MGM’s classic musical Easter Parade (1948) will be given a special-engagement screening April 6 to 9 at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. The musical stars Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and was directed by Charles Walters. Ann Miller and Peter Lawford are also featured.
This was the only time that Astaire and Garland were paired on the screen. The musical features several great songs by Irving Berlin, including “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “A Couple of Swells,” “Beautiful Faces Need Beautiful Clothes” and “It Only Happens When I Dance With You.” AFI’s film notes imply that Berlin won an Oscar for this score. Not exactly. Johnny Green and Roger Edens won Oscars for best musical scoring. Green was the house conductor at MGM at the time and Edens was a major contributor to just about all of the great MGM musicals.
Astaire’s dazzling footwork is up to his usual high standard and gets significant help from from cinematographer Harry Stradling and editor Albert Akst, including slo-motion sequences and layered dissolves. The highlight of the film is the final scene, a gorgeous Easter parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City.
The best musical directors during MGM’s heyday were Vincent Minnelli (Meet Me in St. Louis, The Pirate, An American in Paris, Gigi) and Stanley Donen (On the Town, Singin’ In the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). Easter Parade isn’t quite up to their standard but it’s worth watching nevertheless. Show times are as follows: Fri, Apr 6, 4:45; Sat, Apr 7, 12:00, 7:30; Sun, Apr 8, 12:45 (Easter Sunday!); Mon, Apr 9, 4:45
The theater is located at 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910. For further information call 301.495.6700.