Stephanie Sottile’s 31 Days of Christmas – Day 17: White Christmas

Stephanie Sottile’s 31 Days of Christmas – Day 17: White Christmas

It’s 1954 and we’re back in Irving Berlin’s world with Bing Crosby, a snowy day at a hotel, and lots of singing and dancing! No blackface this time though, so you all can relax a bit. Bing Crosby is once again the straight man in this light-hearted comedy where he thinks a big show at a hotel can save the day! I am really curious what the people at the time thought about his films; when I watch them today, they’re innocent and sweet with pretty good quips here and there, but I’d love to see if the people during the 30s-50s got really sick of these types of films (“We get it, Bing, you like snow, singing, and hotels. Knock it the fuck off, will you? We have communists to worry about.”).

Bob Wallace and Phil Davis are two army men who are also performers! We first see them in the army 10 years prior performing for their fellow soldiers when we also meet General Tom Waverly (who pops up later, I should mention). After Phil saves Bob’s life, he convinces him to let them perform as a duo and through a montage of newspaper headlines, we learn they hit it big! But according to Phil, something’s missing…ladies! Phil has an argument with Bob that Bob is basically a workaholic asshole who needs to get laid and should start looking for a woman. And just like clockwork, enter Betty and Judy Haynes- a sister act that Phil and Bob soon fall for. Phil convinces Bob to follow them to Vermont where the sisters are performing at a hotel that’s owned by General Waverly. However, the pleasant visit turns into a mission as Bob and Phil learn that Waverly is in debt and since the snowfall was very light this year, no many people came to visit the hotel and the surrounding area because no one wants to ski with no snow on the ground.

Bob devises a plan to perform on a popular television show and essentially rally the troops (quite literally) to go and stay at Waverly’s hotel so they can earn more money, since all the former army men held a great deal of respect for the general. All the while, Phil and Judy are desperately trying to push Bob and Betty together. Rosemary Clooney as Betty plays this character with a lot of grace and strength and isn’t just an innocent doe who can’t make up her mind about a man. Her dynamic with Crosby sometimes reminded me of Beatrice and Benedict of Much Ado About Nothing, just with more jazz music. Betty appears as smart and independent which seems like something they wouldn’t promote in the 1950s (what with all the “ladies-and-their-love-of-kitchens-and-such”) and it makes her much more relatable as a character. As this is a simple and bright comedy, you can guess it ends in a happy ending. And yes, as the title would indicate, it ends with a performance of the song, “White Christmas.”

FINAL WORDS: This film is basically Holiday Inn except it includes a love of the military and no blackface.

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