Monday, December 3, 2007

Ten Things I Like about White Christmas (1954)

Ten things I like about “White Christmas” (1954):

1. Mary Wickes, for her wry delivery and her power smooching of Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby.

2. Barrie Chase as Doris, whose “Mutual, I’m sure” and “I sure wish it would happen to me,” crack me up no matter how many times I hear them. If she had not gone to dance with the likes of Fred Astaire, she could have been a great comedienne.

3. Newspaper headlines. Gotta love a film that shows plot exposition with newspaper headlines.

4. The moment when Dean Jagger is saluted by his men at his surprise party.

5. The Edith Head costumes of 1950s street wear. Notice at the house party for the cast nobody is wearing jeans, sweatpants, or “Hard Rock CafĂ©” T-shirts.

6. The way motifs are repeated and actors re-used. Patrons of the night club in Florida are the cast that later performs in the Vermont in. In one scene in Florida, if you look between where Bing and Danny are sitting, you’ll see Dick Stabile, who later plays the orchestra leader at the Carousel Club in New York. The girl’s “chiseling rat” landlord, played by Sig Ruman, is later the ex-serviceman in Vermont with the German accent, struggling to get his uniform on over his big belly.

7. The inn, a set remodeled from and meant to invoke the old “Holiday Inn” set. These are perhaps the only two country inns in New England that have an astonishing amount of space for an impromptu floor show the size of a Broadway musical.

8. The train scenes, especially the musical number “Snow” mentioned previously on this blog. I’ve never been on a train where people carried on like that, but I always hope to be someday.

9. The way the camera pans back at the end of the movie as the crowd sings “White Christmas” and the veterans visit each other’s tables. Usually a film ends focused on the principle characters, but here we see what the movie was about and who the movie was for: the survivors of the war lucky enough to be able to go on with their lives. Love the shot of the little girl being lifted into the arms of her daddy.

10. The way the film evokes personal Christmases past, the way you bring out an old heirloom ornament to hang on the tree. It’s a bit old and scruffy, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

4 comments:

stennie said...

#1 for me is the "Sisters" number as revisited by Kaye and Crosby. I also like when they are jumping the train and Kaye is unable to find the tickets, and Crosby snarls, "Where did you leave that, in your snood?" "Snood" is just a funny word, I guess.

Laura said...

I agree about your #10 -- a couple years ago I wrote "...the movie has an indefinable 'special something' that makes repeat viewings feel like revisiting old friends, as well as revisiting one's own memories of Christmases past."

I also especially agree about #9 -- when the camera pulls back I always feel so sentimental, not just about the movie, but it's all wrapped up in #10 -- kind of the feeling of gratitude that here we are for one more Christmas, watching this special movie again.

When I was young, before the era of video -- let alone DVD -- I recorded the songs on a tape player and would relive the scenes in my mind's eye many times during the Christmas season! I remember one year I had to miss the annual TV airing and was so sad -- back then there was no other way to see it! I often impress on my kids how lucky they are to see uncut, "uncommercialed" movies anytime they want.

My favorite scene is "Snow"! :)

Best wishes,
Laura

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks for your thoughts, ladies. I guess there's agreement here all around that this film brings a smile, for lots of reasons.

Stennie, I like the "snood" line, too, and the "Sisters" number as performed by both the boys and the girls. While Vera-Ellen was dubbed in this film, by Trudy Stevens, I know that Rosemary Clooney once recorded the song with her own real sister Betty Clooney. I've never heard the recording, but sure would like to.

Laura, I am also from the era of waiting for favorite films, sometimes for years, before they would be rerun on TV again. Popping a DVD in the player is pure hedonistic delight.

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