Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition includes the heartwarming original movie Holiday Inn about two guys and a girl using their musical talents to perform as a song-and-dance team in upscaled New York nightclubs. Crosby plays a laid-back crooner named Jim Hardy searching for a simpler life, while Astaire plays Ted Hanover, an ambitious, star-quality dancer determined to stay on top of his career. They form a team with a beautiful girl named Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) who completes the trio, and steals the hearts of both men. While Jim plans to marry Lila and move to a farm in the country, Ted has ideas of his own that also include the lovely lady. These two rival each other in life and love, and the story proceeds as Lila informs Jim that she loves Ted instead, and the two have otherwise planned their career and future together. So, Jim bids his dancing profession farewell and moves to Connecticut, while Lila and Ted continue to advance their talents as they dominate the nightclub scene.
After being a failure as a farmer, Jim decides to turn his country home into a showplace during the public holidays of the year, complete with dynamic entertainment to produce enough income to match his leisure. He meets a young dancer, Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), who joins in the Holiday Inn's act and contributes to the success of their venture. Meanwhile, Ted finds that the vivacious Lila has unexpectedly abandoned their partnership for a millionaire, and he rejoins his old friend at the Holiday Inn. Unfortunately for Jim, after Ted dances with Linda, the two men compete once again for the beautiful girl, and the treachery and deceit begins.
The tremendous supporting cast includes Louise Beavers as "Mamie," Jim's housekeeper, who portrays an enjoyable and compassionate mother-figure to her two young children, Vanderbilt (Shelby Bacon) and Daphne (Joan Arnold) -- and her boss, Jim Hardy! She and Walter Abel (Danny Reid) bring some comic relief to the mix. Also appearing are Irving Bacon, John Gallaudet, James Bell, and Marek Windheim.
Berlin conceived the idea of the Holiday Inn, and is responsible for many of the songs in the movie, including the iconic best-selling, Academy Award-winning "White Christmas." Others include "I'll Capture Your Heart Singing," "Lazy," "You're Easy to Dance With," "Happy Holidays," "Let's Start the New Year Right," "Be Careful It's My Heart," plus "Easter Parade" and many others. "Let's Say It With Firecrackers" is performed by Astaire in an amazing 4th of July dance with patriotic highlights.
In 2013, Universal Stage Productions (the live theater division of Universal Pictures) invited Goodspeed Musicals to develop a stage adaptation of Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn and thus, Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical with authors Greenberg and Hodge and Berlin's songs was born. It premiered in Connecticut on September 19, 2014. On September 1, 2016, The Roundabout Theatre Company production of Holiday Inn began previews on Broadway at Studio 54, and had their official opening on October 6, 2016, directed by Greenberg, with choreography by Denis Jones.
The plot of Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical has some slight changes different than the original movie. The story is practically the same, but the play has Linda Mason (Lora Lee Gayer) as the previous owner of the Mason Farm that is purchased by Jim Hardy (Bryce Pinkham) when he leaves New York and settles in the country inn. After Jim moves in, Linda visits to retrieve some belongings that were left in the home. Soon after, Louise Badger (Megan Lawrence), previous farmhand and caretaker, stops by and offers help with fix-up to the farm and she ends up living on the farm in the continuing caretaker position. Ted Hanover (Corbin Bleu), Lila Dixon (Megan Sikora), and Danny Rutigliano (Danny) also contribute to the Holiday Inn cast.
In their loneliness, Linda and Jim eventually get together, and when Jim decides to turn the Inn into a holiday showplace extravaganza, Linda helps to make it a success with her song-and-dance talents. Ted eventually joins Jim in Connecticut, and while in a drunken stupor, he dances with Linda, and determines to make her his new partner. Again, as in the movie, the shenanigans begin with Jim trying to hide Linda from Ted, because Ted always seems to steal away the girl he loves.
The Broadway musical's stage production of Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn received rave reviews, but in my opinion, it doesn't out-shine the movie. However, duplicating its success would take an enormous budget -- and, the brilliant artistry of Crosby and Astaire would be impossible to duplicate. The dancing was delightful, the songs reminiscent, but there aren't many performances that can out-dance and out-sing the legends, although the cast were brilliant in their vocal and musical skills. This is a light-hearted musical comedy that is sure to bring great entertainment to the holiday season.
Bonus features for Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition includes Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical, a full-length Broadway production based on the timeless classic film; "A Couple of Song-and-Dance Men" with commentary by Ava Astaire McKenzie and Film Historian Ken Barnes with photo, video, and audio of past experiences by Crosby and Astaire. "All-Singing, All-Dancing" portrays early dance numbers with elaborate and spectacular movie firsts. The feature shows how the songs, dance, and tapping sounds are synchronized for the movie. "Coloring a Classic" features Barry Sandrew of Legend Films, together with his artists, to discuss how the classic film Holiday Inn transforms from black-and-white to colorization through vast research of actors' characteristics and fashion designs. The Bonus also features the original Holiday Inn trailer. Commentary with Film Historian Ken Barnes in also included, with audio excerpts of Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and John Scott Trotter, courtesy of Gord Atkinson's "The Crosby Years."
The film has been beautifully remastered and if you have any doubts, just watch the trailer to see the incredible difference. Do be aware that Special Features can only be accessed by selecting the Pop-Up Menu on your Blu-ray remote, and personally, I have a high-end Harmony and was unable to access them and had to resort to pulling out the actual remote for the Blu-ray player. I feel like this is a failing in the disc when it would not have taken much more effort to simply make a Menu Screen that included the Special Features. As it is, the Menu Screen only provides options for the film in black and white or color. After selecting your choice, a screen appears advising about the pop-up button, but I can imagine this giving some elderly viewers problems, and let's face it, the main demographic for this movie is either those who remember it from days gone by, or film buffs.
I love plays and I enjoyed Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition, but mostly for the nostalgic effect. I personally miss the glamorous and elaborate old silver screen movies -- the style, sophistication, humor, romance, and sincerity just don't play as well in the newer movies today, in my opinion. I enjoy settling down to something familiar, and not as fast-paced as the current movies. So, as far as this edition of Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn, its like settling in with a comfortable old blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, a fireplace, and the old-time friendly movie stars from yesteryear. This is a "must" for the senior-set. I think they will all enjoy it especially for this upcoming Holiday Season.