As we get into the later weeks of December, more and more people are taking advantage of the plethora of holiday films filling most online streaming services. While a lot of people like to rewatch favorites such as Elf or see the given year’s holiday themed rom-com, I personally like some of the old classics: things like Miracle on 34th Street, or the 1966 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Although these are thoroughly enjoyable, I find that a large part of the holiday spirit is cultivated by the music you play — whether you prefer “Jingle Bell Rock” or good ol’ fashioned “Frosty the Snowman.” Thus, when there’s a Christmas themed musical, I’m the first to put it on my list of must-watch holiday films.
Bringing together an old classic with one of the most iconic Christmas songs of all time, White Christmas is not only a very enjoyable movie to watch, but is also conveniently available to stream on Netflix. Starring one of my favorite actors, Danny Kaye, alongside Christmas crooner Bing Crosby, White Christmas is a story about two friends who met while in the army and came together to form a famous singing duo — Wallace & Davis — after the war. As they tour around the country to sing at different venues, Phil Davis (Kaye) constantly tries to set Bob Wallace (Crosby) up with various women. While on their way to New York for the holiday season, the two meet sister act Betty Haynes (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera Ellen, singing voice dubbed by Trudy Stevens). Phil immediately falls for Judy, and the two make it their mission to set Bob and Betty up together. Wallace & Davis change their plans and go to Vermont with the sisters, but conflicts arrive when it turns out the ski lodge they were going to perform at has no snow — and thus no visitors. On top of that, the man who owns the lodge is actually Phil and Bob’s old army general from their time in the war, and he’s spent his life savings on refurbishing the old lodge.
Although the actual plotline of White Christmas is arguably archetypal, it’s clear that it’s not the main focus of the movie anyway. All you have to do to figure this out is to look at the amazing talent of its four protagonists. The show is really just a vessel to include as many singing numbers for Crosby and Clooney as possible, as many dance scenes for Ellen as possible, and numerous opportunities for Kaye’s on point comical acting — although he gets to dance with Ellen and sing with Crosby quite consistently throughout the show as well! And fun fact: all of Vera Ellen’s amazing choreography in the movie was actually done by a young Bob Fosse (who choreographed Chicago, Pippin, Cabaret, and more), although he was uncredited in the movie.
The thing is, even though the purpose of the movie is to highlight these abilities, it doesn’t lack in storytelling either — which sets it apart from its similar movie musical counterparts. White Christmas is chock full of details and side plots that are just whimsical enough: they help convey the magical feeling of the Christmas spirit without going so overboard that the story becomes implausible. So this holiday season, I highly recommend you watch White Christmas if you haven’t seen it before — or even if you already have! It really has something for everyone: fun musical and dance numbers, hilarious comedy, a war story, a love story, and of course, a joyful snow-filled story about Christmas.