Film Review: White Christmas
In 1954, Michael Curtiz released White Christmas, based on the song of the same name by Bing Crosby, who first sang it in the film Holiday Inn. Starring Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes, Johnny Grant, John Brascia, Percy Helton, I. Stanford Jolley, Barrie Chase, Anne Whitfield, and George Chakiris, the film grossed $30 million at the box office. The film eventually became the highest grossing film of 1954 and it was released along with It’s a Wonderful Life on a two-disc Christmas set in 2006. There was also a stage adaptation that premiered in 2004, performing on Broadway from 2008 until 2009.
During World War II, Phil Davis, a wannabe entertainer, saves Bob Wallace’s life and uses Bob’s gratitude to convince him to partner after the war. The duo eventually become one of the biggest acts in the country but when asked to check out an old war friend’s sisters’ nightclub act, they fall in love and follow them to a gig in Vermont.
Another popular Christmas film, White Christmas is fairly decent film. It’s got an interesting plot that flies all over the place, carrying the feeling like it just can’t stay with one idea. While it is more of a love story between Bob, Phil, Judy, and Betty, it feels like it’s trying to be two different films. One is Bob and Phil getting out of the army and getting into the singing business while running across these two ladies and the other is two guys in the singing business come across two ladies and decide to follow them to a gig in the countryside of Vermont. It just comes across as though these two plots should be two very distinct films while giving the feeling that neither part of the plot is completely finished.
That’s not to say that the content within both parts of the film isn’t any good, as it is. Bob and Phil going into show business together as a result of one saving the other’s life brings about some good moments, like the former being fed up with the latter reminding him of his “war wound” in an effort to get Bob to do what Phil wants. But Phil milking everything actually makes sense, seeing as Phil knows the “wound” was really just a flesh wound, but won’t ever let Bob forget it because he thinks sticking onto the guy will help him go from a wannabe to an actual entertainer.
As for the second part of the plot, which takes place in Vermont, it does try to make a loose connection by having the owner be Bob and Phil’s old general. But other than that, it feels different except for having the same characters and actors. But again, the actual events within the plot aren’t too bad. Though it is the old cliché of someone getting the wrong information from eavesdropping, causing another character to leave, it works well as it’s not Betty who thinks Bob wants to make a fool out of the aforementioned general, but someone else who listens in, gets distracted and then gives faulty information. Further, the way Betty returns, by realizing she was wrong from a televised pitch Bob gives to members of the general’s old unit and not Bob explicitly telling her that she was mistaken, works well too.
The film also presents a lot of fun and engaging humor, some of which isn’t event meant to be humorous to begin with, like when Bob drops his luggage and coat to salute Waverly when he sees the man. It’s meant to show he still recognizes the man as his superior, but comes across as funny in a good way, because of how it happens. But the funniest moment in the film is when Phil talks Bob into crossdressing in order to give Betty and Judy time to evade a landlord and sheriff. They do a parodic reprise of the girls’ “Sisters” number, with the men making use of scarves, sashes, headdresses, feather-boas and then rolling their pants up to expose their socks. What really makes the scene so funny is Danny Kaye’s improvisation alongside Bing Crosby, usually much more conservative onscreen, who just can’t get through it without cracking up.
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