Easter Parade

  • Directed by Charles Walters
  • June 20, 1948

A successful nightclub performer hires a naïve chorus girl to join his act to prove he can make anybody a star when his original partner leaves for a starring gig.

Easter Parade is a fun and light musical from 1948 with great songs and music by none other than the legendary Irving Berlin. He was a master of the craft and his mastery is on full display here. With songs like “Easter Parade”, “Steppin’ Out with My Baby”, and “We’re a Couple of Swells,” Berlin’s skills are on full display here.

Set in 1912, Easter Parade stars the legendary Fred Astaire as successful nightclub performer Don Hewes and the great Judy Garland as naïve chorus girl Hannah Brown. Don Hewes is part of a dancing duo with Nadine Hale (Ann Miller) that breaks up towards the start of the film. Hannah is a young woman whom Don stumbles across and eventually falls in love with. If you didn’t think they would fall in love, then you haven’t watched many romantic comedies.

The song and dance numbers are fantastic. Then again how can they not be without Astaire and Garland in the movie along with the work of Berlin? One dance number in particular (sans Garland’s involvement) just impresses me. Astaire is the featured performer. From the looks of it it’s a rear projection with Astaire dancing in front. Why is it so impressive? Because the people in the background are moving at a normal speed while Astaire is moving slowly. There’s just something about it that is weirdly magical. You get to take a very good look at such amazing talent.

Peter Lawford shows up in a supporting role as Jonathan Harrow III which helps to complete a love triangle for the story involving Don, Hannah, and the aforementioned John. John is just a rich pretty boy that’s a bit of a womanizer. His character is a small romantic threat for Don who in typical romcom fashion doesn’t realize quite how he feels about Hannah.

Peter Lawford just does not feel like a fit here. I don’t know who I would have replaced him with, but I would have replaced him with someone. If this hadn’t been a musical I think he just would have fit better. As it is John stands out as the only character who doesn’t have a strong comedic moment or a song to sing that I can recall.

Speaking of strong comedic moments, François (Jules Munshin), the maître d’ at the restaurant was wonderful. There’s a scene early in the film where Harrow and Hannah are eating and François has a whole bit about a salad. Based on the reactions by the two, it was an off the cuff unrehearsed moment that got kept in the film and it is pretty funny. He totally stole the show in that moment.

Most amazing thing in this film though are the prices that they mention. $15 a week for a job at a restaurant? $.15 for a roast beef sandwich? $150 a week to be a dance partner? These are all treated as reasonable but in today’s economy they seem outright implausible.

Romantic comedies are shallow things. Rarely are they complex. What sells them though is snappy dialogue and chemistry amongst the leads. While this has plenty of snappy dialogue, the chemistry between Fred Astaire and Judy Garland is okay and Peter Lawford doesn’t seem like quite a right fit for it. Part of the problem is when things begin to work between Astaire and Garland, Lawford shows up. They do not get enough time to have a really good moment that will help to get through the rest of the film.

Easter Parade isn’t a bad film. Casting issues aside, the story is entertaining enough, and the songs are catchy enough that you will enjoy yourself for the first and may sometime down the road pop it in again once any issues you had faded into memory.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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