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Easter Parade (1948)


Easter Parade
Judy Garland and Fred Astaire


'Easter Parade' is a spectacular musical movie starring Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Ann Miller. It was made in 1948, directed by Charles Walters, who replaced Vincent Minnelli, and features music by Irving Berlin.

The movie has gone down as one of the great musicals of Hollywood's Golden Age and is the only movie pairing of Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, but it won just one Academy Award, for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

Commercially it was a great success and was MGM's biggest hit of 1948, grossing over 6 million dollars on its first release. Nationally, it was second only to the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope comedy 'Road to Rio'. For both Garland and Astaire 'Easter Parade' was the most financially successful picture of each of their careers.

What makes 'Easter Parade' stand out is the great talents of Astaire, Garland, and Miller, all at their best, all together in the same movie. Absolutely wonderful, and one of the greatest of all musicals.

Plot

The movie is a fast moving visual feast of costume and color together with the wonderful singing of Judy Garland and the breathtaking dancing of Fred Astaire and Ann Miller. As with many musicals, the plot is flimsy and is really an excuse for the wonderful music and dancing. Fred Astaire and Ann Miller play a dancing team, Don Hewes and Nadine Hale, but when Nadine opts for a solo career, Don takes a new partner, Hannah Brown, played by Judy Garland and the new partnership becomes extremely successful also. Throw in several love interests, including Peter Lawford, and, of course, a happy ending and you have the recipe for a great feel-good musical.

Production

Irving Berlin
The inspiration behind the movie was the 1946 hit from Paramount, 'Blue Skies' starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire with a selection of old and new material by Irving Berlin. Berlin was convinced he had enough songs for another movie idea he was working on called 'Easter Parade'. Before offering it to MGM, Irving Berlin offered the idea to Twentieth Century Fox, who refused it, saying his price was too high. MGM paid Berlin $600,000 for his contribution to the film, including story consultation, the use of his famous name, the movie title and of course, his songs.

Over half of the songs performed in the film were written by Berlin before the film was even conceived and had been performed in other movie and stage musicals. He did write a number of songs specifically for 'Easter Parade' including the classic 'It Only Happens When I Dance with You', 'Stepping Out with My Baby' and 'A Couple of Swells'.He also especially wrote the song 'Mr. Monotony', which was not used.

Casting
The movie was originally intended to star Gene Kelly with Vincente Minnelli directing, but Kelly broke his ankle playing touch football just before the start of filming. Fred Astaire was persuaded out of retirement, reportedly because he wanted to work with Judy Garland, and the movie's success gave him another twenty years of picture making.

Judy Garland had recently been released from a sanatorium where she had been treated for drug dependency. She was not happy about being directed by her husband, Victor Minnelli, and she asked for him to be replaced. So with the film rehearsal just five days old, Minnelli was replaced by Charles Walters, a former dancer. Garland and Minnelli divorced three years later.

Ann Miller was a replacement for Cyd Charisse, who had pulled a leg muscle and could not work on the picture.

Main 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

Credits

Director ... Charles Walters
Producer ... Arthur Freed
Screenplay ... Sidney Sheldon, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett
Music, Score ... Johnny Green, Roger Edens
Music, Songs ... Irving Berlin
Cinematography ... Harry Stradling Sr.
Format ... Color, Technicolor
Distribution Company ... Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date ... June 30, 1948
Running time ... 107 minutes

Musical Numbers

All by Irving Berlin
"Happy Easter"
"Drum Crazy"
"It Only Happens When I Dance With You"
"I Want to Go Back to Michigan"
"A Fella with an Umbrella"
"Vaudeville Montage: I Love A Piano / Snookey Ookums / The Ragtime Violin / When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'"
"Shakin' the Blues Away"
"Steppin' Out with My Baby"
"A Couple of Swells"
"The Girl on the Magazine Cover"
"Better Luck Next Time"
"Easter Parade"

Academy Awards

One Win:
Best Original Music Score ... Johnny Green, Roger Edens
No Unsuccessful Nominations: