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27 July 2011

Easter Parade (1948) [Musical Film-a-Thon] 9#

Directed by:  Charles Walters
Genre: Musical, Drama
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Easter Parade features boastful emotion, solid characters and some purely magical musical numbers. Starring the legendary dancer Fred Astaire and high time actress Judy Garland it is a finely crafted musical that will be fun for years to come. The film has some of very fine dancing and not just from the acclaimed Astaire. Easter Parade is a musical with old and new Irving Berlin tunes and standout dance numbers. Even though it is over 60 years old it still has a beautiful ‘gay’ charm to it, making it an emotional and joyful musical film that can last through the ages.

The thinnish plot, which finds Astaire trying to turn chorus girl Judy Garland into a star in order to show up his former partner Ann Miller, but things start to become romantic, but not until we’re near the end really. The film is also set on a two year period, being 1911 and 1912. Just before the film came out Fred Astaire announced that he was making an early retirement before the cameras began to roll on Easter Parade, but he decided to accept the film's leading role when its original star Gene Kelly became incapacitated. Astaire also got this role by pure accident. The original star Gene Kelly had broken his ankle, so Astaire willingly took the role. It’s good he did because he gave one good show.

The music was superb but was thin, although it was beautiful. What truly matters are the 17 musical numbers, all written by Irving Berlin (ten were standards, while seven were new to this film). Among the many highlights are Astaire's slow-motion version of "Steppin' Out," the Astaire/Garland duet "We're a Couple of Swells," the opening rendition of "Happy Easter," and the closing performance of the title number. Ann Miller's lightning tap-dancing is also magnificently showcased in her solo "Shakin' the Blues Away" and she effectively collaborates Astaire in "It Only Happens When I Dance with You". However, Garland, although a lesser dancer, eclipses her in sheer star power, and overcomes the age difference with Astaire.
Judy Garland was golden. I enjoyed her most out of all the cast. The once star of Wizard of Oz, something people will surely be familiar of, did an excellent job in this film in her sensational role. 

Astaire was fine, he may not be Cary Grant but he’s an okay kind of actor.  In the end, no one in the film compares to the acting talent of Garland. One thing for sure is that many of the classic Musical films (if not all) are very gay, in that I mean happy. This film’s happy magnitude is very high with it’s bright colour palette and has a delightful finale for sure. In the Astaire pantheon and the Garland museum of great films, Easter Parade will last for quite a long time not only by its supreme efforts in not only a fine pairing between both of these actors, but with it’s beautiful and simple kind of story.  Although it’s a classic it remains a little short lived in it's beauty.

My Rating: 8/10

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