Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Peter Lawford, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin
Director: Charles Walters
Release Date: 8 July 1948
Length: 107 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars
“Judy Garland and Fred Astaire sing and trip the light fantastic to 17 Irving Berlin tunes in this romantic classic. The simple plot concerns a hoofer (Fred Astaire) who teams with an inexperienced chorus girl (Judy Garland) in order to show up his former dance partner, Nadine (Ann Miller). Berlin‘s tunes, which include “We’re a Couple of Swells” and “Happy Easter,” sparkle in Astaire and Garland‘s able hands (and feet). Peter Lawford co-stars.” — Netflix.com
This is a charming, classic musical with a simple, uncomplicated storyline to enable them to feature as many song & dance numbers as possible. Fred Astaire and Judy Garland sparkle in their roles and really make the best of all of the wonderful Irving Berlin music they are given to sing. Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) is part of a successful dance duo who has just lost his long-time partner, Nadine (Ann Miller), whom he thought he was in love with. When Nadine signs a solo contract, he declares that he can take any girl and turn her into a wonderful dancer. He ends up with Hannah Brown (Judy Garland), whom he picked when he was drunk and mad. Hannah is not a good dancer – she cannot even tell her left foot from her right foot! She also doesn’t turn heads as she walks down the street. One of my favorite moments is when Judy Garland tries to catch attention on the street and, realizing she can’t, she starts making fish faces – so funny! As Don tries to force Hannah to become a new Nadine they both become unhappy with each other until Don realizes that Hannah is a great performer when he plays to her strengths – singing with simple dance routines. Both actors ably fulfill their roles and are a delight to watch, although I am not sure why everyone in the movie gets to be in love with Hannah and no one seems to care about Don!
You don’t really watch this movie for the acting or for the story, however, you watch it for the wonderful music and the delightful dance sequences. “Easter Parade” is probably the song that comes to most peoples’ minds when they think of this movie, but my favorite song in the movie is “We’re a Couple of Swells” seen in the clip above. Judy Garland & Fred Astaire play a pair of hobos who are going to an event with the Vanderbilts and how it is so hard to get to the house because they don’t have a boat, a carriage, etc. It is adorable and always brings a smile to my face. “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” is turned into a dance routine to feature Fred Astaire‘s talents and they used some cutting-edge technology (at that time) to show Fred Astaire dancing in slow motion while those in the background are dancing at normal speed. “Happy Easter” is a cute little number that opens the show where Fred Astaire gets to sing a simple melody and dance with a little boy in a toy shop where they use the stock to its fullest extent. “I Love a Piano” is a jazzy little tune that Judy Garland uses to show Fred Astaire that he is wrong in trying to just be a dance duo – they should be singing and dancing. These are just a few of the song & dance numbers features in this movie, there are many more to appreciate and enjoy.
With a wonderful singer and so-so dancer in Judy Garland and a wonderful dancer and so-so singer in Fred Astaire, this movie very ably uses both stars’ strengths to create a memorable movie that will still delight viewers of all ages today. I know that this movie is older and there are probably not a lot of younger viewers that are interested in watching it, but it is a feel-good, family-friendly film with plenty of catchy music you will find yourself singing for days. A great rental for the holiday or any time of the year or try and catch it on TV.
This movie contains a few scenes of drinking in a bar and a few references to being drunk, but is really clean. It is appropriate for all viewers to watch, but young children may get a bit bored with the non-singing parts of the movie. Recommended for viewers ages 6 and up.