Paramount Pictures' Holiday Inn came to movie theaters in 1942. Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale play four entertainers who strut their stuff at a rustic Connecticut showplace called Holiday Inn. Here are 21 Holiday Inn movie trivia items and interesting facts...
1. Irving Berlin (1888-1989) first conceived of Holiday Inn in 1933. Berlin had gotten the idea for a movie musical saluting the major American holidays while writing the song "Easter Parade" for the Broadway show As Thousands Cheer.
Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds under the Christmas tree in Holiday Inn (1942) - Paramount Pictures
2. Holiday Inn was produced and directed by Mark Sandrich and filmed from October 18, 1941, to January 30, 1942. The film's budget was a healthy $3.2 million.
3. Holiday Inn was filmed at the original Holiday Inn in Monte Rio, California, and in Sonoma County, California. The Monte Rio Holiday Inn is still in business today, operating under the name Village Inn & Restaurant.
4. Marjorie Reynolds (1917-1997) and Virginia Dale (1917-1994) star opposite Bing Crosby (1903-1977) and Fred Astaire (1899-1987). “Mark Sandrich wanted two comparatively unknown girls to work opposite Cos and me,” wrote Fred Astaire in his 1959 autobiography Steps in Time. “We were fortunate in getting Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale.”
5. Bing Crosby plays Jim Hardy and Fred Astaire plays Ted Hanover, two New York song-and-dance men. Jim Hardy's Holiday Inn is located in Midville, Connecticut, and debuts on Christmas Eve. Holiday Inn is only opened on the 15 or so American holidays, including New Year's Eve, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, St. Valentine's Day, Easter Sunday, Independence Day and Christmas Eve.
6. Jim Hardy, Ted Hanover and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) are appearing at the Midnight Club in New York. Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) later meets Jim Hardy, et al., at the Club Pierre in New York courtesy of agent Danny Reed, played by Walter Abel (1898-1987).
7. Harry Barris (1905-1962), Bing Crosby's old Rhythm Boys partner, appears as an orchestra leader at the Midnight Club. Also making cameo appearances are Irving Berlin as a New York City flower store manager and Bob Crosby and His Orchestra. Bob of course was the younger brother of Bing.
8. Holiday Inn immediately establishes itself as a holiday picture, opening at the Midnight Club on Christmas Eve.
9. Fred Astaire's tipsy, impromptu dance with Marjorie Reynolds is the stuff of movie legend. “I took two stiff hookers of bourbon before the first take and one before each succeeding take,” wrote Fred Astaire in Steps in Time (1959). “I had to fall down on my face and be carried out for the finish. It was hot on that stage, too! All in all we did it seven times. The last one was the best.”
10. The Lincoln's Birthday celebration features the musical sequence "Abraham," in which Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds appear in blackface. It is often deleted from television showings because some have deemed it archaic and racially offensive.
11. World War II was raging at the time. Thus, Bing Crosby takes to the stage and performs "Song of Freedom," a patriotic flag-waver saluting President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Four Freedoms and the American armed forces.
12. Fred Astaire's Fourth of July musical number "Say It With Firecrackers" is one of the highlights of the movie. “The firecracker number, in which I threw torpedoes to explode in a rhythmic conglomeration with my feet, took an awful lot of planning and rehearsing,” Fred Astaire wrote in his autobiography. “I also had the stage wired to set off what looked like strings of firecrackers with visible flashes as I stepped in certain spots. It was a great satisfaction, that dance, being able to explode things expressing emphasis on beats here and there…Again I wished the film had been in color.”
13. Bing Crosby sings "Easter Parade" in the April 5th, Easter Sunday show at Holiday Inn.
14. Louise Beavers (1902-1962) plays the black maid Mamie, who serves a glum Bing Crosby his Thanksgiving Day dinner.
15. Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" is performed twice in Holiday Inn. Bing Crosby is joined by Marjorie Reynolds (dubbed by Martha Mears) at the piano in the first outing. Mears dubbing for Reynolds later sings "White Christmas" a second time to the accompaniment of the Bob Crosby Orchestra.
16. Martha Mears (1908-1986) not only dubbed Marjorie Reynolds in Holiday Inn but also did the singing for such stars as Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Lucille Ball, Audrey Totter and Veronica Lake. You didn't really think these fine actresses were doing their own singing, did you?
17. Holiday Inn's world premiere came at New York City's Paramount Theater on August 4, 1942. In the audience was Theodore Strauss of the New York Times (8/5/42), who reported: "Mark Sandrich, director and producer, has taken the inevitable melange of plot and production numbers and so deftly pulled them together that one hardly knows where the story ends and a song begins…That it comes off, of course, is largely due to the casual performances of Bing Crosby, who can sell a blackface song like ‘Abraham’ or turn an ordinary line into sly humor without seeming to try, and Fred Astaire, who still owns perhaps the most sophisticated toes in Christendom. Mr. Astaire has rarely danced with more alert, carefree abandon than among the exploding torpedoes and red devils of ‘Say It With Firecrackers.’ And in Marjorie Reynolds, a very fetching blonde young lady, Mr. Astaire has a new partner who can hold her own at all speeds.”
18. Said the Hollywood trade paper Variety in its 1942 Holiday Inn review: "Loaded with a wealth of songs, it's meaty, not too kaleidoscopic and yet closely knit for a compact 100 minutes of tiptop filmusical entertainment."
19. Holiday Inn grossed $3.8 million at the American box office. That was the same gross earnings for another Bing Crosby movie that year Road to Morocco, which had opened in November 1942.
20. Holiday Inn nabbed three Academy Award nominations: Best Original Song ("White Christmas," Irving Berlin, won), Best Scoring of Musical Picture (Robert Emmett Dolan) and Best Original Story (Irving Berlin).
21. Want to own an original Holiday Inn standard one sheet movie poster (27x41-inches)? One in very fine condition and preserved on linen sold at Heritage Auctions for $715.59.
Holiday Inn 1942 one sheet movie poster - Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas
- Holiday Inn cast, l-r: Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Fred Astaire - Paramount Pictures
Copyright © 2011 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.