The Many Dogs of Ann Miller

One of the purposes of EASTER PARADE is to dazzle us with design and colours as well as music and dance. Also, dogs.

Ann Miller plays a shallow showbiz star, first encountered coddling this cute little dach-cessory.

But, a few scenes later, we see her on the titular parade, for which she has selected canine companions more suited to her new outfit. Looks like a couple of silken windhounds to me, but heaven knows I’m no expert. The good thing about black and white dogs is they go with any outfit. Though Ann’s furry sleeves and the light-and-dark contrast of her skirt and jacket suggest an attempt to coordinate with her canines.

There’s a disappointingly dogless scene with Ann and Peter Lawford in a swank eatery where I guess there must be a no-pooch rule, but for her next appearance Ann sports her most ridiculous doggie yet, a chic chihuahua, cushioned comfortably on her muff.

He puts me in mind of a Dick Tracy wrist communicator, so that Ann might raise him to her lips and speak with HQ: “Send more dogs!” She knows nothing is calculated to impress Fred, leader of THE DOBERMANN GANG, than an ever-replenished supply of random hounds.

We are not meant to visualise a smelly back room in Ann’s elegant apartments where she keeps all these dogs. The suspicion must be that they are simply worn once and discarded, perhaps donated to the needy, or perhaps, like Burberry, she destroys them in order to prevent cheapening of the brand. In this way, the constant alternation of housepets quietly characterises Miller’s character not as a warm animal lover, but as a ruthless Cruella DeVille type. Boo! Hiss!

Still, she can dance. And, with subtle, mesmeric hand movements, she seems to draw in and push back Robert Alton’s camera (weirdly, choreographer Charles Walters directed the film but had another choreographer to direct the musical numbers). Fiona remarks, “I’m just beginning to realise what factories the old studios were!”

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11 Responses to “The Many Dogs of Ann Miller”

  1. Walters loved to choreograph intimate numbers. The big ones were most often given to other hands.

  2. bensondonald Says:

    Late-period joke: “The quake was so bad Ann Miller’s hair moved.”

    Years ago saw this movie with a college crowd. Miller went over big, scoring a nice laugh while cycling though poses for the paparazzi and realizing they’ve vanished.

  3. Miller’s great: her sense of joy in dancing really comes across. And she had a stylised approach to performance you don’t really see anymore.

  4. Apparently the middle dogs are Borzoi. Missed opportunity to stage a Borzoi Ballet.

  5. Charles W. Callahan Says:

    Cyd Charise was originally set for Nadine, but she got pregnant,

    Damn you, Tony Martin.

  6. bensondonald Says:

    “The Great American Soup” commercial was the work of Stan Freberg, who’d do the odd commercial when not creating comedy albums and radio. He also did this:

  7. I think I prefer Ann for this role.

    Freberg! Wa just thinking of him yeterday, in what context I can’t remember… oh yes, discussing commercials, and how Ken Campbell was only rarely able to find work in them. “My Kit Kat commercial won an award!” “Yes, but after it came out, sales of Kit Kats went DOWN.”

    I recall that Freberg’s genius airline commercials were not, ahem, commercial.

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