The focus of this whole thing is, of course, Dean Jagger as General Waverly. I took care of that in Part I. Part II is just an overview of the film itself, which is so well-known as to be part of our cultural fabric. Part III will cover the amazing fashions featured in the film.
Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) are two entertainers serving in the Army in WWII. They’re not very good soldiers, but they are worth their weight in songs.
and their beloved Commanding Officer, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Dean Jagger), is retiring.
They send him off in style:
We’ve already been informed that “there’s no Christmas in the Army.” That idea is brought home when Phil saves Bob from being crushed by a crumbling wall.
In true movie fashion, Phil believes this means that Bob is stuck with him. Forever. Or, at least until Bob gets a wife.
Bob will never have peace again…especially after V-E Day:
Before you can say, “success story,” it’s a decade later: December 1954. Bob and Phil meet up with another talented duo, The Haynes Sisters.
Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen) are finishing a gig in Miami, and then they depart in a hurry for Vermont. The boys follow.
Whirlwind Montage #1:
When they disembark in Vermont they are in for two surprises. #1-It is seventy degrees. #2-The General owns the inn where the sisters are due to perform over the holidays. He has a sweet granddaughter named Susan (Ann Whitfield) and The Worst Employee in Vermont, Emma the housekeeper (Mary Wickes).
Whirlwind Montage #2:
Up until now, the plot has been helped along by a few convenient lies. However, from here on out the whole film is lie-driven. Lie after lie after lie. Details don’t really matter, but The General has no idea what is about to hit him. He suffers a huge career disappointment, but his friends are sure to make things right. There are also some fine production numbers, two romances (but of course!) and amazing costumes.
Whirlwind Montage #3:
In the case of White Christmas, deceit really does pay off. The General has a heartwarming reunion with his old battalion. All’s well that
ends well is based on a solid foundation of lies.
Whirlwind Montage #4:
WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) 2 HOURS
RELEASE DATE: 14 OCTOBER 1954
CREDITS: MICHAEL CURTIZ (DIRECTOR); NORMAN KRASNA, NORMAN PANAMA, MELVIN FRANK (WRITTEN FOR THE SCREEN BY); LOYAL GRIGGS (DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY); EDITH HEAD (COSTUME DESIGN). STARRING: BING CROSBY (BOB WALLACE); DANNY KAYE (PHIL DAVIS); ROSEMARY CLOONEY (BETTY HAYNES); VERA-ELLEN (JUDY HAYNES); DEAN JAGGER (MAJOR GENERAL THOMAS F. WAVERLY); MARY WICKES (EMMA ALLEN); JOHN BRASCIA (JOHN); ANN WHITFIELD (SUSAN WAVERLY).
- White Christmas was the first film in VistaVision.
- The photo used to represent the Haynes Sisters’ brother Bennie was of actor Carl Switzer (best known as “Alfalfa” from the Our Gang comedies).
- Although Rosemary Clooney played the elder Haynes sister, in real life she was seven years younger than Vera-Ellen (Judy). In a similar vein, Dean Jagger (The General/”The Old Man”) was actually six months younger than Bing Crosby.
- Three of the film’s performers were from the metro Cincinnati, Ohio area. Rosemary Clooney grew up across the river in Kentucky, and both Vera-Ellen and George Chakiris (uncredited dancer) were born in suburban Norwood, Ohio. (Extra Fun Fact: I lived in Norwood from 2013-2015. I don’t recommend it.)
Up Next: Part III-The Most Stylish Sisters of 1954