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White Christmas

At the Paramount and Fenway

By Michael J. Halberstam

For those semi-intellectuals who scout among the theatre listings, searching for ripe-sounding films at which they will be able to mock the public taste, to laugh at the wrong times, and to burp obscenities in love scenes, White Christmas will seem a promising tidbit. What unparalleled opportunities for bad taste--Bing Crosby as a lover, Rosemary Clooney as a singer, Danny Kaye as a wise-cracking comic, Dean Jagger as a crusty, kindly old general! All in Technicolor and Vista Vision tool How could it miss?

But miss it does White Christmas is a completely unsatisfactory movie. It is bad on all levels. One can not laugh at it, and only rarely can one laugh with it. It leads to no weighty reflections about mass media and the twelve-year old mind (a twelve-year old near me was sleeping soundly, oblivious to the effort being made to entrance him.)

Kaye and Crosby play a couple of singers who meeting in the army, become enormous successes in the post-war world, sort of mature Martin and Lewis types. They and a pair of insipid girl singers put on a musical comedy at a small but snowless Vermont ski resort, thus saving the investment of their former commanding general, a stern disciplinarian, but really a nice guy underneath. They succeed.

From a sociological point of view the picture has a little interest. Muttering something about "dignity," Crosby idealistically resists an attempt to get the general on a television program where his trouble would be aired from coast-to-coast and people would have a chance to send him nickels.

Sharp-eyed moviegoers will find familiar notes in the retired general's gruff good humor, thinning gray hair, ingenuous smile, and underlying heart of gold. One wonders if Jagger is patterned after Eisenhower or vice-versa.

There are songs by Irving Berlin, some of them undoubtedly familiar ("White Christmas" is sung twice, one time with Crosby and Kaye dressed as Santa Clauses) and others which merely sound familiar. Vista-Vision, like similar optical trickery, means only that less movie is spread thinner across more screen.

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