White Christmas

  • Directors: Michael Curtiz
  • Producers: Robert Emmett Dolan
  • Writers: Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, Melvin Frank
  • Genres: Comedy, Musical, Romance
  • Actors: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes

The story is about two World War II U.S. Army buddies, one a former Broadway entertainer, Bob Wallace (Crosby), and a would-be entertainer, Phil Davis (Kaye). It begins on Christmas Eve, 1944, somewhere in Europe. In a forward area, Captain Wallace is giving a show to the men with the help of Private Davis, (“White Christmas”). Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Dean Jagger) arrives for the end of the show and has a field inspection prior to being relieved of command by General Harold G. Coughlan (Gavin Gordon) The men give him a rousing send-off, (“The Old Man”). During an enemy artillery barrage, Davis saves Wallace’s life from a toppling wall, wounding his arm slightly in the process. Using his “wounded” arm and telling Bob he doesn’t expect any “special obligation,” Phil convinces Bob to join forces when the war is over. Phil using his arm wound as a way to get Bob to do what he wants becomes a running gag throughout the movie.

After the war, they make it big in nightclubs, radio, and then on Broadway. They become the hottest act around and eventually become producers. They subsequently have a big hit with their New York musical, Playing Around. In mid-December, after 2 years on Broadway, the show is in Florida. While at the Florida Theatre, they receive a letter from “Freckle-Faced Haynes, the dog-faced boy”, a mess sergeant they knew in the war, asking them to audition his two sisters. When they go to the club to audition the act (“Sisters”), Betty (Rosemary Clooney) reveals that her sister, Judy (Vera-Ellen), sent the letter. Bob and Phil help Betty and Judy escape their landlord and the local sheriff (the landlord claimed that the sisters had burned a $200 rug). The boys do the song “Sisters” to a record as the girls escape to the train. Phil gives Betty and Judy the train tickets that he and Bob were intending to use. When Bob and Phil arrive on the train, they have no tickets. Using “his arm” again, Phil gets Bob to agree to travel with the girls to Vermont for the holidays (“Snow”). They discover that the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, is run by their former commanding officer, Major General Tom Waverly, and it’s about to go bankrupt because of the lack of snow and consequent lack of patrons. The general has invested all his savings and pension into the lodge.

In a memorable finale, Bob and Betty declare their love, as do Phil and Judy. The background of the set is removed to show the snow falling in Pine Tree. Everyone raises a glass, toasting, “May your days be merry and bright; and may all your Christmases be white.”

Bad Day at Black Rock

  • Directors: John Sturges
  • Producers: Dore Schary
  • Writers: Story, Howard Breslin, Screenplay, Don McGuire, Millard Kaufman
  • Genres: Drama, Thriller, Western
  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan

In 1945 John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy), a handicapped war veteran, steps off the Southern Pacific train at the desert hamlet of Black Rock. It is the first time the train has stopped there in four years. The little town has very few inhabitants and appears to be dying.

Macreedy is looking for a man named Komoko but the residents are inexplicably hostile. At the hotel, the young desk clerk, Pete Wirth (John Ericson), says all the rooms are full. The newcomer is none-too-subtly threatened by local tough Hector David (Lee Marvin). Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), the town’s leading citizen, tells Pete to give Macreedy a room. Smith informs Macreedy that Komoko no longer lives in Black Rock; as a Japanese-American he was interned for World War II.

Certain something is wrong, Macreedy sees the town sheriff, Tim Horn (Dean Jagger), but the lawman is an alcoholic and clearly afraid of Smith. The town physician and undertaker, Doc Velie (Walter Brennan), advises Macreedy to leave town immediately. Smith lets slip that Komoko is dead. Liz Wirth (Anne Francis), Pete’s sister, rents Macreedy a Jeep. Macreedy finds Liz to be the only civil person in town.

Macreedy drives to nearby Adobe Flats, where Komoko lived. He finds the homestead burned to the ground. He finds plenty of water in the well and a patch of wildflowers growing in the dust. On the way back, Coley Trimble (Ernest Borgnine) tries unsuccessfully to run him off the road.

As dawn breaks, Macreedy drives up to the town jail with the injured Smith and Liz’s body. Velie and Horn rush out. They had mustered up enough courage to jail Hector David and Coley Trimble. The state police are called in. As Macreedy gets ready to leave, Doc Velie asks him for Komoko’s medal to help Black Rock heal. Macreedy gives it to him and boards the train.