White Christmas is one of my favorite films of all time, and it's a movie I can sit and watch any time of the year... because it's not really a Christmas movie when you really think about it.
Also... I butcher a holiday classic thanks to my inability to sing!
Hello Dwellers and Welcome to the Basement… you know...
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
I deeply apologize to the late Irving Berlin for that rendition of his holiday classic… and when you think about it, while the song brings forth visions of a perfect Christmas with all the trimmings… the movie of the same name… is not fully a Christmas film, it’s just book-ended by Christmas Eve
Now for those of you who have never seen it (and why the hell not?!), White Christmas starts on Christmas Eve 1944, somewhere in Europe, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis (played by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye respectively) are putting on a performance for their army division while learning their commanding officer General Waverly (played by Dean Jagger) is being relieved of his duties. Fast forward till after the war, Bob and Phil have hit it big as performance duo at nightclubs and theaters, they meets the Haynes Sisters (Betty and Judy, played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen), and this is where a good part of the story starts to take shape, for you see Bob is a bit of a workaholic and the pace he’s doing is wearing Phil down so he’s hoping he can find a nice girl that maybe they can get a break every now and then.
A few shenanigans results in all four going up to Pine Tree, Vermont where the Haynes Sisters are set to be the in-house act for an ski lodge & inn during the winter, but there is no snow, on top of which the inn is struggling quite a bit and is run by Bob and Phil’s former CO, knowing how much he did for them during the war, come up with a plan to bring their entire stage production up to help bring in guests and to prove that their former General isn’t forgotten or not appreciated. Various misunderstandings take place between Bob and Betty, a round-about courtship between Phil and Judy as they try to fix up his friend and her sister resulting in them falling in love, plus all the preparations and rehearsals for the big show… and of course everything ends up getting resolved by the films climax which ends with it being a ‘white Christmas’ as snow begins to fall and we get a big happy ending
But as I said, this movie isn’t really about ‘Christmas’, it’s about romance and showing someone they are appreciated because of what they have done… and sure that fits the Christmas season, because in the story when the General sees that Bob and Phil brought in every one that was under his command, it’s easily the best gift he could’ve gotten… and yes the ski lodge setting means Christmas is a big enough holiday for it to take place and it ties into the song itself, but take away the song and change of of the date and location, the story and everything with it still holds up.
And it’s because of that, I can sit and watch ‘White Christmas’ any time of the year because the story is that adaptable… plus the musical performances, choreography is just freaking great and holds up better than anything we’d see today, because it is presented as being ‘live’ and the performance having to look as flawless as possible while also feeling natural. I actually wonder how many hours of rehearsal time went into each time, because the filming it self was somewhere in the fall of 1953 (Between September and November by all things I’ve found) so I winder what the lead up time was because Danny Kaye didn’t join the cast until a few weeks before filming started as a last minute replacement.
Now if I had to pick a favorite segment of the film, it would be the following ‘Snow’, The Minstrel Number’, ‘The Old Man’ and Gee I wish I Was Back in the Army’… but the one that stands out the most is the Heat Wave / Let Me Sing / I’m Happy / Blue Skies melody which leads me to something I’ve always been a little fuzzy on: just how much time between the end of World War II and Bob & Phil meeting the Haynes sister has passed, because of a big plot point in the film is television and how a deal causes part of the misunderstanding, and also having to give Bob and Phil enough time to be considered a huge deal with headlines in Variety, TV specials and being able to produce a long running stage show. So if the opening was in 1944, if one goes by the filming date as the ‘when’ the majority of the movie takes place that means it takes place in the early 1950s
Anyway, I could go on and on, but I highly recommend you all sit down and watch White Christmas, so you can experience it for yourself.