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Still shot from the movie: Easter Parade.

Easter Parade

In the classic film Easter Parade, Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) has to choose a new dance partner because Nadine (Ann Miller) has decided to high step her career elsewhere. He picks Hannah Brown (Judy Garland) and the pair sing and dance their way into movie history.

Overall Grade: B
Violence: A
Sexual Content: B+
Language: A
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Release Date: 08 Jul 1948
Run Time: 107
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

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In-Depth Review

Fred Astaire was an accidental casting choice for the classic film Easter Parade. He was called in last minute to fill the shoes of Gene Kelly when he suffered an injured just before filming began.

Starring as Don Hewes, Astaire’s character is one part of a dancing duo. But his partner Nadine (Ann Miller) is ready to pursue other possibilities. In a fit of tipsy despair, Don tells his best friend Johnny (Peter Lawford) that he can teach any girl to dance well enough be his new coworker. In the bar, he chooses chorus girl Hannah Brown (Garland) even though she has to use a garter to help her remember her left leg from her right.

As Don teaches Hannah a new routine in anticipation of their upcoming show, she finds herself falling in love with her instructor. Unfortunately he is still in love with Nadine who is in love with Johnny who is falling for Hannah. It is a messy love square that leaves everyone longing for a romantic partner that isn’t emotionally available.

However, the story is of little note in a movie that is mainly designed to give the actors plenty of opportunity to showcase their talents—Astaire’s extraordinary dancing and Garland’s perky musical abilities. In one scene, the background dancers move at normal speed while Astaire performs in front of them in slow motion. Composer Irving Berlin contributed thirteen songs for the production including the title song Easter Parade.

Easter Parade turned out to be the most successful movie for both Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. It was also the most financially successful musical in 1948, and the film won the Best Original Music Score at the Academy Awards. While the production may feel slow for today’s younger viewers, this cheery musical production may inspire a new generation of aspiring performers.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: Characters are upset with one another. Characters are teased.      

Sexual Content: Couples kiss. Women wear short dance costumes.

Language: None noted.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink at a bar while upset. A man smokes.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Why does Don want Hannah to have an exotic name when they first begin dancing? What makes him change his mind?

How has fashion changed from that portrayed in the movie? Where do men and women wear hats now?

Video alternatives

Judy Garland also starred as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Fred Astaire appears as part of a song and dance team in the Christmas movie Holiday Inn.

Home Video Notes

Warner Home Video releases the classic movie Easter Parade on Blu-ray (February 19, 2013) and DVD (February 8, 2011).

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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