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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

White Christmas [Blu-ray]

 

(Michael Curtiz, 1954)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Paramount Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:00:01.777 

Disc Size: 44,405,135,632 bytes

Feature Size: 33,043,955,712 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.01 Mbps

Chapters: 19

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: November 2nd, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Rosemary Clooney
Backstage Stories from White Christmas - The production boasted the #1 and #3 box office stars of its time and the director of Casablanca. It featured the most popular song in American history and became the highest-ranking film at the box office in 1954. From little-known production details to behind-the-scenes trivia, this segment offers insights about the timeless holiday classic. (11:58 in HD!)
Rosemary's Old Kentucky Home - Take a tour of Rosemary Clooney’s home in Augusta, Kentucky, which has become a historical landmark. (13:26 in HD!)

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!)
Danny Kaye: Joy to the World - Some people only know him as the silver screen’s ‘court jester,’ but Danny Kaye was a true humanitarian who helped children around the world as an ambassador for UNICEF. This moving tribute sheds light on the multi-talented actor, who won two honorary Academy Awards and spread joy beyond the Hollywood spotlight. (13:10 in HD!)
Irving Berlin's White Christmas - Many people don’t know all of the lyrics to the most popular Christmas song of all time or that Irving Berlin wrote it while sitting poolside at an Arizona Resort. This fascinating feature sheds light on the genesis and enduring popularity of the best-selling single in American history.  (7:22 in HD!)
White Christmas: From Page to Stage - the legacy of White Christmas continues with a hit Broadway musical, nominated for two Tony awards. (4:22 in HD!)
White Christmas: A Look Back with Rosemary Clooney (16:46)
Theatrical Trailers
(Original - 2:24 in HD! Re-release - 2:09 in HD!)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

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.

 

 

The Film:

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

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

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.

 

 

Extras :

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.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
It had been years and years since I had seen White Christmas and I can quickly state that the Blu-ray definitely improved the experience from anything I had previously seen in my home theater. I love watching Danny Kaye - the epitome of 'positive' and Vera-Ellen can look hypnotically sexy at times. The vibrancy of the colors and crisp audio make this a lively, thoroughly enjoyable musical. It certainly put me in the festive mood - 2 months early! We can recommend as a classic family Christmas movie with solid a/v and wholesome extras.  

Gary Tooze

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 HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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