Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charles Walters|
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Written by||Sidney Sheldon|
Songs and Music:
|Edited by||Albert Akst|
|Distributed by||Loew's, Inc.|
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.
In 1912, Broadway star Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) buys Easter presents for his sweetheart ("Happy Easter"), persuading a boy to part with an Easter rabbit for a set of drums ("Drum Crazy"). He takes the gifts to his dancing partner, Nadine Hale (Ann Miller), who has been offered a show with a solo opportunity. He persuades her to change her mind ("It Only Happens When I Dance With You") until his best friend, Johnny (Peter Lawford), arrives. Nadine reveals she and Don are no longer a team, clearly attracted to Johnny, who refuses her out of respect for Don.
Don drowns his sorrow at a bar, bragging that he can make a star of the next dancer he meets. Picking one of the onstage performers, Hannah Brown (Judy Garland), he tells her to meet him for rehearsal the next day. He tries to turn her into a copy of Nadine, teaching her to dance the same way, buying her similar dresses, and giving her the "exotic" stage name "Juanita". She makes several mistakes at their first performance ("Beautiful Faces Need Beautiful Clothes"), and the show is a fiasco.
Johnny is instantly attracted to Hannah, singing "A Fella With an Umbrella" while walking her to rehearsal. He tries unsuccessfully to reunite Don with Nadine, who tells Don her friends are laughing because Hannah is trying to be her. Realizing his mistake after hearing Hannah sing "I Love a Piano", Don prepares routines better suited to her. Now known as "Hannah & Hewes", they successfully perform "I Love a Piano," "Snookie-Ookums", "The Ragtime Violin", and "When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam'".
Auditioning for Ziegfeld Follies, Hannah and Don meet Nadine, the show’s star. Hannah realizes Nadine was Don's former partner and demands to know if they were in love. At their hotel, Don reveals he turned down the Ziegfeld offer, believing Hannah and Nadine do not belong in the same show. Johnny arrives to take Hannah to dinner, revealing he has fallen in love with her, but Hannah admits she is actually in love with Don.
Nadine's show opens ("Shakin' The Blues Away") with Don in the audience. He reveals to Hannah that he signed them to star in their own show, inviting her to celebrate over dinner. She arrives at his apartment only for him suggest a dance rehearsal. Declaring that he only sees her as a dancing aid, she tries to leave, but he kisses her. She plays the piano and sings "It Only Happens When I Dance With You," and he realizes he is in love with her and they embrace.
The show features a solo by Don ("Steppin' Out with My Baby"), followed by ("We're a Couple of Swells"), in which he and Hannah play street urchins with vivid imaginations. Afterward, they celebrate at the roof garden where Nadine is performing. The audience gives them a rousing ovation, much to Nadine's chagrin. After dancing in "The Girl on the Magazine Cover," Nadine insists she and Don perform one of their old numbers – "It Only Happens When I Dance With You (Reprise)". Don reluctantly agrees, upsetting Hannah who leaves, believing he has been using her to regain Nadine.
At the bar where she and Don first met, Hannah pours out her troubles to Mike the bartender ("Better Luck Next Time"). She returns to her apartment to find Don waiting. He tries to explain himself, promising to wait all night for her to forgive him, but he is evicted by the house detective just before she opens the door. The next morning, Johnny reassures Hannah that if he loved someone, he would let her know, and Hannah goes to meet Don for their date at the Easter parade.
Several gifts arrive at Don's apartment with no cards. Hannah arrives unexpectedly saying she sent them, oblivious to their argument and urging him to prepare for their date. Photographed as they walk in the Easter parade, echoing the film's opening with Nadine, Don proposes to Hannah ("Easter Parade").
- Judy Garland as Hannah Brown.
- Fred Astaire as Don Hewes. Gene Kelly was originally cast as Don, but 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. 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 her major MGM debut. She had previously been under contract to RKO in the 1930s and then to Columbia Pictures in the early to mid 40s, 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 maître 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
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
- 2006: AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals – Nominated
- All songs by Irving Berlin
Performance credits below indicate both singing and dancing unless otherwise noted.
- "Happy Easter" (Fred Astaire)
- "Drum Crazy" (Astaire)
- "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" (Astaire singing, dancing with Ann Miller)
- "I Want to Go Back to Michigan" (Judy Garland)
- "Beautiful Faces Need Beautiful Clothes" (Astaire and Garland dancing)
- "A Fella with an Umbrella" (Peter Lawford, Garland)
- 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)
- "Shakin' the Blues Away" (Miller)
- "It Only Happens When I Dance With You (reprise)" (Garland singing)
- "Steppin' Out with My Baby" (Astaire, chorus, and featured dancers Patricia Jackson, Bobbie Priest, Dee Turnell)
- "We're a Couple of Swells" (Astaire, Garland)
- "The Girl on the Magazine Cover" (Richard Beavers singing, Miller dancing)
- "It Only Happens When I Dance With You (instrumental)" (Astaire and Miller dancing)
- "Better Luck Next Time" (Garland singing)
- "Easter Parade" (Garland, Astaire)
- "Everybody's Doin' It Now" (Do Not Know) 
One musical number, a seductive performance of "Mr. Monotony" by Garland wearing a tuxedo jacket, black fedora, and black nylons (a style of dress which would become something of a trademark in later years after she wore the same outfit in 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 it in the 90s when an edited version was included in the 1994 compilation film That's Entertainment! III. It was first seen as part of the extras on the VHS and Laser Disc special edition versions the following year. When the film was released to DVD, several minutes of outtakes, raw footage, and alternative 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.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- "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.
- Astaire, Fred (August 5, 2008). Steps in Time. New York City: HarperCollins. p. 291. ISBN 978-0061567568.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2016.
- "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2016.
- "TCM, Easter Parade". Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Easter Parade Sheet Music 1911
- "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety January 5, 1949. p. 46
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