on November 5, 2010
I do not have to relate the story of White Christmas. Anyone who watches Christmas movies has seen it over and over. It is a highly entertaining film that leaves you with a good feeling inside. The stars, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney are all wonderful.
The new Blu Ray transfer is magnificent. The picture is so sharp, so crystal-clear, so detailed and so alive with brilliant color, that it is hard to believe that the film is over fifty years old. While watching it, I almost felt like I was there in person. Fortunately, the picture was shot in real Technicolor, and was filmed using Paramount's VISTA-VISION, which created a much larger image on the film allowing for incredible sharpness of vision. The newly remastered 5.1 DTS soundtrack fills your viewing room with rich, lush sound and sharp dialog.
You cannot go wrong by buying this new Blu Ray of White Christmas. It's a film the whole family can enjoy.
on December 4, 2006
I know it sounds scary, but it's just one of the many reasons why this is one of the greatest films ever. Don't be misled by comparisons to Bing's earlier "Holiday Inn." That's a great film too, but when they held a sprig of mistletoe over "Holiday Inn," and gave it a big, warm, Technicolor kiss -- they ended up with "White Christmas."
Rosemary Clooney is a star here. She's at her most gorgeous and in her best voice ever. Hearing her rich, beautiful alto renditions of "Count Your Blessings," or the mournful, haunting "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me," is like pulling a thick comforter up to your chin on a snowy night. Clooney went on to a long illustrious career, of course, becoming an acclaimed jazz vocalist in her later years, but I will always love the Rosemary of this period the best.
As much a star, but with a lot more twinkle, is the real stand-out, Vera-Ellen, who deserves extra accolades for being one of the first stars to be known only by her first name. She has the added distinction of being the sole reason for hearing someone at our house say every Christmas, "Look how TINY her WAIST is!"
She was a power-house dancer, but has never garnered the acclaim that she deserves. Her other best-known role was "Miss Turnstiles" in Gene Kelly's "On the Town," but her dancing skills are highlighted more in "White Christmas," being the only real dancer in the quartet. Director Michael Curtiz brings in John Brascia, an athletic and powerful dancer in his own right, just to keep up with her. He seems to, but, honestly, you can't take your eyes off Vera-Ellen long enough to know for sure.
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye bring all their star power to complete the quartet of principal characters. Crosby is smooth as usual, and a little understated, with his legendary pipe and even more legendary pipes, while Kaye's comic craziness is the spike in the eggnog. Their duet in drag (not full drag, mind you, like..say... Gene Hackman in "The Bird Cage") is a highlight of the film that still makes me smile after all these years.
Take these four superstars, dress them up in some of Edith Head's best designs, give them wonderful songs from Irving Berlin, add great supporting actors like Mary Wickes and Dean Jagger, a splash of Vista-Vision, a heapin' helpin' of Technicolor, march in a platoon of veterans, pour in a tanker-truck load of sentimentality, then tie it all up in some pretty Christmas wrapping, and you have yourself a classic.
WHITE CHRISTMAS remains the all-time classic Christmas movie (not counting IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE). Featuring a fantastic cast and a superb Irving Berlin score, it's a heartwarming and lavish musical.
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye play two ex-GI's who team up with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) and help out their old army general (Dean Jagger) whose Vermont ski lodge has hit hard times. They decide to write a new musical and premiere it at the lodge with hopes of going to Broadway.
The performances cannot be bettered; Bing and Rosemary make a delightful singing screen couple; while Kaye and Vera-Ellen make the perfect matchmakers heckling on the sideline. Mary Wickes (SISTER ACT, NOW VOYAGER) is hilarious as Jagger's busybody other half.
Clooney is given the fantastic number "Love You Didn't Do Right By Me", Crosby is affecting in his duet with Clooney "Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep", Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen bring down the house with "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" and Vera-Ellen is breathtaking dancing to "Mandy".
The DVD includes an audio commentary from Rosemary Clooney, a retrospective interview with Rosemary Clooney and trailers.
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!
on November 13, 2010
In 1954 "White Christmas" was welcomed and immortalized as the #1 christmas movie & song. Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen are forever are remembered and celebrated every holiday season!!!! Wide Screen and Technicolor in 1954 was the new standard and the vibrant pallet of color for this movie was spectacular to say the least!!!!
When home videos began in the 1970's with VHS analog (240 lines of resolution) was fun but very small with full screen and letter box only. In the 1990's DVD with digital (480 lines and progressive upgrade to 480p (480 x 2). The digital restored better color and an anamorphic format allows us to view widescreen (in a small scale) Then in 2005ish blu-ray was develpoed to move us into the HD Home Theater. And now with full HD Home Theater 55' or bigger!! (Mine is a 9 footer and white christmas is awesome) we have 1080p and dolby digital sound.
Well this brings us back to "White Christmas" If you're like me you have the VHS, DVD, and the 50th Anniversary 2 disc DVD versions. Each is better than before but not living up to this color extravaganza The way it was always to be seen.
NOW finally Paramount HD releases a version of "White Christmas" which exceeds not only all the previous video versions but by far is hands down better than the original 1954 Movie Theater film. Why???? This is HD digtialized picture all colors are perfect (ie the song duet with Clooney & Ellen "Sisters" their dresses, feather fans are wonderfully detailed and the vibrant eye popping color blue is unbelieveable. This detail along with all others in the film are seen crystal clear for the first time ever!!!!! Plus the Dolby Digital sound is flawless you never miss verse, conversation or the spectacular music of Irving Berlin sung by our players!!
Hopefully you get to see this Home Theater Blu-ray edtion as big as possible so you can witness what the 1954 movie audiences experienced. You'll be watching this more than once and all year around.
NOTE: All SPECIAL FEATURES are the same as th Anniversary Edition except they have been upgraded (2009) to HD except (White Christmas: A Look Back with Rosemary Clooney (2000).
This is Only the blu-ray edition review, no standard dvd included. This is a keeper in your holiday library. ENJOY!!!!
on December 9, 2007
A great movie with a great cast and, of course, great music! Having said that, I must agree with another reviewer who feels the 'Choreography' number is out of place. Still, all in all, a wonderful way to spend an evening as Christmas approaches. I have the 2000 release DVD and had not intended to buy a newer version until it finally comes out in high-def, but I noticed that while the 2000 version has an aspect ratio of 1.85 this edition is 2.35. Perhaps now the entire letter written by Betty will be viewable onscreen instead of the bottom line being missing. I haven't had an opportunity to see it, so I don't know. As beautiful as the colors are in this movie, I can't wait to see it in full 1080 resolution on my big TV! I do hope it is released that way soon. I don't know whether HDDVD or BlueRay will win the war, but whichever format this movie is released in is the one I will buy.
Now for the Blu-Ray. I purchased this over Christmas, 2010, in hopes it wouldn't be another one of those transfers that looks the same as the one being replaced. I'm glad to say it isn't...in fact, White Christmas finally looks the way it should! Having bought each previous release starting with VHS and progressing through every DVD release, I can tell you that the studio never made the previous releases look really good. White Christmas always had a picture quality that was below what I expected from a DVD and I took a leap of faith with the Blu-Ray. This time I was rewarded with a picture that is absolutely gorgeous! During the 'Sisters' routine you can see the individual strands of the feathers and it gives you the sensation of being there in person. On board the train when the bar-tender is making the drinks, the glasses and drinks look real. This is one time I can confidently say there is no comparison between the DVD and Blu-Ray versions...Blu-Ray wins hands-down all across the board. I think you can tell that this is one of my cherished movies by how many releases I own, more cherished now because it finally looks great. I can recommend this version whole-heartedly without worrying that someone will buy it and not see any improvement over their older version, and I do recommend it. If you love 'White Christmas', then this is what you have been waiting for...you won't be disappointed!
on November 19, 2007
I grew up watching these every year and have subjected my kids to the same tradition. Schmaltzy? You bet! Dated? You bet! But also great fun and clean content.
Take a break this Christmas from R-rated movies, mind-numbing TV and rap music, pop some popcorn and enjoy!
Oh, and BTW, It's a Wonderful Life is in B&W rather than color as Amazon has listed. Personally, I think I prefer it in B&W!
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.
on October 10, 2007
Recently, Paramount has offered us wonderful new DVD-issues of classics like To Catch a Thief and Funny Face, both shot in Vista-Vision, and now looking better than ever on home video thanks to Paramount using original camera materials for the transfers. Naturally, I expected that the same loving treatment would be given an old favorite like White Christmas, which was the first feature film shot in Paramount's superb wide-screen process called Vista-Vision.
Not so! This new "remaster" is just as dreary-looking as the older DVD. Grainy and soft with an unstable look and dull colors except in some brightly lit "performance" scenes. Also lots of dirt marks and scattered speckles, plus an ugly splice or two. And NO new extras! Where is the expected featurette about the Vista-Vision system - newly made or at least some old promotional reel taken from a shelf in the archives? A huge disappointment! And by the way, where are all the many beloved Paramount classics from the fifties and sixties that have not yet been released on DVD? Not a single title in sight for the coming months. Sad.
The print transfer in the two-disc, 55th Anniversary Edition DVD set does justice to Loyal Griggs's vibrant Technicolor cinematography, which makes the 1954 movie look appropriately like a bright red candy box. Although Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life deserves its place among the pantheon of Christmas movies, this comparative confection still deserves special mention. Granted the plot, what there is of one, is rather thin, it is splashy good fun directed by the dependably versatile Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) with several Irving Berlin standards and four superb variety performers in their prime. As much as Capra's film is an annual tradition, it is really this film that I look forward to the most of all the holiday classics.
The storyline focuses on two former soldiers, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, both song-and-dance men who become best friends when Davis saves Wallace from a falling building during WWII. After years of post-war success on Broadway and the nightclub circuit, they become reconnected with their gruff but lovable former army commander, General Waverly. The general now owns a Vermont ski lodge, but he is treading water financially since there is no snow as Christmas approaches. As it turns out, the Haynes sisters, Betty and Judy, are playing the lodge during the holidays, and of course, romantic entanglements ensue all the way through the big finale when all four star in a show that they hope will save the general's lodge.
All of this seems rather incidental to the musical numbers showcased in the then-revolutionary widescreen process called VistaVision. The most relaxed of actors during this era, Bing Crosby plays Wallace with his natural élan, and he croons the classic title tune early on and leads the group sing of the same song at the end. In contrast, Danny Kaye plays Davis with his mercurial style intact, though compared to his other films of the period, he is relatively subdued here. With her smoky, silken vocal skills on display, Rosemary Clooney plays Betty, Wallace's love interest, with aplomb and complements Crosby easily on "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)". She also delivers a nice torchy Berlin tune with "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me" despite some silly man-choreography.
I have to say the most impressive performer of the quartet is Vera-Ellen, a phenomenal dancer who was the equal of Astaire and Kelly at her peak. She makes even Kaye look good in their musical duets - "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" and the amusing Martha Graham riff, "Choreography". However, her best numbers are with dancer John Brascia - the elaborate "Mandy" number where her pliable, slender frame seems to be everywhere on the screen, and the brief rehearsal number, "Abraham", where she and Brascia snap, pop, clap, kick and swing with unerring military precision. It's worth noting that her singing is dubbed by vocalist Trudy Stevens, which is pointed out by Clooney on the less-than-informative audio commentary track. Much better is the 16-minute retrospective interview with Clooney on Disc Two where her natural sense of humor emerges.
There are other numbers worth mentioning in the movie - the duet, "Sisters", done first straight by the women and later by the men as a comedy routine in half-drag (Kaye steals this bit handily with his over-the-top clowning); the foursome on the vintage Berlin "Snow" and "Gee, I Wish I was Back in the Army"; and of course, the title tune at the end. Way over on the sidelines, Dean Jagger lends his warm dignity to the role of the retired general, and Mary Wickes plays Emma the housekeeper in her typically sarcastic manner. This is undemanding entertainment and a dependable holiday classic that feels like a favorite well-worn blanket.
The remaining DVD extras are all on Disc Two. They include six new featurettes - "Backstage Stories from White Christmas" with historians and critics telling the tales along with remembrances from dancer George Chakiris; "Rosemary's Old Kentucky Home" looks at her childhood home which has since turned into a museum; "Bing Crosby: Christmas Crooner" takes a superficial look at the star with interviews with his widow Kathryn Crosby and son Harry; "Danny Kaye: Joy to the World" focuses more on Kaye's philanthropic work with UNICEF; "Irving Berlin's White Christmas" is about the origins of the classic song; and "White Christmas: From Page to Stage" shows how the recent Broadway show evolved. There are also two theatrical trailers included.