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Holiday Inn: Besides the title and a couple of scenes, what exactly makes this a Christmas movie?

Updated on May 18, 2013

I never saw Holiday Inn until this holiday season. I'd heard people speak highly of it and I know that White Christmas was originally meant to reunite Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire after the success of this movie. But I'd never seen it.

Maybe I'd view it differently if I had.

Not that I don't enjoy it. It's charming enough and well made. But it doesn't really speak to me as a Christmas movie all that much. However, I'm including it in my series of Christmas movie reviews because I know that others do.

The movie follows Jim Hardy (Crosby) and Ted Hanover (Astaire). They have an act with Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale), but Jim decides that it's too much work. He dreams of running a farm and being lazy. (Those farmers out there must be like "OMG! LMAO!" At least those farmers out there with Twitter accounts.)

Farm life turns out to be too much work for Jim and he decides to turn his farmhouse into the Holliday Inn, open only on fifteen holidays throughout the year with dancing and musical numbers and such. He hires Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) after he sings his new song "White Christmas" to her and sees that she was able to not choke on the schmaltz. Ted shows up drunk and after a very tipsy dance number with her, learns that she's quite the dancer and wants to put her in his act. But he doesn't remember her face from that night.

Jim doesn't want her to leave the inn. Ted keeps coming back each holiday trying to find her while Jim does what he can to keep them apart.

(Also, I understand the Holiday Inn franchise got the name after architect Eddie Bluestein jokingly named the first hotel in the chain after the movie.)

The whole movie covers a couple years, but mostly just the major holidays from that timespan. That's one of the reasons it doesn't really speak to me as a Christmas movie. Then again, The same thing can be said about It's a Wonderful Life.

So what's the real difference?

Christmas, as much as any other holiday and more than most, is heavily tied to tradition. If you grew up watching this one, it's been adopted into the tradition of Christmas. White Christmas ends on Christmas, but is more about helping a retired army general realize that people still care about him. But I've watched it often—though not always—around the Christmas season, so it's entered into my tradition and now means Christmas to me.

So, overlooking my little tangent there, this one is enjoyable. I think the little blackface minstrel performance of "Abraham" may not play as well to today's more enlightened audience, but still, the movie's charming and pleasant.

For me, this one gets a 7 / 10.

Holiday Inn is unrated but, other than the minstrel routine I mentioned, there's really nothing offensive here.


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