That man Irving Berlin has been whistling to himself again. Not content with turning out the most rousing Broadway show in years, he has scribbled no fewer than thirteen tunes for "Holiday Inn," the light-heartedly patriotic musical which opened last night at the Paramount in conjunction with a gala stage show for the benefit of the Navy Relief Society.
Mr. Berlin may not know a great deal about notes, as he confesses, but he does know a lot about music. If there are no tunes in "Holiday Inn" that quite match those of his army show, Mr. Berlin still has created several of the most effortless melodies of the season—the sort that folks begin humming in the middle of a conversation for days afterward. At present Paramount prices Mr. Berlin's tunes are being sold dirt cheap.As it happily happens, the film has caught the same effortless moods of the music. 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—a neat trick if you can do it. 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 pair of 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.Mainly "Holiday Inn" is a series of musical episodes, each of which takes an American holiday for cue. But they have been strung ever so neatly on the amorous rivalries of Mr. Astaire, who wins all the battles except the last, and Mr. Crosby, a musical lazybones who retires to a New England farm which he converts into a night club for holidays only—thus leaving him 300-odd days a year for pure loafing.
And while the pair desperately conspire against each other for the hand of Miss Reynolds, Mr. Berlin's music sets the moods from the romantic "Be Careful, It's My Heart," to nostalgic "Easter Parade," tender "White Christmas" and rollicking "Let's Start the New Year Right."Along the way the author and director have bobbed up with some engaging tricks such as the befuddled Thanksgiving turkey hopping from one Thursday to another or the Washington's Birthday Minuet, in which a bland Mr. Crosby continually breaks up Mr. Astaire's precise and dainty footwork with hot licks in the accompaniment. It is all very easy and graceful; it never tries too hard to dazzle; even in the rousing and topical Fourth of July number it never commits a breach of taste by violently waving the flag. Instead it has skipped back over the year in an affectionate and light-hearted spirit. In a month without a holiday, "Holiday Inn" offers a reason for celebration not printed in red ink on the calendar.
HOLIDAY INN, screen play by Claude Binyon; adaptation by Elmer Rice; based on an original idea by Irving Berlin; produced and directed by Mark Sandrich for Paramount; music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. At the Paramount.Jim Hardy . . . . . Bing CrosbyTed Hanover . . . . . Fred AstaireLinda Mason . . . . . Marjorie ReynoldsLillie Dixon . . . . . Virginia DaleDanny Reid . . . . . Walter AbelMamie . . . . . Louise BeaversCigarette Girl . . . . . Judith GibsonHat Check Girl . . . . . Katharine BoothGirls and Dancers . . . . . Barbara Slater, Aline Brandes, Louise La Planche, Laurie Douglas, Lynda Grey, Lora Lee