S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
White Christmas [Blu-ray]
(Michael Curtiz, 1954)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Paramount Pictures
Video:Paramount Home Video
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 44,405,135,632 bytes
Feature Size: 33,043,955,712 bytes
Video Bitrate: 30.01 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase
Release date: November 2nd, 2010
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3397 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3397 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -7dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none
• Commentary by Rosemary Clooney
Bing Crosby: Christmas Crooner
- Crosby’s family members offer personal memories of the
film and discuss the crooner’s Yuletide connection. The
piece also includes film historians sharing rare stories
about Crosby and White Christmas and a visit to Crosby’s
hometown of Spokane, Washington.
(14:16 in HD!)
Description: Now available in stunning high definition, White Christmas is a treasury of Irving Berlin classics, among them 'Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep', 'Sisters', 'Blue Skies', and the beloved holiday song, 'White Christmas.' Two talented song-and-dance men (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) team up after the war to become one of the hottest acts in show business. One winter, they join forces with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) and trek to Vermont for a white Christmas. Of course, there's the requisite fun with the ladies, but the real adventure starts when Crosby & Kaye discover that the inn is run by their old army general who's now in financial trouble. And the result is the stuff dreams are made of.
For a film that's remembered mostly as a warm, nostalgic holiday movie rather than as one of the all-time great musicals, White Christmas (1954) certainly commands a lot of star power and pop-cultural significance. Consider: it was the highest-grossing film of 1954 ($12 million); it was the biggest hit of director Michael Curtiz's career; co-stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye were ranked at the time as the #1 and #3 box office stars in the country; and "White Christmas" was already the most successful song in American history - a record it maintained for many decades more.
Who doesn't know and love that song? Irving Berlin wrote it in 1940. Bing Crosby first performed it on December 25, 1941, on his CBS radio show. In May 1942 he recorded it, and in August of that year, he could be seen singing it on screen in the hit movie Holiday Inn. Soon it was at the top of the charts, where it remained for eleven weeks, and in early 1943 it won the Oscar® for Best Song. It hit #1 again in 1945 and 1947 and went on to hold the record as all-time bestselling single for over 50 years. (The song that finally knocked it down to #2 - Elton John's 1997 recording of "Candle in the Wind," with lyrics rewritten to honor the late Princess Diana.)
With the continuing popularity of the song (and Bing Crosby) through the 1940s, it was a no-brainer for Hollywood to want to capitalize on it yet again. As early as 1949, the movie White Christmas was in preparation at Paramount. The idea was to show off old and new Irving Berlin tunes and reunite the stars of Holiday Inn, Crosby and Fred Astaire. Irving Berlin recycled parts of the earlier film and mixed it with elements of an unproduced musical he had written with Norman Krasna called Stars on My Shoulders; Krasna went on, with Melvin Frank, to turn the new story into a screenplay.Excerpt from TCM located HERE
The first thing I noticed about White Christmas in 1080P were the ultra-bright seasonal reds and how many scenes exhibited actual depth. There is a bit of inconsistency with a few segments looking flatter and hazier. Depending on how far you zoom-in grain looks reasonably consistent and any edge-enhancements were fairly unnoticeable. I kept trying to uncover some digital tinkering by Paramount on this Blu-ray transfer - but it seems clean. There is a tiny bit of noise mixed in but overall the visuals here can appear very impressive. We are offered a dual-layered rendering with a high bitrate and the film has really benefited from the move to HD. Wow. Detail advances a big notch and contrast is excellent as well. Without scrutinizing too closely I'd say that most viewers will be amazed at home fresh, clean, bright and dynamic this 56-year old musical looks.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
We get a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a healthy 3397 kbps and it sounds fabulous although separations are more modest. The 'restored' mono is offered as a choice and it is predictably flatter. Those who appreciate all the Irving Berlin songs performed (beyond Bing's 'White Christmas') with dancing and singing ('Sisters', 'Blue Skies' etc.) will find a lot to like in the resonant lossless rendering. I found this really adds to the presentation - it's quite impressive. I think it was also a good idea to give the mono as an option. There are subtitle choices and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
The supplements appear to duplicate the Anniversary Edition DVD with the Rosemary Clooney commentary and about 7 featurettes (6 in HD!) totally about 1 1/4 hours worth of discussions of Crosby (family members offer personal memories) and Kaye (with the multi-talented performer's daughter, Dena Kaye, and others covering his humanitarian efforts as an ambassador for UNICEF), 'Backstage Stories', touring Rosemary Clooney’s home in Augusta, Kentucky, Irving Berlin's genesis of the song, legacy of the award winning Broadway musical and other homey stuff.
October 29th, 2010
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze