"SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS" (Stanley Donen; 1964)
Like a jolly, live-action Snow White, Stanley Donen's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a flexible, sunny, saccharine frontier-musical where high-stepping and operatic crooning is as prominent and as imperative as chopping wood.
Howard Keel plays the eldest of seven ruffian brothers who all need wives and are willing to do whatever it takes to get them, even if it means strapping them unwillingly to their backs and hauling them off to the mountains.
The musical numbers are airy and frivolous, but Michael Kidd's grueling choreography steals the show enough so as to avoid suffocating us in the film's hokey lumberjack love psalms. [B-]
"EASTER PARADE" (Charles Walters; 1948)
A delightful little rags-to-riches pink-fluttered Broadway musical, Easter Parade unites Fred Astaire with Judy Garland on the dance floor and manages to freshly approach a shopworn story about a young girl who's coaxed and transformed into a Broadway star.
Looking mostly rejuvenated, comedically on-point and far less comatose than in Vincente Minnelli's The Pirate ('48), Garland is wonderful here, with a few standout numbers including "I Want To Go Back To Michigan" and the title track, "Easter Parade".
Not considered a top-shelf classic in its genre, Easter Parade does feel marginally produced at times in the song-and-dance department, but it's another irresistibly funny and swooning love story starring - not a couple of swells - but a couple of stars in the twilight of their careers. [B+]