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Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn(1942)

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Opening credits read "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn." Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals the following information about the production: Renie DeMarco, Richard Denning, Macdonald Carey (erroneously called "Donald Carey") and Janet Blair were tested for roles in this film. Fred Astaire worked for two weeks without pay as a Christmas gift to Paramount. After three days of rehearsal, the firecracker dance sequence became the last scene to be shot and took two days to film. A Paramount News news item indicates that Julia Faye, Mildred Harris, Jane Novak and Ruth Clifford were slated to appear in the film. However, Clifford was not identified in the viewed print, and the participation of the other actresses in the film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Paramount planned to include a special musical dance sequence to commemorate Navy Day, using a revamped version of an old Irving Berlin song, "This Is a Great Country," but the number was dropped and was probably never shot. Plans for an elaborate opening in Los Angeles in August 1942 were abandoned due to wartime conditions on the Pacific coast. Proceeds from the New York premiere went to the Navy Relief Society. In September 1942, the shoes Fred Astaire wore in the firecracker sequence were sold at a Cleveland, OH, auction for $116,000 worth of war bonds, and then one shoe and both laces were later resold for another $22,000 worth of war bonds. According to modern sources, Berlin devised the concept for this film after he wrote the song "Easter Parade" for the 1933 Broadway play As Thousands Cheer, and subsequently planned a musical revue based on major American holidays. The musical play was never produced, but Berlin later pitched the idea to Mark Sandrich, who had worked with him on three Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers pictures at RKO. A modern source notes that Berlin's contract stipulated that his music would not be altered once filming began, and lists Walter Scharf as a music arranger and director. Berlin won an Academy Award for his song, "White Christmas," and the film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Writing (Original Story), Irving Berlin; Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture), Robert Emmett Dolan. Berlin's "White Christmas" went on to become one of the most popular recorded songs in history. Although a 1960 article in L.A. Mirror News indicates that Berlin originally wrote "White Christmas" in 1938, a Berlin biography and other modern sources agree that the song was an original written for Holiday Inn. "White Christmas" was a favorite with homesick soldiers during World War II, and Crosby frequently sang it during USO tours. For many years it remained the largest-selling "single" in history and was only supplanted from that position in 1997 by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," revised to commemorate the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The Abraham Lincoln number is often cut from television prints due to the offensive nature of the performers in blackface. One of the notable dance numbers in the film was "Say It With Firecrackers," in which Astaire hurls firecrackers from his pocket and steps onto charges especially laid out in the floor to create small explosions in honor of Independence Day. Another number frequently shown in documentaries on Astaire is the "drunk dance," in which he appears to be drunk as partner Marjorie Reynolds helps him to stay upright. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire again co-starred in the 1946 film Blue Skies, directed by Stuart Heisler, which also featured songs by Irving Berlin. In 1954, Paramount released the film White Christmas, which was loosely inspired by Holiday Inn. Robert Emmett Dolan produced the later film, which was directed by Michael Curtiz, starred Crosby and Danny Kaye, and featured songs by Irving Berlin, including the title song.