23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2000
The classics of Irving Berlin will make this a movie favorite year after year. I have seen this movie enough to spot some interesting edits (just watch Bing Crosby sitting on the side/end of the hospital cot or Vera-Ellen's cup of coffee in her dressing room) and I still watch it at least 8 times a year. It's enjoyable to let the music take you from the everyday grind with war buddies, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye meeting up with the sister act of Rosemary Clooney and Vera - Ellen. Bing Crosby delivers his opening number / title song White Christmas with the same smoothness we've come to know and love. There's a lot of accomplished dancing on Vera Ellen's part and Danny Kaye does an excellent job as her partner in "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing". Their "choreography" number provides a fun look at changes from traditional dancing to a beatnik approach in staging. "Count Your Blessing's" is a number appropriate for any time of the year. Mary Wickes does a fine job as the "housekeeper / receptionist / how can I help you?" individual putting her nose in the wrong place at exactly the right time and setting up the romantic conflict. Rosemary Clooney delivers only a hint of the musical talent she has continued to bestow on us. It would have been nice to hear Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen do something besides "Sisters" - it seems that is the only song this duet ever performed. It should be so easy to succeed in show business. While White Christmas may not be a Christmas standard on the level of Miracle on 34th Street or It's a Wonderful Life, the music alone can bring a bit of Christmas spirit even in July!
37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2003
Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) come together as a song and dance team after Phil saves the life of headliner Wallace on the battlefield on Christmas Eve. Anything Phil wants, he can get from Bob by making reference to the arm he injured (a phantom injury to be sure) in the saving. Now, he just wants Bob to take things slower. To that end, he is trying to get him to settle on a girl.
Enter the Haynes's sisters, Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen), one of whom forges a letter from their brother to Bob and Phil to come see their act and give some pointers as a favor to an old army buddy. It appears that Judy and Phil may have orchestrated the whole thing - Phil to get Bob to settle down and Judy to get tips from the pros. Now, Bob - though attracted to Betty - is a cynic and figures everyone's got an ulterior motive and is not surprised to find out the letter is a forgery. Betty is, however, offended that he thinks the SHE is playing an angle. Later, she will be convinced that Bob is playing an angle at someone else's expense and the resolution of the conflict makes for a wonderful and classic romance story.
After getting the girls out of a jam, thanks to Phil, the foursome end up going to Vermont where they run into their old general running a ski resort. But there is no snow. Bob & Phil come up with a plan to boost the old man's spirits. There are two plot lines here - one the romance between Bob and Betty, and, two, the relationship between the general and his old troops. It is maybe not a GREAT movie/musical but it certainly is good. Songs include White Christmas (of course), Sisters, The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing, Count Your Blessings, and What Do You Do With a General.
The Clooney commentary is very interesting. She points out a lot of things I would not have noticed and has a lot of funny stories about virtually every scene. For instance, the drag scene where Crosby and Kaye are performing "Sisters" ... they had already made so many mistakes that they didn't think it would be used and just really cut up. When she pointed it out, I saw things I hadn't seen before.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2007
We have kept "White Christmas" in our collection since it first became available in VHS. When it came to DVD we had to buy it and get it into our DVD collection. It is a perenniel Christmas favorite for our family. This film was produced by Paramount Pictures, which was not particularly known for their musicals. But the music and production numbers are as good as any classic musical. This movie has the destinction of being the first film ever produced in the VistaVision process. This was an early motion picture High Fidelity medium. The frame had twice the resolving power of regular 35mm. I think that it would be appropriate for it to be released soon to HD DVD.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2001
Irving Berlin's wonderful collection of songs find a well-suited home in the holiday classic "White Christmas," a movie bursting with vibrant colors, a zesty, delightful cast, and a plot that bears nothing but sheer whimsy and comical brilliance from some of the all-time greats. Inevitable comparisons to "Holiday Inn" arose at the time the film was released, though there's no reason not to fall in love with this movie's warm and spirited appearance.
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye star in the film as army buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis. When an attack commences on their campsite, Phil is injured while pulling Bob from danger, and wittily uses his injured arm as a way to convince Bob to join him in a singing duet, leading to their popularity as Wallace and Davis becomes a hit. After receiving a letter from an old army pal, they head to Florida to see the Haynes Sisters, composed of motherly Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and crafty Judy (Vera Ellen), who wants nothing more than to see her sister married and happy.
Finding that they have a common goal, Phil and Judy cook up a scheme that lands the four of them in Vermont, where the girls are to perform at a ski lodge that has been doing poorly due to lack of snowy weather. What's more, the owner of the lodge is none other than Phil and Bob's old army general, Thomas Waverly, whose financial situation is increasingly unstable because of the lackluster season. What do the boys do? Why, they cook up a plan to whip the general's self esteem back into shape, all the while falling in love with the sister act as they await the much-anticipated snowfall.
The story may not be as complex as past Christmas films, and even for a musical, though it's certainly never dull, thanks in part to some grandiose musical numbers and exuberant dance sequences. There's a great deal of schmaltz to be had with the romances between Phil and Judy and Bob and Betty, but it all goes down easy like an overly sweetened snow cone. Director Michael Curtiz is careful to keep the romance and the outside stories in equal measure, for a movie that's half sweet, half sweeter.
This snow cone is made easier to swallow by the acting on the parts of Kaye, Crosby, Clooney and Ellen, who each supply humor, wit, and tact into their characters. Kaye is the standout, employing his graceful way with comedy into Phil with incredible results. Dean Jagger makes the general more than just a secondary character, while Mary Wickes provides some lighthearted moments as the maid Emma.
The physical appearance of the movie is superbly mounted, a handsome displays of nicely-paced choreography, winsome costumes, and striking music and dance sequences. Irving Berlin's classic songs, from "Sisters" to "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," make their way into the story, some as entertainment pieces within the film, others as advancements of the romantic angles. The famed title song makes its appearance in the film's finale, which crowns the film in a glorious tapestry of costume and music. On a side note, this was the first film ever to be shot in what was known as VistaVision, a widescreen format that works well in capturing the film's various setpieces.
In the end, "White Christmas" is little more than a fairy tale spun from sheer whimsy, but its a striking example of a fairy tale done in all the right ways. The appeal and talent of its quartet of stars adds a much-needed charm to the material, as does the production design, bringing Christmas to life like never before. To watch the film with a cynical eye is to miss out on the magic and the joy this underrated classic has to offer.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is a great family movie, especially if you watch it every year at Christmas time like we do. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye make a great team, Bing doing the singing (along with many trademark Crosby turns of phrase) and Danny doing the joking and some dancing. There's lots more to be said about the movie, of course: read IMDB or wikipedia.
The DVD version itself is ok. The biggest disappointment was in the special features. They have 2 theatrical trailers and an interview with Rosemary Clooney, which are ok. But the commentary track is, I hate to say, really bad. Basically it consists of Rosemary chuckling at different points in the movie. She reveals a few interesting tidbits, but by and large it's extremely disappointing. We were looking forward to lots of stories about the cast and crew, verification of trivia we had read, but simply got a few reminiscences about her and Bing Crosby and a bunch of chuckling. I'm enough of a die-hard fan of the movie that I watched the commentary all the way through, but my wife gave up part way through, it was so bad.
Regardless, it's well worth having the DVD version of this perennial Christmas favorite.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 1999
It may be simplistic, but the old ones are best. Clean, good, warm-hearted movie set in the good old days when they all lived happily after.... and isn't that what we all want to see, really?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2002
Someone described the film as 'happy,' and it is just that! It could've been conceived any time of the year, but as it is, the story takes place ten years between two Christmases. A title card opens the story on Christmas Eve of 1944; it then passes through time, and settles into the current year of the film itself- 1954, after which it ends with a luminous Christmas Eve snowstorm. Do the math. BTW, while Bing Crosby is the star of this one as well as 'Holiday Inn,' I don't entirely understand how this is a remake of that. (No other holidays are mentioned in this film.) But it does have the late Rosemary Clooney (a siren of beauty and a joy to hear) playing nicely off Crosby, especially in the duet "Count Your Blessings," as well as the ingenious Danny Kaye- particularly fine in the satirical "Choreography" and his glamorous, Astaire-like dance with Vera-Ellen to "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing." Sadly, they only dance together once, but that inconsistency is probably due to the producers' earlier plan to have Fred Astaire (and then Donald O'Connor) in that role. The other numbers- "The Army," "Sisters (both versions)," "Snow," "Mandy," and the title number- are all winning.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 1999
A full colour glory in VistaVision that'll warm your heart at Christmas or any time of the year. Bing, Danny, Rosie and Vera-Ellen sing and dance their way through a variety of Berlin songs that range from the sublime (White Christmas) to the ridiculous (What Can You Do With a General) with enough verve to win over Scrooge. Don't worry yourself with the plot, just enjoy it!
Five things i love about this movie:
1, Our four heroes in the train buffet 'Snow, Snow, Snow, SNOW!'
2, Mary Pierce as the General's housekeeper...(and head of Busybodies anonymous)
3, Rosie looking edible in 'that dress', singing 'Love, you didn't do right by me' (Look out for George Chakiris, the epitome of cool in a black turtleneck)
4, From the Minstrel Show...'How can you stop an angry dog from biting you on monday?...That joke is old, the answer is....' Well you'll just have to watch it to see!
5, 'Gee! I wish i was back in the army!' A million handsome guys, with longing in their eyes. And all you have to do is pick the age, the weight, the size, oh gee, i wish i was back in the army.
OK....I have to fit one more in......
6, For one night only...Wallace and Davis ARE....The Hanes Sisters!
May your days be merry and bright and may all Christmas films be as good as this.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2001
The array of talent in this film is so outstanding that to describe the gifts of Bing, Danny, Rosemary, and Vera-Ellen would seem practically overkill. The musical numbers around which this show is based are perfectly delightful - brilliantly executed and ranging from the delightfully silly (Sisters) to the sentimental (Count Your Blessings) to Broadway show-stoppers.
This film has no literary value - one would search in vain for theme, plot, characterisation, or depiction of relationships. The "climax," in which the World War II veterans are re-united to pay the surprise tribute to the Old Man, is so unrealistic as to be silly. It is purely a musical entertainment.
It's quite delightful - a relaxing interlude during any time of holiday stress. This is the perfect gift, in particular, for senior citizen relatives... but make sure it is not yet on their shelves, because it very likely is.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I have heard complaints about the weak and predictable story line of this movie, complaints about Crosby's parenting, even general dislike that goes with "war-oriented" movies.
Disregarding all of these, I still love this movie. The music is great (though some appears in other places). The love story is predicatable (as in most movies of this era) but still enjoyable. The ending may be predictable (how many of these type of movies really had a surprise ending?) but still brings a lump to my throat every time I see it. Seeing all the guys marching in, thinking about how the General must have felt, still affects me.
It's a great movie. Don't wait until next Christmas to see it.