“You could melt her heart right down to butter, if you’d only turn on the heat!”
A song-and-dance team (Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire) in love with the same woman (Virginia Dale) part ways when Crosby decides he wants to open a rural inn featuring performances only on holidays. Tensions arise when his new dancing protegee and love interest (Marjorie Reynolds) strikes the fancy of Astaire, who tries to steal her for his own performing — and romantic — purposes.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that this holiday TV favorite, while “not a great musical”, is nonetheless “enjoyable and extremely popular”, and argues that while the “plot’s a bit foolish… Berlin’s score is lively and patriotic and Crosby’s crooning and Astaire’s dancing are super”. This just about wraps the film up in a nutshell: it’s worthy viewing for Astaire’s knock-out dance routines (his infamous shuffle with firecrackers is particularly stunning, as is his equally infamous “drunk dance”), and most film fanatics will probably be curious to see a movie with such enduring popularity. Yet it’s actually somewhat disturbing to watch Astaire being such a heel; while the entire plot hinges on this inevitability — and we highly suspect the “right man” will win the girl in the end — the ride until then is mildly discomfiting. Equally cringe-worthy is a minstrel number performed on — of all days — Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, in praise of good ol’ Abe, savior of the slaves; and the stereotypical mammy role played by Louise Beavers simply heightens how dated the film really is in some ways. But that Astaire sure can dance (Reynolds is quite good, too), and that Crosby sure can croon, and Berlin wrote a passel of fun tunes to celebrate the major American holidays — so enjoy these elements, and feel free to tune out the rest.
Note: The hotel chain Holiday Inn was indeed named after this movie; see TCM’s article for more trivia.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Many enjoyable dance sequences with Astaire
- A fine Irving Berlin score (including, naturally, the Oscar-winning “White Christmas”)
Yes, simply for its historical popularity — and to see the incomparable Fred Astaire at work.