Release year: 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenwriter: Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, Melvin Frank
Starring. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes
Ratings: 1 Oscar nomination: Best Original Song
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #25, week 48 2014
Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) is a succesfull song-and-dance team. When Davis decides it is time for the lonely Wallace to settle down, he makes sure they follow lovely sister-act Judy (Vera-Ellen) and Betty Haynes (Rosemary Clooney) to snowy Vermont.
While this musical, and the best selling movie of 1954, features the famous song White Christmas, not only once but twice, it actually wasn’t the first movie to feature the song that first appeared in Holiday Inn (1942), for which it one an Oscar for Best Original Song. It doesn’t make its appearence in this wonderful musical any less welcome, sounding as glorious as it does crooned by Crosby and company. All music is, as the titel song, written by Irving Berlin, who with the song “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” bagged an Oscar nomination for this movie. The movie is all in all filled to the brim with lovely music and outstanding dance numbers, especially those that benefit from the talented feets of Vera-Ellen (Three Little Words 1950) whose skillful dancing completely steals the scene everytime they start moving, with nothing capable of distracting your eyes away, not even her bright million dollar smile. Though she has a smaller part than Clooney and is the least famous of the four stars, she is a pleasant surprise as she fills the movie with her warm charm. Clooney (Red Garters 1954) might seem plain at first compared to other famous 1950’s starlets, but as you see more of her she grows on you until her elegance and subtle charm turns her in to a unique beauty. Her chemistry with Crosby is sizzling and she truly dazzles, when she sings her solo. It seems that not having to share the scene makes her blossom into the leading lady she is. As for the boys, Crosby (High Society 1956) swings well with Kaye (On the Riviera 1951), the two of them oozing with charm and charisma as they sing and dance their way through the movie with a glimpse in their eye. They seem at ease with each other and especially excells when loosening up like in their “Sisters” performance. That is a scene that particular puts a smile on your face, something that runs through the lighthearted movie like a red thread, with the tender story of their former military commander adding plenty of heart to the last half of the movie. With Crosby and Clooney fitting like pieces to a puzzle, the outstanding soundtrack, the sparkling Vera-Ellen, charming Kaye and a gripping story, White Christmas is truly a timeless classic and a perfect cure for anyone in need of Christmas spirit.
Rosemary Clooney is the aunt of George Clooney.
The singing voice for Vera-Ellen was dubbed. The actress/singer was famous for her lithe figure, which, it turns out, came from struggling with anorexia in a time where little was known of the disease. Tragically she ended her career early after loosing her only child, who died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, that and two failed marriages made her choose a reclusive life.
The “Sister” comedy number wasn’t scripted, but came from the two male leads fooling around whereafter the director, finding it amusing, wrote it in to the script.
Picture copyright: UIP