Don't you hate it when you're rooting for your movie heroine to pick the guy she'll obviously never pick? This happens to me mostly in musicals. I always yearn for Eliza to pick the lovely Freddy over the obnoxious Professor Higgins, for Giselle to pick Prince Edward over the dull Robert and for Maria to pick God over the Captain.
By the fifth time you've seen these movies you get used to the plot remaining the same, but few times do I cross my fingers hoping that this will change, as much as I do during Easter Parade. Why on earth can't freaking Hannah (Judy Garland) realize that Johnny (Peter Lawford) is so much better than Don (Fred Astaire)? Not only is he less of a sadistic co-worker, he's also not as much a misogynist as Don.
Have you realized how women in musicals tend to have a thing for men they would oppose in social feminist dramas?
Don might dance better and sing better, but he does not inject Hannah with the same kind of life Johnny does. This is especially obvious during the scene in which they meet:
The worried young man sees a damsel in distress and literally dances in the rain to protect her.
If the Technicolor in this movie wasn't gorgeous enough, Johnny finds a lemony yellow umbrella (whatever happened to subdued black?).
As they walk under the rain the clever young man is able to figure out who this woman is by asking key questions. Completely taken aback by his insistence, Hannah asks "Yeah but you haven't told me a thing about yourself", which leads to the response which provides my favorite shot in the movie:
"I'm just a fella, a fella with an umbrella"
I'm sorry but Fred Astaire never gets that smile out of Judy at any other point during the movie. This shot is perfect not only because it highlights that Garland magic we've all learned to worship but also because it shows the way in which studios were in complete control of everything that happened onscreen. The beauty of classic musicals is how they are always able to suspend our disbelief. Nowadays nobody would believe that a man who saves you from getting wet and curiously matches your outfit isn't a stalker. In the movies, it doesn't matter. This crazy array of coincidence makes for something our ancestors knew as "romance".
The way in which the strings swell, Lawford's voice comes out and Judy reacts with such joy makes for a scene that rivals much more famous musical numbers in the canon.
This is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series, go read the other fabulous entries here!