Tag Archives: World War II

White Christmas-Elvis Presley Version

The song White Christmas (Irving Berlin) was made popular by Bing Crosby in part by the movie Holiday Inn(1942). Initially the song was not that popular but during World War 11 it gained popularity with troops away from home. The simple lyrics resonated so strongly it became one of the most requested songs from the troops. Bing Crosby initially thought the song was just a song and did not know its lasting importance.

Crosby’s rendition and the many others that follow use the same formula but add various bells and whistles to make it their own. Crosby’s rendition remains the most popular but in 1957 Elvis Presley recorded his own version for his own Christmas album. His version departs from the standard version in terms of tempo and how it is sung. So much that it bothered Irving Berlin (who wrote the lyrics) and pressure was put on radio stations to not play it. And it disappeared from the airwaves and was rarely heard since. Until recently when the Elvis Presley Christmas Album was re-released. I have that cd and it has a lot of great renditions of classic Christmas songs. But here is the official YouTube release of the song so you can judge for yourself whether it is thumbs up, thumbs down, or toss the cd of it into the fire! Warning-this YouTube video does have advertising.

Nazi Titanic Propaganda Film Turns 70

Joseph Goebbels
Photo:Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1968-101-20A / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA

The Times of Israel has an interesting story on Joseph Goebbel’s famously overbudget and scandal plagued Titanic movie. Conceived as a means to convey German heroism while depicting how bad British society and capitalists were, it ended up being banned and shown only in occupied countries. The film had a budget of 4 million reichmarks (around 180 million today). They also diverted resources (men and material) for set construction and for set extras. Stories of partying, the director Herbert Selpin in constant turmoil with producers and actors, and Selpin uttering anti-Nazi comments reached Berlin. Selpin was arrested, interrogated, and was found dead in his cell (suicide but most believe he was murdered ). When Goebbel’s saw the final cut, he was not happy. When production started, Germany was master of Europe. But by late 1942 and 1943, the tide of war had changed. It now was in a two front war, being bombed by the allies, and had suffered some defeats. He banned its showing in Germany but allowed it shown in occupied countries, where it was well received. Then the war ended and the movie faded.

But not the end of the story as Wikipedia notes:
Titanic was re-discovered in 1949, but was quickly banned in most western countries. Shortly after the war, the film, dubbed in Russian, was screened across the Eastern Bloc as a “trophy film.” After the 1950s, Titanic went back into obscurity, sometimes showing on German television. In 1992, a censored, low quality VHS copy, was released in Germany. This version deleted the strongest propaganda scenes, which immensely watered down its controversial content. Finally, in 2005, Titanic was completely restored and, for the first time, the uncensored version was released in a special edition DVD by Kino Video.

Four scenes from the movie were incorporated in the 1958 A Night To Remember. Wikipedia says it was of two day scenes of Titanic on calm water, and two clips of an engine room walkway flooding. The restored version is available on Amazon although clips and trailers (and perhaps the full movie as well) are to be found on YouTube.

Sources:
1. Goebbels’ ‘Titanic’ Cinematic Disaster Turns 70 (1 Oct 2013, Times of Israel)
2. Wikipedia:Titanic (1943)
3. Internet Movie Database