It’s the unofficial sequel to Holiday Inn that became a Christmas classic.
Bing Crosby first sang Irving Berlin’s ballad about the holiday in the film Holiday Inn. The song, more so than the film, was well received. It was no surprise that the studio wanted to market the song as much as they could, so they began plans for a new film featuring this poplar song. It took almost a decade before the film became a reality. Fred Astaire, who co-starred with Crosby in Holiday Inn, was slated to join the film as Phil Davis. Astaire turned the role down, and it went to Danny Kaye, perhaps a better choice.
Bing Crosby is Captain Bob Wallace while Danny Kaye is Phil Davis. Phil is loyal to his Captain, whom he shares a stage with in the opening scene. The two friends are performing a Christmas concert for their fellow soldiers during World War II. In the background bombs are going off, guns are being fired, but in the foreground, Bob and Phil are singing “White Christmas.”
Bob and Phil continue their song and dance gig after the war. Phil wants Bob to meet the one – the woman whom Bob will finally be able to settle down with. Enter the singing sister duo of Betty and Judy Haynes (Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen). Little did Phil know, but he would be swept all of his feet too. The army buddies accompany the sisters on a train to Vermont, where they learn that the inn is owned by their former general, Tom Waverly.
The inn is very similar to the Holiday Inn inn. Snow is not the only thing missing. There is a significantly lack of people. To help the General out, Bob and Phil join forces with the Haynes sisters to put on a show for the Christmas season that is sure to bring a crowd.
One of the themes in the film is that of loyalty. Like Jonathan being faithful and loyal to his friend David, Phil is loyal to Bob. As well, the two men are loyal to their former General. And together they bring joy (another major theme in the film) to those around them. These loyal acts are enough to make a grown man cry – literally. When General Waverly walks into the room and sees it packed with his soldiers and their families, he can’t hold back the tears. It is the moment we recognize that this is what Christmas is about.
Bob and Phil put others before themselves. Christmas, as Mike Slaughter has reminded us, is not our birthday, but the birthday of Christ. And if we are to claim Jesus as our Christ, then we should act Christ-like. Bob and Phil are Christ-like as they put others first. And yet, as they spread joy to others, they find joy themselves.
The Diamond Anniversary Blu-ray edition of White Christmas is now available. In addition to the Blu-ray, there are two DVDs, one with the film and the other with a huge lot of special features. These include short films, photo galleries, television clips, and audio commentary. AND, it comes with an audio CD “The Sounds of Christmas” featuring Bing, Danny, Rosemary and friends.