For the first time on Blu-ray the romantic musical Easter Parade dances onto the small screen. Transferred to Blu-ray using 1080p high definition, the movie makes a better presentation than its DVD predecessor. Originally released in 1948, this musical featuring the dancing of Fred Astaire and Judy Garland kicks up a great show.
The story centers on the dancing duo of Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) and Nadine Hale (Anne Miller) a dance team that has performed professionally. Hale has received a lot of notoriety so she decides to go it alone looking for solo success. In search of a new dance partner he runs into Hannah Brown (Judy Garland) and since she's just a newcomer Hannah agrees to join the noted dancer. They get a few breaks and the famous Florenz Ziegfeld producer of the Ziegfeld Follies invites them to join his extravaganza. When Don finds out that Nadine is already in the show, he decides to back off the offer beginning a film of jealousy and competitiveness.
Under the fine direction of Charles Walters (High Society), Easter Parade is a delight for those who like big bands, costumes, singing, and dancing. With the likes of Fred Astaire (Lets Dance) one of the all-time greatest dancers, Ann Miller (Kiss Me Kate) who become a queen of the screen, Judy Garland already a star as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and Peter Lawford (Oceans 11) with an over a 100 title outstanding career, this film can hardly be matched. Filled with romance, outstanding musical numbers, and wonderfully choreographed dance routines it's time to fall in love again with the past.
The list of music from the production includes a memory lane of show tunes with the Academy Award-winning score by Johnny Green and Roger Edens. Here is the list of music and song from the film written by Irving Berlin: "Happy Easter", "Drum Crazy", "It Only Happens When I Dance with You", "Everybody's Doin' It", "I Want to go Back to Michigan", "Beautiful Faces Need Beautiful Clothes", "A Fella with an Umbrella", "I Love a Piano", "Snooky Ookums", "Ragtime Violin", "When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam", "Shakin the Blues Away", "Steppin Out with My Baby", "A Couple of Swells", "The Girl on the Magazine Cover", "Better Luck Next Time", "Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon" and the inspirational "Easter Parade" sung by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire.
The video quality with the transfer from screen to Blu-ray is significantly good showing the splashy Ziegfeld Follies in all it's glory. I could find no distortion during the dance numbers and a bright classy production all around. The Easter Parade pops with all the costumes and make-up and even though the colors do tend to wash in some scenes you will probably not notice it. The 1080p High Definition that's been formatted for 16x9 Televisions uses the 1.37:1 aspect ratio with good results.
Audio quality is paramount with a musical and if your system accepts the DTS-HD Master Audio that this film has been upgraded to, then you are going to get a clear, crisp sound that made me feel like I was in the front row of a theater. The Dolby Digital system does a great job of bringing the songs, orchestra, and dialogue to a high level of superiority making the Easter Parade a great experience.
There are some special features that you may like on this Blu-ray release.
- Commentary is provided by Ava Astaire McKenzie the daughter of Fred Astaire and Producer John Fricke who wrote "Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow" for the TV Series "Biography".
- Easter Parade: On the Avenue- a documentary short by John Fricke
- American Masters - Judy Garland: By Myself- a television special
- Mr. Monotony Outtake and Mr. Monotony Dailies are based on a song that was cut from the movie because it was thought to be too risqué.
- And there is an hour radio show featuring Garland and Astaire broadcast in 1951
FINAL ANALYSIS: A warm look at the past through a memorable musical. (B)