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 Café” 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.