Making the Grades
Three is definitely a crowd for Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale). The song and dance team plans to split right after its last scheduled performance on Christmas Eve so Ted can pursue a solo career while Jim and Lila tie the knot and retire to a quiet country life.
Or at least that's what Jim thinks. Unbeknownst to him, Lila hasn't committed to hanging up her dancing shoes, or her engagement. Without even a decent apology, the fickle female follows Ted's lead instead, and the two tango away to promises of limelight leaving Jim with a broken heart and an already purchased farm in Connecticut.
Jim tries to build a new life for himself, but quickly finds his romantic notions of a pastoral existence as exhausted as all the hard work and chores have made him. So the singer/songwriter hatches a plan that will let him enjoy the best of both worlds: Call his property the Holiday Inn, and host musical extravaganzas especially created to celebrate each annual occasion. With the refreshing prospect of only having to work fifteen days out of the year, Jim contacts his former showbiz buddies to see if they want in on the act.
Although not enthusiastic about his project, Ted and Lila's manager, Danny Reed (Walter Able), does pass on Jim's offer to an aspiring talent named Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds). She appears to be the perfect tonic for both Jim's ailing heart and his budding business until fate interferes in the form of a jilted Ted. When the dejected dancer shows up on the Inn's doorstep looking for a new partner, the all too familiar triangle develops again.
As in most Hollywood musicals, the plot is really only a clothesline on which to air song and dance routines. In this case the movie provides fourteen works by composer Irving Berlin that showcase American national holidays. Sung by the versatile Bing Crosby, some of the enduring tunes include In Your Easter Bonnet, Be Careful -- It's My Heart, and of course White Christmas. Fred Astaire is best remembered in this film for his fabulous 4th of July performance where his tap dancing is accompanied by exploding firecrackers.
With the exception of both main characters smoking, and the use of alcohol to drown sorrows, this Christmas classic invites families to pull up a cozy chair and make themselves at home in the Holiday Inn.