Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
The Happiest Musical Ever Made is Irving Berlin's Easter Parade
On the day before Easter in 1911, Don Hewes is crushed when his dancing partner (and object of affection) Nadine Hale refuses to start a new contract with him. To prove Nadine's not important to him, Don acquires innocent new protegee Hannah Brown, vowing to make her a star in time for next year's Easter parade.
I'm not saying that they don't make 'em like that anymore; only saying that they don't make movies that provide this variety of pleasure anymore. It's true: that's entertainment. Garland. Jesus. Grounds every movie she's in and simultaneously sends it soaring. It would have been a pleasure seeing her as a healthy older woman. Sacrilege to say, but I found myself imaging her in a part like Maude in Harold and Maude - in an alternate universe where we still get Ruth Gordon's take of course. Garland is so funny, so present so emotional.
Also: Jules Munshin. And some great tunes.
Having been brought up in a healthy shame based environment where pleasures of the flesh were deemed unnatural and verboten, the cinematic excursions me and my family traditionally undertook were limited to a window between the post-Hays code era, and the dawn of the sexual revolution (and James Bond. We're a contradictory bunch).
So profound was this sociological imprinting that even in my early thirties I steer clear of sharing with them a movie, with accidental, or incidental nudity. Murder is perfectly acceptable, as long as it's administered via a surreptitious dose of strychnine by steely-eyed turn of the century matrons.
During their occasional visits, after having exhausted everything in the canon from Hawkes to Capra to Lang to Wilder,…
At one point Judy Garland asks Fred Astaire if he loves the titular Easter Parade, and he replies with something like ''It's okay... if you like Easter Parades.'' Likewise, if you love musicals, you'll like this one. Or even if you don't, because I don't really seek them out often.
But be warned: Sure, the musical numbers, dance choreography, (favourite bits include watching Astaire dance in slow motion whilst others in the backdrop dance in normal speed... and "A Couple of Swells") the colourful costumes/sets and the splashes of humour (the restaurant waiter who never gets to serve food and the bartender earn the chunkiest laughs) are the show... but there isn't much plot controlling your interest. There's like 3…
I'm not generally an Irving Berlin fan, but
Oh, I could write a sonnet
About your Easter bonnet
remains one of my favorite couplets in all of 20th Century popular music. Don't know why.
I love these post-war years of the Hollywood musical. While Gene Kelly, along with his collaborators Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donen is busy redefining the parameters of physical and emotional space in the genre, Fred Astaire is busy obliterating the laws of physics. In film after film, objects, simply by their proximity to Astaire, become imbued with some kind of magical essence: they become living props, they dance. In Royal Wedding he transcends gravity and in Easter Parade time itself submits to Astaire's whims.
“A girl dancer has to be exotic; she has to be - a peach.”
-Don Hewes (Fred Astaire)
I’ve probably said it before, but I’ve never really been that much of a fan of the musical sub-genre, bar several notable exceptions. I would wager that it is actually one of the hardest to work within, since not only is there strong competition, but it really takes something special, some magic spark, in order for one to differentiate itself against other similarly themed films. What this usually results in are several truly great musicals, yet hundreds of poor knock-offs and cheap imitations.
Recently however I have cultivated my love/hate affair with the genre with some sincerely solid entries. Between this, Bye…
One of my 1000 recommended films.
By far the best bit of this movie is early on in the running time, when the wonderful Fred Astaire has a routine in a toy shop, to the Berlin number ‘Drum Crazy'.
He's there to get an Easter present for his dancing partner (played with energy by Ann Miller), but she has a bombshell to drop: she's leaving him to join a bigger name stage show, and he's left high and dry without an act.
Step forward Judy Garland, as a waitress who Fred thinks might be able to sing and dance. At first she's reluctant, and hopeless, but of course, this being MGM mush she falls for Fred and suddenly finds her…
so cute!! it was interesting to think about how different it wouldve been if gene kelly was the mc instead of fred astaire.. weird! but really i did enjoy it overall :>
I heard this film mentioned on Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This podcast a few months ago, and added it to the queue. Now I can't remember what Longworth said about the film that intrigued me. My main thoughts on the film:
1. Judy Garland was SKINNY in this film! (I think I remember hearing that this was when she really was happy with how she looked, but it's also the time when she was REALLY on a lot of drugs.)
2. Fred Astaire is an amazing dancer. (And the sky is blue.)
3. Judy Garland does a pretty good job of keeping up with Astaire's dance moves!
4. I think this is the only movie explicitly about Easter. And it's a fairly tenuous connection.
P.S. Made my boyfriend watch this with me because it's my BIRTHDAY and he has to.
"You're nothing but a pair of dancing shoes," cries Judy Garland to Fred Astaire during one of EASTER PARADE's key scenes. Key, because in so few words it articulates my entire criticism of Fred Astaire as a whole. He can't act, he can't sing, he's smug, uncharismatic, and he always plays pompous assholes. In classic Hollywood, Astaire is my second most loathed persona (behind John Wayne). Now, his presence doesn't completely ruin a film for me. FUNNY FACE will forever be one of my all-time favourite musicals. But that has two masters (Stanley Donen and Audrey Hepburn) bringing their respective A-game. Astaire could have been just replaced with a broomstick and I'd adore FUNNY FACE just as much. EASTER PARADE…
The happiest musical ever made
is Irving Berlin's Easter Parade.
Well, I wouldn't know if it's the happiest musical ever in history, but I must be the happiest girl in the world whenever I watch it. My first time seeing it was also my first time seeing Astaire in a film from beginning to end, and what absolute genius: an actor, a singer, a dancer, even a drummer. Garland is charming as Hannah Brown, and one of her numbers with Astaire, "When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'," gets me on my feet most every time. Oh, and Ann Miller's fantasti-tap to "Shakin' the Blues Away" is something to see.
"Oh, I could write a sonnet
"about your Easter bonnet
"and of the guy I'm taking to the Easter Parade!"
(Nice touch to have Garland sing the signature song to Astaire, instead of the other way around.)
At 100 minutes its overlong stuffed with too many musical numbers that just feel inconsequential and superfluous
God I hate Irving Berlin. Charles Walters does some interesting things and some boring things; Astaire can't not be charming.
Oops, wrong holiday. Eh whatever.
Baby doll of Hollywood, Judy Garland teams up with dancing hunk, Fred Astaire. (For the first time) in a musical where Astaire is a famous dancer who gets dumped by his muse on Easter. He decides to get back at her, finding a new dance partner in a spunky choir girl. He thinks he can get her to be a great dancer and win back his muse. But he soon finds out, that after a year of having her under his wing, he begins to have feelings for her.
A film that was almost never made. Backed by so much production problems, MGM was switching between director, actor and actress, trying to find the right…
Very light fair with a generic backstager plot that can hardly be bothered to exist, and it's not my favorite music either...but the performances are fantastic and there are some transcendent moments in the direction, including a very exciting use of slow-motion.
A light, entertaining movie with great song and dance numbers and strong performances from the cast. Sweet hats...err bonnets as well.
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This list is the Letterboxd version of The Oxford History of World Cinema.
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Blonde Ambition (1981)
The Devil in Miss Jones (1972)
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