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.
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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 choose a set of drums ("Drum Crazy") instead. He 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. He tries to get her to change her mind and it looks as if he has succeeded ("It Only Happens When I Dance With You"), until his best friend, Johnny (Peter Lawford), arrives. She reveals that she and Don are no longer a team and makes it obvious that she is attracted to Johnny. She continues to pursue him, but he refuses her out of respect for Don.
Don drowns his sorrow 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. He tries to turn her 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, she 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 he tries - unsuccessfully - to reunite Nadine and Don by inviting them to lunch and then leaving them alone, she tells him her friends are laughing because Hannah is trying to be her. He realizes his mistake and after hearing Hannah sing "I Love a Piano", he works out routines more suited to her personality. Now known as "Hannah & Hewes", they 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 she 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 she does like him, she admits she is actually in love with Don. They continue to have a close friendship.
Nadine's show opens ("Shakin' The Blues Away") and Don is in the audience. When he and Hannah meet the next day, he reveals he signed them to star in their own show and invites her to celebrate over dinner. She arrives at his apartment, 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 he stops and kisses her. She then plays the piano and sings "It Only Happens When I Dance With You," after which he realizes he is in love with her and they embrace.
The show contains a solo by Don ("Steppin' Out with My Baby"), followed by the best-known musical number in the film ("We're a Couple of Swells"), in which he and Hannah play a pair of street urchins with vivid imaginations. They go to celebrate after the show at the roof garden where Nadine is performing. The audience gives them 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 he reluctantly agrees, Hannah becomes upset and leaves, believing that he has only been using her to regain Nadine, and has succeeded.
Hannah goes to the bar where she and Don first met. She pours out her troubles to Mike the bartender ("Better Luck Next Time"). When she returns to her apartment, she finds Don waiting. He tries to explain that he was forced to dance with Nadine and says he'll wait all night for her to forgive him, but just before she opens the door, he is evicted by the house detective. The next morning Hannah tells Johnny about her and Don's misunderstanding. He says if he loved someone he would let her know it. She realizes that he is right and goes to meet Don for their date at 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 him to prepare for their date. As they walk in the Easter parade, photographers take their picture, echoing the film's opening with Nadine, and he proposes to her ("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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