1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest musicals ever made
If I could design my own musical, it would come out looking and sounding a lot like Easter Parade. After all, my perfect musical would absolutely have to star Judy Garland, I would want the two best dancers of the world in it - Fred Astaire and Ann Miller, Irving Berlin would supply all of the music, I would pack as much singing and dancing as possible into it, and there...
Published on April 10 2004 by Daniel Jolley
3.0 out of 5 stars Loses something over the years
Don Hews (Fred Astaire), a song and dance man gets a new contract, he finds out the he is being jilted by the girl he had an understanding with Nadine Hale (Ann Miller); she decides to go off on her own with a different contract and more than willing to also go with their mutual friend Johnny Harlow (Peter Lawford). In an effort to replace his dance partner and save face,...
Published on July 24 2007 by bernie
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest musicals ever made,
If I could design my own musical, it would come out looking and sounding a lot like Easter Parade. After all, my perfect musical would absolutely have to star Judy Garland, I would want the two best dancers of the world in it - Fred Astaire and Ann Miller, Irving Berlin would supply all of the music, I would pack as much singing and dancing as possible into it, and there would have to be a significant degree of comedy alongside a wonderful romantic plot. I would not, however, include Peter Lawford in my cast, although Lawford isn't too terribly irritating in Easter Parade (and even seems to stay sober throughout the whole film). Gene Kelly was supposed to star opposite Judy Garland here, but an injury prevented him from making the movie. I do not mean to slight Gene Kelly at all, but I just can't imagine anyone other than Fred Astaire, who came out of retirement to take Kelly's place, in the role of Don Hewes. There are only a handful of stars talented enough to share the spotlight equally with Judy Garland, and Astaire is definitely in that select group. His presence is felt immediately, as he sings, dances, and drums his way through the opening scenes, and never fades throughout the entire 104 minutes of the film.
Hewes is in love with his dance partner Nadine Hale (Ann Miller), so he is distraught when she tells him that she has signed a contract to star in her own show. Hewes seeks comfort at a local club, where he drowns his sorrows and swears that he can take any young lady and turn her into a magnificent dancer, even someone like Hannah Brown (Judy Garland), one of the club's chorus girls. The following morning, he regrets asking Hannah to be his new partner, but when she shows up saying she quit her job to accept his offer, he has little choice but to fulfill his promise to her. Things don't go smoothly at first, as Hannah sometimes struggles to remember her left from her right, and Hewes tries to make a ballroom dancer out of her. Eventually, he figures out that he is trying to turn Hannah into another Nadine, and once he lets Hannah be Hannah the duo quickly becomes quite successful. Hannah, of course, falls in love with Hewes, and she is greatly troubled when Hannah & Hewes cross paths with the celebrated Nadine Hale. When Hannah learns that Nadine was Hewes' former partner as well as a woman he loved, she fears for her happiness as well as her career. Hewes did indeed start out hoping he could use Hannah to make Nadine jealous and thus win her back, but Hannah becomes more than his partner as the months go by. This romance doesn't come easy for either party, for a number of reasons, but their story is really quite wonderful.
Easter Parade is a joyous and uplifting film that showcases Garland's incredible acting ability and talent. The story is great, but the songs and dances are the most memorable aspects of the film. Astaire makes everything look easy, and the man can do more with a cane than I would ever have thought possible. Aside from his numerous routines with Garland, Astaire knocks the viewer dead with his solo "Steppin' Out With My Baby" number - famous for its "slow motion" dance which is still mighty cool no matter how unreal it looks in this day and age. Judy Garland is delightful through and through and lends her voice to many a beautiful song over the course of the film. She was not born to be a dancer, but she more than holds her own beside Fred Astaire, and one can only admire the level of commitment she brought with her to this film. "A Couple of Swells" is a particularly unforgettable number featuring the tandem of Astaire and Garland. Lest we forget Ann Miller, I have to say her two big dance numbers are amazing, especially the highly energetic "Shakin' the Blues Away." I wish I could describe all of the amazing performances in this movie, but I would need much more time and space to do so.
Easter Parade is, quite simply, one of the most impressive and entertaining movie musicals ever made. Garland and Astaire are magical in this, the only movie they made together, and the age difference between the two stars completely disappears when they are together, thus making the romantic aspect of this film work very well indeed. I've seen Easter Parade a number of times, and I think my level of enjoyment actually increases with each and every viewing.
5.0 out of 5 stars EASTER PARADE  [Blu-ray] [US Import],
This review is from: Easter Parade [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
EASTER PARADE  [Blu-ray] [US Import] One Of M-G-M'S Brightest, Cheeriest Musicals! Plus The Uplifting Irvin Berlin Score Is First Rate!
Strolling along 5th Avenue or going with a couple of bums with A Couple of Swells. Judy Garland and Fred Astaire lead a parade of music [17 Irvin Berlin tunes and an Academy Award® winning adaption score arranged by Johnny Green and Roger Edens] and gotta-dance fun [including Fred Astaire's Drum Crazy] in this never-ending delight and co-starring Ann Miller [performing a knockout Shakin' the Blues Away] and Peter Lawford [gamely crooning "The Fella with the Umbrella"] with Judy garland. Don't let this colourful Easter parade pass you by!
FILM FACTS: The film won the 1948 Academy Award® for Best Original Music Score. The writers of the film also received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical. It was the most financially successful picture for both Judy Garland and Fred Astaire as well as the highest-grossing musical of the year.
Cast: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Peter Lawford, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin, Clinton Sundberg and Jimmy Bates
Director: Charles Walters
Producer: Arthur Freed
Screenplay: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich and Sidney Sheldon
Composers: Irving Berlin, Johnny Green and Roger Edens
Cinematography: Harry Stradling Sr.
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English: 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, German: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and Portuguese: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German SDH
Running Time: 108 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: "The happiest musical ever made," this is how M-G-M's publicity machine marketed 'Easter Parade' upon its initial release in 1948, and despite the passage of 65 years, the tagline still rings true today. As light and airy as a scrumptious soufflé, this joyous Irving Berlin confection features a whopping 17 of the composer's best loved tunes, and showcases the incomparable talents of Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in their only screen appearance together. Add a sizzling tap routine by Ann Miller, the charm of Peter Lawford, and an inspired comic turn by Jules Munshin, and it's easy to see why 'Easter Parade' remains a perennial holiday favourite and one of America's most treasured musicals.
Fred Astaire and Judy Garland make a marvellous team, but their dream coupling happened literally by accident, when original leading man Gene Kelly broke his ankle playing touch-football during rehearsals. At Gene Kelly's suggestion, producer Arthur Freed approached Fred Astaire as a replacement, but held out little hope of hiring him. The legendary dancer had been cooling his heels in retirement for two years, and hardly seemed eager to return to work. Yet he jumped at chance to team with Judy Garland, and despite a hefty 23-year age difference, the two enjoy a relaxed rapport during their musical and dramatic scenes that makes their fictional love affair utterly believable.
A torn ligament forced Cyd Charisse to bow out of 'Easter Parade,' paving the way for Ann Miller to join the M-G-M ranks, and though Judy Garland's husband at the time, Vincente Minnelli, was initially pencilled in as director, marital stresses between the two forced Metro executives to rethink the decision. On advice from Judy Garland's doctors, Arthur Freed dismissed Vincente Minnelli, and novice Charles Walters nabbed the plum assignment. The switch would prove fortuitous, as Walters' easy-going style better suits the movie's casual nature, allowing it to seamlessly juggle its cavalcade of musical numbers and the plot's substantial romantic complications.
Those complications begin almost at once, as snappy vaudeville dancer Don Hewes [Fred Astaire] is unceremoniously dumped both professionally and personally by his ungrateful partner, Nadine Hale [Ann Miller], so she can star solo in a Ziegfeld Follies revue. In a fit of pique, a lovelorn Don Hewes randomly selects the unassuming, insecure, yet beguiling Hannah Brown [Judy Garland] from a saloon chorus line to groom as Nadine Hale's replacement, and vows within a year to make her the sensation of both the 1912 Broadway season and New York's famed Easter Parade. But instead of highlighting Hannah Brown's down-to-earth personality and potent pipes, Don Hewes insists she mimic Nadine Hale's more refined, sophisticated image. Following a string of disastrous performances (and a comical tête-á-tête with Nadine Hale), Don Hewes realises his mistake, revamps the act, and begins to recognises Hannah's talent, beauty, and spirit.
Most musicals feature a love triangle of some sort, but 'Easter Parade' goes a step further by creating a love square. Hannah silently pines for Don Hewes, who still carries a torch for Nadine, who aggressively pursues Don Hewes's best friend Johnny [Peter Lawford], who instantly falls for Hannah when they meet by chance during a downpour (and sing the sweet but silly ballad "A Fella with an Umbrella"). Amazingly, all the tangled relationships iron themselves out in the end, as the film deftly blends the vagaries of human emotion with the ebullience of musical comedy.
Judy Garland once again combines heart-breaking vulnerability with impeccable comic timing (just watch how she proves to Fred Astaire she's a sexy dish) to create a totally unaffected portrayal. Whether she's confessing her unrequited love for Don, venting her anger over his obsessive attitude toward work ("You're nothing but a pair of dancing shoes!"), or expressing joy at the prospect of Broadway success, Judy Garland is always completely genuine, and that all-too-rare quality as much as her peerless voice puts the audience in the palm of her hand. Her readings of the nostalgic "Michigan," plaintive "Better Luck Next Time" and ebullient title tune are letter-perfect, and although many cite "A Couple of Swells" (a classic number in which Judy Garland and Fred Astaire cavort as lovable tramps) as the picture's musical highlight, in my book, a medley of Irving Berlin standards capped by an exhilarating rendition of "When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam" displays Judy Garland to even better advantage. Sure, Judy Garland's no Ginger Rogers, but she more than holds her own with Fred Astaire, and their dances together possess an infectious enthusiasm that more than compensates for the simplistic steps.
Never fear, Fred Astaire tackles more complex moves during his solo routines, with typically thrilling results. He shows off his trademark agility and dexterity in the opening "Drum Crazy" number, and creatively employs special effects for "Steppin' Out with My Baby" in which he dances in slow motion in the foreground (a gimmick that spotlights his supreme artistry), while the chorus performs at regular speed behind him. He also elegantly partners Ann Miller, who almost steals the film with her deliciously bitchy (yet endearingly comic) portrayal of the haughty Nadine Hale, and her show-stopping interpretation of Irvin Berlin's "Shakin' the Blues Away."
One of the most enjoyable musicals ever made, 'Easter Parade' is a full-bodied experience, integrating songs, comedy, romance, and heartache with such panache it's no wonder it was M-G-M's top-grossing film of the year and a crowning achievement for the Arthur Freed Unit. The studio, of course, quickly tried to duplicate the magic by re-teaming Judy and Fred on two subsequent occasions, but, sadly, illness prevented Judy Garland from completing either 'The Barkleys of Broadway' or 'Royal Wedding.' Although it's impossible not to rue such missed opportunities, they make us doubly appreciate the pair's appearance in 'Easter Parade,' and the energy, style, and expertise Judy Garland and Fred Astaire bring to this enduring Hollywood musical classic. Definitely a couple of swells, indeed.
Blu-ray Video Quality - Easter Parade is all about colour, especially pastels in particular and with a sparkling, beautifully modulated with his stunning 1080p encoded image transfer, 'Easter Parade' looks as bright and lush as a freshly decorated holiday egg. The costumes (designed by Irene) sport a plethora of plumes, but the richly saturated hues never bleed. The yellow gloves and skirt Miller wears during "Shakin' the Blues Away" and the blazing red feather boa she brandishes throughout "The Girl on the Magazine Cover" possess exceptional vibrancy, and such subtle accents as Fred Astaire's colourful socks grab our attention like never before. Although primary hues burst forth, the more muted pinks, lavenders, and pale greens possess equal depth and richness, making this a stellar representation of three-strip Technicolor.
'Easter Parade' first arrived on DVD in 2005 as one of Warner's flagship ultra-resolution offerings, and the results were largely fantastic. This Blu-ray edition seems to be a recycled version of that transfer, with slightly heightened resolution and more intense contrast upping the ante just a bit. Background elements are even more distinct this time around, especially the toys in the opening 'Drum Crazy' number, and accessories, like the aforementioned feathers and furs, possess striking levels of detail. The texture of fabrics is also more visible, as is the clarity of the rain in the "Fella With an Umbrella" sequence, lending the image additional presence and impact. Black levels are strong and inky, white variations in the gowns are easy to discern, and flesh tones, while leaning a smidge toward the rosy side, are generally true.
Like the DVD, faint grain provides a lovely film-like appearance, and only a couple of errant specks dot the pristine print. A few shots seem slightly overexposed, but such instances are few and far between. Typical of Warner classic releases, no digital enhancements disrupt the picture's purity, nor do imperfections such as banding, noise, or artefacts rear their ugly heads. Though it's not perfect (it doesn't quite match 'Singin' in the Rain' or 'An American in Paris'), this rendering of 'Easter Parade' still ranks as the best yet, and it's tough to imagine this classic musical looking any better than it does here. Musicals fans should be pleased as punch.
Blu-ray Audio Quality - Because none of the 'Easter Parade' pre-recordings survive, Warner Bros. was unable to fashion an authentic 5.1 re-master at the time of the film's 2005 DVD release. That also means no 5.1 mix for the 2013 Blu-ray, but the 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is included provides well-scrubbed, distortion-free audio with plenty of tonal depth. A faint bit of hiss can be detected occasionally, but for the most part the sound is clean and pure. Subtle accents such as street noise, footsteps, and rain are crisper here than on the previous track, and more musical nuances in the underscoring can be detected.
Dialogue remains clear and comprehendible throughout, and song lyrics are always easy to understand, too. The musical sequences benefit from solid fidelity, from the strings on "Ragtime Violin" to the heavy brass that permeates "Steppin' Out With My Baby." The percussion on "Drum Crazy" possesses fine resonance and some palpable bits of boomy bass, while Miller's taps are snappily distinct and Garland's powerhouse vocals enjoy marvellous dynamic range and exude lush tonal depth. Whether singing a simple ballad, such as "Michigan" or letting loose on "I Love a Piano" and "When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam," the vocal purity and engaging warmth that distinguish Judy Garland's performances come through beautifully here.
The 'Easter Parade' track doesn't possess as much oomph and zing as those accompanying more modern musicals, but it more than suffices, and allows us to savour the magic of Judy Garland and Fred Astaire.
Blu-ray Special features and Extras:
Commentary with Ava Astaire McKenzie and John Fricke: A delightful audio commentary by affable and supremely knowledgeable Judy Garland historian John Fricke and Fred Astaire's daughter, Ava Astaire McKenzie, is chock-full of fascinating information. At its best (which is pretty often), the informal, free-flowing track makes one feel like a fly on the wall at a cocktail party, eavesdropping on John Frick and Ava Astaire McKenzie (pronounced Ah-va) as they swap stories about Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Some of the charming anecdotes include how the two stars devised their wardrobe for the immortal "A Couple of Swells" number; what happened when Irving Berlin tried to gently coach Judy Garland on how to perform one of his songs; and how Fred Astaire's reputation as a stern taskmaster initially intimidated Judy Garland. Ava Astaire McKenzie recalls her father's perfectionism, explains the evolution of the Fred Astaire name, and shares her early memories of Irving Berlin phoning her home, while John Fricke provides a comprehensive overview of the film's production intertwined with biographies of the cast and crew. He divulges that Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, and Red Skelton were once considered for 'Easter Parade' supporting roles, details the excruciating back pain Ann Miller endured during the shooting of her dance numbers, and often quotes from the much darker and melodramatic original script that was wisely overhauled. Both John Fricke and Ava Astaire McKenzie have pleasant speaking voices, and their relaxed conversation and insightful observations make the track fly by.
Documentary: Easter Parade: On the Avenue [34:25] This slickly produced, informative feature chronicles the film's production history through clips, photos, studio logs, and interviews. Writer Sidney Sheldon (yes, that Sidney Sheldon) discusses his extensive contributions to the script and how he successfully lightened the original screenplay's tone, while Ann Miller matter-of-factly recalls how an abusive husband kicked her down a flight of stairs when she was nine months pregnant, resulting in a stillbirth and causing the horrible back injury that plagued her throughout filming. In addition, John Fricke and Ava Astaire McKenzie offer their perspective on the movie, but the documentary's biggest surprise is the appearance of Jimmy Bates, who, as a child, clutched the stuffed rabbit Astaire so desperately covets in the "Drum Crazy" number. Now an esteemed choreographer, Bates remembers his awestruck impressions of Astaire, Garland, and filmmaking in general, and the special gift Astaire gave him at the conclusion of shooting. Other great anecdotes from Sidney Sheldon, John Fricke, and Ava Astaire McKenzie spice up this typically fine Warner Bros. documentary.
"Mr. Monotony" [Musical Outtakes] [3:09] First seen in 'That's Entertainment III,' this simple yet potent Judy Garland performance finds the star dressed in the identical outfit she donned for her iconic 'Get Happy' number in 'Summer Stock' two years later. With her patented magnetism, Judy Garland sexily struts her stuff to Irvin Berlin's odd but infectious melody, building to a thrilling climax. Trust me, it's anything but monotonous!
Mr. Monotony [Dailies] [18:11] 'Mr. Monotony' was quite a find when it was discovered in the M-G-M vaults, but an equally wondrous treasure is the extensive collection of dailies from which the finished product was culled. These alternate takes provide a fascinating look at the filmmaking process and the incredible effort that goes into performing and documenting a seemingly simple song and dance. An array of long shots, medium shots, and close-ups from various sections of the song, as well as Judy Garland's numerous curtain call attempts, are included. Watching Judy Garland clown around while she waits for the playback, then chime in on cue, and muster the same energy level and pitch-perfect execution in take after take after take makes one appreciate her talent, professionalism, and vivacious personality all the more. As icing on the cake, both the completed number and all the dailies have been magnificently restored, so they look and sound terrific.
Radio Promo [audio only] [4:24] Dick Simmons conducts an obviously scripted interview with Fred Astaire, in which the classy hoofer talks about his retirement, how the charms of 'Easter Parade' lured him back to the screen, his early vaudeville days with his sister Adele, and the importance of dance in everyone's daily lives.
Vintage Radio Adaptation Broadcast [audio only] [54:00] This 1951 radio adaptation of 'Easter Parade' allows Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, and Peter Lawford the chance to reprise their film roles, while Monica Lewis fills in for Ann Miller. Peter Lawford narrates this truncated version, which deletes a few songs "A Couple of Swells" among them, and shifts the order of others, and substitutes "How Deep Is the Ocean" for "Shakin' the Blues Away." The story's essence, however, remains intact, and it's fun to hear how Judy and Fred interpret the slightly different script. Unfortunately, the audio quality is just a hair above atrocious, yet we're lucky the 54-minute adaptation exists at all, and Warner Bros. deserves kudos for including it, despite its compromised quality.
Theatrical Trailer [2:00] The re-release preview for 'Easter Parade' rounds off this disc supplements.
Finally, 'Easter Parade' isn't just for Easter; it's a year-round celebration of the movie musical and the incomparable talents of Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. With a cavalcade of fine Irving Berlin tunes, top-flight vocals, elegant dancing, a breezy plot, and sumptuous Technicolor, this captivating Arthur Freed production remains one of M-G-M's crown jewels in the musical realm. Excellent video and audio transfers spruce up the release and despite the omission of an Emmy Award-winning Judy Garland documentary, a fine array of rare and entertaining supplements enhance our appreciation of this timeless classic. Though its reputation may not be as lofty as some of M-G-M's iconic musicals, in its own way, it's every bit as good. That is why I am so proud to add this to my ever increasing Judy Garland Blu-ray Collection. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
3.0 out of 5 stars Loses something over the years,
This review is from: Easter Parade (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)
Don Hews (Fred Astaire), a song and dance man gets a new contract, he finds out the he is being jilted by the girl he had an understanding with Nadine Hale (Ann Miller); she decides to go off on her own with a different contract and more than willing to also go with their mutual friend Johnny Harlow (Peter Lawford). In an effort to replace his dance partner and save face, Don finds a quick replacement Hannah Brown (Judy Garland) from his local bar. Can she fill the bill and does Don really know what he wants?
Lots (17) of great Irving Berlin songs. Lots of tap dancing.
Can't tell you of all the years I enjoyed this and similar movies. As with many things you can not go home again. Now I see the mechanics and the mismatch of characters to story. Now the film takes effort to get through. They seem to be straining to stay in formula as the story was originally designed for Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse not much too old Fred Astaire and too young Judy Garland.
One redeeming thing about the Special edition DVD is that the voiceover commentary by Astaire's daughter gave the film meaning and made it easer to watch.
4.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time...,
...this movie was supposed to co-star Judy Garland with Gene Kelly and, believe it or not, Cyd Charisse!! The latter two names both had leg injuries which forced the studio to replace them both. It was one of those magical jells which historians still talk about today: Astaire, coaxed out of retirement because he swore he was too old (49 at the time) to be dancing on film, was the perfect mix of Pygmalion mentor/gentle soulmate to Ms. Garland's familiar variation on winsome earth-girl-who's-every-inch-as-pretty (but doesn't believe it) as her more glamorous counterparts. I also feel that the "Swells" hobo number has been revered to death; I'd rather talk about Astaire's stage extravaganza "Stepping Out," which has the distinction of him dancing with *three* gorgeous partners then wraps up with him tapping slow-motion in front of a regular-motion chourus. Or Judy Garland's torch solo "Better Luck Next Time;" or even Ann Miller's tapping exhibition (visually dazzling in black, grey, and yellow) to "Shakin' the Blues Away." The period costumes are A+ (suits and hats on men; hats and gowns on women!!), the Irving Berlin score is an embarassment of riches, and the Charles Walters direction is solid. Favorite line is Astaire saying to Garland: "Why didn't you tell me I was in love with you?"
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE CLASSY MUSICAL!,
In this film we have talents galore at their very best. The Fred Astaire we meet is perhaps more mellow, but warmer, than the films he made when he was younger. The Judy Garland we meet has a natural vivaciousness which life hasn't yet at times lessened. I have always thought of her as more of a singer/entertainer than an actress, but in this movie she excels at both. She is a wonder, even though she smiles through sad and haunted eyes. And Peter Lawford really acts and sings in superior fashion; he is not just a handsome, English poseur. And three cheers for beautiful Ann Miller, smooth as silk when dancing with Astaire or solo.
The plot: Dancer loses his partner (who he is also in love with) as she goes it alone. When tipsy, he pulls Garland out of a line and claims he will make her a great star. Come to find out that for psychological reasons she doesn't even know her left foot from her right. In the end, she's great, and also in love with you know who. She has to throw a few tantrums before Astaire wakes up to his unacknowledged feelings for her as well.
The best here are the wonderful and bountiful musical numbers: "We're a Couple of Swells" perhaps being the heighth of musical artistry for Astaire and Garland.
One aside: When Jimmy Bates (the boy who follows Astaire around a toy store while Fred performs "Drum Crazy," finished the filming of his segment and was about to leave the studio, Fred was a sweetheart enough to present him with the gift of a bicycle. Jimmy grew up to be one of this country's greatest dancers (modern, ballet and tap) and became the head of a dance department at a Northern California university.
Another element of this perfect film is the stunning fashions. Too bad women don't wear those gorgeous hats anymore which so adorned their faces and garnished the style of an era. An era captured beautifully in this what-more-can-you-say-about-it movie.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fred and Judy Strut Their Stuff in this "Parade" of Talent,
Fred Astaire has a go at the Pygmalion myth here in "Easter Parade" when he vows he can take just only ole common chorus girl and make her a fit consort for his superior talents, in order to spite his deserting partner--and ladylove--Ann Miller. So taking up with common chorus girl Judy Garland is just an exercise in proving he can do something, you understand. Well, after some frustrations trying to fit Judy into the Ann mold, Judy persuades him to develop routines that maximize the best traits of each, and before you know it, Success! And perhaps not so surprisingly, Romance too. But there will be complications. Like, is that Ann woman REALLY out of Fred's system? And just when you might be sure of Judy, she meets up with a suitor right under her umbrella, and he sings her a song all about it! Don't faint now, he's ANN's boyfriend too!
Fred's competition for BOTH women? Peter Lawford. I dunno, I could never understand how Lawford became such a big star in so many movies. My dad always claimed it was because of his Kennedy connections, but "EP" is years before that, I think. Of course, the Lawford I really remember is one of the late 60s and 70s, when he had his two-tone sideburns and wore beads with an open neck shirt. This was a post- Rat Pack Lawford who recommended that the TV viewers be sure to send Western Union CandyGrams. Well, at any rate, this was the young Lawford that turns the heads of both Judy and Ann Miller. Me? I'd be with Fred hands down.
Now, here I go out on another limb, departing from the usual. This movie is famous for the hobo number, "We're a Couple of Swells". While others wax lyrical about it, that's a "get up to go to the fridge" moment as far as I'm concerned. If there are two kinds of musical numbers I hate, it's singing tramps and singing clowns. Real scruffy looking homeless, such as we have in NYC, do not inspire songs. Also, in high school I knew two sisters who used to tap dance this routine themselves, so it's a bad flashback for me.
But these quibbles notwithstanding, "Easter Parade" is still good entertainment, with a great concluding number and some other great numbers before we get there, like Fred's swanky "Steppin' Out With My Baby"--is anyone cooler than he?
5.0 out of 5 stars Astaire, Garland, Irving Berlin, and Movie Magic,
Originally intended as a re-teaming of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, EASTER PARADE ran into trouble when Garland's doctors advised against her working under the direction of her husband, director Vincent Minnelli--and no sooner did director Charles Walters take the helm than Gene Kelly broke his leg. Out of such confusion are movie musical miracles born: although a bit old to act as Garland's leading man, Fred Astaire was coaxed out of retirement. He and Garland had tremendous chemistry, EASTER PARADE was a box office smash, and Astaire unexpectedly found himself reborn as an MGM star.
Set in 1900s New York, the film's story line is flimsy but enjoyable. After long-time dance partner Ann Miller abandons the act, Astaire hires chorus girl Garland and attempts to recast her in his former partner's mold--a situation which offers Astaire and Garland considerable comedy and gives Astaire the chance to parody several of his own famous dance of the 1930s. Garland eventually convinces Astaire that she needs to be herself, and once the act is revamped they become a hot ticket--and, once their several romantic complications are resolved, romantic partners as well.
Astaire is every bit as charming here as he was in his Ginger Roger days, and his choreography retains his signature sharpness, wit, and elegance. Although Garland isn't really a dancer, she holds her own with Astaire and she tears strips off a brillant score of Irving Berlin favorites. Both are well supported by Anne Miller, who gives a brilliant turn with 'Shakin' the Blues Away,' and Peter Lawford, who is quite charming as one of Garland's admirers. Although this really isn't as inspired as the truly great MGM musicals of the late 1940s, director Walters keeps it going at a smart pace, and the star power, clever script, memorable score, and those legendary MGM production values elevate it well above the pack. Musical fans will be in for a treat! Recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars FOUR-STAR-MUSICAL HIT,
Because of the broken legs of Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly, Ann Miller and Fred Astaire(out of a two-year retirement)starred with the great JUDY GARLAND in this musical. It`s a great show and it is on a standard formula. Many of the ingredients were used in similar films; "Singin`in the Rain" were they d o include a fashion show, only one composer(Ok 2 - Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur Freed), singing in the rain, a bitchy lead replaced by a plain-Jane ingenue... The most funny thing however is that when I watched DIRTY DANCING in 1987, the female character was called "Baby Frances" by her family(as was Judy was by her own family) and the plot was stolen from Easter Parade. But this is EASTER PARADE. The only team-work of Garland-Astaire - great Irving Berlin songs(indeed he only agreed 2 let the picture be shot if Judy was involved). Vincente Minnelli was first choice as director until Judy`s psychiatrist insisted the studio replace him, fearful she might see husband-director Minnelli as a shadow respresenting her problems with the studio MGM. The song Mr Monotoni was cut from the film(Garland wearing the Get Happy costume later in the 1950 SUMMER STOCK)but is seen in THAT`S ENTERTAINMENT III 1994. EASTER PARADE is a joyful package of entertainment, forever cherished... What is most a revelation is that JUDY GARLAND delivers a Hanna Brown of flesh and blood - not a musical-comedy-cartoon. But that`s the great Judy for u... See my MORE ABOUT ME page about my thoughts of JUDY GARLAND
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie!,
I am a Judy Garland and Fred Astaire fan. The first time I saw this film was on Easter sunday on TCM. I only saw the last half I was not too impressed. I have to admit I bought the movie only for Garland. When I got home my whole family gathered round the TV to watch it. I was amazed. The musical numbers are all superb, Irving Berlin's score is perfect, Ann Miller and Peter Lawford are equally super, Garland (like usual) is vocally and comically outstanding, and Astaire's dancing is as good as ever! I think Astaire is a better mach for Garland than Mickey Rooney (sorry Mickey) and Garland is even more suitable for Astaire than Ginger Rogers! Even my dad who claims to hate musicals fell in love with this charmer. I've seen it at least 5 times and it has never bored me. I was lucky enough to buy the MGM version; not the one patterned with Warner Bros. I mean MGM made the movie give them alittle credit! Any way this movie will entertain everyone I highly recomend it!
4.0 out of 5 stars exellent Easter-time musical,
Too good to watch just at Easter, this delightful musical stars Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Actually, Gene Kelly was originally cast but had to pull out when he injured his leg. Astaire was pulled out of retirement for the role.
Astaire plays a vaudeville dancer whose partner (Ann Miller) leaves the act. A visit to a local bar finds a fetching chorus girl (Judy Garland), whom he offers the chance of becoming his new partner. They begin rehearsals, but he tries to change her to reflect his old partner. She tells him that she should just be herself, and soon they are the talk of the town.
However, the old dance partner is on the rise too, and starring in the Ziegfeld Follies, as the headliner, with them as part of the "chorus".
Featuring Miller's bravura rendition of "Shakin' The Blues Away", and the songs "Under An Umbrella", "Easter Parade" and "Steppin' Out With My Baby".
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Easter Parade by Charles Walters (DVD - 2011)
CDN$ 9.93 CDN$ 5.00
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