HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: White Christmas Diamond Edition
HTS Overall Score:87
It’s that time of year again. Christmas is right around the corner and what better film to review than one of my personal favorites, “White Christmas”. The film was released on Blu-ray 4 years ago, but this year we have the definitive release to coincide with its 50th anniversary. Jam packed with extras, a DVD copy, a bonus feature DVD as well as a music CD with songs from the film, this 4 disc set brings back all the happy memories from my past, with the family getting together around a 13 inch Lucky Goldstar TV to watch it on our VHS player. Fast forward many years and the movie still has just as much charm and panache as it did 25 years ago when I saw it for the very first time. It’s got songs, it’s got dance, it has comedy, romance, and all around Christmas. What more could you ask for?
Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) and Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) are old army buddies who decided to create a vaudeville act together after World War II ended. Now they’re a huge success and making money hand over fist, traveling around the nation playing in nightclubs for fancy people. Just before Christmas in 1954 the pair meet up with the sisters of an old army buddy. Rolling their eyes at the thought of struggling along with a couple of wannabe entertainers the duo ends up almost tripping over their own tongues when they meet Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen). They’ve gone off the deep end and got their hearts in the mix. Bailing the girls out of a tight spot with the law the 4 entertainers end up on a train to Vermont and are forced to take lodging in a bed and breakfast. A bed and breakfast that happens to be owned by their old commanding officer, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Dean Jagger). It so happens that General Waverly has sunk all of his money into this bed and breakfast with some bad results. No one seems to be wanting to come and he’s on the verge of bankruptcy. Seeing an opportunity Wallace and Davis decide to bring their whole act to Vermont and act as the center stage, bringing in new clients for the old man. Betty and Judy are ecstatic as well and throw their own act into the mix to garner even more support.
When people spend time together, especially when smitten, something starts to happen. Phil and Judy see their partners having a spark and they do their best to be matchmakers. Soon enough Bob and Betty are seeing more than just stars in each other’s eyes. That is, until a misunderstanding sours Betty against Bot and forces Betty out of the act.
Even though they’ve brought in more customers, Bob and Phil decide to pull off one more stunt to show their appreciation for the old General. Pulling in all the favors he can think of, Bob reaches out to the men of their old battalion and requests that they all come in on Christmas Eve to give a giant Christmas party for their commanding officer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33833[/img]“White Christmas” has to be my very favorite Christmas movie of all time. It’s not an overtly Christmas movie, being that it doesn’t bash you over the head with the holiday every chance it can. Instead it’s more about the perseverance and love of the Christmas season that really makes it the Christmas classic that it is today. Sure it’s got the snow at the very end and the Christmas celebration, but the characters coming together to show their support and love for each other and the old man that cared for them in the trenches is the real sign of the season. Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby are the perfect foils for each other, as Danny is an incredibly skilled comedian who can sing and dance like an angel, while Bing Crosby’s famous contrary disposition works well as the straight guy. Well, and no one’s complaining about the man’s ability to sing I can tell you that! Rosemary Clooney (yes, she’s George Clooney’s Aunt) and Vera Ellen work the same way as the sisters. Rosemary is the husky voiced singer and Vera can dance better than Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby put together. All 4 of them work fine both as couples and as enemies depending on the point of the movie.
The movie is not only a heartwarming family film, but a wonder technical achievement as well. Shot in Paramount’s Vistavision technique, it is the guinea pig in a long series of films to come. The songs are beautiful, from the all famous “White Christmas”, crooned by Bing himself down to the song and dance numbers, it just meshes on all levels. Danny adds his own slapstick humor to the dance routines and Bing works his doe eyed magic to the screen in a way that turns this movie from a decent movie up to the classic it is today. The ending sequence is easily the most powerful as I can’t help but cry every time we see the giant Christmas surprise they pulled together for General Waverly. The depth of their caring for him just oozes out of every pore and General Waverly himself can barely hold it together when he sees as well.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33841[/img]“White Christmas” bears the honor of being the very first film that Paramount used its famous “Vistavision” process on back in the day. Immaculately restored it sports the same 1080p encode as the 2010 release of the film, just with plenty more extras. Even though the restoration was done 4 years ago it looks simply stunning and deserves all the accolade that was bestowed upon it in 2010. The detail is simply fantastic, especially on clothes and the like. The movie opens up in Europe and you can see right off the bat just how much detail was wasted on the old DVD (I popped mine in to take a comparison look). The rubble strewn all over the ground, the creases and folds on the uniforms, different shades of colors that I didn’t realize were different until the increased clarity of Blu-ray revealed it. Colors are intensely bright and saturated quite well. The movie is a musical, and as many musicals were there was plenty of color to throw around. Bright tunics, outfits that change with every scene and the beautiful lodge that they’re staying in all provide plenty of eye candy. Black levels are excellent, and only show a very few instances of looking a bit washed out. An absolute marvel to behold.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=33849[/img]We have two English tracks here to enjoy. A fully restored mono track in DTS-HD MA lossless and a fully restored 5.1 DTS-HD MA remix track. The mono track sounds better than it ever has, and shows plenty of punch, but I the purist in me hates to admit that I enjoy the 5.1 track a little more. It was mixed incredibly well and doesn’t suffer as much from the curse of remixes. E.G. hearing things in the surrounds that weren’t meant to be there. The dialogue is clean and clear, with only minimal distortion when a person gets really emphatic. It’s almost like you’re hearing the very last of a word end on a harsh note. Nothing major, but noticeable to the discerning ear. LFE comes through pleasantly with some nice oomph during the musical number and to accentuate powerful things like a train leaving the station. I really liked the use of the surrounds for such an old remix, as the hustle and bustle of the train station, and the chaos of the war come through nice and clear. The surround also add a nice degree of immersion when the copious song and dance numbers kick up.
Features from the 1st release:
• Backstage stories from White Christmas
• Rosemary’s old Kentucky Home
• Bing Crosby: Christmas crooner
• Danny Kaye: Joy to the world
• Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
• White Christmas: From page to stage
• White Christmas: A look back with Rosemay Clooney
• Theatrical trailers
• Feature film with optional Sing-Along Subtitle Track
• Classic Holiday Moments:
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby featuring Michael Bublé
“Silent Night” by Bing Crosby
“Jingle Bells” by Danny Kaye and Nat King Cole
• Danny Kaye reads from A Christmas Carol on December 22, 1965
• Assignment Children documentary with introduction by Michael Buble
• White Christmas Photo Galleries – Rehearsals, behind-the-scenes, filming and publicity shots
• Bonus Music CD:
Many people have a quintessential Christmas movie that they have watched every year since childhood. Some watch “A Miracle on 34th Street”, others “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, but mine has always been “White Christmas”. I can sing along to every musical number and watch it every year without growing tired of its charm. The fact that Paramount has gone all out with the extras and the restoration for this release makes it all that much sweeter. If you’re an extras nut and have the original Blu-ray release than this is a no brainer. If you don’t care about the extra music CD and the other extras onboard then you should be satisfied considering they both carry the same audio and video encodes. To those of you who don’t own the Blu-ray at all then this is very obviously THE release to get. Highly recommended.
Starring: Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Vera-Ellen
Directed By: Michael Curtiz
Written By: Norman Krasna, Norman Panama
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English (restored) DTS-HD MA Mono, French, Spanish, Portuguese Mono
Runtime: 120 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 14th 2014
Buy White Christmas Diamond Edition Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Buy It
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