HOLIDAY 2021 - Page 33

White Christmas
STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY HLC PROPERTIES

The Winter Playground

Hollywood historians shed light on the role that Vermont played in influencing Irving Berlin ’ s beloved film ,

White Christmas

The holidays are a truly magical time of year . As the nights grow longer and the temperatures drop , familiar sights and sounds evoke feelings of nostalgic wonder . If you turn on the radio or television during the peak of the holiday season , you will likely stumble upon some of the same classic songs and films that have charmed and delighted holiday merrymakers for several generations . One of the most universally-beloved songs from the American holiday canon is Irving Berlin ’ s seminal classic , “ White Christmas .” While the treasured tune has been recorded by a vast number of gifted musicians over the years , no cover can compare to the original version , performed by famed singer and entertainer Bing Crosby .

“ White Christmas ” was originally performed by Crosby on the NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas day in 1941 . ( Crosby was concurrently filming Holiday Inn for Paramount Pictures , in which the song was also prominently featured .) “ White Christmas ” found considerable success as a hit holiday single in the years following its release , but it reached new levels of cultural relevance when it served as the opening and closing theme for the blockbuster 1954 feature film White Christmas . Set mostly in the tranquil and picturesque fictitious village of Pine Tree , Vermont , White Christmas takes viewers on a lighthearted and whimsical feel-good romp . The film is no doubt best known for its heartwarming story and iconic soundtrack , but it also serves as an unapologetic love letter to Vermont , its culture , and its outdoor scenery .
Although the movie White Christmas was not filmed in Vermont , multiple references to Vermont ’ s natural beauty and rustic mystique are sprinkled throughout the script . Over the years , the film has become inextricably linked to the Green Mountain State . Just as Vermont played a pivotal role in enhancing the charming and romantic atmosphere of the film , the film also played an integral part in bringing Vermont new levels of worldwide exposure as its emergent winter tourism industry was beginning to develop . As White Christmas continues to warm the hearts of both new and old viewers this holiday season , we reached out to several esteemed Hollywood historians and entertainment writers to provide a deeper behind-thescenes look at the film and its ties to Vermont . Their commentary provides crucial perspective on the multiple ways that Vermont helped to shape the story of White Christmas and sheds new light on the enduring impact and cultural legacy of the film .
The song “ White Christmas ” was originally workshopped by Irving Berlin in the mid-to-late 1930s , but it was not completed and finalized until 1941 . Before the song was premiered by Bing Crosby on The Kraft Music Hall radio show , Berlin made the crucial decision to omit the song ’ s original opening verse from his performance :
“ The sun is shining , the grass is green , the orange and palm trees sway . There ’ s never been such a day in Beverly Hills , L . A . But it ’ s December the twenty-fourth , And I am longing to be up north .”
Irving Berlin , composer of “ White Christmas ”
Though original sheet printings of the sheet music for “ White Christmas ” did feature the opening introduction , Berlin eventually ordered that the introduction be removed from future printings after realizing that the cultural impact of the
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