Phil Davis: My dear partner, when what’s left of you gets around to what’s left to be gotten, what’s left to be gotten won’t be worth getting, whatever it is you’ve got left.
Bob Wallace: When I figure out what that means I’ll come up with a crushing reply.
Time for a classic. I still have a ton of Christmas movies I didn’t get to this year, but that’s ok: It will give me something to do next year! But I figured for Christmas day, what better movie to post about than White Christmas? (also appropriate given the fact I’m in Vermont today celebrating with my husband’s family)
This is a movie I watched as a kid but really didn’t appreciate until I was older. My older sister had this phase where she was obsessed with older musicals, and looking back on it I’m glad I was exposed to them at a young age, even if I complained about it or didn’t understand it (now, I LOVE musicals). This was one that was pulled out every christmas, and while we may not have watched it every year, it’s a favorite of my parents, my sisters, and myself alike.
White Christmas begins over in Germany in the 40s, during WWII. We see our main characters, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) performing a little Christmas show for the troops. It’s also come out that their General is leaving, and they have a nice little tribute for him. After rthe show is over they get bombed, Phil gets hurt, and Bob reluctantly agrees to owe him something, which Phil acts on immediately, asking him to do an act with him when they return to the states.
Through a montage, we fast forward a number of years later where Wallace & Davis are now the top of the entertainment industry. But Bob Wallace is super serious about work and has no time for women, whereas Davis is the opposite and thinks Bob needs to loosen up. Around Christmas, they travel to Florida to see an act to determine if they can be in the show, the Haynes sisters. Surprisingly, Bob seems to take a liking to one of the sisters, Betty, and Davis and the other sister Judy hatch a plan to get them to spend more time together. Davis helps the sisters out of a jam, giving them his and Wallace’s tickets to New York, and the four find each other on the train.
The sisters are traveling to Vermont, where they’ve been booked at a hotel. Davis talks Wallace into traveling with them. Upon arriving at the Inn, they realize a few things: it’s super warm for the time of year, no one is in this inn and it’s not doing well, and that their former general Waverly from the Army is the man who owns it. The men decide then and there to help out the old general, transporting their whole variety show up to Vermont for the holidays – a surefire way to bring people in for the holidays and help out.
While the show is up and practicing, Wallace finds out that Waverly misses the army something fierce. He’s been trying to get back in for years, and is rejected once again by letter while the show is there. Wallace comes up with an idea to get the men from his old infantry in for the show to pay tribute. There are a few miscommunications between he and Betty and the others, but eventually the show goes off without hitch, and General Waverly is reminded that he was a good leader and a good general. And of course it snows at the end, because this is White Christmas.
So that’s the plot. The question I’m going to pose is: Why has this movie become a classic? Well, in my opinion, it’s a combination of a lot of different aspects. 1: the songs, 2: The characters, and 3: the message.
The songs, of course, are what White Christmas I believe is the most well known for. Bing’s White Christmas song is a Christmas staple, and of course it is in this movie, but it’s not the only song that is really remembered. “Sisters” is a personal favorite, especially because my mother would sing it to my two sisters and I whenever we were fighting or disagreeing. To us, it’s a personal song that I have to admit I still have an extreme soft spot for. “Count my blessings” is another beautiful song sung by Bing. “Snow” is another personal favorite. The songs within the Wallace and Davis show are the choreography show stoppers, and they’re great, even if i’ve never quite understood the whole idea of a show within a show. Ah well.
The characters in this movie are very old school (obviously, this movie was made in the 50s) but still completely relatable. Bob Wallace is serious and career driven but has a heart of gold. It’s his idea to do the reunion for General Waverly, and it’s his idea to move the show up to Vermont. He wants to eventually settle down and have children, but isn’t the type of guy who seems to want to date a lot of broads to get there.
Davis, on the other hand, is almost like a polar opposite. Together they’re a bit like the odd couple. Davis is more fun loving. He’s the funny guy who makes jokes, funny noises and faces. He likes to crack schemes, but isn’t quite so covert about them, as Bob understands exactly what he’s trying to do. But he’s fun and talented, and again like Bob, has a good heart.
The Haynes sisters are fun, and add a bit of good banter with the boys. Betty is strong willed like Bob, and you get the feeling that she is very much of a mother hen with her younger sister judy, sticking around and doing the act not only because she enjoys it, but because she wants to make sure her younger sister is taken care of. She’s looked after everyone else, and this movie is about trying to get her to do something for herself. Judy goes well with Davis, although she is much more down to earth.
The only other characters you get to know at all are the General Waverly, and Emma Allen, the receptionist at the Inn. Emma is hilarious. She’s a woman who eavesdrops on everything, involves herself in everyone’s business, and it causes a few issues. I’ve already mentioned a bit about Waverly. He lives and breathes for the army, and has a sort of feeling of worthlessness because he can’t be involved. Even Wallace and Davis can’t believe that a man such as that has sunk as low to own an Inn. Personally, I don’t really understand the stigma with that, but I normally chalk that up to generational differences. It’s still incredibly touching when they surprise him at the show. It shows a lot of heart, and like i’ve mentioned before; Christmas movies have to have heart.
All in all, this movie is timeless. It’s fun. It’s got a huge heart, great songs, and great characters that make you want to revisit them every year. If you’ve never seen it before, check it out. It’s a classic for a good reason.
I give White Christmas (1954) a 4 out of 5.
Time to switch gears. I finished my first shelf of animation, and I’m moving across to our first shelf of comedies. Be forewarned: I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to review these, so the first few reviews might be.. odd.
Up Next: Hot Tub Time Machine (