The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 1954
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 120 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English (restored), French, Spanish, Portuguese Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French
Starring: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Music by: Irving Berlin
Written by: Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, and Melvin Frank
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 2, 2010
"A classic gets the Blu treatment"
Two talented song-and-dance men (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) team up after the war to become one of the hottest acts in show business. One winter, they join forces with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) and trek to Vermont for a white Christmas. Of course, there's the requisite fun with the ladies, but the real adventure starts when Crosby & Kaye discover that the inn is run by their old army general who's now in financial trouble. And the result is the stuff dreams are made of.
I grew up watching classic films like White Christmas in reruns on TV but somehow never saw this one. Bing Crosby is such an icon and watching him perform is always a rewarding experience. I haven't seen one of his films in a long time and was glad to have this review opportunity. In 1954 musical films were pretty common and Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby were household names. White Christmas teams the popular Crosby with the indomitably charming, funny, and physically nimble Danny Kaye as they play a pair of ex-army buddies Bob and Phil, who make it big in show business after the war. After receiving a letter from an old army buddy urging them to see his sisters, Betty and Judy, perform at a local club Phil and Bob reluctantly go in with low expectations. They are impressed with the girls singing and dancing and Phil seeing an attraction between Bob and Betty opts to play matchmaker. After meeting them Phil learns that Betty and Judy are headed to Vermont for a gig and tags along coercing Bob into it as well. Once they arrive at the Vermont lodge they learn that it is in financial difficulties due to the lack of snow/tourists. Subsequently the boys find that their beloved former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner at which time they decide to help out by putting on a Christmas show. In the meanwhile Phil, now in cahoots with Judy manipulates Bob and Betty in the hopes that love will blossom. Things don't go quite as planned and results in a series of misunderstandings that threatens to break their hearts and derail the show.
White Christmas is bygone era filmmaking but there is no denying its lasting and timeless appeal. I thoroughly enjoyed it and appreciate the wholesomeness of its story, the superlative talent of its cast, and the amazing music of composer Irving Berlin. Watching Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen on the dance floor in chapter four was mesmerizing. Speaking of Vera-Ellen she was an amazing dancer that unfortunately had only a limited career in show business and later suffered tragic loss and poor health. Luckily she is fondly remembered through her work in films like White Christmas.
The popular title song is performed alone by Crosby in the first act and by the ensemble in the finale and of course it sounds terrific. The film features great song/dance routines and large musical set pieces that are lots of fun. The chemistry between Kaye and Crosby is superb. I love the sequence where they lip synch the Haynes sister's song Sisters where Crosby begins to crack up (which is left in) after an impromptu adlib by Kaye. Rosemary Clooney is awesome and I found her performance of Love you didn't do right by me alluring and sexy. Director Michael Curtiz, not unfamiliar with large scale productions (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Casablanca, and Captain Blood) captures the film's humor, romance, music and holiday theme via carefully framed images and broad camera strokes that prove evocative and stirring (case and point: the scene where General Waverly enters the theater and sees the reunion of the 151st in his honor). The title White Christmas would suggest that it is a holiday film but in reality it is more of a romance/comedy/musical that culminates at Christmas with a positive message about the gift of giving. It's a wonderfully entertaining and timeless film that is justly deserving of its recognition as a cinematic classic.
This film is appropriate for all ages.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
White Christmas comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
White Christmas was the very first film shot in Vista Vision (a 35mm process invented by an engineer at Paramount) and its 1.85:1 framed high definition video presentation on Blu-ray finds this 50 plus year old film looking marvelous. Colors are tonally balanced with lustrous primaries and clean rendering. Fleshtones are appreciably lifelike with discernible texture and rosy complexions. The level of visible detail in facial features, hair and clothing during close-ups is impressive. Wide angle shots vary in terms of visual depth but fidelity in never in question. The interior shots in the lodge, nightclub, and aboard the train are rendered with clear refinement that draws out lots of subtle minutia in objects and backgrounds. Of course this also made the faux scenery and sets more obvious but that was fine. Grain is naturally appears undisturbed and naturally rendered which gives the video texture and a noticeably filmic quality. Blacks are noise free, stable and fairly deep. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which enliven bright scene and colors while maintaining an appreciable level of visibility and dimension during darker segments. Kudos to Paramount on this excellent and faithful high definition presentation that is sure to please even discerning fans.
There are audio options in both mono and lossless surround sound. I opted to use the DTS-HD Master Audio surround track which had no trouble handling the film's recorded elements. The front three channels carried the majority of the film's audio. The mix was spread across the front three channels with primary focus on the center channel and light ambience bled to the right/left speakers. I never had a problem understanding dialogue or hearing sounds or effects as the presentation exhibited good clarity and presence. This was especially obvious during the sequences featuring the film's superlative music/musical set pieces. I did notice that the vocals on the overdubbed songs sounded distinctly different and had a heavier midrange and dialed back treble that left them sounding less airy. While this was obvious I didn't find it problematic.The dated aspects of the recording were apparent but it sounded fine. There was no deep LFE mixed to the subwoofer however bass contained within the track accentuated its limited dynamic elements and orchestrated music.
- Audio commentary by Rosemary Clooney
- (HD) Backstage stories from White Christmas - 12 minute featurette
- (HD) Rosemary's old Kentucky Home - 13 minute featurette
- (HD) Bing Crosby: Christmas crooner - 14 minute documentary
- (HD) Danny Kaye: Joy to the world - 13 minute documentary
- (HD) Irving Berlin's White Christmas - 7 minute documentary
- (HD) White Christmas: From page to stage - 4 minute featurette
- White Christmas: A look back with Rosemay Clooney - 16 minute retrospective
- (HD) Theatrical trailers - Original & Re-release
White Christmas is a bygone era classic that remains just as entertaining today thanks to a marvelous ensemble cast, great direction and the superlative music of the great Irving Berlin. It debuts on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment in a superb package that features marvelous and faithful high definition video quality, crystal clear lossless sound, and a wonderful set of bonus supplements that compliment the film. This is highly recommended viewing and deserves a place in the stocking of every film enthusiast this holiday season. Enjoy!
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