Today I would like to pay homage to my #13. By that I mean, my movie list (here) only goes through my top 12 movies. If I had to continue the list, this is the movie that didn’t make the cut. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, starring the one and only Bing Crosby, is the movie I watch when I can’t find another reason to smile. It never fails.
Brief synopsis: released in 1954, this movie stars Bing Crosby (Bob Wallace) and Danny Kaye (Phil Davis) as army buddies that end up going into show business together and become the great Wallace and Davis. They’re a great success, but they have different visions for the future. Phil wants Bob to find a nice girl and settle down – mostly so that he can have some time to himself. In pursuit of this, Phil finagles his way onto a train bound for Vermont with a reluctant Bob, to follow a set of singing and dancing sisters. The real fun begins when they arrive at their destination – a struggling bed and breakfast in the mountains – and they discover that it’s owned and run by their old army general. They decide that they need to use their show to help him revive his inn, and the rest is history.
I get a lot of flack for watching a movie called White Christmas at all times of the year (mostly from my family and friends who have to listen to it once a month or so), so I need to make a case for myself by arguing that it is not simply a Christmas movie. It’s a heartwarming classic that begins and ends on Christmas Eve, and the theme and values are universal and timeless, and here are the reasons why it’s okay to watch White Christmas at any time of the year:
1. There is only one Christmas song, once at the beginning and then again at the very end. True, there’s also a song about snow (which pops up three different times), but it’s not illegal to sing about the weather. If it was, Gene Kelly would have been in a whole heap of trouble right about this time, too. The rest of the music is classic Irving Berlin. “Blue Skies” even makes a brief appearance, as does an instrumental version of “Abraham”, from Berlin’s first Bing Crosby hit, Holiday Inn. With Crosby and Kaye in the same movie, there’s a perfect mix of heart-melting serenades and stunning dance numbers.
2. The comedy, though appealing to a more “old-fashioned” sense of humor, is worth watching (in my case, reciting…) again and again (and again and again). My favorite part is in the dressing room, when Phil is insisting that Bob finds himself a wife; he admits a few minutes later that his overall vision includes nine children, so that even if he spends five minutes a day with each kid, Phil will have time to “go out and get a massage or something.” Bob argues, “I’ll get around to that one of these days.” Phil looks at him skeptically, and says “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’e got left.” Bob looks at him with disbelief and replies “When I figure out what that means, I’ll come up with a crushing reply.” Not to mention, they perform the sisters’ signature act in drag to distract the sheriff while the girls make an escape. What else do you need from a movie?
3. I’ve never watched this movie and felt sad afterwards. It’s so, so heartwarming. Spoiler alert, I’m about to ruin the ending, but I want to explain why this is my #1 go-to movie for any bad day. As I said in my synopsis, Wallace and Davis bring their stage show to the Columbia Inn in hopes of driving business in for their retired army general. In the process of this, Bob discovers that the general has also been denied returning to active duty, and although he won’t admit it, he’s heartbroken. He and Phil devise a plot to bring as many of the men from their division as possible for opening night of the show (consequently, Christmas Eve) to surprise him, “to let him know that he’s not forgotten.” Oh, and I forgot to mention, the reason that the Inn is in such a hard place is a lack of snow. Well, I’m sure you’re shocked, they really do get enough men to the Inn to pull it off, and then as they’re about to finish up the evening’s show and perform the closing number (you’ll be even more shocked when I tell you what it is), one of the men taps the general on the shoulder. The general follows the officer to the lobby, where they open the doors to the most beautiful blanket of powder you’ve ever seen in your life. At the same time, Bob and Phil are making the same discovery backstage. In case you didn’t guess, the closing number is White Christmas. It’s all just so wonderful, especially to me, a girl that adores full-circle movie plots, Christmas, cheesy love stories, and snow.
So, with all of that being said, I’d simply like to conclude, there’s never a wrong time of the year to say:
May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.