Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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White Christmas

Film #179

THE PLOT

A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general.

Year 1, Day 175

BEFORE: For this penultimate film before a two-day Christmas break, I will be watching White Christmas. The first time I heard about this film was actually from Andy Ihnatko’s podcast where he thoroughly bashed the film, an opinion not shared by many. An interesting side note: White Christmas is the oldest film in the marathon since I watched the 1954 Rear Window on September 7.

AFTER: Somehow I completely missed the fact that White Christmas is a musical but you know what, it wasn’t half bad. I actually enjoyed the song and dance, however simple it may have been (hear: “Snow”) because it was fun to watch and it made sense given that the four main leads, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby), Phil Davis (Danny Kaye), and the Haynes sisters Judy (Vera-Ellen) and Betty (Haynes) were all stage performers who sing and dance for a living.

And just in general the film had a fun feeling about it. It was filled with joy and merriment and tried to incorporate that light-hearted feeling of Christmastime and winter. There may be some serious scenes, like the war setting in the beginning or fights between Bob and Betty later on, but all of these are quickly rushed through to get back to the happy feeling in the rest of the film. What surprised me the most is that the music and the dancing was actually my favorite part of the film. As I’ll get into in a bit, the story was very gimmicky and full of coincidental events. And while it may not be my ideal form of entertainment, the performances scattered throughout the film kept things moving and gave me a time to see what these actors are best at: putting on a show.

So, the story. After going back and listening a bit to Ihnatko’s criticisms I certainly see where he’s coming from. One of his biggest arguments is that the story just doesn’t make any sense. This in and of itself I disagree with, I found the story very easy to follow. But another facet of this “not making sense” argument is of the “why is this happening variety”. In other words, I could comprehend the story that was unfolding but what I couldn’t understand is the thinking behind it. One of my biggest complaints about this is the General’s entire storyline which is a key piece to the whole film. Coincidence does not even begin to describe the “luck” that Bob and Phil have when the ski lodge in Vermont that the girls and they are staying at is owned and run by their former commanding officer General Waverly (Dean Jagger). The odds must be a million to one that Bob and Phil just happen to meet sisters who just happen to be going to the one ski lodge in Vermont that Bob and Phil’s old CO just happens to own and is down on his luck. And this is just one of many examples of helpful coincidences that occur throughout the film.

White Christmas is, according to Google anyway, a classic Christmas film. While there are some clear issues with the film (mostly the story) I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as Andy Ihnatko thinks. The holidays are a time of relaxation, to hang out with family and friends and just have a good time. White Christmas provides some entertainment that’s easily accessible to all but I’d stipulate that it should only be watched around this time as it would probably miss the mark if you watch it during the summer when there’s a heat wave and record temperatures.

RATING: 3 out of 5