My son made me a generous pledge, in the spirit of Christmas: that he would watch any movie with me that I might choose, even if it was a movie he didn't like. This offer would last, he assured me, all through Christmas break. This is quite a sacrifice if you take into account how boring both of my boys find my movie choices.
He started off by joining me in the viewing of one of my holiday favorites, White Christmas. (Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen). He watched intently enough, asking "Who is this guy? Is he a main character? Will we see him again?"
Then, when Wallace and Davis (Crosby and Kaye's characters) were packing to take a train to New York but also maintaining a snappy patter, Graham furrowed his brows. "Why do they keep throwing things to each other?" he asked.
"They're packing," I said. But he was right: they were doing a lot of throwing.
And the dancing was problematic: little boys aren't thrilled with the dancing--at least not this little boy.
"Why is she taking such giant steps?" he asked during the "Mandy" number.
"It's part of the dance."
"It isn't a good part," he said.
Later still, Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen had a wonderful romantic dance to the song "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing." Vera's lovely ethereal dress flipped and floated, and she and Kaye seemed to defy gravity before he dipped her, her blonde hair floating downward, in a romantic embrace near the moonlit water.
"Wouldn't it be funny if he threw her into the pool?" Graham asked.
Now I was the one frowning. "That wouldn't be romantic, Graham."
"It would be better, though."
Maybe he's right. I like White Christmas for many reasons, but several of them are related to nostalgia. As a modern movie, it wouldn't last long unless there was a kidnapping or a bikini scene or a car chase.
Or if someone threw Vera Ellen into a pool.
In any case, by the end of the movie he had practically lost interest. "So that's it?" he said. "He ends up with the girl?"
"And it snows. And they made the general happy."
"Yeah, okay," said my son. I wonder if he's re-thinking his former generosity. But too late now. A gift is a gift, and I'm not returning it.