Blu-ray Review "Easter Parade (1948)"

Actors: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Peter Lawford, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin
Directors: Charles Walters
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: February 19, 2013
Run Time: 107 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Easter Parade” is hitting Blu-ray for the first time, thanks to Warner Brothers.   The talent in this film is completely overflowing with Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and the wonderful music of Irving Berlin. The film was originally set to star Gene Kelly but he was unable to star so Astaire came out of his recently announced retirement to take over. This really works with Astaire in the lead role. The film is celebrating its 65th Anniversary this year and this Blu-ray is a must purchase. I am looking forward to making this a yearly revisit each Easter season!

Official Synopsis: If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em! When his long-time dance partner abandons him for the Ziegfeld Follies, Don Hewes decides to show who’s who what’s what by choosing any girl out of a chorus line and transforming her into a star. So he makes his choice and takes his chances. Of course, since Fred Astaire portrays Don and Judy Garland plays the chorine, we know we’re in for an entertainment sure thing.

If you like music than this should be right up your alley, with seventeen musical numbers, all written by Berlin (ten of them are standards and seven are new specifically for the film). If you like dancing that you will love Fred Astaire’s dance solos, including “Drum Crazy” and “Steppin’ Out with My Baby”.  Judy Garland gets to shine those vocals with the song “Better Luck Next Time.” The music and dancing will leave you with a smile on your face and your toes tapping.

Warner really delivered a fantastic Blu-ray release.  The film has never looked better.  I originally saw this film on TCM and almost it claimed to be HD, it was a very poor print.  This 1080 transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 looking clearing stunning.  The film is 65 years old, so there is a little age to it but it only adds to the charm of its time.  Since the film is a musical, the DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track really delivers the songs quite well and never fail to entertain. They are well balanced and have never sounded better.  There is also a Dolby Digital 1.0 track also available but obviously I prefer the HD track still.

Since this is the 65th Anniversary Edition, there is no storage of fantastic extras.  First up we have an nice audio commentary with Ava Astaire McKenzie, Fred’s granddaughter and John Fricke, a historian/author on The Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland. Very fun and entertaining. “Easter Parade: On the Avenue” is a fantastic 30 minutes featurette on this wonderful production. “American Masters – Judy Garland: By Myself” looks into the career of the actress.  There are an outtake and dailies from the scene “Mr. Monotony”.  There is an audio only vintage radio promo from the film, as well as a 3/11/1951 Screen Guild Theater Broadcast.  Lastly there is a theatrical trailer included.