Holiday Inn Movie Poster Image

Holiday Inn

Classic musical with some controversial material.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1942
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie is lighthearted and well-meant overall, but modern audiences are likely to be very taken aback by the Lincoln's Birthday number, which is performed in blackface and is decidedly not politically correct. Plus, Astaire's character tries -- twice! -- to seduce a girl away from his supposed friend.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Astaire's character weaves through a drunken dance.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids will see a musical number performed in blackface. Crosby tries to lure his so-called friend's girlfriend away -- twice! And Astaire dances drunk -- literally!

What's the story?

When singer Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) finds out that his fiancée is in love with smooth-talking dancer Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), he skulks off to milk cows and lick his wounds on the farm he now owns. While his pride heals, a swell idea occurs to him: Why not turn the farm into an inn that's only open on holidays, with live entertainment and a homemade breakfast in the morning? A girl (Marjorie Reynolds) looking for her big show business break helps Hardy bring his daydream to fruition. Not only is his Holiday Inn a success thanks to her singing and dancing, he's falling in love to boot. But trouble's right around the corner. Hanover's girl has dropped him, it seems, and his search for a new dance partner has him once again courting Hardy's girl.

Is it any good?


In spite of a few awkward numbers and a meager plot, Crosby and Astaire slap plenty of life into this black-and-white classic. In one number, Astaire spins across the stage with firecrackers popping at his feet. Seeing him maneuver clumsily across the dance floor with Marjorie Reynolds is another treat -- to play it convincingly drunk, Astaire took a hefty belt between each take. Crosby is the real charmer, though, as a decent, easygoing fellow whose idyllic life is threatened not just by a girl-stealing cad, but by his own awkwardness in expressing love.

Thirteen Irving Berlin numbers. Exploding peach preserves. Fred Astaire dancing drunk -- and not faking it! Yes, HOLIDAY INN has it all, including a lamentable scene in which Bing Crosby, in blackface and stovepipe hat, performs a tribute to Abraham Lincoln. My, oh my, things have certainly changed since 1942.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the blackface performance, both before and after the show. Why didn't white people consider black face performances to be offensive in the 1940s? Do you think African Americans were offended? Why or why not? How have attitudes changed since then? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 4, 1942
DVD/Streaming release date:November 9, 1999
Cast:Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds
Director:Mark Sandrich
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Parent Written byImjustsaying December 17, 2011

Love this movie

I love this movie and watched it many times as a child with my father. I watched it last night and the black face dance scene was left out. What???? They shouldn't do that these days, take out scene just because someone might get offend. It's part of the movie and it was a OK thing to do back in that time.
Teen, 14 years old Written byed39 January 11, 2017

Holiday Inn

This movie has been THE Christmas movie in my house for as long as I remember. The blackface in the Lincoln's birthday scene is not as big a deal as others are making it. Jim (Crosby) makes the number blackface after he finds out that Ted (Astaire) has come to the inn in search of the mystery girl he drunkenly danced with on New Year's Eve. Jim covers Linda (Reynolds) in blackface so Ted cannot recognize her and ask him to be his new dance partner. The song or dance does not mock anyone at all. Jim did this because Ted "stole" Jim's ex-fiancee from him. Now Jim fears losing Linda, too. Please also remeber that the 40s was a very different world than today. I know for a fact that this wouldn't go over well in today's society, but this is a part of history. To write off the movie as "racist" because of the blackface is depriving you and your family of a timeless Christmas classic. As I mentioned before, this song and dance number was not to poke or make fun of Africans for the color of their skin, but to keep Ted away from Linda.