The Fred Astaire-Judy Garland classic “Easter Parade” will be coming to Blu-ray for the first time on February 19, 2013. Featuring a wonderful collection of songs from Irving Berlin, the film follows an aging dancer (Astaire) whose relationship has gone sour with his dance and romance partner (Ann Miller), who’s gone solo. Enter less polished up-and-comer Hannah Brown (Garland), glad to fill in his ex’s shoes. Peter Lawford provides a shoulder for her to cry on when Astaire can’t seem to let go of the flouncy bigger star.
Mega-talents Astaire and Garland are both in top form here, and deliver some of the songs they’re best known for (a feat in itself, given Garland’s iconic roles in both “The Wizard of Oz” and “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and Astaire’s entire run with Ginger Rogers throughout the 1930s at RKO). “Easter Parade” is one of them–rotogravure anyone?
“Steppin’ Out with My Baby” features Astaire in a six-minute song-and-dance routine, surrounded by burlesque beauties. And if the viewer had any doubt of the laser-precision with which he hits his gliding dance moves, don’t worry: The sequence features a brilliant use of slow-motion in its latter half, fixing on Astaire as he spins, shuffles and cane twirls, while the big band music keeps up its speedy tempo.
Meanwhile, the comedic vaudeville number “We’re a Couple of Swells” has Astaire and Garland in hobo attire, singing jovially about their preference for the country “away from the city smells,” and their impending invite to the Vanderbilts’ for tea. The duo shows a remarkable synchronization in movement, and the beaming grin on Garland’s face (here with a few teeth missing) is priceless.
The 1948 film is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2013. The order due date for the Warner Bros. Blu-ray is January 15.