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An expert vaudeville performance was to be expected from Judy; to find her a dramatic actress as well is the real surprise although perhaps it should not be In such pictures as Wizard of Oz, The Clock and Meet Me in St. Louis, Judy showed the first flutters of a nature that could give and sympathize deeply, even where it could not control. In Star the control is still unsure. But the confidence of the heartwhich shows in the sudden warm going-under-now look in the eyesis impressive. Everything she does is a little overdone, but it is a pleasure to see such things done at all. Everybody's little sister, it would seem, has grown out of her braids and into a tiara.
White Christmas (Paramount) is a sentimental recollection of the 1942 musical Holiday Inn, in which Bing Crosby first sang the song White Christmas. From the first scene (Christmas 1944) to the last (Christmas 1954), it is blatantly the I "big musical," a big fat yam of a picture richly candied with VistaVision (Paramount's answer to CinemaScope), Technicolor, tunes by Irving Berlin, massive production numbers, and big stars. Unfortunately, the yam is still a yam.
The plot revolves around a handsome wide-smiling, fatherly ex-general (Dean Jagger) whose ownership of a nice old white inn in Vermont (remember the inn in Holiday Inn?) is endangered by business conditions. Two of his former men (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye), who since the war have made a big success in show business, come to his rescue. They throw a benefit at the inn, and call on all the old man's old soldiers to help out. Meanwhile, they are able to do a good turn for a sister act (Rosemary Cloonev and Vera-Ellen).
A couple of the tunes (Sisters, Count Your Blessings) may do very well with the jukebox trade, but except for the title piece, Composer Berlin is considerably below his top form. Throughout most of the picture, Crosby just doesn't Bing. Rosemary Clooney, as his girl friend, gives him no very exciting reason to. Even Danny Kaye seems a little depressed. He has only one really adequate line ("When what's left of you gets around to what's left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting whatever it is you've got left"), but he does manage, in one spanking fine sequence with Dancer
Vera-Ellen, to remind the world that when he wants to, he can move shoe leather with anybody short of Fred Astaire.
Hansel and Gretel (Michael Myerberg) shows what the Machine Age can do to an old folk tale. Based on Engelbert Humperdinck's 1893 children's opera, Hansel is a 72-minute Technicolor production built around a new gimmick: electronically controlled robots with hands, eyebrows, and bodies that move.
The novelty quickly wears off. As "Kinemins," Hansel and Gretel are too human for fantasy, too clumsy on their magnetized feet to pass for real. Only with Rosina Rosylips, the witch, does Producer Myerberg bring his brainchild close to life. Swooping happily on her broomstick or chortling over Gretel ("She makes my mouth water" "I'm so glad I caught her"), Rosina Rosylips is fine fun. For the rest, despite Humperdinck's music and Evalds Dajevskis' eerily beautiful settings, Hansel is hoist on its own technology.