Sunday, December 12, 2010

White Christmas - Yes, the Bing Crosby Classic!

I've been sick with a nasty cold for nearly two weeks; sewing has been slow... so I thought I'd write about my Love-Hate relationship with the movie "White Christmas" after watching it last night!

I can hear the gasps: "What? Blasphemy! How can tanybody hate even a little bit that movie!!!" Trust me, it's not all hate; I promise there really is a lot of love! Every year I am compelled to watch it for all the reasons it makes people feel warm and fuzzy. So stick with me and here it goes!! (I am not a movie critic, just a middle aged, vintage loving person!)

This movie is loaded with schmaltz and iconic imagery of Christmas. There is no movie in Hollywood history with more schmaltz and nostalgia than White Christmas! From the opening scene with the soldiers listening to Bing Crosby sing with tears in their eyes, to the look on General Waverly's face when he walks into the converted barn with everybody there to honor him and save the inn (of course Bing Crosby's uniform still fits HIM perfectly), one cannot help but me moved. And that's the core of what the movie, good ole General Waverly!

I love and adore Vera-Ellen. She was an enormous talent and glides elegantly and effortlessly in every scene in which she appears. You simply cannot take your eyes off of her with her angelic face, 21" waist and legs that I would ransom my children for! In real life this poor woman struggled with anorexia, ill health and her only child died from SIDS. She deserved so much more fame and recognition... In particular, and this is just speculation on my part... BUT has anybody else ever thought that Barbie Millicent Roberts (yes, the Barbie Doll) was modelled specifically after Vera-Ellen???

And here we go, but Rosemary Clooney bugs me. I apologize to all of the Rosemary Clooney fans who read this. Apart from her role in the scene on the train to Vermont singing "Snow" and the nightclub scene sitting at the table with Bing Crosby in that FANTASTIC blue dress, I think there are scores of others actresses who could have played her role better... like Doris Day. (Disclaimer: I love Doris Day and my dressform, Doris, is named after her).

Thank goodness Mary Wicke was cast as The General's housekeeper to off-set Clooney's boring role. Nobody does wisecracking like she does it! She is another Hollywood classic who appeared regularly throughout her career! And while we're at General Waverly's inn, does anybody else wonder where the rest of his family is besides the granddaughter? It can be assumed that perhaps his wife passed... but Waverly had at least a daughter or son who produced said granddaughter... did I miss the part that establishes who the granddaughter's parents are? Does this even really matter?

I cringe watching the two women perform the number "Sisters". Give me Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe donning top hats and red dresses any day: THAT's how you bring down the house with a dynamic female duo!... The rendition of "Sisters" was far more entertaining when performed by Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby than the two ladies.

Which of course brings me to Danny Kaye. It's hard to imagine this film WITHOUT him, yet he was not first choice!!! Word has it that this was intended to be a Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire reunion, which yes, would have been lovely! But Danny Kaye's comedic expertise is just perfect for that role and is pivitol in establishing the relationship between Wallace and Davis that began as war buddies... poignant from Kaye saving Crosby's life in the war, but adding a lighthearted punch and sense of loyalty. I only wish they didn't include that horrid number of Kaye's where he looks like a mime and the girls have the ponytails! It's so out of sync with the rest of the movie!

Danny Kaye was such a household name, he was involved in so much on the big screen, tv and behind the scenes. He was one of the classic stars born in the era where an entertainer was all encompassing: sing, dance, act and be comedic (shameless plug again for Doris Day)...

And as much as I love Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen, I really DO NOT want to hear them all sing White Christmas together at the end of the movie! Leave that to Bing Crosby and his wonderfully smooth voice that melts my heart. NOBODY should mess with that!!!

So if you can get past the bad cuts, the mime number (sorry, to call it that but it's what springs to mind for me), Rosemary Clooney (sorry again), some voids in plot and the fact that all those people in the final scene were able to just get themselves ready for a formal dress event on Christmas Eve at the drop of a hat (well, it was for General Waverly), you have a real, heart-warming classic that I JUST HAVE TO WATCH every year!!!

Hmmm.... I suddenly feel like a glass of mulled wine while listening to Bing sing White Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

3 Christmas Gifts, 2 Wool Coats and iPhone in a Pear Tree

Thanks so much for the responses on "which project next" dilemma...
...I've decided that I will make the coat. I brought the wool in for dry cleaning and picked it up yesterday. It also has me thinking of another wool coat dress combo I'd like to make for a Vogue Paris Original pattern. But the current coat is now ready to start cutting.

In the meantime, I used the waiting time (while wool was at the cleaners) and started work on a few hand-sewn Christmas gifts... aprons! As a result of my sewing kick in September and October, several of the ladies in my life made comments about them so I thought an apron would make a good gift.

The other thing that has had me slightly preoccupied is that I got a new iphone4!!! I've officially moved into the 21st century and boy is it a lot of fun! Just a while ago, I installed the "Fabric Stash" app for tracking and planning all of your stash, fabric and supplies alike. Has anybody used this? If so, I'd love to hear your review!!

Stay tuned for progress on the coat!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Next Project - Undecided About What to Make

You know how it is after finishing a big and successful project: there's a feeling of accomplishment and elation... and if you're anything like me, your sewing room/space looks like a tornado went through it.

While up in my room starting the tidying up process, I was of course distracted by the unstoppable lure of What-to-Make-Next. Patterns, fabric, creative juices flowing....Does this happen to you? (but the room still isn't tidied up!)
I've got it narrowed down to four options:

1) A 60's dress in a lightweight, black wool. This is already cut and ready to sew (intended for a specific pair of shoes!). The fabric and style is perfect for this time of year and will see me all the way through until most of spring.

2) A 40's dress that I call my "Farmer's Housewife" dress, in a very lightweight and breezy vintage cotton-blend floral. This also is already cut and ready to sew. It is a quick and cheerful project that is always a nice follow-up after a big project like the gown.

3) A Simplicty re-issue topper/coat. I bought a gorgeous wool coating last year specifically for making this coat. It's a brown/green/turquoise houndstooth from Emma One Stock. This is not yet cut like the first two options, but that's not a reason to not start it! Tis the right time of year for a new coat and if I don't make it soon, there is the danger another winter could slip by with it not made.

4) A siren dress from the early/mid-50's for a business Christmas function at the Embassy Suites. I LOVE the pattern, and it's the right occasion, BUT I'm admittedly the least enthusiastic for this possibility, and I don't have a fabric picked out for it. I just feel the function presents the right timing.
So, what do all of you ladies think? What gets your vote?