WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two WW2-buddies (Bing Crosby, and Danny Kaye) become Broadway big shots after the war, and before leaving for a well-earned Christmas holiday, the boys meet and fall for two singing and dancing sisters (Rosemary Clooney & Vera Ellen), and accompany them to a gig at a hotel in Vermont. Turns out, the hotel is run by their old CO, whose hotel is on the verge of closing thanks to a lack of snow. In order to save his hotel, the boys decide to put on a variety show live at the hotel. Who wants to bet itís going to be a WHITE CHRISTMAS?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
WHITE CHRISTMAS is one of those films that are impossible to escape during the holidays. Like ITíS A WONDERFUL LIFE, MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, and the Alastair Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Christmas doesnít feel like Christmas without watching it once. Overall, itís a charmingly quaint musical, notable mostly for the presence of Bing Crosby, a man who lived, ate, breathed and bled Christmas spirit. WHITE CHRISTMAS is still the most popular song of all time, although WHITE CHRISTMAS is not the film where Der Bingle introduced the song. That film was another holiday classic, HOLIDAY INN, which came out at the height of WW2, in 1943, but thanks to a long blackface number, is unlikely to get much airplay outside of TCM. By the time WHITE CHRISTMAS came out, the song was already an American institution, and a song that met a lot to people during the dark days of WW2.
WHITE CHRISTMAS still isnít a classic musical, and the fact that itís become such a classic is a bit by default. Itís directed by Michael Curtiz, one of the best directors of all-time (CASABLANCA, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, CAPTAIN BLOOD), but by 1954, his career was essentially over, and this was his last hurrah. It holds up fairly well due to its laid-back, easy going charm (Bing was the kind of laid-back), and Der Bingle- who, thought the forties and early fifties was not only the number 1 box-office draw, but also the biggest musical act (before being supplanted by Frank Sinatra), and number one radio star. Thereís NEVER been a performer as popular as Bing was at his height, and itís sad the WHITE CHRISTMAS is the only work of his anyone remembers, and some of his movies (especially his ROAD movies with Bob Hope) were a lot of fun.
Crosbyís in fine form here, despite being near the end of his peak years. Heís supported by Danny Kaye, who was also very popular at the time, although the manic shtick is a bit grating now. WHITE CHRISTMAS, despite being a light, airy concoction, is still a fun, pleasant film. Itís sure to put a smile on your face if youíre down in the dumps- which in itself is not something to sneeze at.
As befitting a classic, WHITE CHRISTMAS makes itís High Def debut with a whole slew of bonus features. First up is a Commentary by Rosemary Clooney - who happens to be George Clooneyís Aunt, with this being recorded shortly before her death a few years ago. Sheís also the subject of the featurette, Rosemaryís Old Kentucky Home . Up next is Backstage Stories from White Christmas going behind the scenes of the film. And thatís not all, we also get an additional five featurettes, Bing Crosby: Christmas Crooner
Danny Kaye: Joy to the World
Irving Berlinís White Christmas
White Christmas: From Page to Stage
White Christmas: A Look Back with Rosemary Clooney
Other than the look back with Clooney, all the featurettes are presented in 1080p. Rounding things out are the original theatrical trailers .
While itís not as good a film as ITíS A WONDERFUL LIFE or the 1951 UK version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, WHITE CHRISTMAS is still essential holiday viewing, and itís never looked or sounded as good as it does here.