30
Jul 04

FT Top 100 Films 52: EASTER PARADE

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FT Top 100 Films
52: EASTER PARADE

I love the synchronicity in this list. Yesterday we had Breakin’. Today Easter Parade. Both pretty much the same film for very different generations. Now I am not suggest Judy Garland breakdances in Easter Parade, nor does Fred Astaire spin on his head (mores the pity). But it is a backstage musical, which sources all of its song and dance numbers in the fact that its performers are singers and dancers. And it has some of the best Irving Berling numbers in it. Its perhaps not the best MGM musical, but with Ann Miller’s dancing, and Judy’s husky voice its a sure fire winner for your midweek matinee.

Except it is a film about Easter. Christmas films are ten a penny. Easter is much rarer. Its pretty much just Easter Parade, and maybe now the laugh-along riot fest that was The Passion of Ver Christ. What emotions should be in the heart of an Easter film? What is Easter the season of. Eggs? Rebirth? Renewal? There is a vague idea of rebirth in Easter Parade, though not of a supernatural kind. Rather Fred Astaire tries, Pygmalion fashion, to turn Judy Garland into his new Ann Miller in his dance act. He fails, realising that he cannot make someone into someone they are not. Odd considering Judy Garland played this unplyable role – something less true about her life.

So instead we have the idea of the framing device of the Easter Parade, a display of ostentatious wealth rather than anything particularly religious. This was the apex of the MGM musicals, which were all about ostentatious wealth. Easter Parade contains a superfluous Folliesesque number where the screen is stuffed with so many dancing girls you don’t know where to look. In comparison the standout number is “We’re A couple Of Swells” which is a simple song and shuffle from the two leads. Easter Parade has very little to do with Easter, and everything to do with 1948 musicals.

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