Christmas" on DVD
Paramount's 1954 movie "White Christmas" is a wonderful holiday classic
that gets better with successive viewings.
Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, and
with great music by Irving Berlin, it's a song and dance extravaganza
that warms the heart - and on DVD it looks and sounds better than ever.
After saving singing star Bob Wallace's (Crosby) life during a World
War II attack, Phil Davis (Kaye) wriggles his way into Wallace's act and
his life as the crooner is embarrassed into showing his gratitude for
Davis' selfless act.
After the war, Davis' solo act becomes the hugely successful duo "Wallace
and Davis," who take the US by storm and eventually turn to producing
their own lavish shows. One winter, shortly before the Christmas break,
they audition a sister act Betty and Judy Haynes (Clooney and Vera-Ellen)
as a favor to an old army friend, and the sparks immediately fly.
The sisters are booked for a gig at a ski lodge in Vermont for the holidays
and Davis connives a way to get his partner and him there to advance the
romance he so dearly wants miserable old Bob to have with Betty Haynes
(Clooney). As it turns out, the ski lodge is owned by Wallace and Davis'
old army boss General Waverly (retired), played to puppy-eyed perfection
by Dean Jagger. The lodge is in serious financial trouble, though, because
while it's December, there's no snow and therefore no customers - so Wallace
and Davis combine forces with the Haynes Sisters to mount a big-time production
to get bums in the seats to keep General Waverly in business.
The songs, including "White Christmas," "Sisters," "The Best Things Happen
While You're Dancing," and many more, are classic Irving Berlin. The choreography
is outstanding (Vera-Ellen and Danny Kaye light up the screen with their
steps), and the performances are simply wonderful, though we thought Dean
Jagger's characterization bordered on the pathetic - but that's undoubtedly
what the director intended.
That director was Michael Curtiz, the man behind such legendary screen
classics as "Casablanca," "The Adventures of Robin Hood," and "The Charge
of the Light Brigade." His shots are masterful, to say the least.
Even the sets are spectacular. The movie was shot on sound stages and
if you look closely you can tell, but even the outdoor locations of the
ski lodge, the WWII camp, and others, are beautifully crafted and look
The DVD definitely does the glorious widescreen VistaVision picture and
colors justice (the disc is also enhanced for 16x9 TV's) and the audio
is, for the most part, very good considering the source material. The
beautiful costumes look particularly good in the DVD release, especially
the rich and vivid reds.
Paramount offers a "newly restored" English mono version or a Dolby Digital
5.1 surround version. The latter track doesn't have a lot of surround,
but it's kind of neat during the opening air raid to hear the noises fill
the home theater. Extras include a retrospective interview with Rosemary
Clooney, who also does a running commentary on a second audio track. There
are also two trailers included.
White Christmas, from Paramount Home Video
120 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen
Produced by Robert Emmett Dolan
Written by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, Directed by
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