Why The Final Scene Of White Christmas Was Reshot Without Bing Crosby…and Without Film

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We all have our go-to holiday movie classics. “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Home Alone” quickly come to mind, but another holiday staple for me is “White Christmas.” Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kay, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, the film follows singers Bob Wallace (Crosby) and Phil Davis (Kaye), who have been pounding the pavement as successful producers post-World War II. Lured in to do a favor for a fellow soldier, they are introduced to sisters Betty (Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) when invited to attend the sister act show they put on.

Shenanigans ensue and the quartet of characters find themselves heading to rural Vermont. While staying at a local inn, the men realize their former commander owns the establishment and is deeply in the red. Loyalty for their commander prompts the men to rope in the women to try to make a Christmas miracle happen with some musical numbers thrown into the mix.

The finale of “White Christmas” embodies everything yuletide and bright. The quartet dons the traditional red and white attire that reminds one of Santa Claus. They sing the titular Irving Berlin song that makes you feel like you’re being wrapped into a cozy blanket cocoon next to a fireplace. Dreamy and soothing, it’s one of the more memorable holiday classic film finales.

But while filming that finale behind the scenes, a royal visit threw a wrench into the works and forced them to reshoot the sequence. Not wanting to waste resources, they actually pretended to shoot the sequence. Oh, and Crosby was nowhere to be found.

Catering To The Royals

The “White Christmas” set was a popular one for visitors, with celebrities and even royalty stopping by to take in the musical spectacle that was taking place. However, this became a bit of an inconvenience for cast and crew, especially when it came to the finale. In the documentary short “‘White Christmas’: A Look Back with Rosemary Clooney,” she discussed how a surprise visit from royalty required director Michael Curtiz to reset and reshoot the entire sequence again. But it wouldn’t actually be filmed. Clooney recalled:

“We had finished it, you know? It was in the can. The finale was finished, and it was huge and cumbersome. And then ‘May All Your Christmases Be White’ had been said,  and that was before lunch. And so just as he – before he dismissed us for lunch, Mike Curtiz said, ‘Now the King and Queen of Greece are coming to visit the set, and I want to pretend that we’re shooting this over again.’ And we were going to pretend to shoot this whole thing over again, because it’s wonderful. It’s the end. It’ll be something wonderful for them to remember.”

Considering how visually impactful the finale scene is in “White Christmas,” who can blame Curtiz or the studio for prompting reshoots to happen. Curtiz and the crew pretending to reshoot the final scene was a smart decision. What had already been wrapped wouldn’t be compromised and money was saved by not wasting film. But not everyone was gung-ho about the reshoot. 

Bing Crosby, Out!

After shooting such a difficult number, the idea of doing it again was not appealing. Mostly everyone was willing to play along to get the scene done again to appease the royals. The biggest star, though, wasn’t about that life and went to occupy himself elsewhere, according to his co-star. When told that they were going to reshoot the scene, he made no point in hiding his plans when talking to her. Clooney explained:

“I hear Bing say, ‘Not me.’ And so I said, ‘Where are you gonna go?’ He said…I’m going over to the pool. I said, ‘You’re not gonna tell anybody? You’re just gonna go?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ So indeed he did. His voice is coming out of the speakers and here are Danny and Vera and me singing ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,’ only it’s Bing Crosby singing. And he’s not there, he’s over the wall. He went to play golf.”

Before anyone starts going off on where Crosby got the audacity, the man was a legend at this point in his career. By 1945, his records had sold over 60,000,000 copies since his first recording in 1931. He had been performing in musical films since the ’30s and never stopped. He had also been heavily involved in the war effort and boosted GI morale. The man was a big deal. 

So while Crosby walked off to do his own thing, it didn’t impact the final scene as it exists in “White Christmas.” But the behind-the-scenes gossip adds a little extra hilarity when you try to envision Clooney, Kaye, and Vera-Ellen singing along to a recording of Crosby’s vocals without him there. 

Read this next: The 50 Best Christmas Movies Of All Time, Ranked

The post Why the Final Scene Of White Christmas Was Reshot Without Bing Crosby…and Without Film appeared first on /Film.

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