After 15 Years, I Rewatched ‘White Christmas’ to See If It Would Still Hold Up…And It Mostly Does

When the most wonderful time of the year rolls around, movie buffs everywhere race to their couches to binge the top Christmas movies in time for December 25. And while box-office hits like Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas and beloved classics like A Christmas Story are usually first on the list, there’s one film that pretty much encompassed my childhood as far as holiday traditions go: White Christmas.

Yup—while the majority of my friends grew up watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and The Polar Express, Irving Berlin’s 1954 musical was constantly on my television from November through December. I should note that at first, this wasn’t my choice. My mother was a huge fan of the musical flick and introduced me to it at a young age. However, it didn’t take long for the musical numbers and colorful costumes to grab my attention.

I recently decided to rewatch the classic for the first time in 15 years, and to be honest, I was a bit apprehensive. I’m completely aware that films from that time don’t always age well and I didn’t want my fond childhood memories to be replaced with negative, cringey and controversial ones. However, I am happy to report that White Christmas surprisingly holds up.

white christmas 4
Paramount Pictures

If you’re unfamiliar, the rom-com, which stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney (yes, George’s aunt) and Vera-Ellen, tells the story of a group of entertainers during World War II who attempt to save a failing Vermont inn by hosting a holiday show. Immediately, the musical numbers (like “The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing” and "Mandy") remind viewers why this foursome was known as some of the greatest performers of their time (seriously, we don’t see dancing and singing like this anymore). If for that reason alone, many of the scenes are timeless.

Still, when watching any movie from over a half century ago, it’s common to find some cringe-worth moments. Luckily, those are few and far between here. After all, while many male characters of the time were problematic, Crosby’s Bob Wallace proves rather refreshing. Instead of being a womanizer, he is looking for more than a surface level relationship. Instead of adhering to gender stereotypes, he and the other army men willingly peels potatoes (a skill we find out was tought by the men by their army General.)

The female characters are also inspiring. Specifically, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, who star as the Haynes sisters, a pair of self-sufficient, successful ladies. Not only do they have their own act, but, at one point, Ellen’s Judy even emphasizes the importance of putting her career first. And when she does decide that she wants to let a man in her life, she’s the one to make the bold, first move.

Of course, the movie is not without its faults. For one thing, it completely lacks any characters of color and an entire section of the film is dedicated to a minstrel show. (Eek.) Luckily, unlike other flicks dealing with this subject, there’s no blackface in White Christmas, which would have made it unwatchable. In addition, there’s a 25-year age gap between Bob and Clooney’s Betty, who throughout the film find themselves mixed into an inconsistent love affair. In other words, when it comes time to watch this with my own kids, I’ll want to have some conversations with them about these problematic moments.

All of which is to say, I will be keeping White Christmas in my holiday movie rotation, because for me, it does ultimately hold up.