11/29/13: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas


Today’s Classics Blog is of Michael Curtiz’s 1954 musical romantic comedy, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. I love the Christmas season but the cold weather & I have never been the best of friends. My wife, Cindy, and I go on vacation at he beginning of every December to escape the beginning of Tri-State winter for the warmth of Central Florida. This year, however, Cindy wanted to go up north. Not me! I like New Smyrna Beach FL and our friends Tiffany & Nicolle, the Hollister twins. She said okay, if we stop & see their brother Benny over at the Orlando Airport Outback before we fly back home. “Give me one reason, one good reason,”, I said, “why we should spend our last two hours in Florida looking at Freckle-Face Hollister, the dog-faced boy!” She reminded me that “Vermont should be beautiful this time of the year, with all that snow.”

Xmas - Cindy     Xmas - NSB     Xmas - Twins Xmas - Alfalfa        Xmas - Outback

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Michael Curtiz’s White Christmas starring Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye. Bing plays Army Cpn. Bob Wallace, a Broadway entertainer as a civilian, who is leading a show for the Division on Christmas Eve ’44 in honor of his C.O., Gen. Waverly (Dean Jagger) who’s being put out to pasture. When enemy artillery hits the make-shift theater, Cpn. Wallace’s life is saved by Pvt. Phil Davis (Kaye), whose arm is injured in the process. Wallace goes to visit him & asks how he can repay the favor, and Davis asks him to do a duet with him. After the war, they become a big touring team and, one night, get duped into seeing the Haynes Sisters’ act (Vera Ellen & Rosemary Clooney). Love & collaboration ensues, and soon the quartet have to put a show together to save the Gen. Waverly’s VT lodge from bankruptcy.

Xmas - Wallace, Davis & Waverly     Xmas - Sisters     Xmas - Quartet

White Christmas was the 2nd highest grossing film of 1954. It was nominated for Best Song in 1955 at the 27th Oscars for Irving Berlin’s Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep, not the composer’s title piece, White Christmas. Berlin was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, all for Original Song, winning once. The Oscar came 12 years earlier for…yes…it was White Christmas from Mark Sandrich’s Holiday Inn starring & sung by Bing, of course.

Xmas - Berlin

The first time I screened this delightful motion picture, I was immediately taken by the great costuming. Looking back at the opening credits, I saw that the Costume Designer was The Incomparable Edith Head – generally acknowledged as the greatest movie Costume Designer ever; and her 8 Academy Awards back it up! Not only is that the most by anyone in the category, it’s the most by any woman…period! The 8 Oscars are for: Black & White Costume Design – The Heiress (1950), All About Eve (1951), A Place in the Sun (1952), Roman Holiday (1954), Sabrina (1955), and The Facts of Life (1961); Color Costume Design – Samson & Delilah (1951); and Costume Design – The Sting (74). Her other 27 Oscar nominations for Costume Design include To Catch a Thief (1956), The Ten Commandments (1957), Funny Face (1958), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1963). Edith is so admired in Hollywood, that Brad Bird modeled Supersuit Designer Edna Mode after her in his animated instant classic & double Oscar winner, The Incredibles. He even did her voice! She died in 1981, 4 days before her 84th birthday & 8 months before Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid was released. That was the last of the 437 motion pictures for which she was Costume Designer. Otherwise, I’d seek her out so she could tell me [impersonating Edna], “What have you been eating, darling? You’ve gotten so fat!” Oh well. I guess, I’ll have to settle for her magnificent Costumes that accompany the songs of Immortal Irving Berlin, Dancin’ Danny Kaye and B-B-B-Bing & his booming bass-baritone in Michael Curtiz’s White Christmas! The trailer is embedded below. Watch it & then stream it on Netflix as a lovely end to this glorious holiday season. 3 Stars!

Xmas - Edith   Xmas - Heiress   Xmas - Eve   Xmas - Sun Xmas - Roman Xmas - Sabrina Xmas - Facts Xmas - Samson Xmas - Sting Xmas - Thief Xmas - 10 Xmas - Funny Xmas - Liberty Xmas - Bird Xmas - Edna     Xmas - Incredibles     Xmas - Plaid


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