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Easter Parade

3 Ratings: 3.7
A movie

Easter Parade is a 1948 musical film starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. It features music by Irving Berlin, including some of Astaire and Garland's best-known songs, such as "Steppin' Out With My Baby" and "We're a Couple of Swells." The film won … see full wiki

Genre: Music, Musical
Release Date: January 1, 1948
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Easter Parade

Astaire and Garland strut their stuff to Irving Berlin's music

  • Apr 24, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+3
Easter Parade is great entertainment almost in spite of itself. Fred Astaire was twice Judy Garland's age when they made the movie. Peter Lawford was something of a stick, although a good natured one. Ann Miller was a technician of rapid tap but not very spontaneous.
 
And yet Easter Parade jells into a highly professional and watchable movie. Why? In addition to Astaire and Garland being highly gifted artists and both possessing that undefinable quality that makes star power, in this movie they look like they're having a great time working together. They know they can do what they do better than any others and they seem relaxed and having fun, especially in the musical numbers they share. Second, the film has a very good Irving Berlin score. It draws on many of his older standards as well as some he wrote specifically for the movie. Third, this musical really is a musical. Someone once noted that there are 17 numbers. Half the running time of the movie is taken up with one musical number after another. The story is simple and serves as a convenient coat rack to hang all those numbers on.
 
Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) is told by his partner, Nadine Hale (Ann Miller), that she's leaving the vaudeville act to headline a Ziegfeld show. Don, who thinks he loves her, is outraged and swears he'll pick a nobody to make a star of and build a bigger act than ever before. He and a wealthy young pal, Jonathan Harrow III (Peter Lawford), spot Hannah Brown (Judy Garland) waiting on tables...and Don says she'll do. From then on it's romantic mixups and confusion, working up the act, a little jealousy, and a promise by Don to Hannah that in a year they'll be walking down Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday, the happiest couple around.
 
Astaire has two remarkable dance numbers, "Drum Crazy" danced in a toy store and "Steppin' Out With My Baby," a big production number. After you've finished being amazed by his dancing, play them again and watch how he handles the drum sticks in the first number and his cane in the second. Once with the cane he tosses it twirling in the air, moves over a few feet and holds his arm out. The cane, still twirling, lands perfectly catching his arm. This is one, unbroken shot. He didn't move his arm a fraction to catch the cane. I can't imagine how many times he had to practice that one move to have it appear so perfect and so effortless.
 
Garland was a remarkable talent who could do dancing and singing, comedy and lip trembling. When she and Astaire sing and dance "A Couple of Swells," it's a pleasure just to watch how she does a little exaggeration here, a barely noticed hitch of the shoulders there. This is a broad number she brings off with a lot of subtle, funny skill.
 
The only part of the movie that sets my teeth on edge is when Garland sings one of the new songs Berlin wrote for her. It's a sad song of lost opportunities called Better Luck Next Time. The first line of the chorus goes, "'Better luck next time,' that could never be, because there ain't gonna be no next time for me..." The song has a first-rate melody and Garland gives it poignance. But why did Berlin have to write "ain't gonna be no?" This is awkward vernacular and sounds completely out of character for Hannah Brown to say. The song went nowhere, and I think it's because that phrase is so jarring in a song of regret. I’ll make a guess that this kind grammatic slumming isn’t ever gonna catch on with the internet.
Astaire and Garland strut their stuff to Irving Berlin's music Astaire and Garland strut their stuff to Irving Berlin's music Astaire and Garland strut their stuff to Irving Berlin's music Astaire and Garland strut their stuff to Irving Berlin's music

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