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Film Review: Easter Parade

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Easter Parade

MGM, 1948 (Color, 104 minutes, Production No. 1418)

When Nadine breaks up their act, Don Hewes heads for Pastini's cafe to have a drink and console himself. In a moment of anger, he boasts that he can take any one of the chorus girls at Pastini's and teach them to dance better than Nadine. To prove his point, he selects Hannah and offers her a job, telling her to meet him at a rehearsal hall the next day. To his surprise, she does show up. It takes some effort, but Don does, indeed, teach Hannah how to dance - but not before learning that her style is not the same as Nadine's. In the mean time, Hannah falls in love with Don, Don's best friend, Jonathan, falls for Hannah, and Nadine falls for Jonathan.

Easter Parade is a beautifully produced and enjoyable film with some great Irving Berlin tunes. The real showstoppers are Fred and Judy's "I Love a Piano" medley and their hobo number "A Couple of Swells", as well as Ann Miller's "Shakin' the Blues Away". Judy and Fred do a great comedy dance routine with flying feathers (reminiscent of Astaire's problems with Ginger Rogers' feathered gown in Top Hat). Though Minnelli was taken off the picture, and it was completed by Charles Walters, Minnelli's touch is more than evident in the sumptuous staging, colors and costumes.


See DVD Review

Crew

Produced by: Arthur Freed
Directed by: Charles Walters
Screen Play by: Sidney Sheldon, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Original Story by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Lyrics and Music by: Irving Berlin
Musical Numbers Staged and Directed by: Robert Alton
Music Direction: Johnny Green
Orchestration: Conrad Salinger, Van Cleave, Leo Arnaud
Vocal Arrangements: Robert Tucker
Art Directors: Cedric Gibbons and Jack Martin Smith
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis
Associate: Arthur Krams
Women's Costumes by: Irene
Men's Costumes by: Valles
Hair Styles Designed by: Sydney Guilaroff
Make-Up Created by: Jack Dawn
Recording Director: Douglas Shearer
Director of Photography: Harry Stradling
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe
Color by Technicolor
Technicolor Color Director: Natalie Kalmus
Associate: Henri Jaffa
Film Editor: Albert Akst

Filmed: November 1947 - February 1948 (Judy was 25 years old)
Released: June 1948
Cost: $2,503,654; grossed $6,803,000 in initial release

Awards: Academy Award for Best Score - Musical (Johnny Green and Roger Edens)

Cast

Judy Garland ... Hannah Brown
Fred Astaire ... Don Hewes
Peter Lawford ... Jonathan Harrow III
Ann Miller ... Nadine Gale
Jules Munshin ... Francois, the Head Waiter
Clinton Sundberg ... Mike, the Bartender
Jeni Le Gon ... Essie
Jimmy Bates ... Boy with Don in toyshop
Richard Beavers ... Leading Man
Dick Simmons ... Al, the Stage Manager
Dee Turnell ... Specialty Dancer
Lola Albright, Joi Lansing ... Showgirls
Wilson Wood ... Marty
Lynn and Jean Romer ... "Delineator" Twins
Peter Chong ... Valet
Nolan Leary ... Drug Clerk
Benay Venuta ... Bar Patron
Frank Mayo ... Headwaiter
Doris Kemper ... Mary
Hector and His Pals ... Dog Act
William Frawley ... cameo as policeman

Musical Program

[0:00] Main Title: "Easter Parade" (sung by MGM Studio Chorus behind titles)
[0:01] Happy Easter (sung by Fred Astaire with Fashion Models on-screen [vocals by The Mel-Tones, Camilla Holliday, Betty Rome, Gene Curtsinger, Loulie Jean Norman, Blanche Arnaud, and Misses Doxie, Glover, Kruger, Matson, Mock, Stark and Whitson])
[0:03] Drum Crazy (sung and danced by Fred Astaire in toy store)
[0:09] It Only Happens When I Dance with You (sung by Fred Astaire, danced by Fred Astaire and Ann Miller)
[0:15] Everybody's Doing It (instrumental danced by Judy Garland and Chorus Girls)
[0:17] I Want to Go Back to Michigan (Down on the Farm) (sung by Judy Garland)
[0:28] Beautiful Faces Need Beautiful Clothes (danced by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire)
[0:36] A Fella with an Umbrella (sung by Judy Garland and Peter Lawford)
[0:48] Medley: I Love a Piano / Snookey Ookums / The Ragtime Violin / When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam' (sung and danced by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire)
[0:57] Shaking the Blues Away (sung by Ann Miller, The Mel-Tones and The Lyttle Sisters; danced by Ann Miller)
[1:06] It Only Happens When I Dance with You (sung by Judy Garland with Roger Edens at the piano [off-screen])
[1:09] Steppin' Out with My Baby (sung and danced by Fred Astaire and Chorus)
[1:16] A Couple of Swells (sung and danced by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire)
[1:22] The Girl on the Magazine Cover (sung by Richard Beavers and Chorus and danced by Ann Miller and Mens Chorus)
[1:27] It Only Happens When I Dance with You (instrumental arrangement danced by Fred Astaire and Ann Miller)
[1:30] Better Luck Next Time (sung by Judy Garland)
[1:40] Finale: Easter Parade (excerpt sung by Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Chorus)
[cut] Mr. Monotony (sung by Judy Garland)


see soundtrack CD review

Notes

Easter Parade was initially a Gene Kelly/Vincente Minnelli project, but Kelly broke his ankle playing football just before filming was to begin. Later, Judy asked to have Minnelli replaced because they were having marital problems, and she thought it would help if they weren't together both at home and on the set.

Fred Astaire came out of retirement to replace Gene Kelly, reportedly because he had always wanted to work with Judy (the two had been scheduled to work together on The Belle of New York and Ziegfeld Follies of 1946, but neither opportunity materialized). He ended up spending another twenty years of his life making pictures.

Roger Edens and Johnny Green won an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

Having just come to MGM from RKO, Ann Miller's first picture at MGM was Easter Parade. She auditioned and won the part when Cyd Charisse injured her knee and had to be taken off the picture.

Though other projects were planned, Easter Parade would be the only pairing of two of the screen's greatest legends - Judy Garland and Fred Astaire.

"The reason I got Irving [Berlin] to agree to do Easter Parade was on account of Judy...because every song writer there ever was - whether it was [Jerome] Kern or Irving or Cole Porter or Harold Arlen - wanted to write for Judy. Judy and Fred, they were the two they wanted their songs sung by." [Arthur Freed]

Fred Astaire said of Judy, "Judy's not primarily a dancer. But she's the best of her type - an amazing girl. She could do things - anything - without rehearsing and come off perfectly. She could learn faster, do everything better than most people."

Judy later recalled the filming of "A Fella with an Umbrella", which was filmed in a rainstorm created on the back lot of MGM. "I was wearing a red skirt, a black jacket and a little black Scottish hat with a red plume. At the very end of the number, all I had to do was turn and do a sort of lovely look at Peter. Suddenly, everyone yelled 'Cut!'; I thought 'What have I done?' Well, it turned out the dye off the red feather ran all over [my face and] the back of my jacket; it looked like there was just blood everywhere. So then they had to reset and get more rain. And they couldn't figure out what to do with this bloody feather - so they put Vaseline on it! Which I thought was kind of unattractive!"

Peter Lawford noted of "A Fella with an Umbrella", "I rehearsed for about three weeks, she rehearsed for a day."

Judy's number, "Mr. Monotony", which was cut from the film, is included in its entirety only in the That's Entertainment III Collector's Edition box set, MGM M905100 (1994) and on the Easter Parade laserdisk. A trimmed version of the number (!) is included on the regular issue That's Entertainment III videotape, MGM/UA 903028.

See Judy Garland Movies on Video for purchasing information.

See Class Act for more information on this and other classic films.

Critical Response

"Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland have pooled their musical and dancing talents in a smart and fetching screen carnival...Astaire is hoofing more superbly than ever and Miss Garland is giving him the staunchest of support. Miss Garland has matured to a remarkable degree in Easter Parade...a handsome and knowing actress. Her latest film performance is altogether her best."

- The New York Herald Tribune

"3-1/2 stars...Just what the moving picture shoppers on Broadway have been looking for...gay, witty, tuneful and filled with the magic rhythm of Fred Astaire's and Ann Miller's dancing and with Judy Garland's warbling of Berlin's enticing tunes...

- Kate Cameron, The New York Daily News

Memorable Lines

Don (to Hannah): "Why didn't you tell me I was in love with you?"

Francois: "The gentleman is coming back?"
Nadine: "Your'e wrong twice!"

Jonathan (to Hannah): "And do something about your face - you look terrible!"

Mike: Oh, education's all right - it's the people who spoil it."

Hannah: "You could have had the very best..."
Don: "I don't want the very best, I want you."

Supplemental Material

Supplement 1: Assorted photographs


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Easter Parade DVD
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Broadway to Hollywood DVD Box Set
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Easter Parade VHS
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Easter Parade Soundtrack CD
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Easter Parade Posters
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Judy Garland and Peter Lawford sing "A Fella with an Umbrella"
A Fella with an Umbrella




Original magazine ad
original magazine ad




Original music sheet
original music sheet




Publicity still: Judy Garland and Fred Astaire
publicity photo




Judy Garland and Fred Astaire are "A Couple of Swells"
A Couple of Swells




Hannah and Don in the Easter Parade
the Easter parade

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