For Reel

Easter Parade (1948)
June 7, 2016, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Charles Walters
3 Stars
Easter ParadeFred Astaire was coaxed out of retirement to replace the injured Gene Kelly in Easter Parade, the well-remembered MGM musical known as being the single collaboration between Astaire and Judy Garland. Unfortunately, the two have very little chemistry on screen—if some of their interactions are amusing (Astaire giving Garland dance lessons produces some laughs, including a riff on Ginger Rogers’ feather dress from Top Hat), they play as two individual stars battling for attention rather than as a cohesive unit. Regardless, Easter Parade earns some good will in its most satisfying moments, including Astaire’s drum solo number early on and Ann Miller’s show-stopping “Shakin’ the Blues Away” (which coasts on Miller’s talent while director Charles Walters inappropriately treats the number as a throwaway rehearsal). Irving Berlin’s score is solid, but the musical numbers have very little to do with the narrative at the core of the picture—consider as an alternative how the music played an emotional role in the Astaire and Rogers musicals. The picture is best summed up by a late gimmick in which Astaire dances in slow motion as the cast in the background moves at normal speed. Visually interesting as it may be, it simply doesn’t “get” what makes Astaire so impressive. He doesn’t need green screen gimmicks, he just needs to dance. Similarly, here’s a film that should have everything going for it, only there is no guiding hand to bring all of the disparate elements together.

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