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Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm Dreaming Of A...

...white snowy, frosty, cold, cozy Christmas!

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas Just like the ones I used to know Where the treetops glisten, and children listen To hear sleigh bells in the snow I'm dreaming of a white Christmas With every Christmas card I write May your days be merry and bright And may all your Christmases be white I'm dreaming of a white Christmas With every Christmas card I write May your days be merry and bright And may all your Christmases be white

Tonight we all cuddled up on the couch (No easy feat considering there were four of us, 1 dog and two cats!) had a little hot chocolate and watched "White Christmas" after doing a little Christmas decorating. This is probably my favorite of all the holiday films and that is a tough call! A bit like a proud mom trying to pick which of her many children she favors! I admit that I know every word to every song and can repeat most of the dialogue too but still watch it every year...once or twice. Or 28 times. Here is a very brief plot summery of this classic... After leaving the Army after W.W.II, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Betty and Judy) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General.
Some facts about the holiday classic...
  • Danny Kaye was a last-minute replacement for the originally cast Donald O'Connor.
  • The first film produced in Paramount's wide screen process "VistaVision".
  • The TV camera in the Ed Harrison Show scene is a real one (a classic RCA monochrome; the cameraman is hiding the telltale logo with his hand), but the call sign atop it was real as well - it was that of Channel 4, NBC's (and thus RCA's) flagship station in New York, which changed its call sign to WRCA-TV the year of the film's release. (They adopted their current WNBC-TV calls in 1960.)
  • The original idea was to reunite Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, as they had been successful in Holiday Inn (1942). Astaire refused, as he had "retired" at the time, so the part was reworked for Donald O'Connor. O'Connor pulled out, and the part was reworked for Danny Kaye.
  • The photo that Vera-Ellen shows to Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye of her brother, Bennie, is actually a photo of Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer.
  • The Vermont inn is the remodeled Connecticut inn set of Holiday Inn (1942).
  • The song "Snow" was written by Irving Berlin a while before the film was made but with a different lyric and title and indeed subject (it had nothing to do whatsoever with snow): it was called "Free" and it was recorded by the composer.
  • The "Sisters" comedy act that Bing Crosbyand Danny Kaye perform was not originally in the script. They were clowning around on the set and the director thought it was so funny that it was written in.
  • Even though Betty was the elder of the Haynes sisters, Rosemary Clooney was actually seven years younger than Vera-Ellen in real life.
  • Vera-Ellen did not actually sing any of the songs for the movie. Trudy Stevens sang all her songs (with the exception of the song "Sisters", on which Rosemary Clooney sang both parts). Vera's own voice is heard singing only in the "arrival in Pine Tree" scene at the railroad station where the quartet reprises the opening lines of "Snow".
  • For The song "Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army" there is a small section which says "Jolson, Hope And Benny all for free" This is a reference to three wartime entertainers; Al Jolson, Bob Hope and Jack Benny. The original words were "Crosby, Hope and Jolson all for free", with Bing Crosby in the film it would seem rather weird and it would most likely break the mood.
  • Released in 1954, it became the top grossing film of that year.
  • The song, "What Can You Do with a General?", which Leonard Maltin calls Berlin's least memorable tune, was originally written for an un produced project called Stars on My Shoulders.
  • According to Rosemary Clooney, the "midnight snack" scene in which Bob Wallace expounds on his theory of what foods cause what dreams was almost entirely improvised.
  • Many of Bob Wallace's more unusual turns of phrase were lifted straight from Bing Crosby's own speech patterns.
  • The train scene had to be shot at Fox, the only studio to house a standing train set.
  • Although this movie musical has been a beloved favorite for decades -- especially at Christmastime -- there has never been an official "original soundtrack" album released in any form. Decca controlled the soundtrack rights, but Rosemary Clooney was under exclusive contract to Columbia, who would not allow her to appear on a competing label. As a result, Decca and Columbia each released their own White Christmas albums in 1954, although neither is an official soundtrack. Decca's album featured the movie cast minus Rosemary Clooney, with Peggy Lee taking over Clooney's part. Columbia's album had Rosemary Clooney singing 8 songs from the film. Both albums have been issued on CD in recent years.
Lines from The Film...
Phil Davis: When what's left of you gets around to what's left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting, whatever it is you've got left.
Doris: Well how do you like that? Not so much as a "kiss my foot" or "have an apple".
Bob Wallace: How do you do? Doris: Mutual, I'm sure.
Phil Davis: I want you to get married. I want you to have nine children. And if you only spend five minutes a day with each kid, that's forty-five minutes, and I'd at least have time to go out and get a massage or something.
Phil Davis: That's very funny. Ho, ho, ho. The crooner is becoming the comic.
Phil Davis: How can a guy *that* ugly have the nerve to have sisters? Bob Wallace: Very brave parents.
Bob Wallace: Oh, Phil, when are you going to learn that girls like that are a dime a dozen? Phil Davis: Please, don't quote me the price when I haven't got the time.
Bob Wallace: You don't expect me to get serious with the kind of characters you and Rita have been throwing at me, do you? Phil Davis: Well, there have been some nice girls, too, you know. Bob Wallace: Oh yeah, yeah. Like that nuclear scientist we just met out in the hall. Phil Davis: All right, they didn't go to college. They didn't go to Smith. Bob Wallace: Go to Smith? She couldn't even spell it.
Phil Davis: In some ways, you're far superior to my cocker spaniel.
Phil Davis: Give me one reason, one good reason, why we should spend our last 2 hours in Florida looking at the sister's of Freckle-Face Haynes, the dog-faced boy. Bob Wallace: Let's just say we're doing it for an old pal in the army. Phil Davis: Well, it's not good, but it's a reason.
Phil Davis: It's cozier, isn't it? Boy, girl, boy, girl.
[to the Haynes sisters] Phil Davis: Mr. Wallace was just saying how remarkable it was that Benny Haynes' sisters should have eyes... [voice cracks] Phil Davis: ...I mean, blue eyes. That is eyes... Bob Wallace: Nice out.
[after Betty finds Judy and Phil embracing] Betty Haynes: What is this? The best two outta three? Judy Haynes: I guess I got carried away. Phil Davis: Yeah, she carried me right with her - I don't weigh very much.
Judy Haynes: We're booked for the holidays. Phil Davis: Vermont, huh? Judy Haynes: Oh, Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, with all that snow. Phil Davis: Yeah, you know something... Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, with all that snow. Judy Haynes: That's what I just said. Phil Davis: We seem to be getting a little mixed up. Judy Haynes: Maybe it's the music. Phil Davis: Maybe it isn't only the music.
Bob Wallace: Miss Haynes, if you're ever under a falling building and someone offers to pick you up and carry you to safety, don't think, don't pause, don't hesitate for a moment, just spit in his eye. Betty Haynes: What did that mean? Bob Wallace: It means we're going to Vermont.
Phil Davis: How much is "wow"? Bob Wallace: It's right in between, uh, "ouch" and "boing". Phil Davis: Wow!
Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: There's no Christmas in the Army!
[General Waverly has told the jeep driver to take the new Commanding General back to Headquarters via a short cut] Joe, Adjutant Captain: [pointing after the departed jeep] That's not the way to Headquarters! Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: Joe, *you* know that, and *I* know that, but the General doesn't! At least he won't for the next two hours. Joe, Adjutant Captain: That sergeant will be a private in the morning. Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: [wearily] Yes, isn't he lucky.
[General Waverly has come downstairs for the Christmas Eve show in his uniform] Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: [to Susan] You didn't expect me to come down in my bathrobe, did you?
Bob Wallace: [into his water glass] Pushing, pushing.
Phil Davis: [describing his kind to Judy] I'm the 'I don't mind pushing my best friend into, but am scared stiff if I get anywhere near it' kind.
Phil Davis: [after performing "Sisters"] Hey, we're a smash let's take a bow! Bob Wallace: We'll take a bow down to the jail house!
Phil Davis: [about the train tickets] I don't have them. I must have left them in my girdle.
Phil Davis: [about Betty] I've got a flash for you: she's a real slow mover. Phil Davis: I've got a flash right back for you: she's in there with the champ.
Phil Davis: [about Bob's idea to help the General] I think it's ridiculous, impossible, and insane! Bob Wallace: Anything else? Phil Davis: Yes, I wish I'd thought of it first.
Judy Haynes: [about Betty] Yesterday, she couldn't sleep. Today, she won't eat. She's in love. Phil Davis: Well if that's love, somebody goofed.
Phil Davis: [describing his injury after "falling down the stairs] Probably just a small internal muscular hemorrhage.
Ex-Soldier: [attempting to button his uniform pants] Captain, these things have shrunked! Bob Wallace: Well, your appetite hasn't shrunk.
Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: [to Capt. Wallace] Don't just stand there - how do I get off?
Bob Wallace: When I figure out what that means I'll come up with a crushing reply.
Phil Davis: We like to take care of our friends. Betty Haynes: But we're practically strangers! Phil Davis: Uh, we like to take care of that too. Betty Haynes: But I don't understand. Why are you doing this? I mean, what's in it for you? Phil Davis: Forty-five minutes all to myself.
Phil Davis: We wouldn't be any good as generals. Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: You weren't any good as privates
Betty Haynes: [singing on the train] I want to wash my hands, my face, my hair with snow.
Phil Davis: Oh,I hope I can take back the electric blanket back. Bob Wallace: Where's that? Phil Davis: Under the underwear.
Bob Wallace: We ate, and then he ate. We slept and then he slept. Phil Davis: Yeah, then he woke up and nobody slept for forty-eight hours.
Phil Davis: [Buying train tickets] Uh, I don't seem to have any cash. Bob Wallace: Where'd you leave that? In your snood?
Emma Allen: [Regarding the inn] This place used to be a grist mill and a barn. Now it's a Tyrolean haunted house.
Phil Davis: We looked at this big ski lodge and said isn't it ideal. That's the word we used, ideal. Absolutely, ideal. Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: We've acknowledged that the ski lodge is ideal.
Betty Haynes: Why, all of a sudden, are people so concerned about my eating habits? Why don't people just leave me alone?
Judy Haynes: [after creating her phony engagement with Phil] Don't you think we ought to kiss or something? Phil Davis: [Obviously nervous] Not until it's absolutely necessary.
Bob Wallace: [Regarding Phil] I don't know what you see in this tall drink of charged water, but after you get to know him he's almost endurable.
Bob Wallace: [to Judy] You're lucky! You might have been stuck with this weirdsmobile for life!
Betty Haynes: Mr. Bones? Mr. Bones? How do you feel, Mr. Bones? Phil Davis: Rattlin'! Betty Haynes: Mr. Bones feels rattlin'. Ha ha. That's a good one. Tell a little story, Mr. Bones. Bob Wallace: A funny little story, Mr. Bones! Phil Davis: How do you stop an angry dog from biting you on Monday? Betty Haynes: That joke is old. The answer is to kill the dog on Sunday! Phil Davis: That's not how you stop a dog from biting you on Monday! Betty Haynes: How do you bring a thing about? Phil Davis: Have the doggy's teeth pulled out! Betty Haynes: Oh, Mr. Bones, that's terrible! Phil Davis: Uh-huh. Betty Haynes, Bob Wallace: Yes, Mr. Bones, that's terrible! Phil Davis: Uh-huh.
Judy Haynes: Looks like it's absolutely necessary.
Bob Wallace: I have a feeling I'm not going to like this. Phil Davis: I have a feeling you're gonna hate it. Bob Wallace: Then why should I do it. Phil Davis: Let's just say we're doing it for an old Bob Wallace, Phil Davis: pal in the army... yeah
[Bob leaves to go make a phone call] Phil Davis: [sighs] I don't know what's going on, but he has that Rodgers and Hammerstein look in his eyes. Betty Haynes: Is that bad? Phil Davis: Not bad, but always expensive.
Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: I got along just fine without you in the Army. Emma Allen: Yeah. It only took 15,000 men to take my place.
Phil Davis: [after Bob has found out about Phil and Judy's phony engagement] I guess we laid an egg. Bob Wallace: An egg? Brother, you laid a Vermont volleyball!
Gen. Thomas F. Waverly: How could you have sent all my suits to the cleaners? Emma Allen: [laconically] You only have two.
Judy Haynes: [to Phil] You are not exactly Superman, but you are awfully available.
Bob Wallace: Hey, Davis! How you feelin'? Phil Davis: Pretty good, Captain. Bob Wallace: Just dropped by to thank you for saving my life. Phil Davis: Well, uh, it was a life worth saving.
Betty Haynes: Look who's talking about guilt! Bob Wallace: What do you mean by that? Betty Haynes: I mean you shouldn't mix fairy tales with liverwurst and buttermilk. Bob Wallace: What did you have for lunch today? Betty Haynes: I didn't have lunch. Bob Wallace: Maybe you ought to eat some.


Cottage Contessa said...

Wow! I have never seen that movie, but after the great rap you just gave it, it sounds like something my daughter and I would enjoy seeing together. Thank you!
Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

Melissa said...

This is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies. My oldest sister has never seen it, I keep telling her to rent it. I own it, and even my daughter likes all the music in it.

Mary said...

Dear Sue, My goodness, that's an encyclopedic knowledge! I used to love that movie when I was growing up, but I haven't seen it in years -- but you've inspired me to go out and find it! :)

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

This is my favorite Christmas movie too! I watch it every year. I have it on tape, but I wonder if there is a DVD? I think I will check! Like you, I know every line. I will admit there is a "minstral" dance number, that I fast forward thru each time I watch, because it is the only part of the movie I don't just doesn't seem to fit..

Janet said...


Wow, I think you might have left out a couple of lines of dialog, LOL!!! I watched by myself because Bob was watching Christmas Vacation and I don't *do* dumb movies, well OK I do do dumb movies, but only if they are chick flick dumb movies. Know what i mean???

Jafabrit said...

woo hoo, that was brill! I enjoyed getting all the inside scoop. My fave is 1970 film scrooge with albert finney. First time I saw it was when I was newly married and just moved to America. We saw it at the Little Art Theatre and when we came out of the theatre it was snowing gently and was PURE magic.

Mockingbird Hill said...

Wait, wait...I'm this one of your favorite movies???

HA! We movie nuts are kindred spirits. My daughter and I watched Father Of The Bride I & II (Steve martin version) yesterday...TWICE! Yes, 2 movies, 2 times each...and we still got teary and recited all of the Mother & Daughter lines...oh sheesh...couple of dorks.


Susie said...

Hi SusieQ!
Sounds like a perfect way to start the Christmas Season. Lots of interesting facts about that classic!
Glad you had a great Thanksgiving too!

Anonymous said...

That came on lastnight here. We have been watching movies since Thursday. Kaytlynn things we have to get in bed and turn on the electric blanket. spoiled rotten child.=)

Sandi McBride said...

Which Christmas movie is my favorite? All of them...but I don't know one 10th of what you know about White Christmas about any of them...except of course I love a Christmas movie! That was really fun, tho Susie. I love the part where you curl up with the dog and the we fight the cats for the best seat and then let them join us and Mindy Lou refuses to lay anywhere but Mac's feet...

Andi said...

This was actually on television the other night! I love Christmas movies and especially at holiday time. It's A Wonderful Life and The Christmas Story are my favorites. I can watch them over and over again.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

You've inspired me to watch the movie. I can't imagine why I have never watched it. Thank you ~ Lynn

Mom2fur said...

Another one of my favorites! I love the dance scene with Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen. And "Sisters" is such a great number!
I'm currently practicing "White Christmas" on a keyboard. (My piano is sort of 'dead,' and I can't afford to tune it.)

Strawberry Lane said...

Great movie. Again ... you must be a movie historian.

Knew almost nothing about the background of this film by Paramount. And I worked at Paramount Studios!

Oh well, that film was awhile ago, that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

In the meantime, thanks for filling me in on these interesting details.

Merry, merry cheers!

Lexie said...

I LOVE this movie! It wouldn't be Christmas for me without seeing it. I used to have to plan my holiday cheer around when they showed it on TV. Now I own it, of course, and drive everyone nuts singing along with every song and laughing at the jokes before they get to the punchlines. Thank you for sharing the fun background info. I love it!