Friday, September 16, 2011

Movie Review: White Christmas

I don't go to the movies often enough to try reviewing current movies, so I will instead write reviews of old movies that I enjoy. Here's the first one, that I wrote while I was deciding whether I should start a blog. 

This is my favorite Christmas movie. The plot follows the career of two army buddies, Bob (Bing Crosby) and Phil (Danny Kaye) who go into show business, and make good. At a club in Florida, they encounter a 'sister act' of the outstanding singer Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and outstanding dancer Judy (Vera-Ellen). The guys are attracted at once, but things are never simple in the movies. Through a series of comic circumstances the four find themselves at a ski lodge/inn in Vermont that is in financial trouble. This becomes important to the guys when they discover that the inn is run by their former Army commander General Waverly (Dean Jaeger). The guys cook up a big plan for a Big Show to help out their beloved General, leading to some great song-and-dance numbers and more comic interaction between the four leads as Bob courts the hesitant Betty and Judy courts the oblivious Phil. Eventually the Big Show starts interfering with the romance, and Betty splits for New York. Bob pursues her, hoping to patch things up while still trying to pull off the show. Of course it all works out in the end, the inn is saved, the show works, and the two couples end up happily together. We all knew that was coming, the fun is in watching the incredibly talented lead four show their stuff.
   The film's pace is brisk but not hurried, and the backdrops are pretty; you can tell the whole thing was shot on sound stages rather than live, but you watch this movie for the actors, not the scenery. The famous costumer Edith Head did the wardrobes, which adds in a subtle way to the visual appeal. There's a good crop of supporting actors in the film, most notably the hilarious Mary Wickes as the General's housekeeper, who moves the plot along, although not always intentionally. The dialogue is snappy without any modern sarcasm, and comic exchanges abound. When Bob calls his theatrical manager to bring the show to Vermont, he asks how much it will cost. The answer, unheard, provokes a shocked “Wow.” to which Phil asks “How much is Wow?”. Bob: “Somewhere between ouch! and boing!” Phil:“Wow!”
The film has very few low spots, one being the difficulty that arises between Bob & Betty that causes her to leave. It felt contrived, as most cases of misunderstandings do. Also, Betty is watching when Bob reveals that his Big Plan is not what she thought, but there is no reason for her to have been there. You could say that one or two of the dance numbers from the Big Show are just filler material, if it weren't for the fact that Vera-Ellen and Danny Kaye are doing the dancing. Who cares if it doesn't move the plot when the dancing is this good?
Lots of singing, dancing, comedy, romance and a great big heartwarming ending make this a feel-good film for you & your sweetie or for the whole family. There's something for everyone in White Christmas. 

I'll be happy to take suggestions of movies to review.  


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the review. Since this is the first Christmas that Dan and I will get to spend together, we will have to put this one on our Christmas movie list!

I would be interested in a review of your favorite Hitchcock movie. We are always on the lookout for a good old movie to watch.


Library Bob said...

OK, Brandi, I'll look thru my catalog of Hitchcock films and pick one out for you. Check back soon!