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One of the most Magnificent Musicals Ever!
Incalculacable11 March 2006
Easter Parade features two of the best known entertainers in movie history, glorious music, fresh Technicolor and amazing - and I mean amazing dancing routines. Prepare to be entertained and amazed! There is no other way to describe the creative, fun and bedazzling colour, costumes and dances.

Popular dancing team Don Hewes (of course, Astaire) and Nadine Hale (wonderful singer/dancer/actress Ann Miller) break up because Nadine wants to pursue her own career. Don Hewes is determined to find a new dancing partner and to make her a smash... and guess who he finds - unknown dancer Hannah Brown (Judy Garland) - who he picked out randomly. It is a relatively simple and sweet story, however flimsy it may be. You find yourself not really caring about the plot as you are emerged in a world of spectacular song, dance, costume and colour.

Three musical sequences stick in my mind: firstly, Ann Miller's mind boggling tap dance 'Shakin' the Blues Away'. Not only a great song, but an incredible dance. Then there is Fred's turn in the toy shop. The timing for that is beyond belief. Everything is perfection - the music, the decor, the dance. It isn't an ordinary Tapdance because he uses rhythm, drums and instruments to give it a more flavour. I honestly don't know how he does it. Lastly, 'Down the Avenue' is one of my favourite songs. I laugh every time I see Judy Garland and Fred Astaire - two absolute legends - dressed up as bums!! Some very famous and spectacular dancing - top notch.

Along the way there are a few laughs (Garland really helps the comedy side), but I mainly watch this movie for it's eye candy. It is a perfect way to escape reality and dive into the world of the magnificent MGM musical. One of the best.
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One Of The Best Musicals Of The Classic Era
ccthemovieman-116 October 2006
I don't know why I haven't checked this out on DVD yet. I imagine it looks spectacular, because even the VHS looked super. I'm talking about the Technicolor. Man, those Technicolor films in the '40s were beautiful, as this certainly is.

For entertainment, you get Fred Astaire dancing, Judy Garland singing, Ann Miller dancing, and Peter Lawford singing. I didn't think Lawford could sing, but he's not bad here. The other talent must have elevated his.

Astaire consistently amazed audiences with his innovative dance routines and smooth style. He does a number here in a toy store that is really something! Miller also gives us a good tap number and Garland's songs are all winners.

This movie is more vehicle for those above-mentioned stars than it is in telling some profound the story. The story is not much, but who cares? It's the dancing, singing, the incredible costumes, overall color, nice people and just plain feel-good musical atmosphere that makes this a popular film, even to this day.
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"Oh look, it's the Easter Parade!"
Ash-656 March 1999
Yes, this movie, arguably one of Garland's best at M-G-M, is certainly something to look at. Cute story, excellent cast, gorgeous costumes (Ann's breathtaking white and red gown from the Magazine Cover number and Judy's marvelous emerald-coloured dress at the Ziegfeld Follies after opening night), and have I mentiond the SWELL songs? Drum Crazy is awfully entertaining, Shakin' the Blues Away is classic Miller (in other words fast and superb), Better Luck Next Time is heartbreaking, and so many others are just plain GOOD. A must see for any fans of Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, Peter Lawford, Jules Munshin (in a funny bit as a waiter), or just great fun.
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"Oh I Could Write a Sonnet, about your Easter bonnet."
bkoganbing26 July 2006
For the only teaming of Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, Gene Kelly had to break an ankle playing touch football although he told the studio it was in rehearsal. So Fred Astaire who after another Irving Berlin musical extravaganza, Blue Skies at Paramount, got pulled out of retirement for this film. It was a happy accident for film fans.

Easter Parade by this time had become the national anthem for Easter and enjoys a grand seasonal popularity as Irving Berlin's White Christmas also. It was originally written for the musical revue As Thousands Cheer in 1933 and sung as a duet by Clifton Webb and Marilyn Miller. Bing Crosby reprised it in Holiday Inn in a very nice number driving a horsedrawn sleigh from church Easter services. But usually when it is presented visually, the clip of Judy Garland singing it in the finale is the one always shown.

By the way the melody originally was for a lyric entitled Smile and Show Your Dimple which bombed for Irving Berlin. Berlin was quoted as saying that popular songs are a perfect marriage between words and music and in this case the melody got divorced and married a second lyric successfully.

Easter Parade is a good mixture of old Irving Berlin material and new songs written for this film. Fred Astaire shines with one of the new ones in Stepping Out With My Baby which is a good followup to Putting On the Ritz which Astaire sang and danced to in Blue Skies. And Judy just shines in Better Luck Next Time.

The plot is a pretty simple one and for the MGM opulence that their musicals were known for their are very few actual speaking roles in this film. It's a romantic quadrangle with Fred Astaire being dumped by his erstwhile partner Ann Miller and then taking on Judy Garland in one of those 'I'll show her' moments of bravado. Peter Lawford's around to get whoever Astaire doesn't.

The acting honors in Easter Parade go to Judy. For all that talent Judy Garland was a most insecure person in life and she drew from that in bringing Hannah Brown to the screen.

Ann Miller's big number is Shaking the Blues Away which Ruth Etting introduced in 1927. Doris Day in fact does it in Love Me or Leave Me. Still Ann makes it more of a dance number than Doris did which is what Irving Berlin originally intended it to be.

The thing about Easter Parade and so many other films like it is that all that talent was contracted to that studio. You can't make a film like Easter Parade today because you'd have to pay full market price for the talent, even as Irving Berlin's numbers slip year after year into public domain.

The Easter parade with women dressed in their finest most tasteful frock is still a New York tradition on Easter Sunday. So is this film.
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Astaire, Garland, Berlin--and Movie Musical Magic
gftbiloxi14 May 2005
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 brilliant 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.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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One of the Best
LGevirtz17 October 2004
This is a superlative musical, made by the very best musical talents at the top of their game. Judy Garland and Fred Astaire were (along with Gene Kelly) the ultimate in musical comedy stars, and this was their only on-screen pairing. This film affords them the chance to shine both individually and as a duo, displaying Astaire's dazzling footwork and Garland's throbbing voice, as well as their comic abilities. Irving Berlin provides them with a potpourri of popular tunes, and there are several stunning show-stoppers, especially the "A Couple of Swells" number (with Astaire parodying his usual Top Hat and Tails persona). Garland's voice makes "I Love a Piano" ring out, and Astaire shows that at nearly age 50 he could still dance with aplomb in "Steppin' Out with my Baby" (though why they decided to run part of it in slow motion when this could never happen in the stage production they were presenting is a bit of a mystery). The opening number, "Drum Crazy" is also a little masterpiece, since it highlights not only Astaire's dancing, but also his drumming abilities, and also tells a little story and comments on his character as well, all without a word of dialogue. Mention should also be made of the sensational Ann Miller, in one of her best roles. The songs (some old, some new) fit very snugly into the fluffy but sturdy plot, and the entire package is a nifty delight and a reminder of what musical comedy was like when it reached the heights.
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A classic example of those old 40's musicals
Eva Ionesco22 April 2000
Don't you just love those old 40's musicals? Easter Parade is certainly one of the best, with Fred Astaire doing his amazing flashy but precise dancing, Judy Garland using her legendary voice to sing right from her heart into yours, and Ann Miller doing her own unique style of dancing and tapping while belting out great songs. And of course, everybody in the film uses any excuse to sing yet another song, usually dancing to it as well.

One of the special sequences has Fred Astaire dancing in slow motion while the rest of the cast dance at normal speed behind him! Sure, we can do that these days with computers, but remember this film was made in 1948!!

Of course there's the usual plot - Boy meets girl, they fall in love, have a misunderstanding, but get together again just in time for the big finishing number. That used to really get the audiences in, in those days, and they repeated that theme in every musical that ever was.

Any weak spots? Several of the film's routines seem a little amateurish by today's standards. For example, the waiter tossing his invisible salad just to do a bit of clowning seems a little contrived. Also, the film is supposedly set in 1912, so all the 1948 fashions and hairstyles are completely anachronistic - but what does that matter, after all, it's just an enjoyable romp.

I've given this film eight out of ten, but if I could just vote on Judy Garland's singing and Fred Astaire's dancing, I'd certainly give them ten out of ten. This is definitely a "must-see" film, just for those two incredible talents!
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I'm Drum Crazy!!!
rooprect4 April 2007
This is one of those movies to watch when you're having a lousy day. From the opening notes, you get a big grin on your face. By the time you get to the 2nd number "Drum Crazy", you're positively smiling ear-to-ear (if not banging on the furniture yourself, like I was. Sorry, mom).

Being a (failed) drummer myself, I absolutely loved this piece. A few weeks ago I saw "Daddy Long Legs" in which Fred also does a drum solo & dance. Folks, this cat really knows how to bang the tom toms. Rhythm is the foundation of dance, and Fred really shows his mastery of it, alongside his comedic antics.

Everything is colourful. Everything is graceful (camera work included). The sets (recreating 1912) are faithfully and magnificently done, particularly the scenes of New York City with horses, buggies, old storefronts and hundreds of extras dressed impeccably in Victorian attire. This movie will truly sweep you off your feet.

I can't wait to have another lousy day so that I can pop this bad boy in the DVD player.
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A Musical Among The Greatest
georgestrum27 March 2005
From start to finish this film ranks highly with the best of the best movie musicals like "Singin' In The Rain" does. The way Fred handles the pesky little kid in the toy shop is precious. Notice the wary shop help in the background keep eye. Look for Fred trying to cajole Ann on to the terrace to dance and she refuses due to the cold then warms herself by the fire, so realistic. Fast forward to the "Girl On The Magazine Cover" in a Zigfeld Roof production number. How glamorous to see a beautiful woman who can dance with a chorus of handsome men in tuxedos. When was that last done in the 21st Century? I highly recommend this picture if you never have seen it. I guarantee you'll want to see it again and again.
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Charming with great singing and dancing, but that's all.
gaityr9 September 2002
EASTER PARADE doesn't tell the typical tale of a love triangle; in fact, it's more like a love square. Even though it's Easter and he's just told her that 'It Only Happens When I Dance With You', Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) is most unceremoniously dumped by his dancing partner Nadine Hale (Ann Miller) for a high-prestige solo job headlining the Ziegfeld Follies. Bitter at being dumped both professionally *and* personally, Don swears that he'll pick any girl off the street and turn her into a dancer to rival Nadine (hard to imagine considering who was playing her!). Although he first tries to model her in Nadine's image (naming her, of all things, Juanita), he soon realises that the girl with the heartbreaking voice that he's picked up, Hannah Brown (Judy Garland), must remain Hannah Brown. They come up with new routines that suit 'Hannah & Hewes', while Hannah falls for Don as Don's buddy Johnny (Peter Lawford) falls for her. Things get a little messy for a while when Don can't seem to get over Nadine, Nadine has a lascivious eye out for Johnny, Johnny carries a torch for Hannah, and Hannah pines for Don. Still, the square doesn't remain a square for long.

In a lot of movie musicals, one tends to get the feeling that the writers are struggling to pad the plot with songs. There appears to be no such pretense in this film: from the very beginning, with Astaire singing 'Easter Parade' to open the film, one gets the impression that EASTER PARADE sets out to be a showcase for songs and a stage for dances--this is further emphasised when 'Easter Parade' segues immediately into Astaire's famous solo 'Drum Crazy' (with no intervening dialogue), which, while enchanting, has next to nothing to do with the story. The plot is skimpy, but not worriedly pushed to the side as in some other musicals... in fact, it quite happily moves over of its own accord to make way for the Irving Berlin tunes. Most of which are, no offense to the immeasurable Berlin, pleasant but not particularly memorable. There are exceptions, of course, particularly the fantastic 'A Couple Of Swells' (with enchanting dance accompaniment--Garland mugs and Astaire parodies his own 'top hat, white tie and tails' image to excellent effect). I'm also partial to the recurring love theme, 'It Only Happens When I Dance With You' and 'Better Luck Next Time'.

And of course, there's nothing really wrong with being all about the singing and the dancing when it's *such* incredible singing and dancing. It almost goes without saying that Garland, with that slightly off-kilter but heartbreakingly beautiful voice of hers, lights up the screen in all her scenes. (It's a credit to Peter Lawford that he manages to hold his own in their one number together 'A Fella With An Umbrella'!) There are also very few dancers better than Fred Astaire and Ann Miller; Astaire in all the scenes that has him tapping away as he was born to do, and Miller particularly in her rousing, beat-perfect 'Shakin' The Blues Away'. It will always be a mystery to me why Miller wasn't given more choice roles and more opportunities to show off her dancing skills (and legs!), since she always acquits herself wonderfully in any film I've seen her in (particularly ON THE TOWN and YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU) with the little screen time she almost inevitably gets.

In the late 1940s, one couldn't really be blamed for getting the impression that the MGM musical--though still big and splashy (witness the overblown 'calendar girls' segment shoved into EASTER PARADE)--was just limping along until Gene Kelly came along and shook things up with AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN to follow). Unfortunately, even with its impressive cast and great dancing, that's just what EASTER PARADE feels like... a filler. It's a slight, not too complicated or strenuous musical that's enjoyable but hardly a classic. Watch this for the performances of all concerned, but not for the plot. For that, the main stars (Astaire, Garland and Miller) have been in far worthier musicals.
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One of the Best MGM Musicals from the 1940's
john_ccy11 April 2004
I just saw "Easter Parade" on the big screen for the first time, earlier this evening, and have to say that it's definitely one of the best musicals ever produced by the Arthur Freed Unit at MGM, especially out of the ones from the 1940's.

I really enjoyed the movie even though I've already seen it several times on video. It features all of the halmarks of a Freed production including an amazing cast with Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Ann Miller, lush technicolor photography, incredible dancing, and a great score that features over 16 songs by Irving Berlin. It actually had a pretty good story too, rather just a bunch of songs with a plot that basically exists to get from one song to the next, like in some lesser musicals.

The story is about a famous dancer, played by Fred Astaire, who tries to build a new act with an inexperienced chorus girl whom he discovers (Garland), after his former partner (Miller) leaves him to pursue a solo career. Of course, the requisite romantic complications and personal and professional jealousies also figure into the mix.

Since all three principles play performers, there are plenty of opportunities for each of them to show off their singing and dancing in almost iconic numbers like "Steppin' Out with My Baby", "Shakin' the Blues Away", and "A Couple of Swells", which have all come to be heavily identified with Astaire, Miller, and Garland respectively throughout their careers.

I definitely enjoyed this film and think it's a must-see for anyone who enjoys musicals or are fans of Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Ann Miller. (Peter Lawford's in this one too, but I'm not a huge fan of his.) Too bad there's no DVD version.
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One of Judy Garland's less 'girlish' or unctuous performances...
moonspinner5515 April 2012
In both comedies and dramas, Judy Garland always had a tendency to rely on her girlish indignation (audiences must have enjoyed watching her rigid-side thaw and soften under the tutelage of a persistent male). In Charles Walters' "Easter Parade", she's a bit more flexible than usual after initially getting her feathers ruffled by hoofer Fred Astaire, who needs a replacement for sassy Ann Miller after Miller moves onto Broadway. Pairing Garland with Astaire was an inspired idea, however the teaming never quite catches fire (the plot mechanisms surrounding them being far too trite). Impertinent Ann Miller easily steals the show, however Astaire's jazzy opening number is one of his best. Peter Lawford, that perennial hole in the screen, rounds out the romantic foursome, though it's almost impossible to care who ends up with who. ** from ****
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Not much plot, not much life, not much fun
hall89519 April 2012
Some old-time Hollywood musicals have a style which plays well in any era. To others time has been less kind as they come across as relics of a time gone by. Unfortunately Easter Parade is one of those relics. It was a smashing success in 1948 but all these years later it doesn't play very well at all. The plot is too slight, the pacing is too slow, the songs are too dull, the whole package just doesn't work. Now any movie starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland isn't going to be all bad. Astaire's dancing and Garland's singing are as great as you imagine they would be. Not for nothing were they film legends. But all in all this is a film which makes a rather poor showcase for the renowned talents of its famous stars.

The bare-bones plot involves Astaire's character of Don having his dance team partner leave him to take up a solo offer. "I'll show her" he thinks, stating that he can take any old girl and make her into a star. Any old girl turns out to be Hannah Brown, played by Garland. Don and Hannah form a new partnership which struggles to get off the ground. But eventually the pairing starts to pick up steam and you think the movie might too. But no such luck. It's still a rather dry, oddly lifeless, musical. And a very antiquated looking and sounding one to the modern eye and ear. The Astaire-Garland pairing never sizzles the way you'd hope it would. Astaire is obviously the far superior dancer of the two. Garland gamely tries to keep up but the contrast is rather jarring. It kind of works for the story in that Garland's character is supposed to be an anonymous nobody of a dancer. But when Astaire's best musical number pairs him with a couple of anonymous hoofers while Garland stands idly by offstage it says a lot. The age disparity catches up with the pair as well once the inevitable romantic storyline kicks in. Everything about the pairing, and thus the movie, seems off somehow. It never comes together properly. The songs, the cornerstones of any movie musical, are all forgettable. The humor largely falls flat, most notably in one scene involving the world's weirdest waiter. The story isn't much of a story at all. Astaire and Garland have their moments but not nearly enough of them to carry this film to success.
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Stars bolster vacuous plot--Miller nearly steals show.
BrentCarleton29 March 2005
Though quite enjoyable in an undemanding way, "Easter Parade" is an efficient rather than an artistic musical, and, as has been noted elsewhere, is hampered by an extremely trite plot line, and B movie dialogue that makes the self congratulatory tone of the DVD documentary on Sidney Sheldon's script improvements rather ludicrous. One shakes one's head in disbelief--for all the talk--you would think they were discussing Noel Coward. And Noel Coward this ain't.

Nonetheless, the union of Mr. Astaire and Misses Garland and Miller on the screen together is auspicious in and of itself, and for this reason, if no other, the film merits particular consideration.

Curiously, (especially given that Garland had just completed the artistically accomplished, "The Pirate") "Easter Parade" is shot much like a Hardy movie, with a series of flat, uninspired, head on stationary camera set ups, in a series of hotel room and restaurant settings. All very pro-forma.

Worse, apart from Miss Miller's glorious "Shakin the Blues Away," and her number with the plume, "The Girl on the Magazine Cover"--both of which feature lovely liquid boom camera work, (not to mention the scrumptious Miller)--the musical numbers are shot in much the same unimaginative way.

This is especially odd when compared with Garland's prior work in "For Me and My Gal," which is also set during the same time frame and also with a vaudeville background. Note how, in that earlier film, Busby Berkeley, (with William Daniels on camera) "opens up" the proscenium with a floating boom camera, as in "By the Sea," and "Ballin the Jack." Would that someone had done the same here in "Easter Parade" ! What was Harry Stradling thinking! Or was he just fatigued?

Film scholar Douglas McVay in his treatise on the musical film, has also remarked on the sorely missed absence of Minnelli's decorative flair in this film--particularly as it relates to his then wife, and the film's star--Miss Garland. This deficiency is most obvious during "Better Look Next Time," where Miss Garland's visual presentation of the song is compromised by indifferent lighting, (a mistake Mr. Minnelli would never make!)

Nonetheless, she manages to wear nearly a score of elaborate, (and mostly flattering)coiffures, not to mention some lovely gowns, most notably the off the shoulder green velvet during the New Amsterdam sequence.

As to the dancing, Miss Garland had already executed far more ambitious routines than she is given here, with no less than the film's director Charles Walters! Given what she had already accomplished, (with great brio and elegance too) in the finale of "Presenting Lily Mars," why did it occur to no one, (particularly since she would be dancing with no less than Fred Astaire!) to give her a similarly elegant routine here? Apart from "When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam" very few dancing demands are made on her. Given the charming grace of her footwork--what a missed opportunity! "Snooky Ookums," and "Ragtime Violin," look like something out of a June Haver picture--all shtick and forced grins.

Ann Miller, by contrast, after her long confinement at Columbia, really comes into her own here. No wonder many contemporary 1948 critics felt she walked off with the picture.

One minor blooper to watch for. When, late in the story, Miss Garland and Mr. Astaire argue in the corridor outside her hotel room door, the wall to the immediate right of the door, (behind Miss Garland) is bare. The next morning when Peter Lawford arrives to awaken her, a framed engraving hangs in the same spot that had been previously bare the night before. Note too, that the audience/reaction applause shot after "Couple of Swells" is lifted from "Till the Clouds Roll By" (guess even Metro had their budget conscious moments).

Despite these minor quibbles, an Arthur Freed picture from MGM in 1947 is a pretty high recommendation in and of itself. And it must be said John Green's orchestrations are superb, and the Technicolor, (some nifty mauves here)is very pretty. All in all, enjoyable but seldom brilliant. One can only wonder what Mr. Minnelli could have done for it. Sadly, we will never know.
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Slight story supported by talented stars
cherold3 April 2016
Easter Parade is less a story than it is a roughly sketched premise filled out with musical numbers. Astaire loses his dance partner and decides he can turn anyone into a new partner, then conveniently stumbles upon Garland. He's demanding and rather sour, so of course she falls for him. Meanwhile, Peter Lawford floats through the movie to no real purpose, and Anne Miller is unsympathetic but really knows how to tap.

The movie shouldn't really work as well as it does. Astaire is much too old for Garland (the part was originally set for Gene Kelly, who was injured) and she's not as comfortable a fit for him as previous partners like Ginger Rogers. She's also no more than serviceable as a dancer. And once again, Lawford is an entirely extraneous character whose only purpose seems to be to make clear that no one cares about the story.

And yet, Astaire has his usual debonair charm and his dancing, shown off particularly well in a solo dance near the beginning, and Garland is all vulnerability and amazing singing.

Even the weak chemistry works, because the whole idea is Garland is random, not someone Astaire would choose, making their mismatch a feature rather than a bug (until the inevitable romance, which seems forced).

It's a weird movie, in that almost everything about it is problematic and yet it completely works. It's a classic that shouldn't be, and you should watch it.
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Flowery And Frilly
Lechuguilla9 June 2014
Sporting lush costumes and tons of flowers, and as a throwback to early twentieth century living, this film gushes frilly, Victorian styles and traditions including, of course, the Easter parade down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. In 1912 this was the time and place for women to show off their ornate, frilly hats, displayed here in probably the widest variety, in any movie ever.

Though Easter finery bookends the film's plot, very little of the story has to do with Easter. We get something of a romance-career mix, led by Don (Fred Astaire) as a professional dancer, and Hannah (Judy Garland), a two-bit chorus girl that Don tries to fashion into a replacement for stylish Nadine (Ann Miller) who dumps Don for a lucrative solo dancing career. But the plot, such as it is, is not well written, and the main characters are not entirely sympathetic.

There is at least some humor, especially when Hannah, as Juanita, tries too hard to be sophisticated when she "dances" on-stage with Don, in a gown that sheds feathers. Playing it straight, long-legged dancer Ann Miller dazzles in a couple of numbers.

The thin, choppy plot is one problem, but so too are the plethora of mediocre songs that intrude into the plot. And though the song "Easter Parade" is quite melodic, the film doesn't do much with it at the end, which seemed blatantly curt. In other musicals, the entire film builds up to some grand finale musical number, but not here. And that was a disappointment.

Stylish for its era and supremely colorful, "Easter Parade" revs up the nostalgia for a bygone era, but in so doing comes across as quaint and dated to a modern audience. Still, it's worth at least a one-time viewing as an example of a lush MGM movie musical.
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Heavenly legs
chaos-rampant22 December 2011
This was modeled after the cycle of Warner Bros musicals in the 30's; so for the first part we get various backstage tribulations about the effort to stage a show, usually a search for love that can inspire dance, with the eye-popping show in question as the second part.

It starts with the miraculous dance pair breaking it off. She wants to be a star on her own right; he sets out to prove that he can get any girl to dance as well as she can. He plucks the first girl he sees out of a chorus line in a bar, just like he did with her the first time. She turns out to be a disaster, humorously rendered as her not even knowing which foot is left.

So how to make headlines once more? Of course he grooms her into the image of that first woman, and she turns out great; but only because, unbeknownst to him, he was seducing out of her the love that can make a difference. So eventually the two rival shows are made to spin at the same time, vying for headlines and our attention. The new pair visits the opponent to strut their newfound triumph under her nose, but she's cunning enough to seduce a dance out of her ex-partner that will break them apart.

Naturally, this being an MGM production, the finale is drenched with the wistful sentiment about wholesome values one is led to expect. The two of them stroll happy together on the Easter Parade, as promised in the beginning.

So generally speaking this may seem like ordinary stuff for the time. Two things make it stand out however. One is Fred Astaire, such heavenly, chattery legs. Put simply, there is no Michael Jackson without Astaire. The other is a kind of soft Vertigo at the heart of the candy-colored spectacle about an obsession with cultivating an image, less morbid this go round, less dangerous, but potent the right amount if we keep in mind how it mirrors across the sparkling surface of a deeply troubled Judy Garland.

We know how MGM cultivated the young star in the image of the chaste teenage girl that she's also saddled with in the opening of this film. In the finale she manages to lift herself out of the confines of that image and asserts herself as a sexual, dynamic woman, likely mapping to some part of her struggle in real life to pursue her heart. Among her many lovers, she counted Frank Sinatra, Welles, Mankiewicz, and Tyrone Power. She had enough pull in Hollywood by this time to get then husband Vincente Minnelli fired from this.

Our loss here is that Chyd Charisse broke an ankle and could not appear. Ann Miller as replacement acquits herself pretty well as the scheming diva. Her last on-screen glimmer decades later would be Mulholland Dr., where she reflects on the bygone Technicolor glories here.
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1940's chick flick
Blueghost21 May 2011
I don't have too much to say about this thing other than I can't remember too much of what it's about. We have Fred Astaire and Judy Garland dancing it up on the big screen circa turn of the century America.

There's lots of color, lots of pageantry and, of course, Astaire dancing and performing numbers on the big screen. It's a story about teaching the new girl new moves, and reassuring her of confidence that can only come from a hoofer like the legend of dance musicals.

The "payoff" at the end of the film will leave most guys wondering what the hell they just watched. I know it did for me. I saw it and contorted my face into a "huh?", but then realized (or rather reminded myself) of who the target audience was.

Not a dude flick in the remotest, even with Fred hoofing it up to show us how women like to be treated. Nope, strictly a date film for the 1940s couple, or a bit of nostalgia for those so inclined.

Not really a bad film. Give it a chance.
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A couple of swells and a tuneful piece of work.
Spikeopath28 November 2009
Perhaps not quite reaching the heights that the talent involved suggests it should, Easter Parade is still none the less a delightful musical full of skill, vigour and heart warming attributes. The story sees Fred Astaire's Don Hewes getting dumped by his dance partner Nadine Hale {Ann Miller}. Vowing revenge, he boasts that he could get any basic lady performer and make her a star alongside him. Enter Judy Garland as chorus girl Hannah Brown…… But for a volleyball accident, Don Hewes would have been played by Gene Kelly, who suggested that since he was out of the picture, the makers should try and get Astaire on board. Astaire had retired from Hollywood but jumped at the chance to replace the then present incumbent of the role, Mickey Rooney. Worked out OK in the end, because, as was normally the way, Astaire gave another masterful song and dance performance. Garland on the other hand had to dig deep to enthuse the role with some quality. In a rut with the formula of the films she was making, and nearing exhaustion because of the hectic schedules, it took a guiding hand from Astaire to see her thru the production. The end result? Garland still managing to enchant and whisk the viewer to a nice place where troubles don't exist.

The piece contains 17 of Irving Berlin's tunes, with Steppin' Out with My Baby and A Couple of Swells particularly standing out, with the latter expertly played out on a moving floor. While admirably supporting the principals is Peter Lawford as Jonathan Harrow III. It's a foot tapper to warm the cockles on a blustery winters day, never mind only at easter! 7/10
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Drum Crazy!
didi-522 February 2004
By far the best bit of this movie is early on in the running time, when the wonderful Fred Astaire has a routine in a toy shop, to the Berlin number ‘Drum Crazy'. He's there to get an Easter present for his dancing partner (played with energy by Ann Miller), but she has a bombshell to drop: she's leaving him to join a bigger name stage show, and he's left high and dry without an act.

Step forward Judy Garland, as a waitress who Fred thinks might be able to sing and dance. At first she's reluctant, and hopeless, but of course, this being MGM mush she falls for Fred and suddenly finds her talent. At this sort of thing Garland had no peer.

Also in the cast are Peter Lawford, as a rich no-hoper with a heart who first pursues Garland, and then steps aside for Fred (heading for Miller on the rebound). He sings A Fella With An Umbrella – not very well – but is certainly easier on the eye than Astaire. A tiny but scene-stealing role is given to Jules Munshin, who would be seen the following year in ‘On The Town', as a waiter describing just how the green onion salad listed on the menu is prepared.

The lead was not originally planned for Fred, but for the younger and more athletic dancer Gene Kelly, but when Kelly injured his leg the way was clear for Astaire to be coaxed out of retirement. He continued to appear in musicals for another twenty years.

The songs in ‘Easter Parade' are a bit of a rag-bag – classics such as Easter Parade, Steppin' Out With My Baby, Shakin' The Blues Away etc. jostle with old vaudeville numbers like When The Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam'. The result is a bit of a mish-mash. Perhaps the best song shot for the movie was the one omitted before release – Mr Monotony, performed by Garland in her trademark costume of the top half of a tux and tights (two years before ‘Summer Stock' and the Get Happy number). This number can be seen in That's Entertainment III, released in 1994.

‘Easter Parade' is good, but unbelievable. I never could understand the appeal of Fred Astaire beyond his dancing, and the supposition that a character of Garland's age would be interested in him is stretching things a bit. That aside, it has excellent Technicolor and moves along at a steady pace.
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Doesn't quite add up
wolfie-817 June 1999
Any film starring Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Ann Miller already has more going for it than most, but "Easter Parade" never manages to combine its many excellent parts into a particularly memorable whole.

Astaire was not supposed to make this film at all; Garland's expected co-star was Gene Kelly. The two had just scored a big hit with "The Pirate," a wonderfully over-the-top comedy featuring one of Garland's most hysterical performances, and the studio was hoping to create the same magic again. Unfortunately, Kelly was injured during rehearsals and Astaire came out of retirement to fill in.

Astaire would always be Astaire, but he was almost twice Garland's age (she was 26, I believe, and he in his early 50s). The difference shows--frankly, it's a little hard to believe that Garland's character would fall in love with this man, especially with the handsome, elegant Peter Lawford nearby. When Astaire dances, his age fades away, but many of his scenes with Garland are necessarily non-dancing, and Garland was a far superior actress and comedian. Observe them in "A Couple of Swells" near the end; she draws nearly all the attention. At times, you have to remind yourself that Astaire is also on the stage.

Nevertheless, the film is worth seeing, especially for such highlights as Ann Miller's dazzling solo, "Shaking the Blues Away." Other must-see elements: Garland's imitation of a blowfish on a busy street and the marvelously overblown production number, "The Girl I Love (is on a Magazine Cover)." Find me the restaurant large enough for a production like that!
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Good, not great! Tuneful & Funny at its best. Tired/Boring at its worst.
mallard-615 June 1999
This is NOT the best Irving Berlin movie. Nor the best of Astaire. Nor of Garland. It has some good melodies and great dancing, but some very tiring, or trite, or banal material as well. Highlight of the movie? Astaire and Garland doing a formal dance with Garland in pink plumes, but the plumes molt on stage (recall in Strictly Ballroom how Australian kids find similarly molted feathers). Low point? The hat shop, where that tired "Happy Easter" tune plays over and over and over (recall the opening of State Fair for something similar).

This is another of those interesting films set c.1912--watch for the wide-hipped, hoble-skirted fashions (cf Titanic and My Fair Lady, among so many others), which are the hallmark of the period's "Botticelli" look.
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I really wanted to like this one....
MartinHafer11 June 2012
I know that "Easter Parade" has a reasonably high IMDb score and a lot of folks liked it, but it left me flat. I for one wanted to like it, as I adore Fred Astaire and try to watch all his films. But, unfortunately, while the film looked nice, it lacked the sort of stuff that made many of Astaire's movies great. Sure, it had singing and dancing but it also had Astaire playing a rather unlikable guy, lacked charm and style as well as having way too much singing! Too much singing? Yep--or at least the TYPE of song and dance numbers were not all that great. So here, instead of having Astaire sing and dance because life is grand (the BEST reason to sing and dance in a film), it was because he and his partner were professional dancers on stage. And, insanely, MGM decided not only to show their dance numbers but practically ALL the other numbers as well. It made for a variety show sort of film but it also made the plot seem rather unimportant and also dragged the film to a grinding halt. For example, after Judy Garland and Fred profess their love for each other--there were several dance numbers that had NOTHING to do with this. Too often, the film failed to work towards enhancing the plot--and the songs were just there. It's a shame, too, as the plot wasn't bad and Fred and Judy could have made this a terrific film--but the writing and direction just did everything to make the film drag. Heck, after a while, I found myself just wanting it to end already! And that is NOT what I expect from a Fred Astaire film!
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A mediocre movie with some real gems
richard-17878 April 2012
This is, overall, a very disappointing, mediocre movie, with a very bad script. Every now and then, however, there is a remarkable number that stands out like a brilliant diamond in a sea of dross.

For me, the brightest of those diamonds is "Then I'll walk down the avenue," a strangely beautiful song performed superlatively by Garland and Astaire - in that order. If the rest of the movie were at that level, this would be one of the great movies of all times.

Ann Miller also gets some remarkable dance numbers. For whatever reason, her personality does not light up the screen, unlike Judy Garland, but she was certainly one very fine dancer.

The "François salad" number is also wonderful in its own way, and emphasizes the extent to which this movie is not one organic whole, but rather a series of independent solo turns, some of which work, most of which don't.

And the last number, "Easter Parade," is a great song, even if the movie doesn't do anything special with it. What a shame. That could have been a crowning glory that effaced much of the forgettable footage that came before.

An uneven movie, in short, but one with scenes that are never to be forgotten.
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Easter Charade
AAdaSC2 May 2011
The story sees Don (Fred Astaire) make Hannah (Judy Garland) his new stage partner after he has been dumped by Nadine (Ann Miller) so that she can pursue a solo career. Don bets womanizing pal Jonathan (Peter Lawford) that he can make any chorus girl into the next star and picks Hannah at random. They sing some songs, do some routines and fall in love and the finale is the singing of the title song as they promenade along 5th Avenue with all the other posers who undertake this ritual every Easter.

The cast are good in this film with Judy Garland winning the honours as she provides many humorous moments (watch how she scene steals from Fred Astaire in the rather hammy and drab routine that is "A Couple Of Swells"). Most of the musical numbers are good if forgettable. My favourite routines include Judy Garland singing "I Want To Go Back To Michigan", her duet with Peter Lawford "A Fella With An Umbrella", Ann Miller singing and dancing "Shakin' The Blues Away", the sequence of song and dance duets that Judy Garland and Fred Astaire have together including "When The Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabam", and Fred Astaire's number "Steppin' Out With My Baby" despite the unnecessary gimmick of having him dance in slow motion which cheapens the routine.

Unfortunately, the film crams in too many songs and the viewer may lose interest in the musical offerings, especially towards the end, as none of them are particularly good or memorable unless there is dancing involved. The film is also a little unbelievable in the way Judy Garland falls in love with Fred Astaire. Peter Lawford is the obvious romance for her, but the film seems to be driven by the following love formula - Judy Garland loves Fred Astaire (unbelievable) who loves Ann Miller (but she's a complete bitch so it's unlikely) who loves Peter Lawford who loves Judy Garland. It doesn't work.

A final criticism must be made of the ending. At the beginning of the film, Don tells Hannah that come the next Easter Parade, photographers will be lining up to take her picture instead of Nadine's and we have an amusing sequence of Nadine promenading with a dog in a completely ghastly and posey manner as photographers take her picture. At the end of the film, the audience does not get the satisfaction of seeing this come true. We are left with Don and Hannah (wearing long pink rubber kitchen gloves) walking along the parade together but that's it. I assume we are meant to deduce that Hannah has arrived and is now on an equal billing with Nadine. Incidentally, we are not shown what happens with Nadine and Jonathan. I assume that they get together as they are both comfortable with having a showy lifestyle. Nothing is clearly resolved.

The cast are good, the colour is great, the costumes are great particularly one green velvet dress that Judy Garland wears, and some of the routines are good but there are better musicals than this.
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