For Hicksflicks.com, Nov. 29, 2013

When I was a boy growing up in Los Angeles County I was a Danny Kaye fanatic. Loved his TV variety show and whenever he had a new film opening, my parents knew they'd have to take me on opening night — or be nagged to until they did.

They were very glad when I was finally old enough to take myself.

But in 1954, when "White Christmas" was released, I was just 5 years old. My Danny Kaye obsession hadn't quite developed yet.

When I was a bit older, though, maybe 10 or 12, "White Christmas" was advertised in the Sunday Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times, which I was reading for movie stuff every week. And the film was going to play at a local theater, revived for the holiday season. I was very surprised. I'd never heard of it. And I was very excited.

When I saw it, I immediately fell in love with it. My parents liked it too, though not enough to see it a second time. I wanted to go again but  I was too young to get myself there — so once had to be enough. And in those days, who knew if it would ever come around again? It would be decades before it would become a TV perennial.

For the uninitiated, "White Christmas" is sort of a riff on "Holiday Inn" (1942), the black-and-white Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire musical comedy, in which Crosby opens a country resort only on holidays, putting on shows that match up with those dates marked on everyone's calendars. The film also introduced the song "White Christmas."

But the film "White Christmas" switches things up a bit and does so in glorious Technicolor — and it was the first movie in VistaVision, Paramount Pictures' answer to Twentieth Century Fox's widescreen Cinemascope process.

Here, Crosby and Kaye are a singing, dancing, comedy team fresh out of the Army, and Kaye and Vera-Ellen play matchmakers to Crosby and her sister, played by Rosemary Clooney. The inn comes into play when they learn that their former general has a ski resort that hasn't seen snow in many a month, so they decide to put on a show to help him out. Music, dancing and comedy ensue.

The players are charming, the songs are fun, the dance routines are delightful and the four stars have genuine chemistry. Dean Jagger is also good as the general, and Mary Wickes is a hoot as his woman Friday.

It's fair to say that "Holiday Inn" is the better movie overall, but "White Christmas" is a film that grows on you, and I never get tired of revisiting it.

And you can bet I'll be catching it during its brief two-day run at several local Cinemark theaters, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2 and 7 p.m.

But only once.

Well, until next year.