Picture the scene. You’re sitting happily in front of the telly, the remains of four or five Easter eggs resting snugly on your chocolate-filled tum. It’s time for the afternoon film. It’s Easter Parade (of course it is; telly schedules never show The Sound of Music like they did in the old days: but Easter Parade, as the only seasonal film out there not involving Jesus or for pre-schoolers, has to be run out every year). You begin to watch. It’s all great – Fred Astaire! Judy Garland! Together at last! But slowly you start to feel uneasy. A strange gloom darkens the Easter sunshine. You begin to feel the presence of pure evil… and this, dear reader, is what I feel when I watch Easter Parade.
But why such fear of what appears to be a likeable, if rather hokey film? Let me count the ways…
1. This is the plot. To take revenge on his dancing partner, Nadine Hale (Ann Miller), when she leaves him to go solo, Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) picks up a innocent chorus girl, Hannah Brown (Judy Garland), and tries to mould her into being the next Nadine. When that doesn’t work, he steals her away from a bone fide nice guy (Peter Lawford) and manipulates her into falling in love with him. Yes; Fred Astaire plays an honest to God SOCIOPATH.
2. The romance is HORRIBLE. You remember the pivotal scene (of course you do) when Judy says ‘you don’t even know what colour my eyes are!’ and Fred kisses her and then says ‘they’re brown’. He DOESN’T KNOW! He kisses her to check!
3. I don’t want to go with the cliché of Judy Garland being an insecure, vulnerable actress. She is too much of a goddess for that. But here, crikey, she is like a big marvellous overripe mango. She needs a strong comfortable kitchen paper type of leading man like James Mason or Gene Kelly (originally cast for the film, but he broke his ankle) with big strong brown arms. Fred can be tender and humorous with subtle, quirky players such as Audrey and Ginger, but faced with Judy he just looks at the mango juice. He raises one eyebrow and tries to act gallant. But really he’s DISGUSTED.
4. Okay, so Ann Miller played the weird and creepy landlady in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive but she is best known for being, basically, a little ray of sexy shimmery high kicking spinning innocent sexy exuberant loveliness in all her films. (Witness her manic tap dancing on a table in Kiss Me Kate). But in Easter Parade she plays a BITCH (she sulks, rejects the nice guy, is horrible to Hannah and is generally a bore). Any film that wrongs Ann is EVIL.
and, at the end, a pair of pink rubber gloves…
6. In the song ‘I Want to Go Back to Michigan’ Judy has to rhyme “fish again” with “wish again” with “Michigan”. And “rooster” with “USED TO”.
7. Oh and why can’t she go back to Michigan? Because Fred times their first dance rehearsal on EASTER SUNDAY. Fred is EVIL. Which brings me to…
8. At the beginning Fred ASSAULTS a young child with drums and STEALS his little bunny rabbit. Don’t believe me? Watch!
And in the film’s conclusion, Judy puts a poor little cute fluffy bunny rabbit in a box as a present for Fred, in order to say sorry. Luckily he accepts the apology and OPENS THE BOX. But think… what if he didn’t? Yep: dead bunny.
And that is why this film is basically evil; it almost kills the Easter Bunny. So in conclusion: next time Easter Parade happens to be on the TV schedules (like, next Easter) you know what to do. Turn over and watch The Goonies instead.