I first heard about White Christmas 1954 whilst watching another holiday movie, Christmas Vacation 1989. No trains in that one, but I was intrigued by one of Chevy Chase’s rants about “Bing Crosby tap-dancing with Danny f—ing Kaye”. It turns out there was only one movie in which Bingo and Danny appeared, White Christmas, and lo and behold there were several train scenes!
As is customary, I will concentrate on just the train bits but there might be a little cheesecake at the end. All in good taste, of course. Our movie’s title is derived from the famous 1942 holiday song for which composer Irving Berlin won an Oscar.
So pour yourself a hot cocoa or something stronger and enjoy this Christmas extravaganza. And yes, that’s Bing and Dan tap dancing next to the title card.
What could be more Christmasy than a SANTA Fe streamliner blasting by a stand of palm trees along the Pacific Ocean on its way to San Diego? Lots of sand and sunshine, but no snow, which begs the question, “How will Saint Nick land his sleigh?”
A great swath of the movie left off here (36 minutes)
Our first train scene finds song and dance men Bing and Danny running to board and being confronted by the conductor for tickets (Danny is broke, so Bing has to pay cash for a couple lounge seats).
After stashing their grips, the boys have a chat. Nice set for a lounge car – complete with bartender. Note the skiing-related murals on the bulkheads.
The next morning….suddenly they have switched trains AND railroads. This is a runby of Southern Pacific’s train #5 (note the train indicator boards) which was the New Orleans to Los Angeles “Argonaut”, according to my August 1955 Official Guide.
The train is pulled by a beautiful set of EMD F units in the “black widow” paint scheme. Mostly head end cars (baggage, express and mail — which paid the bills better than passengers), the scene is marred by the film crew placing a scruffy tree in front of the camera. Spoilsports.
Ticket punch in hand, the Conductor walks through the sleeper “section” with heavy curtains for night-time configuration. The boys emerge from Bedroom A as the girls appear from their bunks — hair perfectly coiffed.
Looks like Rosemary got the upper. Here, let me help you down! Danny is all bundled up for winter, but upon reaching the vestibule discovers….no snow in Vermont!
This appears to be an actual railroad depot somewhere in the woods. Renamed “Pine Tree” for filming, I’m not familiar where this actual station is. Where did the studio get those BLUE heavyweight Pullmans?
Skiers clutter the platform despite the lack of any white stuff. The gang is bemused (and back-lit) by the abundant sunshine. In desperation, they try one last chorus of “Snow”.
45 minutes of plot and splashy musical numbers left off HERE.
A distraught Rosemary hitches a Jeep ride back to the station. Bingo chats up a baggage-man and we get a great view of the blue Pullmans in the sunlight (note the milk cans and luggage carts too). As Rosemary departs, Bing gives her a heavy handshake and bids her goodbye.
Still more plot left off.
This Pine Tree, Vermont station set or location gets used a lot. Here we see a trainload of Bing and Danny’s old war buddies arriving to celebrate Christmas Eve. And it DOES finally start snowing!
Thus concludes the railroad portion of the picture. As promised, I offer a small slice of cheesecake for your perusal. The theme of this movie appears to be LEGS.
Great Technicolor extravaganza from start to finish. If this film doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, nothing will. Merry Christmas 2019!
Here’s what IMDb has to say about White Christmas:
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