Brian’s Exploratory Christmas Endeavor ’18: White Christmas

I’ll admit it. I could have paid closer attention to White Christmas. My attention was so divided, in fact, that I don’t remember what I was doing besides watching it. I may have been playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and in my defense, you would too.

I’ve been loosely aware of White Christmas for years. Back at the beginning of my twenties when I first started going really hard on Christmas and Christmas films, and back when you didn’t need a VPN to torrent to your heart’s content, I had filled this folder with Christmas films, at least 30 of them. I know White Christmas was in there. Holiday Inn, too. I never got around to watching either, and mixed the two up for a long time (although they were, apparently, made over a decade apart. Hell, my mother was born nearer the time they would have been out and known-about, their actors still popular, and even she thought they were the same film when I spoke with her about it a couple days ago.

I turned up an ancient hard drive I’d long considered abandoned, but found earlier this year that some $70 software could crack it open and find what there was to be salvaged. Although I wouldn’t say the contents were worth $70, the peace of mind at not having to spend the rest of my life wondering what was on the drive was easily worth the cost, and among the things found was that Christmas films folder. Most of the files were broken beyond usage, and of the five or six that were in-tact, they were those lowish-resolution 700MB jobs that were specifically encoded to fit comfortably onto CD-Rs, and I’m sorry, but we live in the age of Blu-Rays and 4K, and that shit wasn’t going to fly. I did, however, track down higher-quality versions of those films, and that its the unnecessarily long tale of how we got here.

White Christmas is a film I’ve been meaning to watch for almost ten years. And I didn’t pay very close attention. But I got the gist.

Still having mixed this up in my head with Holiday Inn, I thought it held a higher average rating on the internet. Holiday Inn has a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes (for what that’s worth), whereas White Christmas holds a 76% (and a corroborating 7.5 on IMDb). And while ratings aren’t everything, I have to say that it checks out that this isn’t the marvelously-reviewed film I at first took it to be.

I suppose all this build-up exists because I have so little to say about the movie itself. In one of the earliest episodes of classic GBU, I mentioned that I just assumed all old movies were unimpressive, cheap little things. This, I suppose, is what I had in mind when I said that, never bothering to consider that films with purpose and artistic merit existed back then. And that’s not to say that there’s no value to White Christmas, it’s just that it’s a shallow affair. It’s a musical where most of the tunes seem to come from the main characters’ minstrel shows, and that is an essentially obsolete career and form of entertainment to which I cannot relate.

Further, there are some little things here, like the women seeming like gold-digging hustlers that rubs me the wrong way. It’s not overtly sexist, but it seems to have this cheek-touching, leg-lifting, “aw, ain’t dames a bunch of dumb broads” kind of mentality that does not age well. In a previous GBU Christmas episode, I mentioned that one can overlook antiquated attitudes about women on film–or at least, I can–if the film is otherwise very endearing, but White Christmas doesn’t have the heart of It’s a Wonderful Life or the charm of James Stewart.

I won’t bother to detail the plot. I’d expose my ignorance if I tried. It’s a love story for the sake of bringing together two couples of attractive people who sing often, all of that for the audience’s sake. It’s that kind of movie. And if you like that kind of movie, go on and enjoy, don’t let me stop you. It’s certainly a well-enough put-together piece of work. I’m just not the right audience.

It’s Good (enough) and I’m giving it 2.5 out of 5 stars on the GBU Christmas-Adapted Rating Scale.

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