Happy Easter, dear readers! I was expecting this movie to be on TCM at some point today, and lo and behold, it’s on right now! Given that you’re reading the work of a ridiculously devoted Judy Garland fan, you might deduce that I can recite every line of this movie–and you’d be right.
Featuring a score of beautifully-written songs by Irving Berlin, this is the story of a chorus girl (Judy) who is discovered by one half of a famous dancing team (Fred), and out of spite to his former dancing partner, he takes her in and sets out to make her a great dancer. She becomes just that, and the duo becomes famous in its own right. They are on top of the world, until his former dancing partner gets jealous. A series of miscommunications occur, and all is presumed over between them until finally at the end, Judy has an epiphany that it’s Easter and…
Sort of your basic storyline, but with much more dancing. SPECTACULAR dancing. It would have been enough just to have Fred, but to add to Fred’s legend, the jealous ex-partner is played by the dazzling Ann Miller, who makes it absolutely impossible to hate her character, and invokes a real admiration for her magnificent dancing talent.
This is one of my favorite numbers of all time:
It must also be said that Judy was a very talented dancer herself. The first evidence we can see of her dancing talent in feature films is in Everybody Sing in 1938. Watch her beginning at 4:48:
And in Easter Parade, she truly holds her own with Fred Astaire. It is often said that when Judy is dancing, no matter who her partner is, you are drawn to HER. And I really find that to be true.
There are very few songs in Easter Parade that fall flat, being the music of Irving Berlin, but I will give you a bit of trivia–there was one song that Judy couldn’t stand:
And of course, that has to be one of the catchiest ones in the entire movie. For those uninitiated into classic cinema (all…maybe 1 or 2 of you…) this second love interest of Judy’s is played by Peter Lawford, better known to many as the future Rat Packer who later married into the Kennedy family.
Judy and Peter Lawford appeared together on the Mike Douglas Show in August of 1968, and of course the main topic of conversation was Easter Parade. Judy recounts a very funny anecdote about how the red plume on her hat made her look like, in her words, “World War I” during the first takes, and how MGM solved the problem for the final film. Take a look at 6:46 for the plume story.
If you haven’t seen Easter Parade, please do! You won’t be disappointed!