Irving Berlin's: Holiday Inn [Special Edition] [DVD] [1942]

Holiday Inn, directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Bring Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Marjorie Reynolds, did not have a very distinguished history on home video until this release. The laserdisc and original two-movie-on-one DVD release (paired with Going My Way), were both based on an old, grainy transfer off of a fairly clean but otherwise rather flat looking 35mm print, and had no special features whatsoever. This 2006 Special Edition DVD, by contrast, is special indeed, with a crystaline transfer off of what look like preservation-quality materials, which yield a full-screen (1.33-to-1) image infinitely sharper and cleaner than any previously seen on this movie in a home viewing format. The sound has also been significantly improved, with far less compression and a lot finer detail than one could previously hear from this movie. And that's just the beginning -- the picture also comes with a commentary track by Ken Barnes, who worked with Crosby and Astaire late in their careers and does a marvelous job (take it from someone who did a commentary track of his own for this same movie, for broadcast by WNET-Channel 13 in New York) of ranging across the music, the performers, composer Irving Berlin, and most everyone else involved in the production of Holiday Inn. He's lively, engaging, and a lot of fun to listen to, and one only wishes that Warner Bros. would have gotten Barnes or someone like him to perform a similar function on some of the Astaire and/or Berlin musicals that they got as part of Ted Turner's MGM library. There are also a pair of documentaries featuring Barnes, focusing on Crosby and Astaire and also on the strange parallels between their careers at various points; and on the history and technical development of the movie musical across the 1930's and early 1940's, which affords the producers a chance to dip into some of the highlights of the early Paramount library. The only thing that might have been added was something more on the director, Mark Sandrich, who was a major producer/director at Paramount and before that at RKO, and who had a lot to do with bringing this project off as well as it came out (and who died tragically young in 1946). The movie and all of the extras are easily accessible in a very simple two-layer menu and also offers a look at the trailer for the film. The whole package is a delight, and one can only hope the Universal will make a similarly ambitious effort with the follow-up movie to this, Blue Skies (1946).
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Overview

Ratings & Reviews

Overall Customer Rating:
4.8
98% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (152 out of 156)

Special Features

  • A couple of song and dance men
  • An intimate retrospective of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire on interview with Ava Astaire-McKenzie
  • All singing - All dancing
  • Experience the making of the unforgettable song and dance numbers of Holiday Inn
  • Audio commentary
  • Feature length audio commentary by film historian Ken Barnes with archive audio comments by Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and John Scott Trotter
  • Original theatrical trailer

Synopsis

Holiday Inn
Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire star in Holiday Inn as a popular nightclub song-and-dance team. When his heart is broken by his girlfriend, Crosby decides to retire from the hustle-bustle of big city showbiz. He purchases a rustic New England farm and converts it to an inn, which he opens to the public (floor show and all) only on holidays. This barely logical plot device allows ample space for a steady flow of Irving Berlin holiday songs (including an incredible blackface number in honor of Lincoln's Birthday). Oddly enough, the most memorable song in the bunch, the Oscar-winning White Christmas, is not offered as a production number but as a simple ballad sung by Crosby to an audience of one: leading lady Marjorie Reynolds. Fred Astaire's best moment is his Fourth of July firecracker dance. Ah, but what about the plot? Well, it seems that Astaire wants to make a film about Crosby's inn, starring their mutual discovery Reynolds. Bing briefly loses Reynolds to Astaire, but wins her back during the filming of a musical number on a Hollywood soundstage (eleven years earlier, Bing enjoyed a final clinch with Marion Davies under surprisingly similar conditions in Going Hollywood). As with most of Irving Berlin's "portfolio" musicals of the 1940s, the song highlights of Holiday Inn are too numerous to mention. This delightful film is far superior to its unofficial 1954 remake, White Christmas. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Bing Crosby
    Bing Crosby - Jim Hardy
  • Fred Astaire
    Fred Astaire - Ted Hanover
  • Virginia Dale
    Virginia Dale - Lila Dixon
  • Marjorie Reynolds
    Marjorie Reynolds - Linda Mason
  • Walter Abel
    Walter Abel - Danny Reid

Overall Customer Rating

4.8 out of 54.8
156 Reviews
98%of customers recommend this product.

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