- White Christmas (film)
name = White Christmas
imdb_id = 0047673
Robert Emmett Dolan
October 14, 1954
runtime = 120 min.
language = English
country = USA
"White Christmas" is a 1954
jukebox musicalmovie starring Bing Crosbyand Danny Kayethat featured the songs of Irving Berlin, including the titular White Christmas. Rosemary Clooneyand Vera-Ellenco-starred. It was directed by Michael Curtiz.
Filming took place between September and November 1953. The movie was the first to be filmed in the new
VistaVisionprocess and its lush Technicolor cinematographyhas ensured that it has had a long shelf life on TV, video and DVD. Released in 1954, it became the top grossing film of that year.
The movie was supposed to reunite Crosby and
Fred Astairefor their third Irving Berlinextravaganza of song and dance—the first two being "Holiday Inn" (1942) and "Blue Skies" ( 1946). However, Astaire bowed out after reading the script. Donald O'Connorwas selected to replace Astaire, but he, too, had to pass because of an illness. O'Connor was replaced by Danny Kaye. The choreography was done by Bob Fosse, although he was uncredited.Fact|date=December 2007 Vera-Ellen's singing was dubbed by Trudy Stevens, except in the song "Sisters," where Rosemary Clooney sang both parts [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047673/trivia "White Christmas" trivia on IMDb] ] .
The title song was first used in "Holiday Inn", released in 1942, when it won the
Academy Awardfor Best Original Song. The song "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" garnered this film an Academy Awardnomination for Best Original Song.
Rosemary Clooney was not allowed to record her voice for the soundtrack album because it was being released by a record company (Decca) other than hers (Columbia). She was replaced on the soundtrack album by
Barrie Chaseappears unbilled, as the character Doris Lenz ("Mutual, I'm sure!"). Future Academy Awardwinner George Chakirisalso appears, and has a notable appearance in two musical numbers, but is unbilled. John Brasciais the lead dancer who appears opposite Vera-Ellen throughout the movie, particularly in the "Mandy", "Choreography", and "Abraham" numbers. Academy Award-winning character actor Dean Jaggerreportedly wore a toupeein the film. Also appearing were Mary Wickes, Anne Whitfield, Tony Butala, Bea Allen, Johnny Grant, and a large supporting cast.
The story is based around two World War II U.S. Army buddies, one a former Broadway entertainer, Bob Wallace (Crosby), and a would-be entertainer, Phil Davis (Kaye). It begins on Christmas Eve, 1944, somewhere in Europe. In a forward area, Captain Wallace is giving a show to the men with the help of Private Davis, ("White Christmas").
Major GeneralThomas F. Waverly ( Dean Jagger) arrives for the end of the show and has a field inspection prior to being relieved of command by GeneralHarold G. Coughlan (Gavin Gordon) The men give him a rousing send-off, ("The Old Man"). During an enemy artillery barrage, Davis saves Wallace's life from a toppling wall, wounding his arm slightly in the process. Using his "wounded" arm and telling Bob he doesn't expect any "special obligation," Phil convinces Bob to join forces when the war is over. Phil using his arm wound as a way to get Bob to do what he wants becomes a running gagthroughout the movie.After the war, they make it big in nightclubs, radio, and then on Broadway. They become the hottest act around and eventually become producers. They subsequently have a big hit with their New York musical, "Playing Around". In mid-December, after 2 years on Broadway, the show is in Florida. While at the Florida Theatre, they receive a letter from "Freckle-Faced Haynes, the dog-faced boy", a mess sergeant they knew in the war (according to Rosemary Clooneyon the DVD commentary the picture of him in the film is that of Carl Switzer, better known as Alfalfain the Our Gangseries.), asking them to audition his two sisters. When they go to the club to audition the act ("Sisters"), Betty ( Rosemary Clooney) reveals that her sister, Judy ( Vera-Ellen) sent the letter. Bob and Phil help Betty and Judy escape their landlord and the local sheriff. The boys do the song "Sisters" to a record as the girls escape to the train. Phil gives Betty and Judy the train tickets that he and Bob were intending to use. When Bob and Phil arrive on the train, they have no tickets. Using "his arm" again, Phil gets Bob to agree to travel with the girls to Vermont for the holidays, ("Snow"). They discover that the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, is run by their former commanding officer, Major General Tom Waverly, and it's about to go bankrupt because of the lack of snow and consequent lack of patrons. The general has invested all his savings and pension into the lodge. Deciding to help out and bring business in, Wallace and Davis bring "Playing Around" with their entire Broadway cast up and add Betty and Judy where they can. Bob discovers the General's rejected attempt at rejoining the army, and decides to prove to the General that he isn't forgotten.
Bob calls Ed Harrison (
Johnny Grant), an old army friend, now host of a successful variety show (intentionally similar to Ed Sullivan's). When Bob wants to make a pitch on the show to all the men under the command of the General in the war, Harrison suggests they go all out and put the show on television, playing up the "schmaltz" factor of the General's situation and generating lots of free advertising for Wallace and Davis. Overhearing only this, the housekeeper, Emma Allen ( Mary Wickes), tells Betty. Bob tells Ed that isn't the idea and that he only wishes to make a pitch to get as many people from their division to Pine Tree for the show on Christmas Eve. The misunderstanding causes Betty to leave for a job at the Carousel Club in New York, after Phil and Judy fake their engagement in the hope of bringing Betty and Bob closer together.
On the Ed Harrison Show, Bob asks all the veterans of the 151st Division living in the New England area to come to Pine Tree, Vermont on Christmas Eve.
All is set right when Betty sees Bob's pitch on the Ed Harrison show. She returns to Pine Tree just in time for the show on Christmas Eve. Believing all of his suits had been sent to the cleaners, General Waverly concludes that he'll have to appear in his old uniform. When the General enters the lodge where the show is to take place, he is greeted by his former division to a rousing chorus of "We'll Follow the Old Man", and moments later is notified that snow is falling.
In a memorable finale, Bob and Betty declare their love, as do Phil and Judy. The background of the set is removed to show the snow falling in Pine Tree. Everyone raises a glass, toasting, "May your days be merry and bright; and may all your Christmases be white."
Dean Jagger... General Waverly
Mary Wickes... Emma Allen
*John Brascia ... John
Anne Whitfield... Susan Waverly
Carroll O'Connor... Sheriff
All songs were written by
*"White Christmas" (Crosby)
*"The Old Man" (Crosby, Kaye, and Men's Chorus)
*"Medley: Heat Wave/Let Me Sing and I'm Happy/Blue Skies" (Crosby & Kaye)
*"The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" (Kaye & Stevens)
*"Snow" (Crosby, Kaye, Clooney & Stevens)
*"Sisters (reprise)" (Clooney)
*"Minstrel Number: I'd Rather See a Minstrel Show/Mister Bones/Mandy" (Crosby, Kaye, Clooney, Stevens & Chorus)
*"Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" (Crosby & Clooney)
*"The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing (reprise)" (Kaye & Chorus)
*"Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" (Clooney)
*"What Can You Do with a General?" (Crosby)
*"The Old Man (reprise)" (Crosby & Men's Chorus)
*"Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army" (Crosby, Kaye, Clooney & Stevens)
*"White Christmas (finale)" (Crosby, Kaye, Clooney, Stevens & Chorus)
There are brief renditions of other Berlin songs ("Heat Wave", "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" and "Blue Skies").
Berlin wrote "A Crooner — A Comic" for Crosby and his planned co-star
Donald O'Connor, but when O'Connor left the project so did the song. Crosby and Kaye also recorded another Berlin song ("Santa Claus") for the opening WWII Christmas Eve show scene, but it was not used in the final film; their recording of the song survives, however.
The song, "What Can You Do with a General?", which
Leonard Maltincalls Berlin's least memorable tune, was originally written for an unproduced project called "Stars on My Shoulders".
Errors and inconsistencies
Several minor errors in editing and inconsistencies exist in the film. For example, in the scene where Bob comes to see Phil in the hospital tent, Bob can be seen alternately sitting closer to and then further away from Phil, even though the camera switches viewpoints for only an instant — while at the same time the truck with the red cross on it is visible in the background. In another apparent error in editing, when the general and his granddaughter take their first steps forward arm-in-arm during the final birthday celebration, the camera angle shifts, and they step forward again from the original location.
*After Judy and Phil finish dancing to "The Best Things Happen While Your Dancing," they are shown in an embrace down near the water. However, after the camera angle shifts, Betty is shown walking out of the club and finds Judy and Phil in the exact same position, only now they are right by the doors.
*After Bob and Phil are done performing the "Sisters" act as a decoy to help the girls, there is a quick flash of them and all of the blue attire they are wearing (i.e. feather fans, head pieces, and saches) is gray.
*The pitcher of buttermilk and the tray of sandwiches move around sporadically in the "Count Your Blessings" scene in the inn.
*During the 10th Anniversary of the 151st Division cake scene, the camera follows the general into the room, and the candles on the cake are lit. The camera angle changes to the left, and as he continues to walk, the candles are out. The camera angle shifts once more, and the candles are lit yet again.
*In the scene where Mary Wickes' character eavesdrops on Bing Crosby's phone call, her button-down blouse shows at one point that a button has come undone. Before and after that, all the buttons are fastened securely.
*During the same "Snow" number, every time the camera angle changes during the sequence, the salt and pepper shaker, the ashtray, and other items move around on the table.
*When Bob and Phil accidentally open the sleeping car in which Betty and Judy are sleeping, it looks very different from the sleeping car they are in the next morning when Bob and Phil meet them.
*The exterior train shots, supposedly showing a trip from Florida to Vermont, show trains from the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads, neither of which ran east of the Mississippi River.
*At the start of the dress rehearsal for the Minstrel Show/Mandy number, there is an orchestra in front of the stage. At the end of the number, the orchestra is gone as Bob, Phil, Judy, and Betty step down from the stage.
*In the finale, a horse-drawn sleigh is shown approaching the inn as it snows outside. Given that it had not been snowing for very long, it is somewhat difficult to believe that a horse-drawn sleigh could have navigated the freshly-fallen snow successfully.
*In the finale, there is a scene shot from the right side that clearly shows the center "
ballerinain white" with a beautiful smile on her face. An instant later — in a shot that is supposed to be seamless as it shifts to frontal view — she is serious and grave-looking.
A stage adaptation of the musical, titled "Irving Berlin's White Christmas" premiered in
San Franciscoin 2004 [Jones, Kenneth. [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/118976.html "Merry and Bright? Producers Hope White Christmas Will Play Broadway This Year",] playbill.com, June 25, 2008] and has played in various venues in the US, such as Boston, Buffalo, Los Angelesand Detroit. [Jones, Kenneth. [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/120079.html "White Christmas Will Make Broadway Debut in November, Playing to Early 2009"] playbill.com August 4, 2008] [ [http://www.talkinbroadway.com/regional/sanfran/s550.html Review of San Francisco production] talkingbroadway.com November 14, 2004] [Byrne, Terry. [http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2007/11/30/white_christmas_returns_as_merry_and_bright_as_ever/ Review of Boston production] "The Boston Globe" November 30, 2007] [ [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/96383.html Snow in L.A.! Irving Berlin's White Christmas Begins Nov. 22 in City of Angels] playbill.com November 22, 2005]
The musical is scheduled to run for a limited engagement on Broadway at the
Marquis Theatrestarting in previews November 14, 2008 and continuing to January 4, 2009. This production is directed by Walter Bobbieand choreographed by Randy Skinner, with a libretto by David Ivesand Paul Blake, adapted from the film. The cast features Stephen Bogardus, Kerry O'Malley, Jeffry Denman, Meredith Patterson, Susan Mansur and Charles Dean, all of whom have performed in regional productions. [Jones, Kenneth. [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/120961.html "Broadway's White Christmas Will Star Bogardus, O'Malley, Denman and Patterson",] playbill.com, September 3, 2008] [Hernandez, Ernio. [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/122091.html PHOTO CALL: White Christmas Comes to Times Square",] playbill.com, October 7, 2008]
;UK tour (2007-08)The musical toured the United Kingdom in 2006 - 2008. The tour visited:
*November 19 - December 2, 2006 Theatre Royal,
*December 7, 2006 - January 28, 2007 The Mayflower,
*November 19 - December 8, 2007 Edinburgh Playhouse,
*December 13, 2007 - January 12, 2008 Wales Millennium Center,
The cast for the tour starred
Craig McLachlanas Bob Wallace, Tim Flavinas Phil Davis, Rachel Stanley as Betty Haynes, Emma Kate Nelson as Judy Haynes, Ken Kerchevalas The General and Lorna Luftas Martha. [ [http://www.thisistheatre.com/regional/white-christmas.html thisistheatre listing] ]
Michael Curtizalso directed "Casablanca", "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (the 1939 version with Errol Flynn), " Angels with Dirty Faces" with James Cagneyand Humphrey Bogart, and " Yankee Doodle Dandy", along with more than a hundred other movies.
*Vera-Ellen did not actually sing any of the songs for the movie.
Trudy Stevenssang all her songs (with the exception of the song "Sisters", on which Rosemary Clooney sang both parts). Vera's own voice is heard singing only in the "arrival in Pine Tree" scene at the railroad station where the quartet reprises the opening lines of "Snow".
*The TV camera in the Ed Harrison Show scene is a real classic RCA monochrome camera; the cameraman is hiding the telltale logo with his hand. The call sign on the camera was real as well — it was that of Channel 4, NBC's (and therefore RCA's) station in New York, WNBT-TV which changed its call sign to WRCA-TV the year of the film's release.
*The photo Vera-Ellen shows of her brother Benny (the one Phil refers to as "Freckle-faced Haynes, the dog-faced boy") is actually a photo of Carl Switzer, who played
Alfalfain The Little Rascals, in an army field jacket and helmet liner. Rosemary Clooneyverified this in her narration of the film on the DVD release.
*At the end of "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" duet with Kaye and Vera-Ellen when Kaye drops to one knee, Vera-Ellen trips over his foot as she circles behind him.
*Even though Judy is the younger Haynes sister, Rosemary Clooney was actually seven years younger than Vera-Ellen.
*Every single costume worn by Vera-Ellen in the film — including her nightclothes — has a high neckline, as Vera-Ellen was battling anorexia at the time the movie was made, which caused her neck to look very aged. The actress struggled with anorexia throughout most of her career.
*Much of the movie's dialog — particularly extended scenes with Bing Crosby — was ad-libbed and improvised.
*The Columbia Inn may look familiar — it was actually the remodeled set from the movie "Holiday Inn", which was set in Connecticut.
*General Waverly's war time adjutant,
CaptainJoe (Richard Shannon) continues to serve the General at the show in Vermont. He informs the General it is snowing.
*A piece of the movie with Bob Wallace (Crosby) and Phil Davis (Kaye) was re-broadcast the year after the film's release, on
Christmas Day1955, in the final episode of the NBCTV show " Colgate Comedy Hour" (1950-1955).
*The song "Snow" was composed by Irving Berlin, but originally was titled "Free", and had nothing at all to do with snow. It was written for "
Call Me Madam". The melody and some of the words were kept, but the lyrics were changed by Berlin into a song more appropriate for a Christmas movie. For example, one of the lines of the original song is "Free — the only thing worth fighting for is to be free. Free — a different world you'd see if it were left to me." This song can be found on the CD "Irving Sings Berlin".
*The first film released in
VistaVision, Paramount's widescreen answer to CinemaScope.
*The film is number one in the North American box office in 1954.
*In another popular holiday film "
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", lead character Clark Griswoldalludes to "White Christmas", sarcastically saying, "We're gonna have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny F***in' Kaye".
*imdb title | id=0047673 | title=White Christmas
*tcmdb title |id=95631|title=White Christmas
* [http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117990033.html?categoryid=15&cs=1 "White Christmas heads to Marquis"] "Variety" August 4, 2008
* [http://www.whitechristmasthemusical.com] Official site "White Christmas the Musical"
* [http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=480731 Internet Broadway Database listing]
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