New Christmas movies and specials are released every year, but very few make it into a spot in regular holiday rotation. This year’s offerings, Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe, Santa Buddies, look as sad as that lonesome partridge in a pear tree. Even if the newer movies don’t hold up, you can always rely on classics such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and the Irving Berlin classic White Christmas.
After serving in World War II together, Bill Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) become the hottest singing and dancing act around. While performing in Florida, they receive a letter from one of their friends from the war, “Freckle-faced Haynes, the dog faced boy,” who asks them to check his sisters performing nearby as a favor to him. The two go and Phil is immediately attracted to Judy (Vera-Ellen) and thinks that Betty (Rosemary Clooney) would be a perfect match for Bill. But the girls are headed straight to Vermont where they are booked for the holidays. With some scheming and screwball antics including a song performed in drag, Phil finagles his way onto the train with the girls to Vermont.
The Inn that has booked the sister act for the season just happens to be run by Bill and Phil’s general from the Army, General Waverly. This particular holiday season has been very slow for the Inn, due to the lack of snow, so Wallace and Davis decide to bring their Broadway act to Vermont in the hopes to bring in business. The results are movie magic, all the way until the memorable closing number where the entire cast performs the Irving Berlin classic “White Christmas” just as it finally begins to snow outside.
Irving Berlin’s song “White Christmas” has been one of the most popular Christmas songs since it was first written and Bing Crosby’s version of it is by far the most popular. This movie has all of the best entertainers of the time with some of the most entertaining music and musical numbers ever captured on film. The comedy and zaniness perfectly captures movies of that time, like the Doris Day/Rock Hudson romantic comedies. The dancing is impeccable, Vera-Ellen is a force to be reckoned with. And Rosemary Clooney’s voice is as velvety smooth as her infamous black dress during the “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” performance. Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby have just as much chemistry as Bing Crosby does with Bob Hope in his Road To movies, if not more. Every year during the holidays, White Christmas is a must watch for me and my family. It is pure fun with humor for everyone and songs that will get stuck in your head for weeks.
This new release is presented in its original widescreen Vistavision with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The color has been vastly improved over my previous viewings of the film on TV, VHS and even previous DVD versions. The sound is sketchy since it’s an older track, but that only adds to the charm.
Backstage Stories from White Christmas – This is a very entertaining featurette that gives various interesting tidbits about the film. Such as that Rosemary Clooney couldn’t dance and they do everything they could to disguise that. And during the scene where the two guys perform “Sisters” and Danny Kaye starts hitting Crosby with the feather fan, all that was improvised and Crosby’s laughter on screen is real. He wasn’t expecting that. (12:03)
Rosemary’s Old Kentucky Home – This featurette showcases the home of Rosemary Clooney, which has been made into a museum run by family friends that is dedicated to her. (13:33)
Bing Crosby: Christmas Crooner – A short featurette about Bing Crosby and how his name has become synonymous with White Christmas. It also talks about all the good things he did throughout his career, like spending a lot of time performing for the troops. (14:23)
Danny Kaye: Joy To The World – Danny Kaye’s daughter does most of the talking about her dad in this featurette which showcases his work with UNICEF. He was really an amazing man, and the first celebrity to become an ambassador for a charity. (13:17)
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – How the song was composed, and shows old Berlin family videos. (7:29)
White Christmas: From Page To Stage – Making the stage musical, which ran on Broadway from November 2008 to January 2009. (4:30)
White Christmas: A Look Back With Rosemary Clooney – A recent sit down with an aged Rosemary Clooney as she reminisces about times on set. Some of the funniest stories are about the costume designer for the film, Edith Head, who was one of the inspirations for Edna Mode from The Incredibles. (16:53)
Original Theatrical Trailer
Theatrical Re-Release Trailer
This is the type of holiday movie that has set the standard for every one that has come after it. If you have never seen White Christmas before, this beautiful new release is your chance.
Paramount Home Entertainment presents White Christmas. Directed by: Michael Curtiz. Starring: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen. Written by: Norman Krasna. Running time: 120 minutes. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: November 3, 2009. Available at Amazon.com