Associated Press

Whether your Christmas film tastes go for classics like "White Christmas" and "Miracle on 34th Street" or the more modern favorites like "Elf" and "The Santa Clause," there's always something new to discover.

Here's a look at 50 things you might not know about 15 of your favorite Christmas films.

A Christmas Story
Deseret News archives

"A Christmas Story" director Bob Clark says in the film's DVD commentary that he worked with writer Jean Shepherd for nearly ten years on "A Christmas Story" before the film was made.

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A Christmas Story
Deseret News archives

Scott Schwartz, who played the character Flick in the film, explained to The Huffington Post last year how the tongue-frozen-to-the-flagpole scene was filmed:

"They painted and made a fake flagpole. And there’s a little hole in it, the size of, basically, your pinky nail, with a vacuum cleaner tube, basically a suction" Schwartz said. "No, I did not really stick my tongue to the pole. They can’t do that. There’s child labor laws."

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A Christmas Story
Deseret News archives

According to Peter Billingsley, who played young Ralphie in "A Christmas Story," the "steady torrent of obscenities and swearing of all kinds" that poured out of him during the scene where he beats up Scut Farkus were scripted, word for word.

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Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
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"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" with Jim Carrey featured 8,200 ornaments, 1,938 candy canes, 152,000 lbs. of crushed marble used for snow on Whoville exterior sets, 443 outfits, 52,000 Christmas lights and 2 million linear feet of Styrofoam — which translates into 6 miles of Styrofoam, if it had been cut into standard board length.

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Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
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At the advice of George Lucas, director Ron Howard "tweaked" existing materials rather than creating the Who world from scratch. He chose 1950s-style appliances and props and made them to fit Dr. Seuss' style using clues from the book like a curved "General Who-lectric" fridge. Whoville kitchens feature 1950s stoves that have been painted and fitted with new handles, dials and grills, while a plethora of other props, from blenders to record players, were built using materials purchased at flea markets, antique stores and garage sales.

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Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
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In the film, the Grinch decides to return the stolen gifts to Whoville, and he, his dog Max and Cindy Lou Who embark on a high-speed sleigh ride down the mountainside. The on-location shots for the scene were filmed by a second-unit crew at the Solitude ski resort in Utah.

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Elf
Deseret News archives

In making "Elf," director Jon Favreau observed his then-1-year-old son Max to help create the character of Buddy. If Max would do something like push all the buttons in an elevator, it would be believable for Buddy to do it as well.

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Elf
Deseret News archives

Jon Favreau said in the "Elf" commentary that some of the movie's sets, including Walter's apartment and Gimbals' toy department, were built in the same abandoned mental hospital in Vancouver that the decidedly un-Christmas-like film "Freddy Vs. Jason" was filmed in.

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Elf
Deseret News archives

The scene in Santaland where Buddy whispers to a mall Santa that he's sitting "on a throne of lies" had to be largely shot in one take because there wasn't money or time to rebuild the set once it had been demolished. "It's always fun to have the adrenaline of, 'We have to get it right,'" Ferrell told About.com's Rebecca Murray.

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Elf
Deseret News archives

In the scene where Buddy tests jack-in-the-box toys, director Jon Favreau had a remote control to trigger the last toy, and he waited a little longer than normal before setting it off just to see how Will Ferrell would react.

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Holiday Inn
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According to film historian Ken Barnes, Bing Crosby was Paramount's highest-paid star when "Holiday Inn" was made, and the combination of Crosby and Fred Astaire was a "headache" for accounting. The original choices for the two female leads in the movie were Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth, but with Crosby and Astaire already costing so much, the answer to that request "was a flat 'no.'"

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Holiday Inn
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Nobody saw the song "White Christmas" as the true star of "Holiday Inn" before or shortly after the film was released. The song, "Be Careful, It's My Heart," was expected to be the big hit based on sales of Crosby's single before the movie came out and comments from movie critics. However, within three months of the film's release, "White Christmas" was capturing the hearts of listeners.

The song — sung by Bing Crosby early in the film — was originally intended to be sung by one of the female leads, and much later in the script. On the movie's commentary, film historian Ken Barnes wondered aloud if Irving Berlin gave the song to Crosby instead because Crosby believed the song would be a success.

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Holiday Inn
Associated Press

Fred Astaire's firecracker dance was a "high spot" of Astaire's career, film historian Ken Barnes said in the movie's commentary, and is said "to be the fastest-moving and most intricate dance routine ever filmed." Astaire's taps were recorded live, as were the firecrackers and explosions, although Paramount added a few more explosions later. Bing Crosby said Astaire did the number 38 times before he was satisfied, and Astaire said crew members had to wear goggles during filming because the sand from the firecrackers flew into their faces.

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Home Alone
Deseret News archives

In the 1990 film "Home Alone" starring Macaulay Culkin, Daniel Stern plays one half of a pair of criminals. Stern was the first choice for the role of Marv, but he wasn't originally cast in the film because they couldn't afford him. After a failed screen test with the original person who was cast in the role, though, Stern was able to join the cast.

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Home Alone
Deseret News archives

The character of Old Man Marley did not exist in the original screenplay but was added later when director Chris Columbus sought to inject the film with additional warmth and sentimentality.

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Home Alone
Deseret News archives

The criminals suffer a lot of misfortune thanks to the character of Kevin in "Home Alone," but luckily it didn't hurt as much as it looked like it did. According to Daniel Stern, the nail he steps on with his bare foot was made of rubber and crushed down when he stepped on it, while the ornaments he steps on were made out of sugar.

The shot of him looking up as the iron drops toward his face was shot by tying a rope to a 300-pound camera and dropping it down the laundry shoot.

Although the film was originally supposed to have a mechanical tarantula crawling on his face, they ended up using a live tarantula and Stern's screams were filled in later to keep the spider from startling and biting him during filming.

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Home Alone
Deseret News archives

In the scene where Marv and Harry hang Kevin on a hook and Harry threatens to bite off his fingers one at a time, actor Joe Pesci actually bit down. Years later, Macaulay Culkin says he still bears a Joe Pesci tooth scar on his finger, and that he's very proud of it.

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It's a Wonderful Life
Associated Press

According to Tom Bosley on the "It's a Wonderful Life" documentary featurette, the movie featured one of the longest sets ever constructed for an American film. The main street was 300 yards long, covered 4 acres, featured 75 stores and buildings and contained 20 full-grown oaks that were transplanted onto the set.

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It's a Wonderful Life
Associated Press

The Motion Picture Association of America's production code required the removal of the phrase "nuts to you" from the script, as well as words like "impotent," "dang," "lousy" and "jerk."

Although the production code stated that criminals in movies need to be punished for their crimes, Mr. Potter never received his comeuppance, and Frank Capra said he received more mail about that point than for anything else about the film.

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It's a Wonderful Life
Movie screencap

In a scene where the character Uncle Billy gets drunk and George Bailey points him in the right direction home, the actor staggered off-screen, and then a loud crash was heard. The crash was the sound of a technician accidentally knocking over a stack of props, and although the man expected to be fired for the accident, Capra liked the sound and Uncle Billy's subsequent, "I'm all right! I'm all right!" so much that he kept them in the film and gave the technician a $10 bonus.

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It's a Wonderful Life
Movie screencap

Snow at the time was usually made with cornflakes painted white, but they were so loud and crunchy that it made recording dialogue impossible. Capra challenged his special effects crew to create something quieter. They used 3,000 tons of shaved ice, 300 tons of gypsum, 300 tons of plaster and 6,000 gallons of a mixture of foamite, soap and water to create snow, and eventually won an Academy Award for their developments in snow-making.

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It's a Wonderful Life
Movie screencap

According to Tom Bosley, during the scene where the residents of Bedford Falls make a run on the bank, Capra asked the woman playing Miss Davis to surprise Jimmy Stewart with the amount she asked for. Surrounded by people requesting large sums of money, the woman asked for $17.50, and Capra captured Stewart's surprised reaction — kissing the woman on the cheek — for the film.

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Jingle All the Way
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Dan Riordan, who played Turbo Man in the Christmas film "Jingle All the Way," had a hard time with the flying required by the role because he was afraid of heights.

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Jingle All the Way
Movie screencap

Turbo Man, the sought-after toy at the center of the film "Jingle All The Way" was originally known as Turbo Tom, with a TT logo on his uniform. Everybody agreed on the name "Turbo," but couldn't decide what should be paired with it. People involved with the production said they went through about a million variations — from The Turbo to The Turbo Guy — before Turbo Man was selected and OK'd.

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Meet Me in St. Louis
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The 1944 musical "Meet Me in St. Louis" follows the story of the Smith family living in St. Louis, and covers happenings in all four seasons of the year. During a ball on Christmas Eve, Esther, played by Judy Garland, fills up the dance card of a visiting girl with unwieldy and unattractive dance partners. The role of the visiting girl was played by June Lockhart, who has familial ties to another classic Christmas movie — her father plays the judge in the trial of Kris Kringle in "Miracle on 34th Street."

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Meet Me in St. Louis
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"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" was written for "Meet Me in St. Louis," but after hearing the song, Judy Garland decided it was too sad to sing. The lyrics, according to the film commentary, were:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year we may all be many miles away

No good times like the olden days Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us no more

But at least we all will be together
If the fates allow
From now on we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

When Judy asked songwriter Hugh Martin to change the lyrics so they were happier, Martin said no. For about six weeks they didn't have a Christmas song, according to the commentary. Tom Drake, Judy Garland's love interest in the film, later took Martin aside and suggested listening to Garland, saying the song "could be an immortal Christmas song if you weren't so stubborn." The song was rewritten.

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Associated Press

"The Muppet Christmas Carol" was the first film made after the death of Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets. It was a test, according to the DVD commentary, of whether or not the Muppets could continue without Henson.

According to boxofficemojo.com, the film had an opening weekend of more than $5 million and a domestic total gross of more than $27 million.

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The Muppet Christmas Carol
Movie screencap

The most well-known Muppets were originally slated to play the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Gonzo — who ended up narrating the movie as Charles Dickens — was going to be the hooded Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, with his nose sticking out of his hood. Miss Piggy — who ended up playing Emily Cratchit, the wife of the long-suffering Bob Cratchit — was going to be the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Scooter was going to be the Ghost of Christmas Past.

However, according to the commentary, that idea "didn't last for long."

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The Muppet Christmas Carol
Movie screencap

Creating the ghost puppets was no easy feat for the Muppet puppeteers.

The floating, childish Ghost of Christmas Past was originally filmed in a container of oil, which was later changed to water. Sometimes, according to the commentary, the ghost looks excellent on film, but other times she doesn't look quite so good, because once the puppet went into the water, it was a race against time to get things filmed before the foam mechanisms, paint, and glue started to fail.

The dark, silent Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come "was like a cat" — if his lightweight fabric body was hit with any rain at all during his rain-filled scenes, he'd go "right down to nothing and vanish."

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The Muppet Christmas Carol
Movie screencap

Statler and Waldorf together played Jacob Marley's ghost (or in this case, the Marley brothers). For the filming of the scene, the puppeteers were dressed in black and filmed against a black velvet background. At least three puppeteers were needed for each puppet. After the number was filmed, the two ghosts were superimposed on the proper background.

On a related note, most Muppets are left-handed, because most puppeteers are right-handed.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas
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Tim Burton pitched the idea for "The Nightmare Before Christmas" around the time Disney made "The Fox and the Hound" (1981) and "The Black Cauldron" (1985). It took about 20 years for the film to actually be made, and Burton said he always resisted doing the film in any form other than stop motion animation.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas
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Jack Skellington's dog Zero was animated out of lead, which could be moved very fluidly. According to the DVD commentary, "You didn't want to lick your fingers after animating the dog..."

Oogie-Boogie, Skellington's antagonist in the film, was a challenge to animate because he was made of a lot of rubber and was really hard to push around. "It was like wrestling with an alligator," the commentary said.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas
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The character of Jack Skellington didn't originally have a pinstripe suit — they put him in pinstripes because he blended into the background of Halloween Town. His movements were patterned after the combination of a stick insect or spider, Fred Astaire and Vincent Price.

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Miracle on 34th Street
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Maureen O'Hara, who was Irish, was making a film in the U.S. when World War II began and was unable to go home for the duration of the war. She said when the war ended, she finally got to go home, and then was told to turn right back around and come to the U.S. to make "Miracle on 34th Street." According to O'Hara, her agent made her come back to the U.S., and although she wasn't happy about returning before she read the script, she changed her mind after reading it, saying she knew it would be a great film.

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Miracle on 34th Street
Movie screencap

"Miracle on 34th Street" was filmed during the 1946 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The actors had one chance — and one chance only — to get their scenes right, because there would be no repeating the parade. Maureen O'Hara said all the parade scenes were carefully worked through beforehand, and that most of the crowd probably had no idea a movie was being filmed. Everyone knew exactly what needed to be done, O'Hara said, and "we jolly well did it... or else."

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Miracle on 34th Street
Associated Press

Natalie Wood, who played Susan Walker in the film, used to make and give Maureen O'Hara little ceramic figurines at the end of each week of filming. O'Hara said she loved and saved them all, but that in 1989, when Hurricane Hugo hit the Caribbean, all of those figurines were lost. "All Natalie's little ceramics went up into the sky and they're floating around somewhere even, I hope, to this day," O'Hara said. "They're close to heaven."

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Miracle on 34th Street
Movie screencap

During the final scene of the movie where Susan finds the house that Santa Claus picked out for her, her mother, and Fred Gailey, the cold New York winter became a big problem when it froze the cameras. Maureen O'Hara said a lady across the street lit the fireplace in her living room and invited them all in to defrost their cameras.

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Mr. Krueger's Christmas
Deseret News archives

According to a 2003 Deseret News article by Doug Robinson, the first time Michael McLean — the producer of "Mr. Krueger's Christmas" — met Jimmy Stewart, he thought the actor, who was unshaven and disheveled in his old cardigan sweater, double-knit slacks and glasses, had "lost it."

After talking with Stewart about the film for about 15 minutes, Stewart removed the glasses, sat up straight and responded to a question in a strong voice, and McLean realized that he had been "auditioning" the whole time.

"It was genius!" McLean told Robinson. "It was genius! He knew every line. He knew the character better than I did."

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Mr. Krueger's Christmas
Movie screencap

When the time came to film the scene where the actor spoke with Jesus in "Mr. Krueger's Christmas," Jimmy Stewart announced, "I've only got one of these in me. Everyone who doesn't need to be here, get them out. Tell them I want this to go well. I can do other takes, but this will be the right one. There will only be one."

According to Doug Robinson's story, after shooting the scene, McLean asked the cameraman, "Did you get it?"

"I hope so," the cameraman replied. "Because I was crying."

OK.com: "Mr. Krueger's Christmas"

The Polar Express
Associated Press

Tom Hanks played five different characters in the 2004 film, "The Polar Express": Hero Boy, Father, Conductor, Hobo and Santa Claus. Tom Hanks said the process of playing multiple characters in a scene was "oddly liberating," but that it could be a challenge too. The film was made using motion capture, which requires the actors to wear special suits and imagine most of what's around them, including what they're wearing and what props they're using. With five different characters, Hanks had a lot to remember.

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The Polar Express
Associated Press

"Many of the buildings at the North Pole reference buildings related to American railroading history, such as the buildings in the square at the center of the city, which were loosely based on the Pullman Factory located in Chicago, and the Control Center, which was based on the old Penn Station in New York City," a Stories Behind the Screen blog post said.

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The Polar Express
Associated Press

According to the Stories Behind the Screen blog, when an elf in the communications room at the North Pole mentions a Steven in New Jersey who is terrorizing his two sisters, he's actually referring to director Robert Zemeckis's friend Steven Spielberg, who "has admitted many times that he frequently terrorized his two younger sisters."

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The Polar Express
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According to IMDB, the main characters in "The Polar Express" have names like Hero Boy, Sister Sarah, Know-It-All, Hero Girl, Lonely Boy, Toothless Boy and Young Boy.

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The Santa Clause
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The day before filming started on "The Santa Clause," Eric Lloyd, who played Charlie in the film, fell while jumping on some boulders. When he fell, he scraped his face up and knocked his four front teeth loose. The scene that was due to be filmed the next day took place in Santa's workshop in the North Pole. As Charlie is whisked away on a large toy train, he waves, but doesn't say anything. His lines for the day were said off-screen or when the camera couldn't capture a clear view of his teeth.

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The Santa Clause
Movie screencap

The original idea for "The Santa Clause" came from comedy team Steve Rudnick and Leo Benvenuti. The first draft of their script was titled, "Such a Clatter." The original script didn't include a child — the character of Charlie was added later and subsequently became a major part of the plot.

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White Christmas
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In the film "White Christmas," Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye's characters refer to the brother of the Haynes sisters as "Freckle-face Haynes, the dog-faced boy." The photo of Freckle-face Haynes is actually a photograph of Carl Switzer, who played Alfalfa in the 1930s short series "Our Gang."

"Freckle-face Haynes, the dog-faced boy" actually appears in another classic Christmas movie as the jealous boy responsible for opening the gym floor and dumping George Bailey and Mary into the school swimming pool in "It's A Wonderful Life."

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White Christmas
Movie screencap

During the number "Sisters," by Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, Crosby began laughing. Because of that, he never thought the take would be used in the film and he really let go, Rosemary Clooney said in the commentary. Clooney said the filmmakers had a better version where Crosby didn't laugh, but when they ran them both, people liked the laughing version better.

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White Christmas
Movie screencap

During the film "White Christmas," Vera-Ellen, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney sing a song called "Snow" while riding on the train to Vermont. The song was originally called "Free," according to Rosemary Clooney, and was one of Irving Berlin's "trunk songs," or songs that were written, set aside and somewhat forgotten. He pulled it out for "White Christmas" and rewrote it.

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White Christmas
Movie screencap

The character of Bob Wallace is more Bing Crosby than fictional character, according to Rosemary Clooney.

In scenes where Danny Kaye dances around Crosby, she said it's because Crosby didn't want to work that hard.

Short statements like "nix," "cut, cut, cut," and "slam-bang finish" were things that Crosby used to say all the time off-camera, and became things that he said on-camera as well as he worked them into the character.

Scenes like those where the two couples are getting ready to exit the train in Vermont and later where Crosby and Clooney are discussing food in the Vermont lodge contain a mix of scripted lines and Crosby ad-libbing.

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White Christmas
Movie screencap

George Chakiris, who played Bernardo in the film, "West Side Story," appears as a dancer in "White Christmas." In the film's commentary, Rosemary Clooney said Chakiris started getting fan mail at Paramount due to the closeup shot of his face during Clooney's song, "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me." She said fans wrote to "the boy that was next to Rosemary Clooney."

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