Then, General Waverley, dressed in his uniform, walks through the double doors into the Columbia Inn dining room and the 151st division is there, singing "We'll follow the old man wherever he wants to go", and before I know it, there are actual TEARS TRICKLING. I dashed them away furtively, relieved there was nobody to see me.
Yes, Irving Berlin managed to crack my hard candy shell and expose my soft, marshmallowy centre. How annoying.
One more thought about this film. Say what I like (and I do), there's no denying the power of Danny Kaye. If that man was a big name in movies just a couple of decades later, he would have qualified as seriously hot. It's a combination of tall, funny, nice face, and the ability to steal scenes even from Bing Crosby, who spends the movie looking up at Danny and bleating in a half-hearted way (except when he's singing solos, then he takes on a disturbing mélange of fatherliness and smooth, smoking-jacket-wearing crooner suavité, with piercing blue eyes and a sensual curve to his mouth, reminding me in an uneasy, Œdipal way of my since-childhood dentist; toward whom, it is becoming apparent to me as I write this, I have possibly cherished the occasional -- entirely subconscious -- impure thought). But my boy Danny manages to pull off a red shirt spangled all over with beaded poinsettia-snowflake things, shiny black boots, and white fluffy trim. That takes some serious manly mojo. I dig it.
Also, Vera-Ellen kicks ass. Take a look at her, cutting a rug in this movie. She's an athletic, graceful, tap-dancing, high-heel sporting, sassy short skirt-wearing, booty-baring amazon princess of style. (I do have concerns that she may have pioneered the eating disorder trend*, but it is just possible that she was naturally thin - maybe even balletic. At this distance of time, perhaps I can give her the benefit of the doubt, even if I do feel the urge to hand her a sandwich. Or a cheesecake.)
Anyway, suffice it to say I won't be watching this again. I just wouldn't be able to stand it. I much prefer the realistic, non-contrived, unemotional entertainment of It's a Wonderful Life.
* Ed Note: As it turns out, I am not wrong. To quote a bio of Vera-Ellen:
It was discovered that Vera-Ellen silently battled anorexia throughout much of the 50s before doctors had even coined the term or devised treatments.
That's just a damned shame. An amazon.com reviewer also points out:
By the way, notice how Vera-Ellen always has a scarf or something around her neck - to cover up the ravages of her anorexia.