Crew Expertise is revisiting a dozen Judy Garland films for her Centennial. Right here’s Mark Brinkerhoff on one among her hottest footage…
Judy Garland: bodily comedienne. This might not be the descriptor that involves thoughts in terms of the one, the one, The Voice. However as superlatives go, it’s the one that matches like a dainty, sturdy little glove on the hand of a one-of-a-kind expertise in her very prime.
At 26 (and newly a first-time mother to then-baby Liza), Garland, lower than a decade faraway from her superstar-making efficiency in The Wizard of Oz, was reemerging in MGM musicals with a proto-Barbra-Streisand-as-Fanny-Brice efficiency in what would change into her second greatest hit of the ‘40s (following mega-musical, Meet Me in St Louis, 4 years earlier). Easter Parade is a Humorous Woman period-adjacent set story of a novice singer-dancer plucked from obscurity by a storied showman…
He is chosen her as retaliation (?) in opposition to his former companion (a ravishing Ann Miller) for ditching him for greater, higher profession prospects as a solo artist/star within the Ziegfeld Follies. And so it went—and seemingly nonetheless goes—in present enterprise.
That includes songs by Irving Berlin (a few of which at the moment are requirements) and co-written by future famed novelist Sidney Sheldon, Easter Parade is a post-war jubilee that treads even-then acquainted waters of a Pygmalion transformation, a Svengali relationship difficult by an inconceivable love triangle with mid-century Lee Tempo—a dashing, dastardly Peter Lawford (not but ensnared by the Kennedy clan and the Rat Pack). It’s all a bit odd and gross, however nonetheless made palatable by the grounding presence of a very beautiful and humorous Garland, in full command of her jittery items.
Watching a 49-year-old Astaire twirl and unfurl, two years after his untimely “retirement,” is a sight to behold. Having changed a sidelined Gene Kelly, whose leg harm compelled him to bow out of Easter Parade—coincidentally this additionally prompted Ann Miller as substitute for the initially solid Cyd Charisse—he does his finest in a job clearly written for somebody nearer to Garland’s age (Kelly & Garland had been a way more pure match as you possibly can see this similar yr in The Pirate). Nonetheless the dynamic created fortunately isn’t almost as cringe-inducing because the one which marred his ludicrous pairing with Audrey Hepburn in Humorous Face. So there’s that.
With the annual, titular Easter parade looming giant (on April 7—by the way my birthday, y’all!), there’s an inevitable showdown—Garland’s Hannah has fallen in love with Astaire’s Don, whose former companion all of a sudden intimates that she desires him again.
“How was I to know that you just’d be essentially the most great lady in the entire world?” Don wonders to Hannah, aloud. (Howdy! Virtually each homosexual/musical nut is aware of, that’s who.) And from there it’s only a hop, skip and a leap to a grand reunion across the marvelous Fifth Avenue Easter parade. Unlucky Asian and African-American stereotypes abound within the peripheral servant characters, juxtaposed with cute bunnies and puppies, simply because. Nonetheless we hit the streets within the remaining scene, indulging within the strolling, speaking, singing trend present, with a reunited and freshly engaged couple of stars, the toast of fictional Broadway (and precise Hollywood) in a career-reenergizing folly you possibly can positively sing-along to. Which is greater than most.
Easter Parade is streaming now (in celebration of Garland’s centennial—bless) on The Criterion Channel.
Extra for Judy’s Centennial right here at The Movie Expertise
• The Wizard of Oz (1939)
• Babes on Broadway (1942)
• Meet Me in St Louis (1944)
• The Clock (1945)
Tomorrow: The Pirate (1948)