Two talented song-and-dance men team up after the war to become one of the hottest acts in show business. In time they befriend and become romantically involved with the beautiful Haynes sisters who comprise a sister act.
Still dreaming after all these years. Old Army buddies Bob and Phil become a hugely successful song and dance act once the war is over. Taking a much needed vacation to Vermont, they are saddened to find that the ski lodge run by their old wartime General is due to be closed down on account of the lack of snow in the area. Falling in with two lovely sisters, Betty & Judy, the boys plan to put on a variety show with the girls to entice people back to the lodge. But misunderstandings and romantic leanings are not going to make this at all easy. Enduring, perennial, simple and beguiling are all words fit to be associated with White Christmas. It's directed by Mr Reliable, Michael Curtiz, features songs from Irving Berlin and stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen & Dean Jagger. Filmed in Technicolor, it's also notable for being the first film to be shot in VistaVision (think wide-screen process). In truth the film is thinly plotted and doesn't remotely feature some of Berlin's best tunes, and I dare to be a touch more critical as the VistaVision is wasted on the studio led direction. Yet it's such a charming and heart warming film it feels churlish to let the negatives negate the over riding feeling of having been cheered after a viewing. So although it's not the brilliance it perhaps should have been, it's ultimately a picture that still reels in new viewers every yuletide year, and that's something that is hard to argue with. So enjoy the title song and the likes of "Sisters," "The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing," "Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep" & "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me". Marvel at the zippiness of Vera-Ellen's dancing whilst lapping up the side-kick goofiness provided by the always watchable Kaye. Be emotionally involved with Dean Jagger's heavy hearted General, and of course there's Crosby too, seemingly ageless, he croons and simultaneously manages to melt the ice in your drink as you snuggle up by the fire. Delightful. 7/10
I am not a fan of musicals, but if I am to watch one I prefer this type: where the story is told in dialogue, interrupted and built onto by the songs. The movies that are pure music — including dialogue, threaten to cause me to slide out of my chair onto the floor and stare at the ceiling. The writing is a bit hokey and sometimes predictable, but overall it is entertaining and quite watchable. We wondered where they found room in the building for the huge set that was created, but rule number one here is to suspend your disbelief, and ignore niggling little questions such as: where are the parents of the general’s granddaughter? So it was a pleasant enough watch. I saw a review that spoke of Danny Kaye’s bad acting, but really I thought he and everyone did just fine. The songs are all good, except for the title song, which is of course perfect.
Danny Kaye is much the more natural here as he ("Phil") and successful partner "Bob" (Bing Crosby) hook up with the aspiring sister-act team of "Betty" (Rosemary Clooney) and "Judy" (Vera-Ellen). The latter pair have a gig at a remote Vermont inn, and so after some shenanigans on a train they all arrive to discover it is run by the gents' former wartime CO "Gen. Waverly" (Dean Jagger). Determined to come to the aid of this decent and proud man, they concoct a scheme to quite literally rally the troops! The gist of the plot is one of loyalty and integrity, but there is plenty of daft comedy interspersed to keep the whole thing from becoming too earnest or sentimental. The dance numbers are expertly choreographed and the musical numbers from Irving Berlin including the belters "Sisters" (with a little help from Gloria Wood) and "Blue Skies" keep the toes tapping too... It's a cheery, gentle romantic comedy that puts a smile on your face and reinforces any faith in the human spirit that might need topping up. I always found Crosby a little too slick on screen, but Kaye and Clooney are great and though perhaps just a shade too long, it's still an enjoyable seasonal romp, well worth a watch with some mulled wine and the odd chocolate Santa.