I am so excited to post about one of my absolute favorite Christmas classics: White Christmas. Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as two former soldiers who met during WWII, this film has everything that makes the classics (and Christmas movies) great–comedy, music, very talented cast, quotable script, misunderstandings, and of course, a happy ending.
“Isn’t this cozy? Boy, girl, girl, boy?”
It wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that White Christmas got me into classic film, but it was one of the first that I loved. It’s isn’t Christmas until I’ve watched it (or perhaps watched it repeatedly). I love the music. In addition to some great catchy tunes and of course, “White Christmas,” I love Rosemary Clooney’s performance of “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me.” I love her tone, her taking her time with it. It’s beautiful, and in my opinion, no one quite matches her performance of it. No wonder you’ll find it in The Essential Rosemary Clooney. During this scene in the film, you may also recognize one of her dancers from West Side Story. But, I digress.
“If you had nine kids and spend five minutes, just five minutes with each of them, that’s 45 minutes, and I’d have time to go out and get a massage or something.”
Watching Phil and Betty (Clooney)’s sister Judy try to pair Bob and Betty is quite the comedic act with all the confusion of a Shakespearean comedy. Add to that Bob’s special Christmas surprise for the former General and you have the makings of a great comedy. Danny Kaye manages nice comedic expression and timing, although is more inclined toward dance than physical comedy. Still, his abilities in the musical performing arts serve him well, here. He comes off as a bit less of a clown than comedic classics like Donald O’Connor (but who can match “Make ‘Em Laugh” for physical comedy? Not many), but he maintains a lovable Puckish quality that offsets Crosby’s straight-man quite nicely.
“I don’t seem to have my wallet.”
“What? Did you leave it in your snood?”
And Bing Crosby. I almost hesitate to comment, because what more is there to say? The essential Christmas crooner moves smoothly through the film, maintaining a consistency that allows the other characters’ idiosyncrasies to really shine through, be it Phil or General Waverly’s meddling housekeeper Emma. And he sings “White Christmas.” ‘Nuff said.
“I got along just fine without you in the army.”
“Yes, and it took fifteen thousand men to replace me.”
Betty’s sister Judy is played by Vera Ellen (or Vera-Ellen, if you prefer). Judy is a pinnacle dancer and certainly wasted if not on stage. In short: amazing. The obligatory musical numbers that fit into this particular plot as rehearsal for a huge Christmas show are charming and enjoyable, instead of distracting. Off-stage, watching her with Danny Kaye is a treat as well, as Judy leads Phil into a diabolical plan that even makes his conniving conscience nervous.
“Let’s just say we’re doing it for an old pal in the army.”
So, have a cup of tea or coffee or hot chocolate or cider, and curl up with White Christmas this year. I want to reiterate our thanks for reading True Classics… we can’t wait for more next year!
*Note: Film quotes may not be exactly verbatim, but they’re close.