A: “YOU DID!!”
The highest grossing musical of 1948 – and the most financially successful film for both Garland and Astaire, Easter Parade is best remembered for its ‘We’re a Couple of Swells’ dance routine:
Despite Astaire’s part originally being intended for Gene Kelly, The New York Times described Fred as having “no peer” – a belief I’ve personally always held. Certainly, the dance routines aren’t amongst his most ebullient, but they have all the characteristics of the best of Astaire: that trademark gracefulness (mixed with screwball humour), that extension of body and elongation of movement, all so typical of Astaire and that always make even the simplest of routines a marvel to behold:
Interestingly, unfortunately and unfairly, the same New York Times review described Judy Garland as “a competent trooper, nimble on her feet and professionally sound vocally…” But everybody wanted to work with Judy – both Irving Berlin and Fred Astaire agreed to the picture because it meant the chance of working with her. The former saw her talent as bordering genius, and the latter would later remember her as “the greatest performer who ever liver – or probably ever will live…” Quite a complement for one described by critics as merely “competent’ and “professionally sound, vocally.”
Also, interesting is the deleted scene below, which is not only probably the best song Garland was given in the whole film, but also shows her in a whole other light, perhaps too hot a light; a light the studio weren’t ready to see her – Andy Hardy’s wholesome squeeze – in. Another injustice to add to the pile of Judy-injustices? Well, to be fair, perhaps it was also down to a certain lack of ebullience in Garland’s performance who, at this time, was already having serious alcohol problems together with addictions to sleeping pills and morphine. Her condition was frail and she had attempted suicide at the end of her previous picture, The Pirate, directed by husband, Vincente Minnelli. Apparently, he was originally meant to direct Easter Parade also, but Judy’s shrink didn’t think it would do her nerves any good to work with him again so soon.
Even when her heart was clearly not in it, which may well have been the case in this deleted routine, she’s still a painful delight to watch:
posted by Dixie Turner