Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 25: Its What I'm Dreaming Of...

Well friends, another Christmas has come and gone and we are left again with the aftermath.  For some that means cleaning up the mess, for others it means sleeping off the dinner, and for others it means planning that ever important trip to the mall to take back or exchange those unwanted gifts.  None of us will begin planning for Christmas 2011 until well into next year and meanwhile we will ride the high of the holiday into either satisfaction or disappointment, but we still have time to watch one more holiday movie before the season is done.  Today's film is both a classic of the genre and it is an embodiment of what many people wished for today (some even got my mom and sister).  It's also named after a very famous Irving Berlin song that you simply cannot avoid during the season.  It's old-fashioned and big, corny and heartwarming, and the perfect film in which to end our 25 days of Christmas movies.  Let's complete this year's round with White Christmas.

The story is about two World War II U.S. Army buddies, one a former Broadway entertainer, Bob Wallace, and a would-be entertainer, Phil Davis. It begins on Christmas Eve, 1944, somewhere in Europe. Captain Wallace is giving a show to the men with the help of Private Davis. During an enemy artillery barrage, Davis saves Wallace's life from a toppling wall, wounding his arm slightly in the process. Using his "wounded" arm and telling Bob he doesn't expect any "special obligation", Phil convinces Bob to join forces as an entertainment duo when the war is over.  After the war, they make it big in nightclubs, radio, and then on Broadway. They have a big hit with their New York musical, Playing Around. While at a Florida Theatre, they receive a letter from "Freckle-Faced Haynes, the dog-faced boy", a mess sergeant they knew in the war, asking them to audition his two sisters. When they go to the club to audition the act, Betty reveals that her sister, Judy, sent the letter.  Using "his arm" again, Phil gets Bob to agree to travel with the girls to Vermont for the holidays. They discover that the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, is run by their former commanding officer, Major General Tom Waverly, and it's about to go bankrupt because of the lack of snow and consequent lack of patrons.  In order to save the hotel, they decide to bring their musical to the hotel to spark buisness.  However, romance sparks and tempers flare during the production...will they successfully save the hotel?  Or will their show, and romances, be a tremendous flop?

White Christmas is the kind of thing that classic movie-musicals are made of.  It's a love-it or hate-it kind of movie that has plenty of contrived situations and two-dimensional characters along with predictable scenarios and way too many song moments...but that's what makes an old-fashioned movie musical an old-fashioned movie musical.  Critics and sophisticated people will tell you that the last thing you want from a movie are these elements...but in reality we love to see them in these kinds of stories.  It makes them more accessible and easier to digest and allows us to focus on what we came to see...the songs, dances, and the romantic comedy.  Trust me, this film has them in spades.  Sure, its not for everyone and there are better musicals, but for pure holiday cheer and fun you really can't beat it.  Its the perfect film to watch with the whole family on Christmas Night before you all retire to bed to count down the end of the year.  Watch it and enjoy.

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