Today! Because let’s just say we’re doing it for an old pal from the Army –
White Christmas (1954)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes, John Brascia, Anne Whitfield, George Chakiris, Barrie Chase, Sig Ruman, Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer
My relationship with White Christmas has evolved quite a bit over the years. It went from a movie I barely noticed – that let’s put on a show musical was never my jam – to something periodically airing in the household, to a movie I watch every year in theaters because it is on a double bill with It’s a Wonderful Life, culminating with its place as (apparently) my favorite film from 1954.
Due to a one-off viewing of the George Bailey extravaganza in Tunkhannock, PA well predating the Music Box’s Christmas Spectacular, White Christmas will likely never jump into even a tie for the movie I’ve seen in a theater the most – but it is solidly in second. And this whole process has also proven it to be #1 in my heart from that calendar year, with only Seven Samurai to beat in ’54. Hell, it could be worse – 1955 and 1958 field no movies whatsoever (spoiler for years to come!). This is the first time we’ve had a movie on this list that can be awarded favorite of a particular year, and so –
It just wore me down, eventually. All the Bing and Danny schtick! Vera-Ellen’s terrifying waist! The whole romance nearly getting scuttled due to the idiot busybody secretary, who is never called on her role in sidetracking things so badly! Seriously, as soon as Betty came back from New York, the first thing she should’ve done is punched that bitch in the face.
And the songs, while sappy as all hell, are pretty catchy. “I Wish I Was Back in the Army,” “Sisters,” “Snow” – how crazy a song is “Snow”? And look, folks who go to see this in theaters – we know you and your grandma used to sing along in the living room, but don’t do that shit in public. You ain’t no Rosemary Clooney!
“Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” – an okay song at best – was nominated for an Oscar (over “Snow”?!), but besides its station as beloved holiday classic, there were no real awards for White Christmas. Well that won’t do! How about Best Surprise Alfalfa, for Carl Switzer’s photo-only cameo as the Haynes sisters’ brother Benny “the dog faced boy.” I don’t feel this trumps his role in Music Box stablemate It’s a Wonderful Life either, as he has an actual speaking role in that film – “Why don’t you stop annoying people?” “Well, I’m sor-, hey!”
Also, pro-tip disguised as an award, Best Built-In Bathroom Break, for the entire song-and-dance number “Choreography.” Only newbs sit through “Choreography.” This is becoming such an open in-theater secret, though, that you might need to study its placement in the film beforehand and go 30 seconds early. Be warned!