Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1942. Paramount Pictures. Story by Irving Berlin, Adaptation by Elmer Rice, Screenplay by Claude Binyon. Cinematography by David Abel. Produced by Mark Sandrich. Music by Robert Emmett Dolan. Production Design by Roland Anderson, Hans Dreier. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Ellsworth Hoagland. Academy Awards 1942.
This was the film that the hit song “White Christmas” was originally written for, and you’ll wonder why it never became a traditional Christmas movie (the way 1954’s White Christmas did) until you actually watch it. Bing Crosby gives up on struggling to make it in show business and instead buys a country resort that he intends on turning into a motel open only during major holidays of the year (cause that’s lucrative). One by one the dates fall off the calendar with Crosby performing an Irving Berlin song for each one, the most cringe-inducing being his “Abraham” number done in blackface. Meanwhile, romantic and artistic rival Fred Astaire has gone off to great success and romance but it is not long before he is back to cause trouble (which means a couple of great duets). Both stars have been featured to better effect in other films, Marjorie Reynolds is bland as the female lead and Berlin’s story is gratingly thin. The Christmas classic at the centre of it really is wonderful, though, and the film has the distinction of having had a hotel chain named after it.