You have a wonderful Christmas treat coming at you, dear readers, dear cineastes, PBS’ American Masters is going to be presenting to you in honor of the 60th anniversary of the film “White Christmas”, a terrific, charming, delightful, and also a bit frightening, “Bing Crosby Rediscovered.” It will air on Tuesday night December 2, and be repeated the day after Christmas, Dec.26. Check your local listings.
I’ve watched it twice now and it’s the perfect holiday movie, reminding us of how much a part of all our early lives Bing Crosby was. “He was like family,” one of his biographers says. Narrated by the great Stanley Tucci, it’s a no-holes-barred look at a very complicated, and some could say troubled man.
Alcoholism ruled and nearly ruined his entire life. It led to a troubled marriage. The early death of his beloved wife Dixie, at 44 from ovarian cancer. How much his and her drinking led to this, we’ll never know, and then we find all of his four sons by that marriage died one right after the other, young, too, and two of them suicides.
He got it right though with his amazing second marriage to Kathryn, who appears in the film with her three happy surviving children, one of them, Mary Crosby, became a well-known actress herself. She shot JR, if you remember on “Dallas.”
And none of his family nor any of the interview subjects including Michael Feinstein, hold back or mince words. And oh that beautiful music!
“Bing Crosby Rediscovered” is filled with marvelous, archival footage going all the way back to his early days in vaudeville!
The late Bob Hope, of course, his great on-screen comic partner, for all those “Road” movies in the ’40s is heard in voice-over. Rosemary Clooney’s melodious singing and speaking voice is also heard commenting on how much Bing meant to her. She starred opposite him in “White Christmas.”
I remember so well the day my mother brought that red vinyl Decca 45 RPM record home from Macy’s in the Bronx. It was an event in my childhood. And how we nearly wore out the groves on it, as we listening endlessly entranced by just the THOUGHT of a white Christmas in the Bronx! It seemed an impossible, beautiful dream. I don’t think we ever had one.
But you’ll have wonderful Christmas memories and many more delights awaiting you in “Bing Crosby Rediscovered.” It’s essential viewing for the Holiday Season. Click on the link above to see a sneak preview and don’t miss it!