I'm not sure if anybody will be able to get out to the Normal Theater in our current blizzard-like conditions, but it'd be a major shame if everybody has to miss "Holiday Inn." It's not a perfect movie (there's the issue of that blackface number when Bing Crosby's character chooses to use that unfortunate make-up choice to disguise his girlfriend from Fred Astaire's character's advances, plus some really silly plot choices and some fairly mediocre leading ladies) but still...
Fred Astaire gets to tap-dance with firecrackers as well as dance in a pretend-drunk state, both of which are pretty nifty, and Der Bingle gets to sing "White Christmas" and "Happy Holidays." There's a lot of nice snow and a very pretty inn in Vermont, so... All in all, I find myself looking for "Holiday Inn" every year about this time. The option of seeing it on the big screen at the Normal Theater instead of in my living room is even more appealing. If only it would stop snowing for real!
I should probably tell you that "Holiday Inn" the movie has nothing to do with the hotel chain. Instead, it's about a successful song-and-dance trio consisting of singer Jim Hardy (Bing), dancer Ted Hanover (Fred) and their sorta snotty third wheel, Lila (Virginia Dale). Jim wants to retire and take Lila with him, but Ted steals her at the last minute. Those two continue the act as a duet, while Jim goes off to Vermont and tries to be a farmer. He's a flop. He does come up with an idea to open a sort of combination inn and night club that only has shows on holidays. But then Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), a pretty girl from a flower shop, arrives at his inn to try to be a star, the two fall in love, and if it weren't for Jim constantly acting like an idiot, their lives singing holiday songs at the inn would be complete.
But he does act like an idiot. (See: Blackface as well as some other nefarious schemes.) Lila also dumps Ted, he comes looking for a new partner and tries to woo Linda, there's something about a Hollywood version of the inn, and everything turns out okay.
I'm not thrilled with the idea that Jim gets the girl or that Ted (my beloved Fred) gets stuck with the odious Lila again, but... That's Hollywood. It's all just an excuse to air some lovely Irving Berlin tunes, to introduce "White Christmas," the song, to the world, and to let Fred loose with his dancing shoes. That's what "Holiday Inn" is selling, and I will buy it every time.
"Holiday Inn" plays at 7 pm tonight at the Normal Theater. If you are snowbound and unable to attend, you'll find it popping up on the small screen, too. It's not as much fun, but as I often say, any Fred is better than no Fred.