Forget A Christmas Story; forget It’s a Wonderful Life. White Christmas is the best Christmas movie of all time, and for good reason. It has everything: singing (not the least of which being Bing Crosby crooning the titular song), dancing, witty one-liners, love, and heart-warming acts of selflessness. While not all of the almost-sixty-year-old movie’s lessons can withstand the test of time (see: the ethics of the telephone operator listening in on another extension doesn’t really translate to our modern era), the movie contains at least five enduring lessons:
Remember those who helped you.
The entire plot hinges on this concept. Within the first few minutes of the film, Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) saves Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) from being crushed by a falling building during WWII. Davis is injured in the process, and a grateful Wallace promises to make it up to Davis, eventually teaming up to be a pair of world-famous producers.
Don’t be ashamed to maximize a connection.
Judy Haynes (Vera Ellen) and her sister Betty (Rosemary Clooney) are performing a largely ignored sister act when Judy decides to capitalize upon their brother’s army connection to Wallace and Davis. Although Judy employs a bit of deceit (pretending that the introductory letter came from the Haynes brother himself), it’s her willingness to maximize the connection to the producers that launches the sisters to stardom (and love!).
Use your influence for good.
When Wallace and Davis discover the down-on-its-luck Vermont hotel that’s booked the Haynes sisters for the holiday season is run by their old general (Dean Jagger), the pair decides to use their star power to attract positive buzz. The endeavor is far from inexpensive, but Wallace and Davis find helping someone else injects new energy into their show and their lives.
Don’t use other’s misfortune to your advantage.
Television executives push Wallace to use the general’s plight for free publicity, but he refuses to take the bait. He’s a classy guy, and he knows it’s classless to capitalize on someone else’s misery.
Don’t listen to gossip.
Betty hears some gossip questioning Wallace’s true intentions with the show, and, rather than asking him directly about the rumor, she lets it color her perception of her relationship and her job. Had Betty confronted him with the gossip, she would have avoided a lot of headache and wouldn’t have ended up singing songs about heartbreak alone in a New York nightclub.