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A Highly Scientific Christmas Movie Analysis: White Christmas

A highly scientific Christmas movie analysis of White Christmas, the greatest classic Christmas movie ever made.

A Highly Scientific Christmas Movie Analysis: White Christmas

White Christmas is the greatest classic Christmas movie ever made, imho. Some of you will try and argue with me using It's A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, but you will be wrong (sorry Erin). This movie has it all -- love, comedy, singing, dancing! And isn't so saccharine that it makes me want to punch reindeer like some other movies I may or may not have just mentioned.

Some of you may ever argue for Holiday Inn. "Megan!" you'll say. "It came first and the original is always the best!" Wrong. Back to the Future would have something to say against that logic. Also, White Christmas has ONE HUNDRED PERCENT LESS black face than Holiday Inn. Which is an auto-win in my book. So let's begin!

The So-Called Plot:

Out story begins on Christmas Eve, on the front lines of what we assume to be WWII, but actually takes place on one of the saddest looking war set pieces I've ever seen. Caption Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby), who was a performer of some renown before the war, is putting on a Christmas show for his fellow troops. The troops are also wishing goodbye to their beloved General Waverly (referred to as "The Old Man" despite the actor being the exact same age as Bing), who is being relieved of command. Christmas celebrations are cut short as the troops fall under barrage of enemy artillery. Bob is nearly killed by a falling wall, but is rescued by Private Phil Davis (Danny Kaye), who injures himself in the process. Phil wants to be a performer and uses his not-very-severe injury to guilt Bob into creating a duo act with him. After the war and over the years, "Wallace and Davis" become an extremely successful act, against all odds, since their act consists mostly of singing whilst shuffling around with canes. Phil (who is a classic cad/womanizer) doesn't like how hard stick-in-the-mud Bob works them and is convinced that if Bob just gets laid married, he will chill out. Bob and Phil soon meet performer sisters Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen). Bob is immediately smitten with Betty and Phil sets out to play matchmaker. The sisters have booked a gig in Vermont and Phil tricks Bob into following after them. When they reach their destination in Vermont, Bob and Phil discover that the down-on-its-luck Inn they're staying in is owned and run by their former General. Determined to help "The Old Man" out, Bob recruits all the performers of his Broadway act to come up to Vermont and put on a Christmas show. Bob also goes on a popular teevee show and requests that all the members of his old Command come up to Vermont to surprise "The Old Man." Betty and Bob begin to develop feelings for each other, but Betty is (wrongly) convinced that Bob is using his Christmas performance to make money off "The Old Man's" situation. But instead of asking him directly, she dances around the topic, acts like a bitch and runs off to New York to sing sad songs about love. There is singing and dancing and even a fake engagement and in the end, everything works out just in time for Christmas. In an ending worthy of Shakespeare, Bob and Betty declare their feelings for each other and Phil and Judy do as well. AND it snows.

Casting Callback:

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace

What can one say about Bing?! Singer, actor, legend! Possible child beater. But I really hope that last one isn't true.

Danny Kaye as Phil Davis

To be honest, this movie is exclusively how I know Danny Kaye. But the dancing, the jokes! He is just so delightful.

Rosemary Clooney as Betty Haynes

Hey, it's George Clooney's aunt! Rosemary made a bigger name for herself as a singer than an actress which is understandable because that voice! So lovely.

Vera-Ellen as Judy Haynes

When this lady is dancing, it's impossible to take your eyes off of her. So lovely and talented.

Chemistry Grade: A

I am going to be bold here and give an A to both couples. Bob and Betty are adorable and alternatively ridiculous. You can see why both of these two have been unlucky in love as they tend to offend/be offended easily and fall victim to frequent miscommunications. You can tell how much the two characters like each other and it's painful to watch their relationship fall apart. Sure, you kind of want to smack them both (Betty especially), but you can't help but root for them.

Phil and Judy's relationship is much less emotionally wrought and also pretty delightful. Since they are the fun two out of their sister and friend pair, most of their relationship is lighthearted and charming. And how can you not fall in love with the two of them when they're dancing together?

Cliché Count: 7

People playing matchmaker: 1
Gratuitous song and dance numbers: 4
Misunderstanding between love interests that could have been cleared up with a simple conversation: 1
Deus Ex snow: 1

Bonus Factor: Military Pride

Normally our Highly Scientific Film reviews do not have bonus factors, but I cannot help myself. I mean, doesn't this movie make you wish you had been a solider in WWII? And that you had war buddies and commanding officers that you would love unconditionally for the rest of your life? (Completely ignoring the realities and horrors of war, of course.) And even me, with my cold, dead liberal heart, weeps at the end of the movie when all of the former soldiers are dressed up, there to surprise The Old Man. Just crying, every time.

Bonus Factor: This Picture

Quote-a-long:

Every year, I manage to forget how genuinely funny this movie is. It's really just a classic rom-com (emphasis on the com) in Christmas wrapping. That said, there are plenty of laughable and quotable lines:

Phil Davis: When what's left of you gets around to what's left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting, whatever it is you've got left.

Bob Wallace: When I figure out what that means I'll come up with a crushing reply.

Phil Davis: We like to take care of our friends.

Betty Haynes: But we're practically strangers!

Phil Davis: Uh, we like to take care of that too.

Bob Wallace: Miss Haynes, if you're ever under a falling building and someone offers to pick you up and carry you to safety, don't think, don't pause, don't hesitate for a moment, just spit in his eye.

Betty Haynes: What does that mean?

Bob Wallace: It means we're going to Vermont.

Soundtrack:

Guys, Irving Berlin is the bomb. I mean, this is the man who wrote "White Christmas", the best selling, most popular song of all time, ever and (most likely) forever. Not even the Black Eyed Peas can dethrone that shit. But since "White Christmas" was old hat by the time this movie was made, let's focus on some of the other songs.

Like most musicals, some of these songs can occasionally seem a bit out of place. In fact, some of them were originally written for other productions. "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" is one of my favorites. While the song is nothing too special, combine is with a delightful couple dance and it is pure joy.

"Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" is another favorite. It's seriousness might be a little out of place in this film, but damn if it doesn't kind of punch you in the gut.

Christmas Spirit Potential:

Compared to other movies with Santas or presents or holiday magic, this isn't really the most Christmasy of Christmas movies. But for what it lacks in Baby Jesus, it makes up in dancing and song. And while maybe it doesn't have the universal appeal it had 60 years ago, you will find those who love this movie, love it with a fearsome intensity. So start baking some Christmas cookies, grab your gifts to wrap and sit down for some unrealistic, yet delightful Christmas cheer.

Megan Crane's photo About the Author: Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.