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Holiday Inn: 3-Disc Collector's Set (2008)


Cast: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Majorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale.

Rating: PG

Run time: 101 minutes

Genre: Christmas

Verdict: Brilliant (see rating system)

This classic 1942 flick is the one that introduced the world to Irving Berlin's beloved song "White Christmas". It's a beautiful addition to any DVD collection - even more so with the addition of a superb colorized version AND a 12-track CD from the original soundtrack. The original black and white version is here, too.

OK, there's still some opposition out there to colorized movies, but many skeptics have changed their minds once they've seen the work of Legend Films, the company hired to transform Holiday Inn from black and white to sparkling color. Legend really does its homework, referencing old color production photos, researching the fashions and costumes of the day and getting the physical appearance of each actor just right. Yes, Bing Crosby really did have those piercing blue eyes!

Holiday Inn tells the story of wisecracking song and dance men Jim (Crosby) and Ted (Astaire) who fall out over the girl in their act Lila (Virginia Dale). Jim thought Lila was about to marry him only to discover she has the hots for Ted.

While Ted and Lila head off for stardom, Jim quits showbiz and buys a Connecticut farm. A year later, exhausted by farming, Jim decides to transform the place into an inn that's only open on major public holidays like Christmas, New Year, Easter and so on. While visiting New York to see Ted and Lila's act, Jim meets aspiring singer and dancer Linda (Marjorie Reynolds) and she teams with him to perform at the inn
. . . and they soon plan to marry.

Unfortunately, Lila chooses this moment to leave Ted and run away with a millionaire. Ted gets monumentally drunk, shows up at the inn and dances up a storm with Linda. This is a hilarious sequence as Astaire dances drunk (brilliantly) before falling on his face.

Next morning, Ted can't remember who he danced with - he just knows she's the new partner he's been looking for.

That sets up Jim and Ted for another hilarious battle over a woman they both love.

The movie is packed with classic Irving Berlin songs, including "You're Easy to Dance With", "Happy Holiday", "Be Careful, It's My Heart", "Easter Parade" and of course, "White Christmas".

Astaire is brilliant, with some inventive routines (including one with firecrackers) and the movie has the cosy feel of Hollywood at its peak.

There are some notable extra features here, too:

* A Couple of Song and Dance Men: An intimate retrospective of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire featuring an interview with Ava Astaire-MacKenzie
* All Singing-All Dancing: Experience the making of the unforgettable song and dance numbers of Holiday Inn.
* Audio Commentary: Feature-length audio commentary with film historian Ken Barnes with archive audio comments by Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and John Scott Trotter.
* Original Theatrical Trailer.
* Coloring a Classic: Learn how Holiday Inn was color-designed using amazing new technology that transformed the black and white classic to color with the help of Jan Mucklestone, personal sketch artist of the famed costume designer Edith Head.



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