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!


Karen said...

I really love this movie and missed seeing it this year. Thanks for the pix to remember how pretty the colorization is. I have to agree Vera always put me in mind of Barbie, too.

Anonymous said...

Vera-Ellen has always been a favorite ~ and I am glad to see it's not just me thinking she was the original Barbie Doll. :-)

Alyssa said...

Definitely one of my favorite childhood movies!

Anonymous said...

my favorite all time movie that touched my heart.. and all of the dancers and and costumes i got to meet most of the actresses.. and was blessed to meet Bing Cosby! LOve them all!


Anonymous said...

Totally agree about the "mime" number done by Danny Kaye - YUK!
Loved the dress worn by Clooney for her nightclub number as well as the red dresses worn by both women at the end.