Spotlight: Spending a White Christmas at the Holiday Inn

Kicking off the holiday season, we’ll be taking a look at two of the most popular seasonal movie musicals ever made- and compare/contrast them a little bit since they’re often confused with one another. One thing they DO have in common- Irving Berlin is responsible for the music in both.

Holiday Inn.

White Christmas.

The popular song “White Christmas” is NOT from the film White Christmas. It is from Holiday Inn, which was released in 1942, and is actually not a strictly-Christmas movie. When we hear the word “holidays,” it’s true that the winter ones are usually the first that come to mind. But did we not forget about Thanksgiving, 4th of July, etc.? Yup! Holiday Inn is a story about ALL American festivities. In fact, the entire film follows a year-in-the-life of this little hotel that is only open on those special days. It stars Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. And it is indeed the movie in which we first heard Crosby croon “White Christmas,” which won the Academy Award that year for Best Original Song. Other well-known songs in this include “You’re So Easy to Dance With” and even “Easter Parade.”

The film White Christmas came along more than a decade later, in 1954. Some think it is a loose remake of Holiday Inn. It does star Bing Crosby yet again- but this time his right hand man is Danny Kaye. Rosemary Clooney also appears as one of the famous “Sisters” and the love interest of Crosby’s character. Naturally, he gets to sing his signature holiday tune in this one; you can also hear him on the Irving Berlin standards “Snow” and “Count Your Blessings.” The latter earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song but did not win.

Both White Christmas and Holiday Inn were adapted for the stage, as is the natural order of things I suppose, within the past ten years. The former made it to Broadway first, and the latter is now being staged in a world premiere production at Connecticut’s Goodspeed Musicals. Which of the two stories do you prefer? Let me know!

On a related note: the Puccini’s Chronicles theme for the month of December will be MYSTERY and INTRIGUE onstage. What are some of your favorite whodunit books? Have they translated successfully to the stage or screen? What techniques do you think work well for building suspense in dramas?

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