Nowadays, it’s an event when Hollywood makes a musical, but it used to be part of the standard movie menu. Here are two of the best that you can see this month.
With the holiday fast approaching, the timing is perfect to enjoy the lavish MGM musical “Easter Parade“—but this delightful film is too good to dust off just once a year. Judy Garland and Fred Astaire star in this backstage story set in the year 1912, and like most romantic comedy plots, this one hinges on a misunderstanding. Astaire’s dance partner Ann Miller breaks up their act when she gets a better job, so Judy takes her place…but she thinks Fred is still in love with his former partner. Naturally, the story is just a clothesline on which to hang a series of production numbers, featuring timeless songs by Irving Berlin…including the comic specialty “A Couple of Swells,” with the usually dapper Astaire joining Garland as a bum. This movie is guaranteed to make you smile.
Most remakes pale against the originals, but “High Society” is a stylish reworking of The Philadelphia Story, neatly cast with Grace Kelly as the Newport heiress who’s engaged to be married, to someone she doesn’t really love. The setting enables the inimitable Louis Armstrong to narrate the story in song, as he and his band are attending the Newport Jazz Festival. Inquiring reporter Frank Sinatra is smitten with Kelly, but truth be told, so is her ex-husband, Bing Crosby. This clever pairing of the two most popular singers of their day makes for great fun…but the Oscar-winning number in Cole Porter’s score is sung by Crosby and Kelly. That would be “True Love.”
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Great musicals lift your spirits, and that’s certainly true of these two Technicolor treats.
Note: These picks, which start at $0.99, may not be available in all areas. SEE MORE OF LEONARD MALTIN’S PICKS HERE.