as opposed to the edited version on TCM, you also get the Abraham Lincoln song, which is in blackface. (Yes, that clip is colorized, but that scene is horrifying anyway.)

Also, Bing Crosby was probably trash.
posted by DirtyOldTown (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes. You've pretty much included everything I would have said. Bad guy Fred is a nice twist, and Virginia Dale makes a great Ginger Rogers stand-in.
It's hard to bet against an Irving Berlin songbook made into a vehicle for that cast, but, alas, the problematic parts are Problematic.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:38 PM on December 12, 2022

Yes, the minstrel number is deplorable. Yes, Fred Astaire as the heel is wonderful. But when our dad made us watch this every Christmas, we were really only in it for Irving Bacon's weird portrayal of Gus, the sleigh driver and hired hand.
posted by rikschell at 4:43 PM on December 12, 2022

Deleted? I’ve never seen it without the Lincoln’s Birthday number.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:46 PM on December 12, 2022

It's not so much deleted (it's on all the home video releases) as omitted from broadcast.

It's wild because for years, I didn't know it was there. TCM just didn't show it.

I still think this is a really fun movie, if you can get past/skip that one scene. Were it in color, I think it would be far more beloved than White Christmas, even so. It's a better movie.

Man, I love the firecracker dance.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:21 AM on December 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

The firecracker dance is awesome. You can always count on Astaire to do something innovative. And IMO, this movie's use of "White Christmas" is better than in the movie White Christmas.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:12 AM on December 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

My parents were just discussing this movie, specifically the implausibility of Bing Crosby as a romantic lead. He's got the charisma of wallpaper paste.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

There are times when that kind of works, though. Even though I've always enjoyed The Philadelphia Story, I prefer High Society because Crosby's kinder, gentler C.K. Dexter Haven is more appealing to me than Grant's blustery, hotheaded C.K. Dexter Haven.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2022

And IMO, this movie's use of "White Christmas" is better than in the movie White Christmas.

I guess that’s good, considering the song was specifically written for this movie.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:42 PM on December 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

My mother has corrected me... It's AMC that we watched the edited version on. Back when they showed movies.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:26 PM on December 14, 2022

I definitely remember seeing the Lincoln's Birthday number as a child in the 1990s, and being like wtf is this?? Would have been a broadcast version, maybe TCM after all since they are big on not cutting anything.

That said, it's otherwise a great movie, and even better without the blackface. Set me up for massive disappointment the first time I stayed at a Holiday Inn, though.
posted by basalganglia at 4:42 AM on December 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I like that TCM shows the movies uncut, but takes the time to talk about those uncomfortable parts.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:49 PM on December 16, 2022

In the late 80s I used to run a video store. I would always recommend this movie to the regulars, and it was always a hit.
I had a personal tradition of watching it every xmas, but I can't anymore. I still like it, it has a special place for me, but like many of these old movies, it just seems sooooo slow nowadays.
posted by conifer at 4:10 AM on December 26, 2022

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