There’s just something special about holiday hospitality. When my friend Evelyn recently hosted the December meeting of our four-woman book club, the other three of us practically refused to get up from her elegant red and gold dinner table when we were finished eating. She made us feel so pampered that only the promise of opening presents in front of the fire — and, oh, yeah, discussing our book of the month — made us leave. I love the way she used simple solid red napkins and plates to create such a festive and sophisticated look, proving once again my grandmother’s timeless advice to always buy red things — they’re good for three out of four seasons, which is a record you cannot beat.
And for a record you can beat, we’re back with Cathy’s Hit Parade of Christmas Movies. Coming in at No. 3 is the two-fer I promised you yesterday — the duo of 1954’s “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and its older sibling, the 1942 “Holiday Inn,” with Crosby and Fred Astaire. Does it get any better? Not much. Look, I know these are white- and male-centric movies that do not reflect how life really was for the folks watching in theaters during the 12-year span, but still. This is vintage Christmas: Singing, dancing, fake snow, cavernous New England inns, star-crossed lovers and misunderstandings with some sleigh rides thrown in for fun. It’s Hollywood escapism at its finest — the movies that made me think being a grownup woman meant going out dancing and drinking martinis and wearing evening gowns every night. Sadly, in the intervening years this dream has proved to be false, although I’m somewhat hopeful about the martinis. But I can relive the fantasy every Christmas with these films, and you should, too. Tomorrow, it’s on to No. 2 — one of the few movies my husband and I vehemently disagree about. (And remember that we both walked out of “Wild, Wild West,” so go figure.) Stop by on Thursday to find out which innocent Christmas movie provokes such intense conflict in our house.
We did, indeed, walk out of the Wild, Wild West.
But I watched it later in search of redeeming qualities.
Ah, the Holiday Inn/White Christmas paired entry. Sweet.0
Both have Bing, both have The Inn and both have the song White Christmas.
“Holiday Inn” (1942) has the advantage of Astaire, one of the coolest dudes on the planet. As it turns out, Astaire was offered the role in “White Christmas,” but turned it down after reading the script.
I like Danny Kaye, but as I have observed, he’s having a little too much fun in the “Sisters” song.
(Speaking of which, when the two women are singing “Sisters,” Rosemary Clooney is dubbed in for both parts. Vera-Ellen, known mostly for her dancing, did not sing any of the songs in the movie.)
White Christmas (1954) was directed by Michael Curtiz, who directed a mind-boggling 170-plus movies and would be notable if he’d only done one of them: Casablanca.
And if you watch closely, you notice that Clooney does precious little dancing. Plus, I second Astaire as one of the coolest guys ever. By all accounts, he was a gentleman on and off the screen. Thanks, dearest husband!