10 Reasons Why White Christmas is the Best Christmas Movie of All Time
Paramount Pictures’ White Christmas is a movie musical that premiered in 1954 starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. With a score by Irving Berlin, White Christmas is the definition of a holiday standard. The story follows two World War II soldiers-turned-show biz stunners and a sister act as they try to stage a surprise revue at a snow-less ski lodge to aid their former general.
1.) It’s not about Christmas.
…Like, at all. The heartwarming opening scene and the over-the-top winter wonderland finale are the only moments in the entire two hours that have remotely anything to do with Christmas. The rest of it is a glitzy 1950s musical peppered with mass confusion on the part of Rosemary Clooney’s Betty Haynes and lovable quips provided by Danny Kaye’s Phil Davis, a man who matches his gray shoes to his gray dancing suit.
2.) Betty is miserable throughout the entire thing.
No one would accuse Betty of being the ray of sunshine her sister Judy is. She’s perfectly quaffed and boy, can she smolder. The best part of her superior-than-thou demeanor is that she has no idea she has been acting like a pill until she’s singing torch songs with the boys from Menudo (and George Chakiris pre-West Side Story) in a carnival themed lounge.
It’s okay, we all have our low points.
Betty accuses Bob of pandering to disgusting commercialism while doling out nuggets of begotten woe such as, “Why is everyone suddenly so concerned with my eating habits? Why doesn’t everyone just leave me alone?” She’s more of a teenage daughter than Anne Whitfield, who plays Susan, is.
Alas, someone has to dramatically brood on a couch surrounded by smokers in hunter green velvet. Fortunately for us, Betty is this woman.
3.) That diamond brooch
Hello! Legendary costume designer Edith Head added it as a finishing touch when she decided the dress needed a little something extra.
Eat your heart out, Bob.
4.) The plight of the general is dire.
There are many things I find baffling about White Christmas: Vera-Ellen’s waistline, why anyone would drink buttermilk plain, and exactly how much rehearsal time was needed on the front to get the soldiers ready for “We’ll Follow the Old Man” while simultaneously keeping the Nazis at bay. However, I’m willing to banish those tricky debacles when it comes to the drama that is General Waverly.
Since when is owning a ski lodge an embarrassing fall from grace? How does no one want to hire him for anything else? Generals have excellent communication skills, leadership capabilities, and references. He could run for office! In Pine Tree, Vermont, being a ski lodge owner falls just short of a national tragedy, though – at least it does when all your show business former privates come rolling into town. Naturally, the whole gaggle joins forces to bring the general’s old battalion back on Christmas Eve so they can show him the world really isn’t a cruel place. All the old boys totally love this plan because they enjoy tasks like lining up for inspection, being yelled at, and traveling during the busiest time of the year.
5.) This Woman’s Voice
“Mutual, I’m sure.” Doris, we’re all on your side.
6.) Vera-Ellen is a Christmas Spectacular
Who cares if her voice was dubbed by Trudy Stevens? Watching Vera-Ellen dance is pure movie magic. Vera-Ellen became a Radio City Rockette at age 24, despite her diminutive height at only 5’4”. She was a powerhouse dancer and a delightful actress with charming comedic timing. Get it, girl.
7.) Weird avant-garde moments
“Choreography,” anyone? This number is downright strange. Irving Berlin’s score includes a bevy of standards like “Sisters,” “Mandy,” and of course the title track, but nestled in between the familiar choruses and dance numbers is the little oddity that is “Choreography.” Chorus girls in baggy black dresses bemoan the lack of razzle dazzle in modern dance while a beret-clad Danny Kaye regales us with the character voices he became famous for. Then Vera-Ellen comes out and dazzles everyone with a lightning fast tap routine. I’ve enjoyed it throughout the years in a way I enjoy the Animal Planet show, My Cat From Hell. It’s strange and you can’t quite believe what you’re watching, but you know it’s good.
8.) Followed by Super Sentimental Moments
The film opens with Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” on a WWII battlefield to a group of soldiers. Despite the cutaway to one actor who leans his FACE over the barrel of his rifle (How did you even get in the Army, Sir?), this scene makes me want to gather up my family, drink hot chocolate and be happy-sad together because that moment is so beautiful and poignant. That song will always be a part of Bing Crosby’s legacy and yet he always said he disliked it because he felt it was boring.
It’s also the first and last time you’ll hear about Christmas for the next hour and 45 minutes until the end, so there’s that too.
9.) Adorable People Are Terrible Liars
Oh, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen, you adorable little dreamers you. We first meet Judy as she’s getting caught in a lie by Betty and that sets the tone for the rest of the film. When Judy meets Phil, the two of them join forces to marry off their partners-in-crime to one another. Bob and Betty get along as well as oil and water at first. When that doesn’t work, Judy and Phil stage a hilariously awkward engagement that sends Betty fleeing into the warm embrace of New York City’s Carousel Club.
10.) The awkward age differences
Big Crosby was 51 during filming, the same age as Dean Jagger, General Waverly, who is treated like a senior citizen while Crosby gets to do fun things like soft shoe numbers, TV appearances, and joke about how old Dean Jagger is.
Vera-Ellen was 33 years-old when she played the younger sister to 26 year-old Rosemary Clooney.
Clooney played the love interest to Crosby’s work-addicted, “I can’t be tied down” show business man. There was a 25 year age difference between the two of them. Yet, no one really cared. I don’t care. It’s Christmas… sort of.
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