12 Films of Christmas: White Christmas | Film reviews, news & interviews
12 Films of Christmas: White Christmas
A squeaky-clean, bright-eyed bit of holiday-tuned candy
White Christmas is named so you know that gorgeous song is inside it somewhere. Yes, this is the 12-year-younger and lesser remake of Holiday Inn that also stars Bing Crosby and also features the cry-your-guts-out, I-regret-everything holiday tune by Irving Berlin. The big difference is that in White Christmas, Bing sings along to a music box.
The plot centres on Danny Kaye and Bing as a duo of WWII entertainers who find success a decade after the war. Wildly popular, they’re on TV, on Broadway, wherever there’s an audience, that’s where they’ll be. One’s a lady’s man, the other isn’t. Both meet the girls of their dreams with sisters Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, who are also, conveniently, performers. It doesn’t go too smoothly as one set of lovebirds isn’t getting along while the other pair decide they ought to. A trip to Vermont, and a hotel without guests run by the boys’ old commander General Waverly (Dean Jagger), sets up a place to put on the darnedest show you’ve ever seen. As the original New York Times review says of this part of the film, “Someone's nostalgia for the war years and the U.S.O. tours has taken the show awry.”
Directed by Casablanca’s Michael Curtiz, this is a squeaky-clean, bright-eyed bit of holiday-tuned candy that has few sparkling moments but – like many other memorable films before and after it – it’s the theme song that makes the whole trip worthwhile. Filmed in brilliant Technicolor and VistaVision – Paramount’s then novel wide-screen technique – the remake lacks the tang and sass of the original, pretty though it is. Like many remakes and many more to come, its attempt to follow its luckier predecessor fails: it plays it a little too safe and a little too carefully to come up with anything really zingy. The best way to enjoy White Christmas is to listen to the theme tune, wipe away a tear and get back to the turkey til the tune comes around again. It's holiday schmaltz but it's just the right kind of holiday schmaltz - on the right side of corniness, smack dab next to sincere.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top films out now
Exemplary package celebrating Ken Russell’s compelling DH Lawrence adaptation
Almodóvar's moving portrait of a mother's grief, adapted from Alice Munro
Alex Cox’s account of punk rock’s ill-fated duo takes a ride to the heart of darkness
Charisma battles desolation in moving documentary of Ukraine's lower depths
A reputation's tatters are shredded in convincing detail
Atmospheric debut film inspired by Sartre novella on the nurturing of a fascist
New horror franchise isn't scared enough of the dark
John Schlesinger's seminal British New Wave drama about a couple forced to marry
Reassuringly cosy adaptation of Arthur Ransome's 1930 children's novel
Trouble in paradise for Blake Lively courtesy of a hungry shark
Peerless Slovak Holocaust drama brings comedy into tragic context