AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Easter Parade
Director: Charles Walters (Dir)
Release Date:   8 Jul 1948
Premiere Information:   World premiere in New York: 30 Jun 1948
Production Date:   19 Nov 1947--mid-Feb 1948
Duration (in mins):   102-103
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Cast:   Judy Garland (Hannah Brown)  
    Fred Astaire (Don Hewes)  
    Peter Lawford (Jonathan Harrow, III)  
    Ann Miller (Nadine Gale)  
    Jules Munshin (Francois, headwaiter)  
    Clinton Sundberg (Mike, the bartender)  
    Richard Beavers (Leading man)  
    Jeni LeGon (Essie)  
    Jimmy Bates (Boy with Astaire)  
    Dick Simmons (Al, stage manager)  
    Patricia Jackson (Specialty dancer in "Stepping Out with My Baby" seq)  
    Bobbie Priest (Specialty dancer in "Stepping Out with My Baby" seq)  
    Dee Turnell (Specialty dancer in "Stepping Out with My Baby" seq)  
    Joy Lansing (Showgirl)  
    Elaine Sterling (Showgirl)  
    Patricia Vaniver (Showgirl)  
    Shirley Ballard (Showgirl)  
    Ruth Hall (Showgirl)  
    Gail Langford (Showgirl)  
    Lola Albright (Showgirl)  
    Patricia Walker (Showgirl)  
    Marjorie Jackson (Showgirl)  
    Lynn Romer (Twin)  
    Jeanne Romer (Twin)  
    Helene Heigh (Modiste)  
    Margaret Bert (Florist)  
    John Albright (Western Union messenger)  
    Johnny Walsh (Specialty dancer in "Stepping Out with My Baby" seq)  
    Dick Paxton (Western Union messenger)  
    George Noisom (Western Union messenger)  
    Wilson Wood (Marty)  
    Tay Dunn (Photographer)  
    Murray Leonard (Photographer)  
    John Gannon (Photographer)  
    Lane Allan (Photographer)  
    Fern Eggen (Saleswoman)  
    Hector and His Pals (Dog act)  
    Peter Chong (Sam, a valet)  
    Nolan Leary (Drug clerk)  
    Angi O. Poulos (Peddler)  
    Joe Kerr (Newcomer)  
    Jimmy Dodd (Cab driver)  
    Robert Emmet O'Connor (Cop)  
    Albert Pollet (Surprised waiter)  
    Doris Kemper (Mary)  
    Frank Mayo (Headwaiter)  
    Harry Fox (Hotel clerk)  
    Ralph Sanford (House detective)  
    Sig Frohlich (Call boy)  
    Rhea Mitchell    
    Reginald Simpson    
    Howard Mitchell    
    Bob Jellison    

Summary: On a spring day in 1912, Don Hewes, a dancer living in New York City, learns that his dancing partner, Nadine Gale, has signed a contract to appear in a Broadway show and will no longer be performing with him. Don, who is in love with Nadine, is crushed by the announcement and goes to a bar to drink away his sorrows. At the height of his drunkeness, Don brags that he does not need Nadine in his act and that he can make a star out of any common showgirl. Hannah Brown, a showgirl at the bar, soon catches Don's attention, and he hastily offers her $100 a week to be his new dancing partner. Don later regrets having made the impulsive offer, but keeps his Easter Sunday appointment with Hannah at a dance studio. Don puts Hannah through a difficult rehearsal session, struggling in vain to teach her his dance moves. Afterward, Hannah and Don take a stroll down Fifth Avenue, where they see Nadine walking her dogs and commanding a great deal of attention with her poise. Hannah does not know Nadine but she is awed by her beauty and style. Don passes by Nadine without greeting her, and then tells Hannah that in exactly one year she will be a bigger star than Nadine. After buying a new wardrobe for Hannah, Don changes her stage name to "Juanita" to make her seem more exotic. Hannah eventually falls in love with Don, but Don is too distracted by his feelings for Nadine to notice her interest. Jonathan Harrow, III, a friend of Don, tries to forge a reconciliation between Don and Nadine, but his efforts end in failure. Following Don and Hannah's disappointing first performance, Don realizes that he has been trying to make Hannah into a carbon copy of Nadine, and that she is not suited for that role. Instead, he decides to let Nadine be herself and perform in the showgirl style that she knows best. Jon, meanwhile, falls in love with Hannah, though Don remains her only romantic interest. One day, Hannah and Don audition for the "Ziegfeld Follies," but when Don realizes that Nadine has been cast as the star of the show, he turns down the part. After a year of polishing their act, Don and Hannah are signed to their first big show, which is set to open in New York on Easter. While celebrating the new contract with a romantic dinner, Don confesses to Hannah that he is in love with her. They give a flawless performance on opening night, and afterward Don takes Hannah to see Nadine perform in the "Ziegfeld Follies." During her first number, Nadine steps into the audience and takes Don in her arms and dances with him. Hannah sadly concludes that Don is still in love with Nadine and leaves the theater. A series of misunderstandings further alienates Don and Hannah, but Jon intervenes and eventually forces a reconciliation. Then, remembering the Easter day promise that Don made to her exactly one year earlier, Hannah, dressed in her best clothes, walks down Fifth Avenue just as Nadine did, and attracts the admiring attention of all the people she passes. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Charles Walters (Dir)
  Wally Worsley (Asst dir)
Producer: Arthur Freed (Prod)
Writer: Sidney Sheldon (Scr)
  Frances Goodrich (Scr)
  Albert Hackett (Scr)
  Frances Goodrich (Orig story)
  Albert Hackett (Orig story)
Photography: Harry Stradling (Dir of photog)
  Sam Leavitt (Cam op)
  Eddie Hubbell (Stills)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Jack Martin Smith (Art dir)
Film Editor: Albert Akst (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Arthur Krams (Assoc)
Costumes: Irene (Women's cost)
  Valles (Men's cost)
Music: Johnny Green (Mus dir)
  Roger Edens (Mus score)
  Conrad Salinger (Orch)
  Van Cleave (Orch)
  Leo Arnaud (Orch)
  Robert Tucker (Vocal arr)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
  James K. Brock (Sd)
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (Spec eff)
Dance: Robert Alton (Mus numbers staged and dir by)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles des by)
  Jack Dawn (Makeup created by)
Production Misc: Al Shenberg (Prod mgr)
  Les Martinson (Scr supv)
  Dick Borland (Grip)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor col consultant)
  Henri Jaffa (Assoc)
Country: United States

Songs: "Easter Parade," "Happy Easter," "Drum Crazy," "It Only Happens When I Dance with You," "I Want to Go Back to Michigan," "Beautiful Faces Need Beautiful Clothes," "A Fella with an Umbrella," "I Love a Piano," "Snooky Ookums," "When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam," "Shakin' the Blues Away," "Stepping Out with My Baby," "A Couple of Swells," "The Girl on the Magazine Cover" and "Better Luck Next Time," music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.
Composer: Irving Berlin

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 26/5/1948 dd/mm/yyyy LP1643 Yes

PCA NO: 12947
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Si with sd seq: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Musical
  Musical
Sub-Genre: Show business
  Historical
 
Subjects (Major): Dancers
  Romance
  Romantic rivalry
  Show girls
 
Subjects (Minor): Auditions
  Bartenders
  Drums and drummers
  Easter
  French
  Friendship
  Magazines
  Models
  New York City--Broadway
  New York City--Fifth Avenue
  Nightclubs
  Parades
  Reconciliation
  Rehearsals
  Tap dancing
  Waiters
  Ziegfeld Follies

Note: According to a Nov 1947 NYT article, composer and lyricist Irving Berlin was paid $600,000 for his contribution to film, which included the use of his name, his consultation on the story, the title of the picture and his songs. More than half of the songs performed in the Easter Parade were written by Berlin in the four decades prior to the film, and many of the songs were performed in various stage and film musicals. The songs that Berlin wrote especially for Easter Parade were: "It Only Happens When I Dance with You," "Better Luck Next Time," "Drum Crazy," "Stepping Out with My Baby," "A Couple of Swells," "A Fella With An Umbrella" and "Happy Easter." Another song, "Mr. Monotony," which was also written especially for the film, was not used. Berlin wrote the melody for the film's title song in 1917 and originally used it for a song entitled "Smile and Show Your Dimple." The song "Easter Parade" grew out of Berlin's reworking of "Smile and Show Your Dimple" for the 1933 revue As Thousands Cheer .
       A Feb 1947 HR news item announced that the following actors were cast in the film: Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson and Red Skelton. An Oct 1947 HR news item indicated that Fred Astaire took over the role originally intended for Kelly, who withdrew from the film one month before the start of production due to a broken ankle. The film marked the return to the screen of Astaire, who had announced his retirement from movies in 1946, after completing Blue Skies (see above). A Dec 1947 NYT article noted that Astaire only meant his "retirement" to be a "mental retirement" or a hiatus from the demands of creating new ideas and steps for dance numbers. Astaire appeared in many additional films from the late 1940s through the 1970s and did not completely retire from the screen until the early 1980s.
       Easter Parade marked the motion picture debut of Broadway actor Jules Munshin, who appeared in a number of popular M-G-M musicals from the late 1940s through the late 1950s. The film also marked the film debut of Richard Beavers. According to publicity materials contained in the AMPAS Library production file, more than 700 extras were used in the film's Easter parade finale, which was filmed on a specially built set constructed on M-G-M's backlot. Publicity materials also noted that the M-G-M camera department, headed by John Arnold, was responsible for creating the first ever slow motion synchronization with sound. The slow motion effect, used in the "Steppin' Out with My Baby" sequence, features Astaire dancing in slow motion in front of a chorus moving and singing in real-time. A Feb 1948 DV article indicated that the final cost of Easter Parade was $3,000,000. It was the studio's top grossing picture of the year, taking in about $6,800,000 at the box office in its initial release.
       According to an Apr 1949 HR news item, Freed was one of two recipients of the Inter-American Music League's award honoring the "greatest contributions to music in 1948." The award was given in recognition of Freed's work on Easter Parade and Words and Music (see below). Sidney Sheldon, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett received the award for "Best-Written American Musical" at the first Annual Screen Writers Guild Awards. Roger Edens (who did not receive screen credit) and Johnny Green won an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
       According to a biography of Judy Garland, Berlin originally offered the film rights to Easter Parade to Twentieth Century-Fox. Fox rejected Berlin's offer because of the high price he was asking and because he demanded a share of the film's profits. Modern sources note that Vincente Minnelli was originally set to direct the film but was taken off the picture just before it went into production. Minnelli's removal, according to modern sources, came at the urging of Dr. Kupper, a psychiatrist who was treating Minnelli's then wife, Judy Garland. Kupper reportedly warned M-G-M that Garland, who had just been released from a sanitarium where she was treated for mental distress and drug dependency, could not withstand the pressures of being directed by her husband. Berlin is quoted in a biography of Freed as having said that he "worked very closely on the story with Hackett" and that Edens was "responsible for the whole musical context of the picture." The Freed biography also indicates that noted playwright Guy Bolton contributed to the screenplay. According to a modern source, Albert Sendrey did the musical orchestrations for the film. According to a biography of Ann Miller, Miller replaced Cyd Charisse, who had pulled a tendon in her leg and could not work on the picture. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   29 May 1948.   
Daily Variety   13 Feb 48   p. 12.
Daily Variety   26 May 48   p. 3, 18
Film Daily   1 Jun 48   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Feb 47   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Oct 47   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Nov 47   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Feb 48   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   26 May 48   p. 3, 13
Hollywood Reporter   28 May 48   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jul 48   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Apr 49   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Jun 49   p. 1, 4
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   17 Apr 48   p. 4127.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   29 May 48   p. 4181.
New York Times   30 Nov 1947.   
New York Times   14 Dec 1947.   
New York Times   1 Jul 48   p. 19.
Variety   26 May 48   p. 8.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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