White Christmas (1954)
The movie that came from the song that, of course, gets another airing in this movie. White Christmas isn’t all that white and isn’t ALWAYS all that Christmassy but it certainly puts everything in place (tree, snow, gifts, Santa suits) when it counts and it’s a nice movie for fans of Holiday Inn, with the songs used and the chemistry of the leads and even the fact that the set is the remodeled Connecticut inn from that movie.
Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby are a couple of army men who put on some fine entertainment one Christmas Eve, the same day that will see their favourite general (Dean Jagger) stepping down from his position. Kaye saves Crosby’s life at one point and then brings up the fact every time he wants the two to stay together and do something, an avenue that leads to them being a hugely successful double act after the end of the war. A series of incidents sees them travelling in the company of the Haynes sisters (Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney) and ending up at a Vermont Inn that is . . . . . . . . . . . now being run by their old general. The inn is quiet and the general isn’t all that pleased with the way that his civilian life has panned out so the boys decide to put on a big, special show that will remind the man of just how much he was and is appreciated.
White Christmas doesn’t have the few great moments that Holiday Inn has but it makes up for that with a couple of fun musical numbers and a wonderful cast. I grew up being a big fan of Danny Kaye and his talent for dextrous moves (both physically and verbally) and that has never changed. Bing Crosby is a very talented, and likeable, guy. Then we have the leading ladies. Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen are just fantastic, handling a bit of melodrama and plenty of lighter moments while providing great entertainment in the song and dance moments. “Sisters” remains a highlight every time it is sung. Dean Jagger is fine as the general and Mary Wickes is great value as the nosey but caring Emma Allen.
Director Michael Curtiz may not put too much razzle dazzle up on the screen but he keeps things moving along merrily enough and knows the moments to just stop a while and let the audience enjoy some great choreography. The script by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank is always on top form when it comes to the moments between Kaye and Crosby but falls a bit flat elsewhere. It’s forgiveable though, there are enough little moments of drama throughout to hold your interest in between the set-pieces.
It’s a nice, solid, entertaining movie that leads up to a PERFECT ending for anyone watching it during the festive period.
DIRECTOR: MICHAEL CURTIZ
WRITER: NORMAN KRASNA, NORMAN PANAMA, MELVIN FRANK
STARS: BING CROSBY, DANNY KAYE, ROSEMARY CLOONEY, VERA ELLEN, DEAN JAGGER, MARY WICKES
RUNTIME: 120 MINS APPROX