Easter Parade (film)

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Easter Parade
Easter Parade poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Charles Walters
Produced by Arthur Freed
Written by Sidney Sheldon
Frances Goodrich
Albert Hackett
Starring Judy Garland
Fred Astaire
Music by Score:
Johnny Green
Roger Edens
Songs and Music:
Irving Berlin
Cinematography Harry Stradling
Edited by Albert Akst
Production
company
Distributed by Loew's, Inc.
Release date
  • June 30, 1948 (1948-06-30)
Running time
108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,655,000[1][2]
Box office $5,803,000[1]

Easter Parade is a 1948 American musical film starring Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Peter Lawford, featuring music by Irving Berlin, including some of Astaire and Garland's best-known songs, such as "Easter Parade", "Steppin' Out with My Baby", and "We're a Couple of Swells".

It was the most financially successful picture for both Garland and Astaire as well as the highest-grossing musical of the year.

Plot[edit]

In 1912, Broadway star Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) is buying Easter presents for his sweetheart ("Happy Easter"). At one store, he must persuade a young boy to part with a cuddly Easter rabbit he wants and instead choose a set of drums ("Drum Crazy"). Hewes takes the gifts to his dancing partner, Nadine Hale (Ann Miller), who explains that she has been offered a show that would feature her as a solo star. Don tries to change her mind and it looks as if he has succeeded ("It Only Happens When I Dance With You"), until Don's best friend, Johnny (Peter Lawford), arrives. Nadine reveals that she and Don are no longer a team and makes it obvious that she is attracted to Johnny. She continues to pursue Johnny, but he refuses her out of respect for Don.

Don drowns his sorrows at a bar, where he brags that he can make a star of the next dancer he meets. He picks one of the girls performing on stage, Hannah Brown (Judy Garland), and tells her to meet him for rehearsal the next day. Don tries to turn Hannah into a copy of Nadine, teaching her to dance the same way, buying her dresses in a similar style and giving her an "exotic" stage name, "Juanita." However, Hannah makes several mistakes at their first performance ("Beautiful Faces Need Beautiful Clothes"), and the show is a fiasco.

Hannah meets Johnny, who is instantly attracted to her and sings "A Fella With An Umbrella" while walking her to her rehearsal with Don. After Johnny tries - unsuccessfully - to reunite Nadine and Don by inviting both to lunch and then leaving them alone, she tells him her friends are laughing because Hannah is trying to be her. Don realizes his mistake and after hearing Hannah sing "I Love A Piano," works out routines more suited to Hannah's personality. Now known as "Hannah & Hewes", the duo are shown much more successfully performing "I Love a Piano," "Snookie-Ookums", "The Ragtime Violin", and "When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam'."

At an audition for Ziegfeld Follies, Hannah and Don meet Nadine, who will star in the show. Hannah realizes that Nadine was Don's former dancing partner and demands to know if they were in love. Later, Don meets Hannah back at the hotel and reveals that he turned down the Ziegfeld offer, believing that Hannah and Nadine do not belong in the same show. Johnny arrives to take Hannah to dinner, at which he reveals that he has fallen in love with her. While Hannah does like Johnny, she admits she is actually in love with Don. She and Johnny continue to have a close friendship.

Nadine's show opens ("Shakin' The Blues Away") and Don is in the audience. When Don and Hannah meet the next day, he reveals he signed them to star in their own show and invites her to celebrate over dinner. Hannah arrives at Don's, only to have him suggest a dance rehearsal. She is upset and tells him that he doesn't see her as a woman, only a dancing aid. She tries to leave, but Don stops and kisses her. Hannah then plays the piano and sings "It Only Happens When I Dance With You," after which Don realizes he is in love with Hannah and they embrace.

The couple's show contains a solo by Don ("Steppin' Out With My Baby"), followed by the best-known musical number in the film ("A Couple of Swells"), in which Don and Hannah play a pair of street urchins with vivid imaginations. Don and Hannah go to celebrate after the show at the roof garden where Nadine is performing. The audience gives Don and Hannah a rousing ovation as they arrive, much to Nadine's chagrin who hears the uproar backstage. After she dances in a number called "The Girl On The Magazine Cover," she insists that Don perform one of their old numbers with her for old times' sake - "It Only Happens When I Dance With You (Reprise)." When Don reluctantly agrees, Hannah becomes upset and leaves, believing that Don has only been using her to regain Nadine, and has succeeded.

She goes to the bar where she and Don first met. She pours out her troubles to Mike the bartender ("Better Luck Next Time"). When Hannah returns to her apartment, she finds Don waiting. Don tries to explain that he was forced to dance with Nadine and tells Hannah he'll wait all night for her to forgive him, but just before Hannah opens the door, Don is evicted by the house detective. The next morning Hannah tells Johnny about her and Don's misunderstanding. Johnny says if he loved someone he would let her know it. Hannah realizes that Johnny is right and goes to meet Don for their date for the Easter Parade.

Later that morning, several gifts arrive at Don's apartment, with no cards. Hannah arrives unexpectedly saying she sent them, oblivious to the previous evening's argument and urging Don to prepare for their Easter date. As they walk in the Easter parade, photographers take their picture, echoing the film's opening with Nadine, and Don proposes ("Easter Parade").

Cast[edit]

  • Judy Garland as Hannah Brown
  • Fred Astaire as Don Hewes. Gene Kelly was originally cast as Don, but Kelly was injured (he broke his ankle playing volleyball) just prior to production and Astaire, who had announced his retirement from film, was coaxed back by Kelly to replace him.[3] (Astaire would "retire" several more times over the next decade, but he would also go on to make a number of additional classic musicals in between retirements.)
  • Peter Lawford as Jonathan Harrow III
  • Ann Miller as Nadine Hale. This film marked the major MGM debut of tap-dancer Miller (who had previously been under contract to RKO in the thirties and then to Columbia Pictures in the early to mid-forties), replacing Cyd Charisse, who withdrew from the production due to torn ligaments in her knee.
  • Jeni Le Gon as Essie, Nadine's maid
  • Jules Munshin as François, the maitre d'
  • Clinton Sundberg as Mike the bartender
  • Jimmy Bates as the boy in the toy shop

Norman Barker was the trombonist who played in the duet with Judy Garland

Awards and honors[edit]

The film won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Original Music Score. The writers of the film also received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical.


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Musical numbers[edit]

All songs by Irving Berlin

Performance credits below indicate both singing and dancing unless otherwise noted.

  1. "Happy Easter" (Fred Astaire)
  2. "Drum Crazy" (Astaire)
  3. "It Only Happens When I Dance with You" (Astaire singing, dancing with Ann Miller)
  4. "I Want To Go Back To Michigan" (Judy Garland)
  5. "Beautiful Faces Need Beautiful Clothes" (Astaire and Garland dancing)
  6. "A Fella with an Umbrella" (Peter Lawford, Garland)
  7. Vaudeville Montage: "I Love a Piano" (Garland singing, dancing with Astaire), "Snookey Ookums" (Astaire, Garland), "The Ragtime Violin" (Astaire singing, dancing with Garland), and "When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'" (Garland, Astaire)
  8. "Shakin' the Blues Away" (Miller)
  9. "It Only Happens When I Dance With You (reprise)" (Garland singing)
  10. "Steppin' Out with My Baby" (Astaire, chorus, and featured dancers Patricia Jackson, Bobbie Priest, Dee Turnell[6])
  11. "A Couple of Swells" (Astaire, Garland)
  12. "The Girl on the Magazine Cover" (Richard Beavers singing, Miller dancing)
  13. "It Only Happens When I Dance With You (instrumental)" (Astaire and Miller dancing)
  14. "Better Luck Next Time" (Garland singing)
  15. "Easter Parade" (Garland, Astaire)

One musical number, a seductive performance of "Mr. Monotony" by Garland wearing the top half of a tuxedo and nylon tights (a style of dress which would become something of a trademark in later years after she wore the same outfit in 1950's Summer Stock), was cut from the film as it was deemed too risqué for a film supposedly set in 1912. Audiences finally got to see this number in the 1990s when an edited version was included in the 1994 compilation film That's Entertainment! III. The complete number was first seen as part of the extras on the VHS and Laser Disc special edition versions the following year. When Easter Parade was released to DVD, several minutes of outtakes, raw footage, and alternate takes of this performance were included in addition to the footage previously released.

As with White Christmas six years later, it is impossible to remix the musical numbers from this film into Stereo or surround sound, because the original audio track recordings burned in a fire, leaving only a monaural composite track containing dialogue, music and effects, and an isolated music-only track intended for international release.

Reception[edit]

The film earned $4,144,000 in the US and Canada and $1,659,000 overseas, resulting in a hefty profit.[1] According to Variety it was the second most popular film of 1948.[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ "109-Million Investment by H'wood In Current Technicolor Features". Variety. February 18, 1948. p. 7. Retrieved April 1, 2018. Negative costs for completed Technicolor on the major lots amount to $55,900,000 distributed as follows: ...and "Easter Parade," $3,000,000. 
  3. ^ Astaire, Fred (August 5, 2008). Steps in Time. New York City: HarperCollins. p. 291. ISBN 978-0061567568. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  5. ^ "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  6. ^ "TCM, Easter Parade". Retrieved January 7, 2018. 
  7. ^ "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety January 5, 1949. p. 46

External links[edit]