I don't know what happened to my earlier review - it got wiped for some reason (I did not delete it), but this movie is the best Christmas movie musical ever made. I enjoyed the movie on television growing up, first on NBC, then in local syndication, and acquired the [[ASIN:6300215695 White Christmas VHS tape]] in the early 1990s. I purchased the [[ASIN:B00004YNIX 2000 DVD]] at Best Buy, but had issues with several defective copies, until I finally received a suitable replacement from Paramount Home Video. In 2009, I purchased the [[ASIN:B002MU4NN6 White Christmas Anniversary Edition]] with an additional DVD of bonus features, and replaced it with the new Diamond Anniversary Edition in 2014. I did not have a Blu-ray player then; otherwise I would have purchased the [[ASIN:B00MMPB45Q Blu-ray]] edition.
Bing Crosby (Captain Bob Wallace), Danny Kaye (Private Phil Davis), Rosemary Clooney (Betty Haynes), and the always underrated dancer Vera-Ellen (Judy Haynes) are in top form. While not all of Irving Berlin's songs in this film are top-drawer, most are first-rate. Character actor Dean Jagger plays the gruff General Tom Waverly, the boys' former Army commander, who now owns the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, whom the four principals save from financial ruin by performing their show at the inn. The second disc contains all of the bonus features from previous editions, plus a few new ones, including a "virtual duet" between Bing and Michael Bublé. Rosemary Clooney's poignant commentary track from 2000 remains intact on the main DVD. The other documentaries include featurettes about Bing and his childhood home, Danny Kaye's life, including his showbiz career and his humanitarian work, the making of the movie and the writing of the song itself, a retrospective look back with the late Rosemary Clooney, a tour of Clooney's Kentucky home, the transformation of the film into a stage musical (see below) and a 1954 UNICEF documentary, ASSIGNMENT: CHILDREN, with Danny Kaye (introduced by Michael Bublé - the documentary can be played with or without the intro). There are also two theatrical trailers and several photo galleries. I had more detailed information in the review that was wiped; I tried to remember as much as could - my apologies to other customers for leaving any details out.
HISTORICAL NOTE: WHITE CHRISTMAS was the first movie released in Paramount Pictures' new widescreen format, VistaVision, which unlike its competitors, CinemaScope and Cinerama, was compatible with existing theaters and projection equipment. WHITE CHRISTMAS was supposed to be the third Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire musical for Paramount, following 1942's [[ASIN:B074Q1PKCY Holiday Inn (Blu-ray)]] and 1946's [[ASIN:B07485FCT8 Blue Skies]], but Astaire turned it down because he had just completed filming MGM's [[ASIN:B0007939MK The Band Wagon (Two-Disc Special Edition)]], and wanted to spend time with his family before starting another film project. Other accounts claim that Astaire had another commitment, was either ill or injured, and that he believed was too old for the part. Donald O'Connor was originally signed as Astaire's replacement, but suffered an injury, so Danny Kaye ended up with the role of a lifetime.
I watched the bonus disc again recently. Here are a few more details:
1) Bing's 1976 performance of "White Christmas," where he sings the seldom-heard opening verse. This was the last TV performance of the song aired during Crosby's lifetime; the 1977 special, BING CROSBY'S MERRIE OLDE CHRISTMAS, featuring the "Peace On Earth" / "The Little Drummer Boy" duet with the late David Bowie, aired after Bing's death.
2) The unadulterated 1971 performance of "White Christmas," without Michael Bublé, is from the NBC special, BING CROSBY: THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS. This special, the 1977 special, and two earlier specials from 1961 and 1962, are available on the DVD collection [[ASIN:B0041EVYYM Bing Crosby: The Television Specials, Volume 2]], which I own.
3) There is also a 1948 black-and-white performance of Bing singing "Silent Night," with a boys' choir. I don't believe this is available elsewhere.
4) There are two performances featuring Danny Kaye - one in black-and-white from 1963, featuring Danny and the late great Nat "King" Cole duetting on a jazzy version of "Jingle Bells," and a color performance from 1965, featuring Kaye's reading of an excerpt from Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Both of these performances are available on the DVD collection, [[ASIN:B00914ETQW Christmas With Danny Kaye]], which I also own.
This musical was later transformed into a stage play ([[ASIN:B000ICLTFA Irving Berlin's White Christmas]]). I purchased the original cast CD in 2010, and saw the stage play at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in December 2012. If the play comes to your area, go see it; it is excellent.
The aforementioned HOLIDAY INN, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, was recently made into a Broadway musical ([[ASIN:B06XWFCGDT Holiday Inn (Original Broadway Cast Recording)]]), which I own as well. An excellent television version was recently broadcast on PBS' GREAT PERFORMANCES series. Check your local listings or the PBS Web site for air times. A DVD/Blu-ray version of the same performance is available as a bonus disc with the 75th Anniversary Edition of the original movie.
I hope modern Hollywood never remakes this film. While there are contemporary performers who could do it justice - Michael Bublé, Kristin Chenoweth, Jane Krakowski, Sutton Foster, Harry Connick, Jr., and young dancers such as tappers Melinda Sullivan and Sarah Reich, to name a few - the last thing we need is to turn WHITE CHRISTMAS into a hip-hop mess, as Will Smith recently did with [[ASIN:B00R878NI4 Annie (Blu-ray)]]. The hip-hop generation has HAMILTON; that is enough.
Five stars for this terrific film.