as a child, i was a super awesome gay man. i loved me some judy garland and figure skating and musicals and, omg, would that there had been a judy garland figure skating musical, i would have been all over that. this may go some way in explaining my fervency that everyone watch easter parade this weekend. it is, after all, the happiest musical ever made.
i should warn you: my fervency knows no bounds and it was only heightened by the image search necessitated by this post. seriously. WATCH IT.
because it’s easter and judy’s lovely and her voice is like the sound of a unicorn’s tears of happiness hitting the petals of a rose in a freshly-dewed glade.
i should mention that easter parade was basically an excuse for a bunch of insanely talented people to get together and sing irving berlin songs and wax nostalgic about the follies, as though vaudeville were still a huge big deal (it isn’t). if you love funny face, just sub in judy for audrey and berlin for gershwin, up the crazy factor of the Fashions, move the action from paris to new york and slap in some new songs, and this is basically that same movie.
except BETTER. because it’s easter. so everybody’s wearing about hats.
so yeah, fred astaire’s out to impress his ladyfriend/dance partner and, accordingly, he buys her a bunch of flowers and a hat for the easter parade and then he gets in a weird toy-store-duel with this kid over a pair of drums. like nadine hale really needs a pair of drums.
she doesn’t. she’s joined a dance revue all on her own without him. to woo her back, fred sings a song entitled “it only happens when i dance with you.” based on the sway of their hips and the glimmer in their eyes, “it” is sex. and they will not be having any of that any more.
(and yes, at this moment, it looks like i’m about to recap the whole entire movie for you so you’re absolved of going to the effort of watching it, but that is so not what’s happening here and you are in no way absolved.)
enter our girl judy garland. singing in a saloon and dressed like a tartlet.
WORDS CANNOT CONVEY HOW BADLY YOUNG OLINE WANTED THAT OUTFIT. and not even for stagewear but for everyday use. seriously. if given that dress as the 6-year-old i was when i first saw this movie, i would’ve worn it EVERYWHERE.
so fred astaire propositions judy to become his dance partner and then she inexplicably changes into an apron to sing about how much she loved living in michigan and how she really wants to go back to a farm there some day and settle down. ultimately, she decides to join vaudeville.
i should mention, this entire movie is social justice and the easter spirit at its finest because it’s built around fred astaire’s need to independently become a successful vaudevillian so he can show up his old dance partner at next year’s easter parade. because the new york city easter parade is apparently really important. much like vaudeville…
fast-forward a lot… he gives her a makeover and an exotic name that totally fails… they sing… they dance… she doesn’t know her right foot from her left… but then judy sings a song about a piano… and fred astaire realizes… she is BRILLIANT AS SHE IS!!!… she doesn’t even need a make-over or an exotic fake name… suddenly everything goes their way… they score an audition with the follies… where they dress in harlequin argyle and sing a song about chicago that makes heavy use of jazz snaps:
and THEN… enter peter lawford.
DUDE. get a look at peter lawford. isn’t he dreamy? not in that young lad way that he was dreamy in the liz taylor little women (is it the liz taylor little women? or was he in the kate hepburn little women? WHY o WHY are there so many little women when it is, at its core, an incredibly annoying, hyper-moralistic novel wherein jo totally marries the wrong man?), but in a new, more grown-up, albeit equally british, way. SIGH.
i so wanted to date peter lawford after first seeing this movie in 1987. i wanted to date him and marry him and have his british babies and hear his dulcet british voice whispering sweet nothings in my ear until the day i died. i also wanted him to wear this coat ALL.THE.TIME.
for reals. ALL.THE.TIME. because ohmygod, that thing is the freaking Height Of Fashion! our friend peter lawford has clearly just dashed back into the city in his model T after a weekend spent spectating at the harvard/yale game, which was a jolly good romp, i dare say.
i’ll bet you a tenner his sweater has a Y on it, his blazer has elbow patches and there is a pipe in his breast pocket. but really, details, details, friends! FOCUS… how can we be bothered by such trivialities when THAT COAT is in the house?
fellas, why you not bring it like that nowadays?
whew. it’s going to be hard for me to carry on after that, but i shall try. things are winding down anyway. judy and fred’s show is a success. fred does this AMAZINGLY FAMOUS dance that’s really important in cinematic history so if you’re into cinematic history, you should check that out:
then they go celebrate their success at the follies and take in fred’s old flame nadine’s new show.
a quick word about nadine: if you do take my advice and watch easter parade this weekend, please have mad respect for miss ann miller. as a kid, she took up tap dancing to treat her rickets. in the 40s, her husband shoved her down a flight of stairs while she was 8 months pregnant. she filed for divorce from a hospital bed, gave birth while in a steel harness and lost the child days later. easter parade was her comeback. when she dances in this scene, she’s doing so while still wearing a back brace, which is effing unbelievable.
so fred and nadine dance together to their sex song for old time’s sake and they have mad sparks, which makes judy sad. she flees in the night, returns to the old bar where she was once a tart, sings a sad song and cries herself to sleep.
the next day is easter! everyone is happy again!
you’ll just have to watch to find out why…
for what it’s worth, here’s a really bad preview that doesn’t do justice to the full extent of its wonders:
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