Thursday 29 December 2011

White Christmas

"Snow!  It won't be long before we'll all be there with snow.
Snow!  I want to wash my hands and face in snow."

I'll never forget the first time my husband Rob watched the movie "White Christmas"; he would crack up everytime Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen broke into song.  Yes, the movie is corny, but it's the corniness that makes it so endearing:  the corny songs, the corny sets, the corny plots.  The opening scene takes place during Christmas of 1944 in battle-torn Europe when a building is about to fall on Bing Crosby's character, Bob Wallace, and Danny Kaye's character, Phil Davis, saves him at the last second.  Forever after, the former is beholden to the latter and he never lets him forget it. 

After the war, Wallace & Davis start a song and dance act and become famous on the radio and on Broadway.  They meet a female act in Florida, the sisters of an army buddy named Freckle-Faced Haynes, and listen to their floor show ("Sisters").  After an impromptu dance to "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" between Phil and Vera-Ellen's character, Judy, the sisters are charged with damaging their hotel room rug and make a hasty exit, with help from the men.

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Matchmaker Phil learns that the women are travelling to Vermont to do a stage show for Christmas and he talks his friend into going along.  Boarding the train, the foursome gets to know each other better in the dining car, as they cozy up in a booth and sing "Snow".  Arriving in Pine Tree, Vermont, the entertainers are surprised to see greenery everywhere:  it has not snowed for weeks.  At the inn, Phil and Bob discover that the owner is their old commanding general from the army.  General Waverly is sinking into debt after investing all of his money into an inn that has no customers due to the lack of snow.  Bob and Phil wrack their brains to find a way to bring patrons into the inn. 

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Meanwhile, Bob and Betty grow closer by the fire munching a midnight snack, singing "Count Your Blessings".  Nosy housekeeper Emma eavesdrops on a conversation between Bob and Ed Harrison, a variety show host, who suggests that they invite all of the soldiers formerly under General Waverly's command to the inn and film the evening, giving Bob and Phil free advertising for their act.  Emma fails to hear the rest of the conversation (Bob rejects the host's angle) and blabs to Judy who assumes Bob is just an opportunist. 

At a rehearsal party that night, Bob and Betty argue, prompting Phil and Judy to announce a phony engagement, hoping that the news will make Betty realize her baby sister is taken care of and now she is free to settle down.  The move backfires and Betty accepts a job offer in New York City.  Bob follows her there and sits in the audience listening to a black-velvet gowned Betty sing "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me".  Later, he reveals to her that Phil and Judy's engagement is phony. 

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In the meantime, Bob asks Ed Harrison to announce on his show that night that all of the soldiers formerly under General Waverly's command should go to the Vermont Inn on Christmas Eve as a show of support to the general and his failing business.  Phil fakes an injured ankle to prevent General Waverly from watching "The Ed Harrison Show" that evening.  Meanwhile, Betty realizes the real reason that Bob is getting Ed Harrison in on the act and races back to Pine Tree just in time for the show. 

Back at the ski lodge, columns of soldiers fall into line as they sing a rousing rendition of "The Old Man" for General Waverly, bringing a tear to his eye.  After the song, he gives them an inspection for old times' sake, criticizing them in one breath and then saying what a beautiful sight they are in the next breath.  The movie closes with snow falling outside the inn.  The two couples, dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, declare their love for each other as they sing:  "May your days be merry and bright.  And may all your Christmases be white."

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