Holiday Inn is one of many must-see Christmas classics, primarily because it was the film that introduced the all-time best secular Christmas song, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” Directed by Mark Sandrich, who also directed half of the Astaire-Rogers musicals at RKO: The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936), Shall We Dance (1937) and Carefree (1938). This was the first of two films that Astaire would do with Bing Crosby, the other being Blue Skies (1946). Sandrich was to direct that movie as well, but he died of a heart attack at age 44 just as production began.
Robert Homans, who plays Pop (the studio guard at the end of the film) appeared as the police sergeant in Beyond Tomorrow. He had tiny roles in hundreds of films, often as policemen or guards, including Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), Dead End (1937), Stella Dallas (1937) and one of my favorite screwball comedies, Easy Living (1937) with Jean Arthur and Edward Arnold.
Irving Bacon, who plays Gus the hapless driver, appeared in Meet John Doe (1941) and was also in Bachelor Mother.
Walter Abel, who plays the agent Danny Reed, appeared in an interesting film,Skylark (1941) with Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland, which was also directed by Mark Sandrich.
Louise Beavers was seldom allowed to get far beyond parts as housekeepers or maids, but she always brought dignity, wisdom and a grand sense of humor to her roles in such films as Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) and Shadow of the Thin Man (1941). Her best role was in Imitation of Life (1934), where she moved far beyond the stereotype to a part of three-dimensional substance. She appeared in Good Sam (1948).
Leon Belasco, who plays the flower shop owner, appeared as a musician in It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947). He may be familiar as the dealer at Rick’s in Casablanca (1942) or the poolside waiter in My Favorite Wife (1940), but he appeared in hundreds of film and TV roles.
Julia Faye, who plays the guest at the inn on New Year’s Eve who insists on dancing with Bing Crosby, was born in my hometown, Richmond, Va. in 1892. She appeared briefly in Remember the Night (1940) as a member of the jury. During her long career, she was best known as a silent star and mistress of Cecil B. DeMille, and she continued to appear in films that he directed through The Ten Commandments (1956).
Karin Booth, who plays the hat check girl on New Year’s Eve, appeared in Ziegfeld Follies (1945), which included several Astaire dance numbers.
Brooks Benedict appeared in three Astaire films: Follow the Fleet (1936), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) and The Sky’s the Limit (1943). He also appeared in Remember the Night (1940), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and The Lemon Drop Kid (1951).
WHY WE LOVE THIS MOVIE
First and most of all: FRED ASTAIRE. We specifically love the “Say It with Firecrackers” number for the Fourth of July and his comic dance routines on New Year’s Eve (“You’re Easy to Dance With”) and Washington’s Birthday (“I Can’t Tell a Lie”). We all know how well he could dance sober, but could anyone dance better drunk? In his autobiography, Steps in Time, Astaire recounts how he took two stiff shots of bourbon before the first take, and another before each of the six succeeding takes.