Friday, December 3, 2010

For the Weekend: More Bing for Christmas

Christmas would not be Christmas without Bing Crosby.  So for your weekend suggestions today, I've got more Bing for your holiday enjoyment.

I already talked about "Holiday Inn" (1942) a little on Monday in conjunction with "White Christmas" (1954), but it's not a movie to pass up either.  "Holiday Inn" is a great little musical about a retired entertainer (Crosby) who decides to open an inn, but only on national holidays.  He falls for his costar at the inn (Marjorie Reynolds), but his old partner (Fred Astaire) shows up and throws a wrench into their romance.  This was, of course, the film that introduced the song "White Christmas" to the world, but no one imagined the success it would be.  At first, the big hit song was "Be Careful, It's My Heart," which was on the billboard charts for months before "White Christmas" started taking the reign.  Filming started the year before, but half way through the production, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and the US went on ration mode.  This meant that production had to scavenge Hollywood for props and costumes for "Holiday Inn"...and Paramount's publicity department didn't let it go unnoticed.  (One report stated that Reynold's beaded dress used up the very last of the beads in Hollywood.)  Crosby also went on his radio program during production and sang the first ever public performance of "White Christmas" on Christmas Day for the troops.

My next Crosby recommendation isn't necessarily a Christmas flick (it was released in May after all), but I seem to think of it at Christmastime anyway, maybe just for its lead.  "Going My Way" (1944) stars Crosby in his Oscar-winning performance as Father O'Malley, an unorthodox priest who comes to help Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald) with his struggling parish in New York.  Fitzgerald also won an Oscar for his performance, but he was actually nominated twice for the same role, for Best Actor (which he lost to Crosby) and Best Supporting Actor, the only time that ever happened in Academy Award history (new rules were applied because of this).  "Going My Way" also won five more Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Song for "Swinging on a Star."  Crosby wasn't going to attend the awards ceremony and was instead playing golf (his favorite pastime) only hours beforehand.  Many people tried to get him to change his mind, but it was only his mother that prevailed, saying she would never speak to him again if he let the opportunity pass him by.  Thus he rushed home, threw on a suit, and made it in time to receive his award.

Once you've watched "Going My Way," I recommend its sequel "The Bells of St. Mary's," released in December of 1945.  Again Crosby plays Father O'Malley, but this time he journeys to a rundown school to help Sister Mary Benedict (Ingrid Bergman) bring it back to life.  Yet, again Bing doesn't see eye to eye with his new superior.  Filming for this began right after the Oscars ceremony where both Crosby and director Leo McCarey won their awards for "Going My Way."  When Bergman won her Best Actress award for "Gaslight" that same night, she joked, "I'm particularly glad to get it this time because tomorrow I go to work in a picture with Mr. Crosby and Mr. McCarey, and I'm afraid that if I went on the set without an award, neither of them would speak to me!"  "St. Mary's," which was actually written before its predecessor, was the first sequel to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in Academy history.  It garnered seven other nominations, including Best Actress and Best Actor (the first time an actor had been nominated for the same role in two different films), but only won one award for Best Sound.

So, get your Bing Crosby fix this weekend with these great films!  "Going My Way" and "The Bells of St. Mary's" are both instant streamers on Netflix right now, but unfortunately you'll have to rent (or buy, it's a great film!) "Holiday Inn."  (It's not even on TCM's schedule this month for some reason.)  Enjoy your weekend, everyone!  Be back Monday with another favorite. 

(Post-tidbit:  Yes, it's true.  The Holiday Inn hotel chain was named after "Holiday Inn" the movie.)


  1. "Holiday Inn" is Abbie's and my FAVORITE! It's a holiday tradition in our house and has been for years.

  2. I know!! Another reason I made sure to write about it. ;) Merry Christmas!!!