“My dear partner, 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…”
I’ve watched a Christmas film under false pretences. I’ve always believed that Bing Crosby’s yuletide classic ‘White Christmas’ was written for the 1958 film of the same name. Turns out it had already won an Oscar for best song for its appearance in Holiday Inn in 1942. Despite this tomfoolery I did mostly enjoy sitting through White Christmas.
Two old army buddies become a successful double act on the music circuit but struggle in the arena of love. Two singing sisters threaten to change all that. There is also a trip to Vermont thrown in and the redemption of an old army general. There is a lot going on in White Christmas.
Firstly, the positives. Bing Crosby’s Bob Wallace is a smooth shaker, but Danny Kaye is dazzling as his musical partner Phil Davis. Every step, skip and song is performed with a twinkle and a smile and Kaye comes across as a true pro throughout. It is in the less musical moments that the film comes into its own however. Indeed, nearly all the scenes that don’t involve singing are compelling, touching and warm. The problem is when they start opening their mouth…
While the title track is obviously a classic, all the other numbers in White Christmas are, for want of a better word, dogshit. One particularly awful song about snow seems to go on forever and is then referred back to a couple of times just to keep the paralysing fear of them singing the song again rumbling on. This is a shame because all four main performers clearly have Christmas stockings full of talent, but it is wasted on forgettable and bland songs.
Having said all that White Christmas is directed by the great Michael Curtiz (of Casablanca fame) and as Christmas films go it is pretty quintessential. It would make a nice double act with the similar-in-some-ways-but-mostly-completely-different A Very Murray Christmas.