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If you can't join 'em, beat 'em! When his long-time dance partner abandons him for the Ziegfeld Follies, Don Hewes decides to show who's who what's what by choosing any girl out of a chorus line and transforming her into a star. So he makes his choice and takes his chances. Of course, since Fred Astaire portrays Don and Judy Garland plays the chorine, we know we're in for an entertainment sure thing.
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Judy Garland is nothing short of fabulous throughout this film. It's a pity they didn't allow her to do more comedy because she can be hilarious when given the chance. (The `shedding feathers' dance and her stroll down the street, trying to get men to turn and look at her, were hysterical.) Great songs, Ann Miller, and how "not" to make a salad = fun.
Its always amazing to see Ann Millers tap dancing "Shaking the blues away", or Fred Astairs "Drum crazy" and specially 'Steppin' Out with My Baby' (Astair is dancing in slow motion against normal speed dancer in the background).
The picture Quality looks so far good on Blu-Ray. NOt quite perfect /sharp as "Meet me in St. Louis" or "Singing in the Rain" but good. There are no cratches, damages visible.
This Blu-Ray is Codefree and contains a german Track and a few bonus-features.
But the BIGGEST DISSAPOINTING of this blu-ray release:
- the one hour long documentary of Judy Garland is NOT included (as its written on the Cover) -
Astaire plays famous vaudeville star Don Hewes, whose career as a pair-dancer is cut short when his partner Nadine (Ann Miller) quits the act to become a solo star. One night, whilst drowning his sorrows in a dingy bar, he happens across struggling singer Hannah Brown (Garland). Despite having no training, he decides to turn her into his most formidable dance partner. But their relationship - both on and off the stage - is tempered by Hannah's flirtation with a young collegiate bachelor (Peter Lawford), and the reappearance of beautiful Nadine.
The entire film (based around the pre-existing catalogue of Irving Berlin songs) is a complete joy. While the role of Don was originally meant for Gene Kelly, he suffered a broken leg only days before the filming was to begin. Astaire was brought out of retirement to assume the role, and turned in one of his greatest performances, ushering in a wave of new screen vehicles ("The Band Wagon", "Royal Wedding", etc). Judy Garland is pure perfection as Hannah, and obviously adored working with Astaire (their "Couple of Swells" routine is simply tour-de-force).
Ann Miller, in her first big role at the M-G-M studios, is an eyeful as the tap-happy Nadine. Her bravura rendition of "Shakin' the Blues Away", choreographed by Robert Alton, still counts as one of THE greatest musical numbers ever filmed. It's hard to believe, but Ann Miller was still nursing a broken back when she filmed that number. What a trouper! The role of Nadine was originally earmarked for Cyd Charisse, but once again, an injury kept her from the project and former RKO queen Miller started her series of screen successes for M-G-M, that would continue through "On the Town", "Small Town Girl" and "Hit the Deck". Peter Lawford (coming straight from the successful "Good News"), plays Hannah's would-be suitor very well; his mannered singing voice is quite acceptable.
This fabulous 2-disc Special Edition of EASTER PARADE comes with a wealth of bonus materials; including audio commentary with Judy Garland expert John Fricke, and Ava Astaire McKenzie (Fred's daughter). A new Making-Of documentary called "Easter Parade: On the Avenue", which recounts the various problems and difficulties that were encountered in bringing the film to life. Judy Garland's long-deleted performance of "Mr Monotony" which was cut from the final edit of the film (the costume was later recycled for the "Get Happy" number in Garland's last M-G-M film "Summer Stock"). Among the audio components is the Lux Radio Theatre broadcast, featuring the bulk of the film cast, in a fun little freeze-dried version of the story.
The real highlight is the award-winning American Masters documentary feature "Judy Garland: By Myself", which traces the life of Garland through remnants of audio interviews, film footage and pieces from Garland's attempted autobiography (with the voice of Isabel Keating as Garland). The doco features rare screen-test footage, pieces from "The Judy Garland Show" and lots of insight from those closest to Garland.