Today I had a halfway-finished post which was heavy on the tears and Cozart good-bying. But I can’t handle that right now. How many of you saw more than one second of the Bengals game?  Can you handle that right now?  I didn’t think so.  We’re going to address matters of White Christmas instead, and get depressed next week.

As Cincinnatians know, star Rosemary Clooney, as a native of Maysville, KY, is one of ours, and I regret that she lived to see her nephew George develop into Batman with nipples on the outside of his costume.

Who’s not proud to be an American when Rosemary and Vera break out the blue sparkly dresses? The only time we see super-dancer Vera-Ellen (who played Judy Haynes) and super-singer Rosemary Clooney (Betty Haynes) dance and sing together is this number, and I hope everybody who sees this movie for the first time likes it, because it’s the only one they’ve got. These girls are gonna ride to the top on two giant fans.

I can pretty much recite the script for White Christmas verbatim, as baby Jesus simply cannot come into this world until I’ve watched this while baking cookies, writing out cards, or simply basking in the glory that is Bing Crosby ad-libbing about buttermilk.

The sets are bad (exactly the same cloud hovers over the ski lodge in all outdoor scenes) and the storyline is worse (what happened to Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney’s trunks and records after they escaped the nightclub? I worry about these things) but there is far too much tap dancing on overturned rowboats to treat White Christmas with anything but love.

White Christmas has cemented itself in my heart if only for gifting this good Earth with the World’s Most Inappropriately Placed Number In a Christmas Musical, which comes in the form of Vera-Ellen tap dancing to “Abraham”– a song about Abraham Lincoln– in a canary yellow dress. If an assassinated 16th President doesn’t say “merry” to you, we can’t have a conversation at all.

This is musical comfort food at its finest, because if there’s anything we like better than a four-and-a-half minute musical number which is in fact a swipe at abstract dance, it’s asking WWII veterans to abandon their families on Christmas Eve to chug up to Nowhere, Vermont, because Bing Crosby has the sadz about a ski inn that his former commanding officer should have known was a seasonal, risk-based investment. I can’t stress this too heavily:  Men, don’t gamble your retirement on the vagaries of weather or the outside chance that an Army buddy will sweep in with his Broadway sets, his beret-wearing Danny Kaye, and his fan-toting sister act.

In fact, you can’t be too sure of anything.

Happy Winter Meeting Aftermath.


18 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    I’ve always been more of a “Holiday Inn” guy. It is of course also a heartwarming Bing Crosby Christmas vehicle, filled like recent Reds seasons with seasonal wonder but also some wildly unfortunate choices (like another Abe Lincoln debacle, this one in blackface). But I have come to truly appreciate the merits of “White Christmas”, to the point where I may find myself, after a spectacular fielding play by Suarez or Hamilton, saying “Just routine, Sir” or following an announcer’s factual blunder (we all know Joey Votto had three hits last night, not just two) muttering “Go to Smith? She can’t even spell it”. So thank you for this diversion and the reminder that I still haven’t watched WC yet this year. And thank you again for this Monday morning distraction in the midst of a less than tepid hot stove season. I can assure you MBE that there were never such devoted readers. Merry Christmas!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Mutual, I’m sure.

      In a lot of ways, I prefer Holiday Inn as well. Its humor is subtler, and I think the musical numbers are overall better (plus I NEED Linda’s New Year’s Eve dress.) Even its flaws can be turned into positives– my parents used the extremely uncomfortable blackface scene to teach us, as children, what was going on and why it was unacceptable.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thank you! I hope you come back next week 🙂

  2. Scott Carter

    It must be a female thing. My daughter’s favorite Christmas movie is White Christmas and my wife is the one always pointing out things like, “Did you notice that cloud is the same one through out the whole movie?” My answer of course is “Its a movie.” And I have not seen White Christmas this year but I don’t remember an Abraham song in White Christmas, although their is one in Holiday Inn? I’m sorry to be picky here, your writing is a great pick me up on Monday morning to distract us from the no news Reds and the… well lets not even talk about the Bengals. I always smile when I read your articles.

    BTW great job last week on the DRO.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      In WC, “Abraham” is an instrumental. It comes when Vera-Ellen tap dances in the bright yellow dress with Random Unnamed Blonde Guy You Will Never See Again. It’s right before she gets Betty’s note that she is being an idiot and leaving on the grounds of a Big Misunderstanding that could have been cleared up in a 30-second conversation.

      Thanks for hanging with me as I was wrecking DRO!

  3. Greg Gajus

    I’ve always questioned the tactical skills of General Waverly for allowing a Christmas Eve show (during the Battle of the Bulge!) within artillery range of the enemy. He might have been the Dusty Baker of division commanders – his troops loved him but he didn’t always put them in the best position to win. 🙂 General Waverly was played by Dean Jagger, who won an Oscar for his work in Twelve O’Clock High, one of the best war movies ever despite its complete lack of musical numbers. Great work as always MB, wishing you and Josh a great Christmas.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Merry Christmas!
      I too question General Waverly’s use of troop resources. That was a pretty fancy stage IN AN ADVANCED AREA.

  4. Eric

    “…and we’re gonna have the hap-hap-HAPpiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny /////// Kaye!” — Clark W Griswold

    White Christmas is one of my favorites. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney were fantastic together on screen, despite their twenty-five YEAR age difference (that’s right, folks…two-five…look it up!). Not the only time that happened, either – he was 26 years older than Grace Kelly, but it didn’t stop him from getting the girl in High Society.

    There’s a baseball parallel in here somewhere, but it’s late.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The baseball parallel is that you should fake arm injuries to get your friend to put on a Broadway show with you.

      Or something.

  5. Mary Beth Ellis

    Well, you just need a little of this then:

  6. John Murray

    Very important to note! Vera-Ellen was from Norwood, so the good numbers in this show were heavily Cincinnati oriented.

  7. Bill Small

    Mary Beth, You mentioned Rosemary Clooney as one of our own. Did you know that Vera Ellen was from Norwood? Love your articles.

  8. Mary Beth Ellis

    Give it up for Vera of Rookwood Commons!