Holiday Inn (1942)

Though cars, planes, and trains contrive to bring all your holiday guests around the table, circumstance doesn’t necessitate community. The black and white 1942 Holiday Inn understands this all too well. When the holiday performance trio of Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) collapses into a love triangle, Jim heads for the country to escape the hectic pace and drama of showbiz. He opens Holiday Inn for the 15 holidays of the calendar year to give his audience what performers never find: a magical, relaxing holiday. However, the drama of dames finds him again, in the form of the beautiful Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), followed closely by his old rival, Ted, as they both vie for the chance to perform at Jim’s Holiday Inn.

Holiday Inn suspends the relentless pace of show business in moments as effortless and graceful as Linda’s leaps while dancing with Ted. Though the film gets lots of laughs out of the failure of horseless carriages, bringing people together over the holidays is more than a matter of transportation. The real problem, as it always is with humans, is relational. Most holidays, we give up on magic; we just want the people around our dining table to like each other, whether the table is decorated with flowers, candles, or painted eggs. Holiday Inn is timeless because it addresses the relational dramas within the holidays, which are painfully obvious when dressed in glitter, lit by candlelight, and held to the unreachable standard of holiday perfection. But while the drama of Holiday Inn is relational, the true magic of the movie is music. When “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” plays, even our sympathy for Jim is suspended in the delight of watching Fred Astaire spin and tap and whirl his way across the stage—with Jim’s girl. “Live by the calendar,” like Jim Hardy says, but love by the music.

Grace Houghton is a senior studying English.

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