Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Special: White Christmas

White Christmas

Two talented song-and-dance men (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) team up after the war to become one of the hottest acts in show business. One winter, they join forces with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) and trek to Vermont for a white Christmas. Of course, there's the requisite fun with the ladies, but the real adventure starts when Crosby and Kaye discover that the inn is run by their old army general who's now in financial trouble. And the result is the stuff dreams are made of.

My Thoughts
1954. That's the first thing you will notice about this film. If you don't like old movies, this movie is not for you. And there's quite a bit of the Bing Crosby-style music. So if you don't like old-style jazz, this is probably also not the film for you. However, watching him sing "White Christmas" in the beginning of the movie to a group of soldiers far away from their homes on Christmas Eve is an awesome scene. And their 'slam bang' finish is even better in my opinion.

The Wallace-Davis montage when they begin their duo act is fairly impressive. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye make a wonderful team. It's entertaining to watch Kaye 'friendly' remind Crosby that he saved his life in the war...A debt that's never truly paid. This film basically revolves around 'favors for a pal in the army'. One of the strongest bonds out there.

I like the Crosby-Kaye duo more than the Clooney-Ellen duo, but I still think they make a great team. And I LOVE the "Sisters" song! My sisters and I used to sing it all the time. It's a great portrayal of sister relationships, at least the fun ones. Inseparable even with their squabbles. Between the four of them, the movie is wonderful. If you haven't seen it, shame on you. I've never picked a movie to watch every year for Christmas, but this would probably make the list of choices.

The dancing scene with Kaye and Vera-Ellen is really great. They use so many different forms of dancing, and it's fantastic. And watching Crosby and Kaye do the "Sisters" routine is just hilarious. Love those two.

I can feel their pain when they get to Vermont, "the snow playground of America", and there's no snow. I've been wishing for a good old snow blizzard for years! Maybe since I'm finally watching White Christmas I'll get to have one...

I love that they put so much effort into getting the "Old Man" back on his feet and happy, even though he can't go back into active duty and has to resign himself to his life of innkeeping and leisure time. Some people would call that a healthy retirement, but I can see how he feels. I would hate retiring, especially if I wasn't ready to. I've gotta have something to do...a purpose to get me out of bed in the morning. Like a blog... ;-)

I love how gossip always gets away in movies. I mean, it does in real life, too, but can't people learn from the movies and leave gossip alone. Especially when they only hear half a conversation. Taken out of context, almost any conversation can be twisted. How about instead of just stalking off angry and leaving the guy standing confused, we start actually getting the whole story straight from them? Geesh...sometimes girls in movies drive me crazy.

I love when Kaye gets uncomfortable and his voice starts to crack and he starts to stutter. Poor guy. Vera-Ellen twists him up in all kinds of knots.

The big show at the end is one of the most touching military appreciation scenes I've seen. I love that this is probably something that could happen still. A bond like that is something you can hopefully still count on. Leave home on Christmas Eve to go celebrate the life and career of my old general? When should I be there?

Random Facts
The first film produced in Paramount's wide screen process "VistaVision".

The original idea was to reunite Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, as they had been successful in Holiday Inn. Astaire refused, since he had "retired" at the time, so the part was reworked for Donald O'Connor. O'Connor pulled out due to illness, and the part was reworked at the last minute for Danny Kaye.

A myth persists that all of Vera-Ellen's costumes, down to her robe and sleepwear, were designed to cover her neck, which had been damaged by anorexia. This is untrue. Seeing her in the premiere footage for A Star is Born, she is wearing a low cut gown and her neck is clearly visible.

The Vermont Inn is the remodeled Connecticut Inn set from the movie Holiday Inn which Bing Crosby also starred in singing songs written by Irving Berlin.

The "Sisters" comedy act that Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye perform was not originally in the script. They were clowning around on the set and the director thought it was so funny that it was written in.

Vera-Ellen did not actually sing any of the songs for the movie. Rosemary Clooney sang both parts for "Sisters," while Trudy Stevens sang the rest. Vera's own voice is heard singing only in the "arrival in Pine Tree" scene at the railroad station where the quartet reprises the opening lines of "Snow."

Rosemary Clooney was not allowed to record her voice for the soundtrack album because it was beign released by a record company (Decca) other than hers (Columbia). She was replaced on the sountrack album by Peggy Lee.

According to Rosemary Clooney, the "midnight snack" scene in which Bob Wallace expounds on his theory of what foods cause what dreams was almost entirely improvised.

Third of three films to feature Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas". The other two are Holiday Inn and Blue Skies.

Cast members Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney both have descendants in the Star Trek series. Bing's granddaughter, Denise Crosby appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, while Clooney's son, Miguel Ferrer appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

This was 1954's most successful film. The second most successful was The Caine Mutiny, which featured Rosemary Clooney's husband, Jose Ferrer.

Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney all died at the same age: 74.

According to Rosemary Clooney, in Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye's "Sisters" performance, Crosby's laughs are genuine (and unscripted). Many takes were attempted, but Crosby was unable to hold a straight face due to Kaye's comedic dancing. The scene shown in the film was the best take they could get (which includes some laughter from Kaye as well).

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