Stanley Donen and Vincente Minnelli are the two most major directors from the late 1940s/early 1950s golden age of the MGM musical, but one of the more under-sung heroes of that stable is Charles Walters, who didn’t direct as many classics as his colleagues, but had a facility with projects that were infectiously upbeat. My two favorite Walters musicals are 1947’s Good News and 1950’s Summer Stock, but smack in between those two is one of the most popular of all the MGM films: 1948’s Easter Parade, starring Fred Astaire as a musical theater star who loses his partner (played by Ann Miller) and angrily tries to replace her with a random dancing girl that turns out to be Judy Garland. A classic backstage musical, Easter Parade’s big selling point is the chemistry between Astaire and Garland, who play their characters with an edge of professional arrogance and defensiveness so sharp that it takes them forever to realize they’re in love. The movie also features some catchy Irving Berlin tunes—shot and staged brightly and energetically, as was Walters’ way. Easter Parade airs on TCM on Easter Sunday, at 8 p.m. Eastern.
April 18, 2014 newsreel