A 1942 Musical film directed by Mark Sandrich, starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, and featuring music by Irving Berlin, Holiday Inn is perhaps best remembered today for introducing Bing's most famous song, "White Christmas".
Jim Hardy (Crosby), Ted Hanover (Astaire), and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) form a musical act together in Manhattan. Jim wants to retire with Lila, to whom he is engaged, and live on the farm that he's purchased in Connecticut. However, Lila loves Ted (and show business), and so Jim retires alone to his farm... or attempts to.
After nearly a year of attempting to run the farm – followed by a nervous breakdown and a brief stay at a sanitarium – Jim returns to Manhattan on Christmas Eve to see his old friends. He has what he thinks is a brilliant idea: Jim wants to convert the farm into an entertainment venue called Holiday Inn, which will be open only on holidays. Both Ted and his agent Danny Reed (Walter Abel) scoff at the plan.
Danny stops at a flower shop in the airport, where he is recognized as an agent by Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) who asks him for a job. He directs her to the Holiday Inn, and gives her a ticket to Ted and Lila's show. She goes, as does Jim, who pretends to be the owner of a big club. She, in turn, pretends to be a friend of Ted's and a celebrity. Ted and Lila come to the table after the performance, and Linda promptly flees.
The next morning, Linda arrives at the Holiday Inn, and she and Jim realize that both were fooling the other the previous evening. They sing "White Christmas" together.
On New Year's Eve, Holiday Inn finally opens to a packed house. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Ted finds that Lila has left him for a Texas millionaire, and goes out to the Holiday Inn, thoroughly drunk. He dances with Linda, proceeds to bring down the house blind stinking drunk, and then promptly fall unconscious. Danny arrives at the Holiday Inn just as Ted is carried upstairs.
The next morning, Ted awakens at the Inn with a hangover and no memory of the previous night. Danny, however, is thrilled that Ted has found a new partner, but dismayed when neither he nor Ted can identify the girl. Jim, of course, knows Linda, but does not give any information away, as he fears that Ted will take Linda away from the inn.
Then comes Lincoln's Birthday. In an attempt to disguise Linda, Jim decides that all of the performers and musicians will perform the minstrel number "Abraham" in blackface. Ted and Danny return, and attempt to find Linda, but their search proves fruitless. Jim sort-of proposes to Linda.
At the rehearsal for Valentine's Day, Jim sings "Be Careful, It's My Heart" to Linda, who begins dancing. Ted and Danny arrive, and Ted dances with Linda. The music abruptly halts as Jim sees Ted dancing with Linda. Danny suggests that Ted and Linda open their new act at the Inn, on Washington's Birthday. Jim dejectedly concedes.
Washington's Birthday arrives, and Ted and Linda dance in elaborate 18th century costumes and wigs. However, whenever they try to kiss, Jim changes the music from the period minuet to jazz.
On Independence Day, Ted and Danny have arranged for Hollywood representatives to be at the Inn to determine whether or not Ted and Linda are suitable for film. Jim, overhearing their plan, bribes the hired hand Gus (Irving Bacon) to ensure that Linda does not arrive at the Inn. Gus picks up Linda in the Inn's car, and drives it into a creek. Linda attempts to hitchhike back to the Inn, and is picked up by Lila. Lila, it seems, has left her Texas Millionaire after he turned out to owe millions rather than own then, and has been summoned to the inn by Jim to dance with Ted. Linda drives Lila's car into the same river where Gus is still stranded. At the inn, Ted improvises a solo dance with firecrackers. Linda arrives, is furious at Jim, and accepts Ted's offer to do motion pictures with him. The Hollywood representatives want to make the film about Holiday Inn; Jim reluctantly agrees.
At Thanksgiving, the inn is closed, and Jim is depressed. He plays his Thanksgiving song on the record player, and makes bitter self-deprecating jokes over the lyrics. His housekeeper Mamie (Louise Beavers) tells him to go to California and win back Linda.
In California, on Christmas Eve, Ted is prepared to elope with Linda after the night's shooting, which would complete the film. Jim runs into Ted and Danny, who realize what he is doing and attempt to lock him in a closet. It backfires, and Jim locks them in their dressing room. Jim walks around the set, which is a recreation of Holiday Inn. He leaves his pipe on the piano, and hides. Linda comes to the studio, and filming begins. She recognizes the pipe, and runs to Jim.
Finally, New Year's Eve at the Holiday Inn features a reprise of Jim, Ted, and Lila's old act, with Linda added in. Jim and Linda stay at the Inn, while Ted and Lila, reunited, go off to a life of showbiz.
A Screen-to-Stage Adaptation premiered in 2014 and hit Broadway for the 2016 holiday season. This version is very faithful to the film; notable differences include making Linda the farm's previous owner, giving Mamie a Race Lift by replacing her with a Girl Friday very much in the mold of Emma from White Christmas, and dropping both Washington's & Lincoln's birthdays.
Incidentally, the hotel chain "Holiday Inn" was named for this movie.
This Movie is the Trope Namer For:
- Dreaming of a White Christmas: Due to the song debuting in this movie.
- Accidental Pervert: Danny, Jim and Ted's agent, says he would recognize the girl Ted danced with if he saw her from the back. He starts checking out each of the ladies at the Inn, much to the annoyance of their escorts.
- Baby New Year: Mamie's children feature in the New Year's Eve sequence, one dressed as Baby New Year and the other as Father Time.
- Blackface: In the Lincoln's Birthday number. Now often cut when the movie is shown on American TV due to Values Dissonance.
- Book Ends: The movie starts with Ted "stealing" Lila from Jim just before their wedding and ends with Jim "stealing" Linda from Ted just before their wedding.
- The Bro Code: Violated left and right (see Book Ends above). A passing remark early on by Jim about "the girls we've swiped from each other" suggests this is typical behavior for them.
- Call to Agriculture: At the beginning, Jim leaves show business for a Connecticut farm, naively thinking it'll be an easier life. The Failure Montage rids him of that notion pretty quickly.
- Dance of Romance: Self-inflicted in-universe: when Ted declares his intention of finding the girl he danced with while drunk and making her his partner, Jim notes sourly that Ted always falls in love with his partners.
- Jim sabotages it during the Washington Day song. Every time Ted and Linda start to get close during their minuet, Jim prompts the band to play fast jazz instead.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In Danny Reed's words, Lila ran off to marry "some Texan from Texas."
- Didn't Think This Through: Danny tries to keep Jim away from Linda by locking him in Ted's closet—forgetting that Ted still needs to get clothes from that same closet, and that it's a walk-in closet with another door... which Jim promptly escapes from.
- Drowning My Sorrows: When Lila leaves him for a millionaire from Texas, Ted gets drunk enough to bring down the house with his dancing, then forget everything the morning after.
- Exact Words: While Ted is talking to Linda in their first encounter, he mentions that he is considering Ted and Lila as an act at "his place," but they might not be suitable, considering "how large a place it is." Well, an unused farm in Connecticut is pretty large...'
- Failure Montage: Used to depict Jim discovering the hard way that a farmer's life isn't for him, either. His attempts to haul firewood, milk cows, and herd pigs all end in embarrassment and pain.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: When Danny sees Linda leaving the Inn, he tries to get Ted and Jim to catch her. She leaves before they can get to her so Jim tells them now he (Danny) can look for someone in an overcoat. Danny asks him how does he know that the girl had an overcoat. Ted scrambles for a sec before stating, quite logically, that any girl would need an overcoat outside in a Connecticut February.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Jim is amazed at how accurately they reproduced his farmhouse for the movie set. And from just a few photos, too!
- Love Triangle: First, Ted and Jim are both in love with Lila, who is also in love with both of them. Then, Jim and Ted both love Linda, who loves Jim and likes Ted.
- Magical Negro: Jim's housekeeper, Mamie, is endlessly loyal and patient. Her biggest plot-related function is giving Jim a motivational speech in the Thanksgiving scene.
- Mood Whiplash: Haha, the funny turkey is running around because Thanksgiving Day keeps changing. Oh look! He just stamped his foot and shrugged! How funny! What's this somber music? Oh, the inn is closed? Oh, Jim is depressed and miserable? I forgot about the turkey already.
- Pair the Spares: Jim and Linda are back together at the end—and Lila reappears, to get back together with Ted.
- Patriotic Fervor: Made during the first years of America's involvement in World War II, the movie is sprinkled with patriotic tidbits. The initial ad for the opening of Jim's club ends with "...just go and God Bless America."
- Pimped-Out Dress: Linda gets to wear several.
- Pretty in Mink: Linda wears a mink coat and muff in part of the finale.
- Self-Deprecation: Jim, who thinks he's lost Linda and feels bitter over it, listens to his own recording of "I've Got a Lot to Be Thankful For", mocking the lyrics and criticizing his own singing.
- Self-Plagiarism: Irving Berlin recycled a few songs for the soundtrack (notably "Easter Parade," whose tune dates from 1914) in addition to writing new ones.
- Show Within a Show: They actually used the movie's sets as the movie within the movie's sets.
- Single Tear: Linda has one while recording "White Christmas" on the movie set at the end.
- Spanner in the Works: After overhearing Ted's plan to woo Linda away with an offer from Hollywood, Jim attempts to sabotage it. He bribes Linda's driver to "get lost" on the way to the Inn, and invites Lila to take Linda's place for that night's performance. Jim doesn't anticipate Linda hitchhiking once she realized her driver was lost, winding up in Lila's car, and figuring out exactly what Jim tried to pull.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: The opening song-and-dance. Jim and Ted, a singer and a dancer competing for Lila's affection, perform a routine with Lila about a singer and a dancer competing for the attention of a girl.
- Take That!: When the calendar page shows Thanksgiving, an animated turkey moves back and forth between the 20th and the 27th due to the date being changed from the last Thanksgiving to the week prior during the last three years (Democrat states would honor the change, Republican ones wouldn't). A joint resolution was signed during the filming that finally set the date of Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In-universe. The movie Ted and Linda are making in Hollywood is loosely based on the story of Jim founding Holiday Inn. (Presumably Ted plays the Jim character.)
- Visual Pun: At the end of "Be Careful, It's My Heart", Linda and Ted literally break Jim's heart.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: Ted starts drinking after Lila leaves him. While drunk, he travels all the way to Holiday Inn, stumbles onto the dance floor, dances with Linda, wows the entire house with his skill, and then collapses. The morning after, he can't remember any of it.