Friday, January 3, 2014

Fred Astaire...What Else Can I Say?

Over the winter holidays, we have a movie tradition. Your family probably has a bunch of old chestnuts you watch for variou reasons. For me,"It's a Wonderful Life" is a must because it always makes me cry. And my son and I usually watch the entire extended version of Peter Jackson's epic "Lord of the Rings." Just because.

This year, I pulled out an old VHS copy of "Holiday Inn," with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. They play New York song and dance men, hoofing up a storm until Bing decides he's had it with show business. He buys a New England farm, where he plans to settle down with the third member of the act, a comely dancer. Surprise, that doesn't work out. Bing is stuck on the farm with no visible means of support. Until he decides to transform his adorable farmhouse into a nightclub. A nightclub that's only open on holidays.

The plot has a few more twists:  boy and girl meet cute, girl leaves, girl returns. It also has a classic score by Irving Berlin. But what really transforms "Holiday Inn" is Fred Astaire's dancing. I have loved Fred Astaire since girlhood. Even when he's paired with a woman who's as technically adept as him, Fred tends to steal the spotlight. It's not that he's particularly handsome, because he's not. It's the way he moves.

I hadn't really been able to pinpoint what about that movement was so alluring until I watched this particular film again. It's almost like Fred's torso is moving on a hydraulic suspension above his legs, which are doing something entirely separate. And he looks as light as a feather while he spins around the shiny floors. (Incidentally, I've heard all the stories about how tyrannical he was about keeping those floors shiny. I'm sure it was a pain for the film crews, but boy does it pay off for the audience.)

What really sings in "Holiday Inn" is this number:
Fred is dancing, cigarette in his mouth, hands in his pockets, and fists full of firecrackers. Give it a watch and you'll almost feel like strapping on some tap shoes yourself

.Fred Astaire in "Holiday Inn"


  1. A holiday is a day set aside by custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work, are suspended or reduced.

  2. Fred Astaire was an effortless dancer who is really entertaining to watch. Seeing his movies are a great way of enjoying holidays.

  3. Watching movies together is one of the best ideas to enjoy a holiday indoors. The dance moves of Fred Astaire are a thrill to watch.