May 1, 2005
Easter Parade (1948)
Grade: 60/100

Director: Charles Walters
Stars: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller

What it's about. Fred Astaire, once again playing a professional dancer, loses his partner Ann Miller, who wants to go solo. The petulant Astaire selects Judy Garland out of a showgirl line up to become his next partner. Meanwhile, Astaire's best friend, Peter Lawford, falls for Garland, who is in love with Astaire, who is in love with Miller, who is in love with Lawford.

Methinks they should all move into the same house, so they can sing and dance all day long and live with the one they love, even if it is not on an exclusive arrangement.

How others will see it. Many classic movie fans worship Fred Astaire, and believe he is the dance god to top them all. Those in this camp will admire his every move, for he is in typical form here. Another group thinks that Judy Garland is the ultimate Hollywood tragedy, and will also enjoy Easter Parade to hear her talented tonsils tingle.

Ann Miller has a dance number where she gets to show off her highly esteemed legs, and there may be a few Miller fans out there, although her role is relatively small. Peter Lawford plays a dull peace maker who wants everyone to get along, and is altogether too eager to return Garland to Astaire. His fan club is likely composed primarily of family descendants.

How I felt about it. Astaire may be worshipped for his dancing hijinks, which admittedly involve a great deal of hard work. But he's really the master of self-promotion, exemplified in Easter Parade by a number in which he grins shamelessly and tosses and catches a cane in slow motion while a mob of dancers applaud at length in regular speed cadence.

Personally, I admire Astaire as a comic actor, but not so much as a dancer. Perhaps, when I am 80 years old, I will have a revelation and realize I've missed out on his bottomless talent. Until then, however, they might as well cut his dance routines out and make the film move along so much the faster.

Garland is a different story. Sure, she's a fine actress, a good hoofer, and even a looker, certainly more so than Astaire. But good heavens, what a singer! While Easter Parade is merely perfunctory as a musical comedy, if the soundtrack is whittled down to the proper ten minutes or so, you've got a nifty set of Judy Garland songs to treasure. For this reason alone, I hope they keep the Easter Parade negative in top form.