I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
White Christmas is directed by Michael Curtiz and stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. The film features the songs of Irving Berlin and was the first film to be released in VistaVision.
In the long long long long lineup of Christmas holiday film classics, White Christmas is the one that I have the most unique relationship to, and for reasons well out of my control. It has been my parents' annual viewing choice for many many years now, so you'd be right in assuming that I have never made it past being home for the holiday season without seeing at least two seconds of White Christmas. I sat down and watched the whole thing for the first time with my parents some years back (I think they suckered me into watching it with them one year), and I found myself enjoying it. Through the years, however, I could only remember certain bits and pieces of it, and those bits and pieces were some of the songs and some particularly humorous quotes that hit our funny bones in just the right way. Now having re-watched the film again after many years, but now with the support of a more critical thinking perspective as opposed to a "let's just sit down and enjoy it" perspective, I found it sort of refreshing, as if I was again watching the film for the first time ever.
I'm a little surprised that I don't hear White Christmas mentioned more often alongside other Christmas classics like Die Hard, A Christmas Story, and, of course, It's a Wonderful Life. Maybe I just don't watch enough of something like Freeform which is where I'd expect White Christmas to get at least a couple TV showings around Christmas every year. With songs from the legendary Irving Berlin and one of the most famous singers ever in Bing Crosby, you would think White Christmas is right up there when someone asks, "So, what do you think are the most famous Christmas movies ever made?" It's a film that nails it on the head when it comes to expressing the syrupy-sweet goodness of the holiday season and all of the delightful aspects of Christmas, especially snow.
White Christmas was not the first time that Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby worked together; Berlin actually wrote the song, "White Christmas" for the 1942 film Holiday Inn, with Bing Crosby singing it. Crosby sung "White Christmas" again in the 1946 film Blue Skies. The intention for White Christmas was to have Crosby reunite with Fred Astaire, who starred alongside Crosby in Holiday Inn and Blue Skies. Astaire declined after reading the script, and Crosby left the film after the passing of his wife, Dixie Lee. Crosby eventually returned, and after Donald O'Connor dropped out due to illness, Danny Kaye was signed on, and at long last the film had its singing male duo.
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye play Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, respectively. Wallace and Davis are entertainers who serve as soldiers for the 151st Division of the U.S. Army during World War II. They receive word that their beloved commanding officer, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Dean Jagger), is being relieved of his command. The General is given an emotional send-off. After the war is over, Wallace and Davis go on to make it big, even on Broadway. The two eventually become successful producers, launching a successful new musical called Playing Around. The same day the musical opens, Wallace and Davis receive a letter from their mess sergeant from the war, asking for the two to go and observe an act that the sergeant's two sisters are performing. The two sisters are Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen). Bob is smitten with Betty, and Phil falls for Judy. After Bob and Phil help the sisters get out of some trouble with the sisters' landlord, the two decide to accompany the sisters on a train ride down to the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, where the sisters are booked to perform over the holidays.
- White Christmas is irresistibly charming, with a heart that's sugar coated with gold comprised of the sweetest sugar, followed up by a pouring of the sweetest syrup and then topped off with the sweetest sprinkles. Basically, all I'm trying to say is that White Christmas is old-time proof that rom-com films can be unabashedly sweet and not come off as mawkish or overbearing. The film's two central couples sing a series of catchy songs and develop their relationships in a way that's too difficult to not be won over by. The movie also dedicates little time to having its couples suffer temporary setbacks due to some kind of misunderstanding. There is one that happens between Bob Wallace and Betty, when Bob plans to hold a Christmas surprise for the General, but Betty is mistakenly informed by someone else at the inn that Bob intends to make the surprise a national broadcast, which would make the General seem like a pitiable figure. The divide between Bob and Betty is nipped in the butt rather quickly, and no such divide comes about between Phil and Judy.
- It's hard to for me to think up anything that really weighs White Christmas down. If anything, the sweetness can be overbearing for some viewers, since the movie is all about the love and joy of the Christmas season. Hence, little to no friction ever develops between characters, and whenever it seems like a conflict is escalating, it's dealt with in little to no time flat. There's just too much goodness going on in the film's music and romance to think seriously negative thoughts about it. It's like trying to hate an adorable puppy. How are you going to do it?
So to conclude, if you're someone who is eager to find that movie for annual holiday time viewings, White Christmas is way up there on the list of top recommendations. It's a timeless, heartfelt Christmas treat that is impossible to not at least smile at. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen are all great, and the featured songs of Irving Berlin are all wonderfully sung. And to Mom and Dad, I say, great choice. You done good.
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