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WHITE CHRISTMAS

Director: MICHAEL CURTIZ

U.S.A. • 1954 • COLOUR • STEREO SOUND • DIGITAL • 120 MIN


LIKE A NORMAN ROCKWELL POSTCARD BROUGHT TO LIFE, THIS CLASSIC SLICE OF SEASONAL AMERICANA — RE-RELEASED IN A RESTORED DIGITAL VERSION — BUILDS AN ENTIRE MOVIE AROUND BING CROSBY’S IMPERISHABLE RENDITION OF THE IRVING BERLIN TITLE NUMBER.

Berlin, of course, had actually written the song for an earlier musical, Holiday Inn, but by 1954, when Paramount were looking for a project to show off their new widescreen VistaVision format, the idea of pairing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a couple of song ‘n’ dance men doing their best by their old army commander offered a ready context for Bing’s best-selling festive ode to make its Technicolor bow.

Better known for Casablanca and his Errol Flynn swashbucklers, director Michael Curtiz was one of Hollywood’s most reliable professionals, and he presides over a flimsy romance plot which sees fuddy-duddy Bing and ‘weirdsmobile’ Danny double-dating with Rosemary Clooney (yes, she’s George’s Aunt, and what a voice!) and Vera-Ellen (a fabulous dancer who appears to be at least half stick-insect). Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Christmas movie without a decent dollop of sentiment, and that’s provided by Dean Jagger’s General Waverley, who’s hit hard times in post-war life and could lose the Vermont hostelry into which he’s poured all his savings — unless, of course… well, you know the rest. Unfolding against a succession of intricately artificial studio backdrops, it’s one of those easygoing but assured pictures where everyone gets to do their thing. It all builds to a tinsel-bedecked, truly kitsch-tastic finale which will have even the most curmudgeonly positively wallowing in the Christmas spirit. — Trevor Johnston.

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