White Christmas 15.12.17 [U]

White Christmas is a 1954 American musical romantic comedy thriller directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen and Dean Jagger. The film features Irving Berlin’s ‘Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep’ which was nominated for an Academy Award as “Best Song”.

On Christmas Eve, 1944, two World War II U.S. Army soldiers (Broadway entertainer, Captain Bob Wallace (Crosby) and aspiring entertainer, Private Phil Davis (Kaye) are performing for their Division. Wallace’s rendition of “White Christmas” naturally has a moving effect on the troops. However, the show ends with a rousing send-off for the beloved commanding officer, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Jagger) who is being relieved of his command.

After the war, Bob and Phil become successful entertainers and producers. Phil never gives up trying to find a woman for Bob and when they receive a request from their former mess sergeant to look at his sisters’ act, Phil is delighted that Bob appears smitten with Betty (Clooney), whilst he hits it off with Judy (VeraEllen).

The sisters are booked to perform in the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, over the holidays and Phil convinces Bob that ‘snowy’ Vermont is also the ideal place for them. However, there is no snow to be seen and the lack of hotel guests means there is little chance of performing. Worse still is the discovery that the inn is being run by the former commanding officer.

To support his business, Bob and Phil bring the entire cast and crew of their latest musical and incorporate Betty and Judy into it. They also go to great lengths to support the general when they discover his request to rejoin the army has been rejected, yet the eavesdropping housekeeper, Emma (Mary Wickes) misunderstands the plan, resulting in a negative effect on Bob’s relationship with Betty, who moves to New York City for a job offer.

However, she returns to Vermont in time for the Christmas Eve show when the General is greeted by his former division singing again a rousing chorus of “The Old Man”.

Produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures, White Christmas is notable for being the first film to be released in VistaVision.

Also, despite Danny Kaye being the third choice of actor for the part of Private Phil Davis, (the role was turned down by Fred Astaire and Donald O’Connor pulled out after an illness) it was 1954’s most successful film and Bing Crosby’s third of three films. This movie musical has been a beloved favourite for decades, especially at Christmas.

Enormous credit goes to the costume designer, Edith Head, who won eight Academy Awards throughout her life.

 

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