Picking out a favorite Christmas movie might seem simple, since there really aren’t many. It would be easy to name a favorite such as A Christmas Story, but what’s the joy in that?
Frankly, Darren McGavin’s obsession with a floor lamp shaped like the leg of a Rockette is a bit creepy. So, my choice is a little more out of the mainstream. And it’s not only a Christmas movie, but its lead song has become hands-down, flat-out the single most popular recording of the human voice.
And really, it’s a great candidate for best holiday movie, because it includes all our favorite holidays of the 20th century. It is, of course, Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Virginia Dale and Marjorie Reynolds. Unless you’re something of a movie geek, you might not recognize the two women, but they’re more than credible singers and graceful, athletic dancers who kept up with the astounding Astaire. And their singing is pretty good as well. Reynolds, especially, is a slinky, sinuous dancer with a nice voice.
If that doesn’t hook you, consider this: Both women keep right there with Astaire on the dance floor, “in high heels, backwards.”
Add in the singer who at the end of World War II was more popular with American GIs than their top generals or their president — take a bow, Mr. Crosby.
And, of course, the Irving Berlin composition that became Bing’s signature song for every Christmas since 1942, White Christmas.
More than 50 million singles of Crosby’s version of White Christmas have been sold. Its closest rival is Elton John’s Candle in the Wind at 33 million, which
comes in just ahead of another Bing Crosby Christmas carol, Silent Night, at 30 million.
Holiday Inn won only one Oscar — Best Music, Original Song — for Berlin, and was nominated for Best Original Story and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. But 72 years later, it’s still with us every Christmas white or not. And every Easter as well, with Berlin’s Easter Parade.