What do you get when you mix a holiday tale of two army vets turned mega-successful musical producers, a sister act featuring two of the most beautiful actresses to ever grace the screen, a former general in dire financial straits and some of the most unforgettable songs of all time?
Fine, I’ll do all the work for you; the result is one of those films your parents made you watch as a kid instead of letting you do something less mind-numbing because their parents did the same thing to them. And now you do the same damn thing to your kids just to erase the scars inflicted on you in childhood. But guess what? Those scars never fade, friends. Nor should they.
The answer, by the way, is White Christmas, the 1954 Paramount Pictures musical that has since become a holiday television staple, an essential part of every radio station’s Christmas song line-up and irrefutable proof that Rosemary Clooney was once one of the most gorgeous creatures on planet Earth rather than the loopy aunt on Roseanne that we all refuse to believe ever starred in that damn film with Bing Crosby that our parents made us watch under extreme duress.
#24: White Christmas.
Everyone of a certain age has seen this flick (even if it was just playing in the background as they were trying to get the hell out of the family room before someone inevitably said, “Come watch White Christmas with the family!”) and while they may not have realized it at the time (I certainly didn’t) it really is one of those things worth sticking around this plane of existence for.
Yes, you’re right, I’ve lost it. But hear me out anyway.
Films made in the Fifties may not have been perfect but they were clean enough to eat off of compared to today’s Hollywood offerings. Can you imagine Bing Crosby screening Cruel Intentions or Brokeback Mountain? Not that these aren’t great movies; but they’d be considered porn to a Hollywood performer of Bing or Danny Kaye’s sensibilities.
The power of friendship. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye become lifelong performing partners after bonding at the end of the war.
Family. Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen are sisters who would do anything for each other, even fake an engagement. (Don’t worry, it makes sense, and it’s funny to see a film where one of the male leads is actually reluctant to pursue a beautiful woman.)
Loyalty. Bing and Danny are vets-turned performers who use their star power to help their old general fill his Vermont Inn when a heat wave hits in the middle of winter.
The power of raw emotion. Even the most hardened soul will become teary-eyed while watching an iron-willed general addressing his men at the end of the war and when they come out to save him from bankruptcy when Mother Nature proves to be a tougher adversary than the Nazis.
A time when people actually dressed nice. Seriously, pay attention to the clothing in White Christmas; I never see people dressed in suits and dresses unless I’m at a funeral or a wedding. Or court.
Some of my most vivid childhood memories revolve around my family (which consisted of my mother and grandmother) gathering around the ye olde television to watch this film. I really had no clue of the deeper meaning behind what I was watching but it made the women who raised me happy and that was enough. I know a movie, even a holiday classic, can’t solve all your problems, especially problems that make you want to end it all, but it can buy a few hours of peace to catch your breath and sometimes that can be enough.
See you in the lobby, kids…