Holiday Inn

12/20/11

Airborne from Sarasota to Seattle, working on syllabi, reading Bruce Chilton on Mary Magdalene.   A few days with our daughter out on the beach, going out for breakfast, visiting with my mother.  Talking, talking.  Watching Holiday Inn.  The shift from the stolid – if neurotic and jealous — Bing Crosby – to the flight and radiance of Fred Astaire as Crosby sings be careful, it’s my heart, and even in that moment as he sings so self absorbed even in that moment Astaire appears from nowhere and takes Marjorie Reynolds into his arms and literally sweeps her off her feet – and, of course, all of us with him.  He is the grace of poetry, pure inspiration, a breath of the god come down upon us.  In spite of herself –or not – she follows him, Eurydice to his Orpheus.  And Crosby sings and the orchestra swells as the pair spin and separate only to return again and again, Psyche burning her wings at the flame of Eros, drawn in and up by the dance while poor Bing, oblivious and self absorbed, already is missing what he claims to want. And anyway as a valentine present the song is oddly narcissistic, having nothing to do with her, being all about is own fear.  He’s a man who deserves to be robbed –as  Astaire, trickster that he is, understands only too well as he crashes through the paper valentine with Marjorie in his arms.

That beautiful flight.  All that cannot be sustained.  The heavy and the light, earth and air. 

Of course part of the joke of the film is that these qualities are divided between the two men (I’ll win her with my dancing, I’ll win her with my singing} while Marjorie Reynolds (or at least the character she plays, since Reynold’s voice was dubbed) combines the two gifts in her own beautiful presence.  She sings.  She dances.  She moves between the two  with grace and ease.