Saturday, November 2, 2013

Easter Parade (1948)

Easter Parade doesn't lay an egg, but it's not all it's cracked up to be either.

My beef with this 1948 effort from director Charles Walters (High Society, Please Don't Eat the Daisies)?

True romance is hard to find.

Dancer Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) loves his partner Nadine Hall (Ann Miller). But she wants to go solo. End of relationship.

Hewes decides he'll transform chorus girl Hannah Brown (Judy Garland) into his new partner. She falls for him, but why? Hewes makes all the decisions for their act. Her input is nil. His focus is work, work, work. Hey, the guy can dance, but he's not the type to cuddle up on a couch after a show. Hannah's right when she tells him, "You're nothing but a pair of dancing shoes."

Hewes' buddy, Jonathan Harrow (Peter Lawford), is smitten with Brown, but he also has an interest in Nadine. Why? Brown isn't interested in the one guy who's showing her some affection. What's up with these people?

Dance numbers that truly impress are limited. Astaire's Drum Crazy dazzles in the film's early going. Miller is very fine with her solo, Shakin' the Blues Away.

Some of this film's best moments come from its supporting players. Kudos to Clinton Sundberg as Mike the Bartender, a barkeep who has heard plenty about relationships gone wrong. "This place is like a clinic," he tells Hewes about his workplace. That scene also gives Astaire his best line in the film. Reeling after getting the heave-ho from Miller's Nadine, he asks Mike, "Can you drown a brunette in this (drink)?"

Richard Beavers sounds great with one of Easter Parade's last numbers, The Girl on the Magazine Cover. He only made six films between 1946 and 1954. What happened there?

Finally, Jules Munshin has some fun as Headwaiter Francois, the swanky restaurant worker who keeps seating Hewes, Brown and company, but they never stick around long enough to eat. His description of his salad is a treat.

Easter Parade looks great. It's filmed in Technicolor. But where's the warmth? Not here I'm afraid.

RATING: 6/10

FUN FACTS: Easter Parade won an Oscar for best score. Thank you for the songs, Irving Berlin.

I keep finding actors who appeared in Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood. Add Ann Miller to the list. Her last credit was Mulholland Drive in 2001.

Jimmy Bates is the young lad who doesn't want to give up a stuffed rabbit to Fred Astaire in a toy shop. He also appeared in Singin' In the Rain.

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