We’re back to holiday flicks after our Golden Age of Hollywood break with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but we’re keeping it close to that genre at the same time. How? Why, with a classic Hollywood Christmas musical, of course! White Christmas is a film I’ve seen no fewer than 20 times, likely more given that my family watches it religiously every single Christmas season and has done for as long as I can remember. Brooke had managed to miss it somehow, so we remedied that.
Brooke, start us off! Why do you think this film is a Moody family favorite? Did you think a film with a title like that would end any other way than with a beautiful snowstorm on Christmas Eve?
B: I think the Moody family is really into this picture for a couple of reasons. 1. The song-and-dance game is ON. POINT. There is a reason musicals were a big deal during this era. The production code was a part of it, but the talent also made even the most ludicrous of these gimmick-y plots pretty spectacular. Also: escapism, cause, you know, World War II. 2. Those dresses, tho. I want basically everything Rosemary Clooney wore in this movie and I think the Moody clan is with me. 3. The dialogue. There is a lot of quip-page in this picture and more than a few lines that I could see dropping into dialogue. “Mutual, I’m sure.” 4. It’s a pretty adorable story, and the Moody family definitely qualifies as also adorable.
I will say that there was a moment where I was pretty upset about the distinct lack of snow happening in the movie, but I never for a moment doubted that the snow would show up for the big finale. I mean, they couldn’t just leave us DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS. They needed to deliver on the dream.
Okay, I have some definite thoughts I want to air, including a lookalikes revelation, but first, I want to know, AM, am I right? Why exactly is this a Moody family favorite? Which song-and-dance man would you rather end up with? Should we rent out a scenic cabin and recreate this thing?
AM: I’ve seen this movie so many times I do believe I could recreate it (low-budget style, of course) no problem. Rosemary’s dresses are the perfect early ’50s party attire, but in particular, I’d love to have the dress she wears for the full Minstrel Show dress rehearsal (black sequins with red accents) and her “You Done Me Wrong” black velvet number with the zig-zag straps. Gah. So pretty.
It’s interesting watching this with a newbie, and this isn’t the first bit of insight I’ve had on our Required Viewing journey. It struck me as unfair and unfortunate that Bing Crosby’s character is wrongfully accused of profiteering off of General Waverly’s misfortune by Rosemary, but I suppose that’s how these movie plots move along. If you don’t have a big misunderstanding in a romantic comedy, where does the conflict come in? We all know that they kiss and make up by the end, but it’s not cool to judge based on a busybody housekeeper.
I love the pairings equally, but I think I’d rather end up with Danny Kaye. And be able to dance like Vera Ellen. Her voice isn’t as strong, but she can seriously move. Their “young pups in love” routine is more slapstick and cuter than Rosemary’s and Bing’s courtship.
Brooke, how about you? What’s your favorite musical number and favorite outfit? Which man friend would you prefer? And how mad would you be if I gave away our train tickets so you had to sleep sitting up? Scale of 1 to 10.
B: My favorite song was “Snow,” naturally. I’m pretty sure it was the first time we got to see the four of them sing together, and it’s one of those songs that’s just pure joy. If I could come up with witty lyrics to describe my hype for every trip I would serenade train cars full of people too.
So, you’re saying I can’t have all of the clothes? Okay. As much as I loved Rosemary’s velvet black number — so classy — I think I would most want a simple outfit of Vera’s. It had a black sweater, red belt, black and white skirt and red shoes. That aesthetic really did it for me.
Like you, AM, I think I would have to go with Danny Kaye. He seems the more fun-loving of the two — he just wants 45 minutes to himself, after all! And he really hammed it up quite well when the fellas got all burlesque-y to help the girls out of a jam. It’s worth noting that showgirls in jams has been a real theme for us these past couple of pictures.
It’s also worth noting that even though Danny Kaye is the guy I’d ultimately rather land with, he was a major source of distraction for me for a decent chunk of this movie. I told everyone watching with us that when I looked at him something in my mind said “murder!” That was an overreaction, the Danny Kaye lookalike of my mind’s eye is not murder-y, but he is pretty much the worst. At some point the name “Gavin” floated to my mind and I realized, Danny Kaye reminds me irresistibly of Gavin Belson from Silicon Valley. It’s something in the swoop of the hair, the look of the eyes and the point of the nose.
Now, as for the question of how mad I would be if you gave our tickets away, the answer is at least a 6. More if you gave the tickets to some schmoes who annoyed me. Slightly less if it was a pair of singing-dancing studs like James Corden. But, the fact remains, I cannot sleep that way and I would demand major reparations in the form of chocolate malts and elaborate musical numbers in honor of my benevolence.
AM, did I miss any essential nuances whilst I was obsessing over who exactly Danny Kaye reminded me of? And also, what do you think this movie would be if it didn’t have the backdrop of war? I’m trying to imagine it, and I’m struggling.
AM: First, a key question. Who would be the counterpart fella to James Corden, Brooke? I’m imagining a Justin Timberlake or maybe adult Jonas brother, perhaps? Who else can sing and dance and schmooze?
I think you probably grasped most of the nuance of this film, honestly. I can’t think of a single big production musical number where it’s not a single take, did you notice that? Or the scene where Danny and Bing are changing (how progressive are they?) and it also doesn’t break to do coverage shots until the very end. I am sure, again, I’m about to be schooled on how single takes ruled the Hollywood days of yore, but it’s impressive to me nonetheless. There’s no breaking, no forgetting of lines, no losing the character. And especially when you’re looking at massive spectacle musical numbers treated like Broadway shows with no breaks, that’s just so freaking cool.
I’d probably be a 4 if I had a sleeping pill and a neck pillow, a 10 if I did not. The number would probably not change even if the fellas were charming as hell. I also can’t sleep upright and I have no patience for shenanigans like that. It’d make me a poor romantic comedy foil, that’s for sure.
I honestly can’t imagine this movie in another time. It’s so intrinsically part of post-WWII culture. It uses the war as both a framing device (literally, in the case of the broken arm that Danny uses to cajole the increasingly exasperated Bing) and a reference point for every exchange and now-historical joke. It’s a shared set of memories the guys have from the war itself, the work that the girls had to do while the boys were away, and how the world’s changed since then. It would have been so relatable to see a general struggling to find his way in the world, and also, I can’t imagine another point in time when an entire culture moved so thoroughly and completely from War Effort to Post War in the span of just a few years. It must have been jarring in so many ways. I think the nostalgia for a time before the war, when everything was simple, and when you were young, must have been so poignant to that generation of adults who hit marriageable age post-war. There have been wars before and since, of course, and I’m no war historian, but I think the focused and determined nature of WWII from an American perspective makes it unique.
Ok, please do answer my key question, and also, would you rather have a glitzy tambourine with a girl’s face on it, or a fabulous blue feather fan? Final thoughts, here they come!
B: This is a very important question. To be honest, I didn’t think beyond James Corden, because, as you know, he’s in my top five and I obviously mind-paired myself with him. But, I think your instincts with Mr. Timberlake are dead on. He’s one of the few chaps out there who is a true triple threat. And it’s essential that he’s also quite a good comedian. I think our only alternate option would be to break from the original in a big way and cast Kate McKinnon and Katy Perry opposite us, in which case our comedic timing and ability to pull off outrageous musical outfits would be even more drastically upstaged, and we can’t have that. So Timberlake-Corden it is!
I would absolutely take the fabulous blue feather fan. The scale of that thing alone justifies the selection, but there’s also the undeniable fact that fans make me feel fancy. And if we learned anything from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, it’s that fans can also be employed to playfully/sexily smack away would-be suitors who do not come bearing diamonds, ergo, with a fan this size, I could send them sailing across the room. Eat your heart out Marilyn Monroe.
Join us next time as we travel back to 1940 to watch James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan pass the holiday season working at a shop in Budapest.