The Hero’s Journey in “White Christmas”

To be honest, it couldn’t go wrong. The darling of musical cinema Irving Berlin plus Bing Crosby, the housewife’s favourite big-eyed boy? A match made in heaven. The big surprise is – it’s even better than it promised to be.

This musical is essentially a buddy film. Well sort of, it’s certainly got two buddies in it, but it’s also a love story, a Christmas fable, and a vehicle to hang some exceptionally catchy hits on. Bob Wallace (Crosby) and Phil Paris (Kaye) meet during the Second World War and become firm friends. After getting de-mobbed they team up to become hot property as a song and dance duo ripping up the nightspots with their own brand of feel-good hits. After five years of rolling success they need a holiday and cruise off to a New England skiing resort in the company of two comely sisters, Betty (Clooney) and Vera (Vera-Ellen). They arrive to find the place nearly bankrupt, as there has been no snow for over a year. The local top man is their old army boss General Waverly (Dean Jagger), and sure enough our two heroes wade in to help their old comrade and organise a benefit concert. But can they save the resort?

With wit, exuberance, and some show stopping hits, “White Christmas” is a cracking musical. Sure, it is outrageously sentimental and it takes very little time to develop any of the characters, but then so what? It’s warm, sweet, and perfect for wasting a winter afternoon.