Fred Astaire had announced his retirement before the cameras began to roll on Easter Parade, but he decided to accept the film's leading role when its original star Gene Kelly became incapacitated. The thinnish plot, which finds Astaire trying to turn chorus girl Judy Garland into a star in order to show up his former partner Ann Miller, is hardly what keeps the audience's eyes riveted to the screen. All that truly matters are the 17 musical numbers, all written by Irving Berlin (ten were standards, while seven were new to this film). Among the many highlights are Astaire's slow-motion version of "Steppin' Out," the Astaire/Garland duet "We're a Couple of Swells," the opening rendition of "Happy Easter," and the closing performance of the title number. So successful was Easter Parade that plans were immediately drawn to reteam Fred Astaire and Judy Garland in The Barkeleys of Broadway; this time, however, it was Garland who withdrew, to be replaced by Astaire's most famous vis-à-vis, Ginger Rogers.
by Hal Erickson synopsis