Yuletide favourite "Holiday Inn" comes to a DVD that reveals the fascinating story behind the film, and the Irving Berlin hit song, "White Christmas".
Picture Despite some minor print damage, the transfer to disc for this movie is a success. Good black and white contrast throughout lends the film a crispness it didn't have on tape.
Sound The mono sound mix is strong and clear, supporting the musical numbers with ease.
Universal have had to endure some stick for the quality of some of their older DVD releases. But it would seem that they are now keen to get on with producing and promoting quality products. Amen to that, but the one niggling point is the omission of any subtitles for the disc.
Audio Commentary Our speaker for this commentary is film historian Ken Barnes. He knows his stuff, having worked with Bing Crosby on a couple of albums.
Ken discusses the history behind this influential film in detail, pointing out that the hotel chain, Holiday Inn, got its name from the movie. The casting of superstars Crosby and Astaire caused no end of financial headaches for Paramount, which balked at the suggestion that Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth should co-star. As a result, rather more inexpensive female leads were sought.
Ken's commentary includes archive interviews with Bing, Fred and John Scott Trotter.
A Couple of Song and Dance Men In this 44-minute documentary Ken Barnes explores, with the help of Ava Astaire McKenzie (daughter of Fred), the careers of both her father and Bing Crosby.
A wealth of images and film clips help illustrate the story of their early years leading up to "Holiday Inn". The filming during 1941 was disrupted by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, hence the insertion of a patriotic message into the film.
The tap dancing skills of Fred Astaire are covered in some detail including the incredible sequence in the movie, "Blue Skies", where Fred danced with another nine Freds in a feat of choreographed camera trickery. Fred's inventive ideas and level of perfection was also visible in "Holiday Inn" for the firecracker dance, which required no less than 38 takes to get right.
All Singing All Dancing The coming of sound in 1927 meant that singing and dancing could be united on film. But it wasn't until "Holiday Inn" that production techniques advanced to the stage where you no longer had to have the orchestra playing directly behind the cameraman!
For this seven-minute featurette, Ken talks us through a sequence in the film explaining how it was recorded to successfully incorporate both the music score and Fred's tap skills.
Additional Special Features Also on the disc are comprehensive production notes with review extracts and behind-the-scenes images. Detailed cast and crew biographies and a trailer round off this impressive and informative DVD.
Ratio: 1.33:1 (fullscreen original academy ratio)
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono)
Audio Tracks: English
Menus: AAnimated using footage from the film.
Special Features Subtitles: None of the special features come with subtitles.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.