Five years ago, I decided to pop in the old VHS tape of White Christmas (Curtiz, 1954) my family had always kept, but had never gotten around to watching. I was in the last three minutes of the movie when the tape broke, to my horror! By complete coincidence, the movie was also playing on television, and when I switched back and found it, it was right at the part where the tape broke down.
I loved it so much, from then on I have made it a tradition to watch White Christmas annually on Christmas Eve. This year, I watched it as I alternated between eggnog and tea while partaking in yet another Christmas Eve tradition; coloring one page each year of a 26 page Christmas coloring book (almost done!!). As I multitasked, I realized that while I adored the film’s comedy, the music of Irving Berlin, and the fantastic display of singing and dancing talent, I took a particular liking to the elder Haynes sister in the movie, Betty (played by Rosemary Clooney).
Below is a list of points I have compiled regarding why Betty Haynes is #lifegoals for me:
- She keeps herself (and her heart) guarded.
Betty is described by her sister Judy as being “slow,” to love. When she first meets her love interest, Bob (Bing Crosby), she instantly bickers with him. Her main focus is on her career and her sister. I love that about her: Even though you can tell that she would like a special someone in her life, he’s not necessary.
It takes her a lot of persuasion (and some pushing from master matchmakers Judy and Phil) to open up her heart to Bob. I relate so much to this personality trait. While in the movie, this characteristic is seen as a hindrance to her finding love, being guarded is just like anything else- if used too much in excess, it becomes cumbersome. Otherwise, it isn’t a terrible thing to want to protect your heart until you truly feel comfortable opening up to someone special.
- She is the world’s best sister.
Betty will do anything for her sister Judy. They complement each other incredibly well in their sister act (“Sisters,” is better than it has any right to be), and Betty actually makes significant sacrifices for the sake of Judy. Judy herself comments on these sacrifices, saying that Betty is like a “mother hen,” who wants to see her safe, cared for, and happy before she even considers any of those things for herself.
This characteristic is in line with the aforementioned point; if in excess, it becomes problematic. Here, Betty is a bit too concerned for Judy, not allowing herself even the slightest bit of joy. However, even though I’m an only child, I am so lucky to have friends close enough that I consider them family. I take Betty as an example of how to be an amazing, selfless friend.
- She stands up for what she believes, and will not adjust her morals no matter what.
When Betty gets news that Bob and Phil are going to take a charitable performance and broadcast it on television, she mistakenly assumes that they are only doing the show for profit. She is then told by Judy that she is engaged to Phil, and no longer things that their sister act is necessary. This is the tipping point for Betty. Certain that her sister will be taken care of, she has no problem abandoning her budding relationship with Bob for the sake of adhering to her moral code.
In sum, she rocks.
- I mean, those dresses. Good lord.
This gif does not do her dresses justice. I want her entire wardrobe from this shoot and then some. The costumes for White Christmas were designed by Edith Head, who was nominated for 35 Oscars and won eight. This is the epitome of awesome.
- When the going gets tough, she goes solo and kicks ass.
After she leaves the inn in Vermont, Betty goes solo and quickly starts getting her own gigs. She performs a song called, “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me,” which I used in an audition that scored me a dream role in my senior musical in high school (moral of the story: When in doubt, Irving Berlin).
This move is so cool. This goes to show just how powerful she is: Now that Judy and Bob are no longer concerning her, Betty has complete autonomy over her own life, choices, and career. And she’s excellent!
Ultimately, Betty discovers that she was mistaken in assuming that Bob and Phil were using the show for their own gain and returns to Vermont to join her sister, performs in the show, and rekindles her relationship with Bob. Despite the fact that she ends up not only in an ensemble act, but also with a man, her brief solo stint is so indicative of her independent spirit.
And this is just one of the many things I love about White Christmas. I could go on and on about the film’s spectacle, or its beautiful message about giving back, or its commentary on the fate of veterans who return home from war and their struggle to assimilate back into civilian life, but I will leave it at this: Betty is an awesome female character who was written in the 1950’s, a time commonly considered a regressive time for feminism.
So I will continue watching and enjoying White Christmas this Christmas Eve, and here’s hoping that you all have a very happy holiday season! And may all your Christmases be white!
Photo by author. All gifs from giphy.com.