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USA 1942
Directed by
Mark Sandrich
101 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Holiday Inn

Had Holiday Inn been made in colour we would at least have some pretty visuals to carry us through this largely tedious wartime musical about a couple of song (Jim, played by Bing Crosby) and dance (Ted, played Fred Astaire) men competing for the affections of the same girl, firstly  Lila (Virginia Dale), then Linda (Marjorie Reynolds). But it is in black and white which leaves us with a lot of Irving Berlin songs that are based on the annual calendar of public holidays, Fred’s hoofing and a very familiar set-up with both Crosby and Astaire too old (both appear to be wearing hair pieces) for their parts.

Made at the time of the U.S.’s  involvement in WWII the songs are very much designed to endorse the American way of life with one song even featuring a newsreel-like insertion of General MacArthur and the armed forces in action.  Lyrically they demonstrate Berlin’s cleverness (and his patriotism) but other than 'White Christmas' and 'Easter Parade' both of which would reappear in the later and better films for which they provided the titles, and the more generic 'Lazy', musically they are inconsequential. In a remarkably tasteless move, even for its time, one song is performed with Crosby, Dale and the entire backing band (helmed by Bing's brother, Bob) and waiting staff in blackface. No points either for Jim’s housekeeper as a jolly fat black woman called Mamie with two cute picanninies in tow).

Which leaves us with Astaire’s as-ever remarkable dancing (with Dale good as his partner). The two standout numbers are novelties, one in which Ted dances drunk, the other with firecrackers. But other than for die-hard nostalgia buffs this is unlikely to be enough to offset the overall predictability.




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