The Band Wagon

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The Band Wagon (1953) marked the culmination of a series of near-autobiographical pictures Fred Astaire made for MGM following his return from premature retirement in the late '40s. Astaire plays Tony Hunter, a fading film star (his big hit: Flying Down to Panama) who decides to return to his former glory, the Broadway stage. (In 1931, Astaire had starred on Broadway with sister Adele in The Band Wagon, a revue that lent some of its songs to this film.) His playwright-songwriter friends (Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant) hook him up with Broadway's hottest director, Jeffrey Cordova (a nicely hammy Jack Buchanan), who proves that the "new" theater traditions can be an awkward fit with the old. Hunter also finds himself at odds with his prima ballerina leading lady (Cyd Charisse), one of his chief worries being that she seems a little tall. Along the way, producer Arthur Freed, director Vincente Minnelli, choreographer Michael Kidd, and songwriters Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz treat us to some quintessential MGM numbers: Astaire's solo ode "By Myself," the flashy arcade romp "A Shine on Your Shoes," Astaire and Charisse's romantic duet "Dancing in the Dark," the faux-German drinking song "I Love Louisa," the manic trio "Triplets" (with Astaire, Fabray, and Buchanan in matching baby outfits), the Mickey Spillane-esque "Girl Hunt Ballet," and the classic show-biz anthem "That's Entertainment." Even if its ending and obligatory romance fall a little flat, The Band Wagon is one of the classic backstage musicals, a grandiose MGM spectacle that also manages to poke some fun at how grandiose MGM pictures had become. --David Horiuchi

Customer Reviews:

  • The Band Wagon
    This was a wonderful movie about making movies. Great comedy, Great songs, Great dancing, Jack Buchanan and Fred in Top Hat & Tails number, and of course Cyd Charisse, Nanette Fabre, & Oscar LeVant. Fred excells in his dancing as always. Love the "Old Fashioned Wake" party number "I like Beer"! Let's not forget the "New" song..."That's Entertainment" ....more info
  • One of the all-time greats finally comes to DVD!
    To me, THE BAND WAGON is virtually equal to SINGIN' IN THE RAIN in its greatness not only as an MGM musical, but as one of the greatest films of all time.

    Astaire and Charisse are magical together. Minnelli's direction is perfection. The Schwartz/Dietz score is sublime, and the wonderful, personal screenplay by the legendary Comden & Green is priceless.

    It is not noted here, but this is another one of Warner Bros.' ULTRA-RESOLUTION restorations, which brings incredible sharpness and luster to films originally shot in 3-strip Technicolor (GWTW, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and ADV. of ROBIN HOOD previously used this new process that only WB has).

    (For those who are confused as to why Warner Bros. is releasing an MGM movie, that relates to WB buying Ted Turner's company, and Ted Turner bought the entire MGM library up through 1986)

    What isn't noted here on Amazon, is this DVD has a commentary by a lady who was on the set with wide eyes and a photographic memory: The director's Oscar winner named Liza Minnelli. With her is one of her best friends, and aside from being a popular entertainer, he is also an astute historian, and that is Michael Feinstein.

    Added to this (according to the WB press release I read online) there is a documentary on the making of the film, plus a docu on Vincente Minnelli, and even a deleted musical number.

    This (like EASTER PARADE, being released concurrently) is a must-have for anyone who loves great entertainment, whether you are 8 or 80!

    Given their track record, I'm quite certain WB will give us a phenomenal presentation, similar to the pulling-out-all-the-stops treatment they gave the equally sublime Minnelli/Arthur Freed classic MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS.

    How can I possibly wait until March 15th? Agony!!!!!! :) ...more info
  • Sublime dancing!
    This is surely one of the best movie musicals. The backstage trials and tribulations of producing a broadway version of Faust with a frenetic director at the helm and two dancers whose egos and styles clash provide the basis for this delightful film. The dances are wonderful, especially the smooth and romantic "dancing in the dark" number. Astaire, as always, brings a freshness and improvisation to all his numbers and Cyd Charisse is lovely. The Girl Hunt ballet is one of the better long dance sequences created for a movie musical and it is a less self-conscious than the ballets Kelly created in his movies. Micheal Kidd's choreography manages to capture a wryness and tongue in cheek quality that wears well. The costumes for Cyd are stunning. Get this video. You won't be sorry....more info
  • No more digipacks! Wahoo!
    I am so happy to see Warner is FINALLY moving away from their inferior digipacks and using the industry standard Amaray cases, as they did with this one and Easter Parade. This is an excellent set with 5.1 Dolby and crisp, clean picture. Of course, there is no much to say about this movie that hasn't already been said. Excellent!...more info
  • Poised ,stylish and elegant musical
    Outstanding direction by that master stylist Vincente Minnelli helps make this among the greatest ever musical movies.It deftly manages to both celebrate and gently satirise the genre and its conventions.and in the process delivers superb entertainment .

    Astaire plays Tony Hunter a fading Hollywood song and dance man in danger of being forgotten .When we first meet him he is travelling by train to New York to discuss appearing in a musical on Broadway,one written by his friends Lester and Lily Marton .Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray play these roles with style and skill and the characters are pretty obviously based on the actual songwriters Adolph Green and Betty Comden .He suffers the humiliation of being ignored by the press on arrival and they make a beeline for Ava Gardner,cameoing as herself and looking stunning it must be said.
    The musical mintended as genial lightweight entertainment is hijacked by its producer and co-star' English actor manager Jeffrey Cordova(Jack Buchanan) who sees it as a modern day Faust and signs rising ballerina Gaby Gerrard(Cyd Charisse )and ballet choreographer Paul Byrd(James Mitchell)to work on the show.Gaby and Tony clash personally and professionally and the play flops dismally on try out on the road.So the cast re-invent the show as a musical revue anmd the rest as they say is history
    The story is slight but musical highlights are plentiful-the Astaire/Buchanan duet on I Giess I'll Have to Change My Plans ;Astaire twinkling through There's A Shine On My Shoes in a New York penny arcade,the sensual pas de deux between Astaire and Charisse to Dancing in the Dark;the legendary Triplets routine in which superb trick photography enables Astaire ,Buchanan and Fabray to perform as toddlers and above all the That's Entertainment number.For my money the showpiece ballet sequence Girl Hunt ,a homage to dance and film noir,is overextended but many will see it as a higlight.
    Astaire was never better and projects an endearaing vulnerability as well as unparalleled terpsichorean skills;Charisse is a better dancer than actress but her performance is perectly adequate;Levant and Fabray give well judged performances but the show is stolen for me by the elegant insouciance of Jack Buchanan as a sligtly pretentius "act-or" but who is still a pretty nice guy

    Superb design ,outstanding colour and a movie shot through with love for its subjects-movies and theatre .Whats not to love?...more info
  • Hop on the Band Wagon for Pure Entertainment
    One of the most beloved of the great MGM musicals is THE BAND WAGON. The film has all the great features that musical lovers enjoy: a simple plot, great actors, great musical pieces, and great hoofing and dancing. THE BAND WAGON has all this and then some.

    The film stars Fred Astaire who plays Tony Hunter, a song and dance man who has seen better days. His writer/friends Lily and Lester Morton (played by Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant respectively) convince him to come to New York to star in a play. The play is to be directed by the pompous but lovable Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan) and his co-star is the ballet star Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse). The director wants a Faust like play, which bombs. Astaire and Charisse clash due to ego difficulties and all seems lost until The Mortons and Astaire decide to rewrite the flop of a play which of course becomes a success. Astaire and Charisse fall in love despite their age difference, and it all ends on a happy note.

    In the hands of other writers and actors, the film would not work, but writing team Betty Comden and Adolph Greene had similar experiences in their writing career, and Astaire was at an age when he easily could have been a real life Tony Hunter, all of which give the film a realistic flair. Much of the movie is made up of dance numbers, including the famous "Dancing in the Dark," "The Triplets" (Fabray, Astaire, and Buchanan are dressed as infants singing about how they hate each other), and the grand spectacle trademark of MGM musicals which in this film is a dance scene set to a murder mystery. The musical score has many well known tracks, including the song "That's Entertainment" which is appropriate for this film, which is pure entertainment.

    The film is transfered beautifully to DVD and this set has a bonus disc that contains background to the film as well as commentary by those who are still living and had a role in its production which is a must for movie buffs. So sit back and enjoy this film, which may be a bit far fetched for a modern audience, but still has its magic.
    ...more info
  • One Of The Great MGM Musicals
    This was one of the last, great MGM musicals and it shows just how assured and professional those MGM musicals could be. Most people that I know of rank it among the top musicals ever made, usually a half step behind Singin' in the Rain. It's an insider's valentine to show business and putting on a show, written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green as a funny, gentle satire on the professions' pretensions and foibles.

    Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire), a fading Hollywood song and dance man, comes to New York at the request of his friends, Broadway musical writers Lily and Les Marton (Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant). They have a great idea for a show that Tony will star in, and they are aiming to get the biggest Broadway director to take in on, Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan). Cordova agrees to not only dirtect and produce but to appear as the devil. He gets famed ballet star Gabrielle Girard (Cyd Charisse) to co-star...and decides the Martons' lighthearted spoof, with some rewriting, of course, would be a pefect modern-day musical retelling of the Faust legend. Thud. Besides all the things that can go wrong on an out-of-town tryout, Hunter and Gerard don't take to each other at first. She's a ballerina. He's a hoofer. And she's maybe a little tall for him. The show, pretentious and humorless, flops in New Haven. But then Tony takes over, the 'let's put on a show' theme kicks in, all the songs and dances that were kicked out go back in and Cordova recognizes his faults and wants to stay with the show under Tony's direction. It's a big hit, and Tony and Gabrielle have fallen in love.

    The second thing to remember in all of this is how well it gently satirizes so many of the show biz conventions. The movie is funny and the good-humored elbowing is amusing. The Martons are based on Comden and Green, Cordova was based on Jose Ferrer, at that time a major Broadway actor-director, and Astaire had several of his idiosyncrasies pinned on the character of Tony Hunter (worrying about the height of his costars, for example), which he good-naturedly accepted.

    The first thing, however, is that this is a musical with great musical performers. The Band Wagon's backbone is the classic songs by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz. Astaire, Charisse, Fabray and Buchanan all have plenty of opportunities to do what they do best, sing and dance. Among the outstanding numbers are "By Myself" (Astaire), "A Shine on Your Shoes" (Astaire), "That's Entertainment" (everyone), "Dancing in the Dark" (Astaire, Charisse), "I Love Louisa" (Astaire), "A New Sun in the Sky" (Charisse), "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" (Astaire, Buchanan), "Louisiana Hayride" (Fabray) and "Triplets" (Astaire, Buchanan, Fabray). One of the highlights is "The Girl Hunt Ballet," a knowing spoof of the Micky Spillane hard boiled private eye tales. It's choreographed by Michael Kidd, danced by Astaire and Charisse, with the narration, spoken by Astaire, written by Alan Jay Lerner. Its head-and-shoulders better, in my view, than so many of the ballet pretensions then current in many musicals.

    The DVD presentation is excellent, as are the extras. They include an interesting "making of" feature that has on-camera comments by the surviving stars and creators: Fabray, Charisse, Kidd and James Mitchell....more info
  • Climb Aboard!
    The early fifties saw the end of the great MGM musicals. "An American in Paris" and "Singing in the Rain" are masterpieces in their own right. "The Band Wagon" was made at the same time and contains a treasure-trove of wonderful songs. The screenplay by Comden and Green has the same spark as "Singing in the Rain" but it deals with the viscisitudes of a Broadway (rather than Hollywood) production. While the show is full of zesty numbers, one has to wonder why Oscar Lavant was cast in his role. Aside from "Louisa," his pianistic talent goes untouched, as does his acting ability (which no one would touch with a ten-foot pole). Otherwise, the score is wonderful ("Dancing in the Dark" is superb) and the dancing is delightful. If fact, MGM used an actual used a shoe-shiner from LA to co-star with Fred Astaire in "A Shine on Your Shoes." The second disc contains scenes from the movie and a retrospective on Vincente Minelli--all worth watching!...more info
  • Fred's answer to Singing in the Rain
    This movie came out a year or two after Singing in the Rain. Fred meant it to be his answer to that movie. Many people remember the Gene Kelly movie but not this one. In many ways I think Band Wagon is better. WHY ISN'T IT ON DVD?...more info
  • That's Entertainment Indeed !
    Released in 1953, "The Band Wagon" remains one of the shining jewels from MGM's golden age of musicals. Directed by Vincente Minnelli with his usual flair and imagination, featuring Michael Kidd's extraordinary choreography,and with a sparkling cast, this lovely DVD answers the prayers of many fans of classic musicals who hoped that the film would receive a richly-deserved "special edition".

    Even by 1953, the "let's put on a show" plot for musicals was becoming a cliche. It is to the credit of all concerned that "The Band Wagon" breathed new life into this frequently-used premise.

    Incomparable Fred Astaire stars as Tony Hunter, a Hollywood song and dance man whose film career is on the skids. He arrives in New York, hoping to revive his career on Broadway. When he steps off the train, and is ignored by the press in favour of a big, current movie star ( beautiful Ava Gardner, in an amusing cameo ), Tony knows that his stock with the public has truly plummeted ! However, two old chums, Lester and Lily Marton ( sad-sack Oscar Levant and bubbly Nanette Fabray ) greet him with the news that they have written a new show which would be a perfect starring vehicle for him. The rest of the film deals with how this show is pulled together, with constant changes and set-backs, to ultimately become the Broadway hit they have all dreamed about.

    First they have to convince megalomaniac producer Jeffrey Cordova ( wonderfully witty Jack Buchanan ) to direct and participate in the show. The final coup is to convince classical dancer Gabrielle Gerard ( stunning Cyd Charisse ) to join the show. Of course, the insecure Tony is worried about dancing with Gabrielle--is her style too sophisticated ? Is she too tall ? In fact, Tony and Gabrielle instantly clash--so viewers just know that, sooner or later, they are going to fall for one another.

    The film is loaded with great songs and dance numbers--"By Myself", "When There's a Shine on Your Shoes", "Triplets",
    "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" and the great finale "That's Entertainment". Of course, there is also the wonderful scene, at night in Central Park, where Tony and Gabrielle decide to see if they really can dance together. The result is one of the most romantic sequences in the history of cinema, with Mr. Astaire and Ms. Charisse "Dancing in the Dark"--absolutely sublime !

    Again the cast is excellent, and bringing Jack Buchanan over from England for this picture was a master stroke ! How sad that Mr. Buchanan would not have long to live--he succumbed to cancer in 1957. I have one criticism--Oscar Levant. I understand that he was a fine pianist, and a talented raconteur, despite chronic health problems. Well--I'm sorry--I can only review what I see on screen, which would be a sour-looking, unamusing individual, devoid of any charm, who stands out in this dazzling cast like a sore thumb ! From an interview with Nanette Fabray, included with the extras, it sounds like Mr. Levant wasn't much fun off-screen either .

    The picture is full-screen--in keeping with the film's original aspect ratio--and the colour is really gorgeous. Mr. Minnelli was not shy about using every colour in the rainbow ! With two discs, fans have numerous extras to enjoy--we learn plenty of background about the making of the film from people like Nanette Fabray, Liza Minnelli, Fred Astaire's daughter and--yes--Ms Cyd Charisse herself. There is also a career retrospective on Vincente Minnelli, with many film clips, an amusing black and white short with a much younger Jack Buchanan, and several trailers for other Astaire films.

    Bottom line--for collectors of classic musical films, your "collection" is seriously incomplete without "The Band Wagon". Highly recommended.

    A very sad footnote, dated 18 June 2008--Ms. Cyd Charisse has passed away. While she did have some straight acting roles, she will be forever remembered as the beautiful, elegant dancer in several top-drawer fifties musicals with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. If you like classic film musicals, this lovely woman will always have a special place in your memory....more info
  • A Movie Musical Lover's Dream
    Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse do some of the most beautiful and romantic dancing ever in this classic showbusiness film. Dancing in the Dark and The Girl Hunt are fantastic sequences,and for comedy, this is a gem! Buy or rent this film today! It will be the best money you've ever spent!...more info
  • The Band Wagon
    I had heard this old musical was very good.
    It certainly is! So glad I can get these classic movies
    thru Amazon....more info
  • fine MGM musical with love, a stageshow epiphany and a victorious opening just waiting to pop out at you
    The Band Wagon is one of those excellent MGM musicals with enough song and dance musical numbers to make your eyes bug out! The color is excellent and the sound is good. The plot moves along at a good pace; and there was never a dull moment. The cinematography and the choreography work very well, especially in scenes where the actors are performing a play within a movie.

    The action begins when Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire), a washed up actor and dancer, comes to New York to try his luck on Broadway as well as meet his old friends Lily and Lester Martin (Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant, respectively). Lily and Lester are not just married--they're also a writing team! They hatch a plan to revive Tony's career with a great artistic vehicle for him. Tony agrees but soon there's a great deal of uneasiness for Tony when he discovers that Lily and Lester want the great star Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan), who also directs and produces, to plan out the show.

    Things become even more uneasy when Tony doesn't exactly hit it off with the female leading lady, Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse). Tony worries that Gabrielle might be taller than he is; and Tony and Gabrielle just don't get along. Worse yet, Jeffrey Cordova insists that the vehicle for Tony's comeback be transformed into a type of Faustian play that Tony comes to loathe.

    Of course, from here the plot could go just about anywhere. Will Tony and Gabrielle ever see eye-to-eye? What about Gabrielle's boyfriend who is the choreographer for the show--how will he fit into the picture? Will the changing of the show to a Faustian theme really work? How will Lily and Lester react to the changes being made to the show? No spoilers here, folks--you'll just have to watch the movie to find out!

    Of course, you buy this for the movie; but the extras are extensive and very impressive. There's a great commentary by Liza Minnelli and you get a great documentary about Vincente Minnelli, the director of The Band Wagon. The Fred Astaire trailer gallery is nice but you'll probably be more amazed at a rare Vitaphone short featuring Jack Buchanan way before The Band Wagon was ever filmed!

    The Band Wagon is clearly one of the great MGM musicals. There are many timeless moments including the "That's Entertainment" number; and the sequence of musical numbers that wind up the film is wonderful to behold. I highly recommend this film for people who love classic movie musicals; and fans of the stars of this picture will almost surely want to get this for their collections.
    ...more info
  • Jack Buchanan- what a hoot!
    I love much of "The Band Wagon"--it's certainly the best of the "Potpourri" musicals, and truly one of the greatest of them all.

    But I find it interesting that no one ever mentions the fabulous British music-hall veteran Jack Buchanan who, as far as I am concerned, practically walks away with every scene he's in, including his backwards tumble off the set just before "That's Entertainment".

    The subtle but wicked virtuosity of his portrayal is a continual delight to watch. His opening "Oedipus MODERNE" scene (both ONstage and BACKstage) is priceless.....and oh, SO accurate!

    But I think his most amazing scene is where he sits on his couch and cleverly sets up James Mitchell to manuever Cyd Charisse into the show---and notice the fact that this scene is done in almost ONE CONTINOUS TAKE----it is brilliantly written AND acted!

    Then the series of shots as the cast keeps opening the doors into the room where he is selling the concept of the show to the THAT'S FUNNY!

    As much as I enjoy the rest of the film (and "Triplets" is an absolute classic), I hate to leave Jack Buchanan's opening scenes, as I find the familiar formula of aging star (Fred) romancing the much younger ingenue so wearisome. If it wasn't Astaire and Hepburn, it was Bogart and Hepburn....or was it Cary Grant and Hepburn...or Grant and Eva Marie Saint...or Wiliiam Holden and Hepburn...or....or....(not that a May/December romance can't be a cool thing....but c'mon!)

    At least in the heartbreaking "Roman Holiday", Gregory Peck was the right age to romance Audrey.

    But I digress.........more info

  • Just a Classic
    I'm not a fan of musicals or dance. In fact, this dvd looks way out of place in my collection of dvds. But surely there's something seriously wrong with anyone who has lived in this world for a few decades without recognizing something special in Fred Astaire. This is Fred Astaire in a classic Fred Astaire role. And Cyd Charisse? A special lady, special legs (in the class with Juliet Prouse's). What more could you want? It's an unreal world, a movie with no real bad guys (!) and no stomach-turning downward plot twists. Smooth sailing all the way. Those moments when a "downer" result is threatened are completely defanged - no pain, all the emotional drain removed by Astaire's manner. He handles emotional situations as smoothly as he dances. Yes, an unreal world, but spending a little time there is great uplifting escapist entertainment....more info
  • All Aboard!
    The Band Wagon is a very good movie!
    It's list of musical numbers include, That's Entertainment!, The Girl Hunt, and Triplets.
    It's a must see for any musical movie fans,or anyone else for that matter!
    I realy wish I could rate it with 10 Stars!...more info
  • A great musical!
    I highly recommend this musical. The dance numbers and
    songs are wonderful. It is very entertaining, I'd
    give it more stars if I could....more info
  • That's entertainment!
    The Band Wagon was one of those films I'd always managed to miss but which turned out to be a lot of fun. There are minor flaws - Cyd Charisse is unflatteringly shot for much of the picture and is nobody's idea of a prima ballerina, Oscar Levant is clearly well lubricated and sadly well past his prime, while there are quite a few technical fluffs, be it the shadow of the camera making yet another appearance or the stagehand strolling casually across the background in the Louisiana Hayride number, and the Girl Hunt ballet finale goes on far too long as per many post-American in Paris MGM musicals - but Comden and Green's script is so sharp and the numbers so good that none of that really matters. Great fun, and glorious Technicolor too - and theextras package on thetwo-disc set is particularly impressive....more info
    This has been called the greatest musical film about the stage ever made and it's not hard to see why! This was not meant to be an imitation of "Singin' in the Rain" - as everyone knows, it really was sort of a bio of Astaire's career (washed up star makes a come-back, etc). Cyd Charisse is one of the most feminine and beautiful dancers to ever have appeared on screen. "Dancing in the Dark" is "Classic Astaire" - NOBODY had such grace and class as he when he danced! The "Girl Hunt Ballet" is another show stopper that Cyd and Fred grace the screen with. The "Shine On Your Shoes" number is fun and Astaire, as always, looks fabulous throughout. Not only are the dances great, the music is fantastic and Fred and Cyd are stunning together. Works for me!...more info
  • Really, a 3.5...
    A muddled Fred Astaire musical, which starts out with a brilliant opening sequence wherein Tony Hunter, a thinly-veiled Astaire stand-in, returns to a modern, new, 1950s New York, which has adopted a brash, gritty form of glitz which feels foreign to the debonaire star of 'Thirties film and stage. Broadway has been overrun with garish and pretentiously lofty Big Concept plays, and the good clean fun of Fred and Ginger's era seems hokey and out-of-date. Still, his loyal pals, a successful playwright and librettist, hustle him up some work, which turns out to be with the most pompous of the new theatre elite. Astaire's outsider-looking-in view of Broadway in transition -- the sort of big city symphony that director Vincente Minnelli excelled at -- is fascinating (while Fred's visit to an old Times Square theatre that's been renovated into a penny arcade is amusing in retrospect, considering that the neighborhood soon became overrun with porno parlours...) Teaming Astaire up with Cyd Charisse is a joy to behold as well... Apparently he is quoted as saying she was his favorite dance partner (Ginger Rogers fans, all gasp now...) but you can kinda see what he means... Where the graceful Rogers was a perfect partner to Astaire, the statuesque Charisse is more of counterpoint, an equal presence, if not as intuitive and inventive a dancer. There's a much greater physical charge between them, and it's a very different viewing experience. Anyway, long story short: this film has a great premise, but falls apart when they actually find a barn and start to put on a show. The highbrow producer stages a flop, and Astaire and company decide they can't quit now, so they're just going to put on some good, old-fashioned singing and dancing revue, like folks loved in the old days. That's all very well and fine, but the big old, sockaroony extravaganza that takes up the last quarter of the film simply makes no sense. It's a bizarre Technicolor pastiche of old routines: a hick skit, a terrible old Vaudeville routine (Triplets), and a fun (but overlong) parody of then-contemporary film noir craze, featuring Astaire in the tough-guy role. It just doesn't hang together, which is a pity, since the film ultimately doesn't deliver on its promise to give the "new" theatre its comeuppance... Maybe with a little more delicacy or stronger writing, they would have, but the Really Big Show is kind of half-baked. Stiil, Astaire & Charisse... what's not to like?...more info
  • Wonderful and classic

    Perhaps one of the rarer teens of our generation, I discovered good, old MGM musicals when my father became sick and had to watch movies at home. As we became closer, it seemed that both of us had a healthy interest in musicals. After we watched the "That's Entertainment" series, we rushed to buy "An American in Paris," "Take me out to the Ball Game," "Singin' in the Rain," and "The Band Wagon." We would soon get a collection that rivaled any DVD store's.

    Cyd Charisse had always charmed both my father and I. She was beautiful, a brilliant dancer, and never seemed to be bad in any way. She showed acting skills in "Silk Stockings," where I truly started to look for movies with her. (Which led to a discovery of Brigadoon.)

    In "The Band Wagon," Fred Astaire is a movie star by the name of TONY HUNTER, and is seen getting off a train after briefly talking to Ava Gardner (in a cameo)and heads off, meeting the two writers of the show he had decided to be in.
    He watches a ballet starring GABRIELLE GERALD (Cyd Charisse) and is enchanted, although he is worried about her height.

    At their first encounter, they do not like each other and are spiteful to each other. They practice for the show for many weeks, until Tony Hunter finally gives up and walks away.

    Gabrielle knocks on his door, although he is still upset. They try to ignore their differences, and go out into the park to try to see if they can really dance with each other.
    This is where they perform the famous, magical "Dancing in the dark." Afterwards, it seems that Tony Hunter has returned to the show, now that he and Gabrielle have figured out that they can work together.

    Unfortunately, the show seems to have been a disaster when some audience members left, looking grim.
    This is when Tony Hunter decides that they should make their own show, and take the writer's original script (before their director had changed a lot of it) and he gets jolly with the other members, planning out their performances.

    Gabrielle's boyfriend, up until now, had been the choreographer for the show. Disappointed that Tony is taking over the show, he leaves, giving Gabrielle an ultimatum.

    The shows that Tony had planned out were a major success, and they toured places like Boston, and did many interesting performances, such as "The Triplets," "Louisiana Hayride," and a ballet performance by Gabrielle as the "sun" in "a new sky."

    Finally, there is the "Girl Hunt Ballet," where Tony plays as a detective trying to find a killer, who happens to play a saxaphone. He gets clues, and does several dance routines with a blonde who passes through randomly, and a sultry brunette who dances with him in a more jazzy way, as compared to the blonde's elegant ballet movements. (Gabrielle Gerald plays both parts.)

    The saxaphone player turns out to be the "innocent" blonde, but is dying from the shot from Tony. Feeling a little remorse, he is instantly happier when seeing the brunette again, and they leave the stage together.

    This show was also a fabulous success,a dn Tony is in his dressing room, getting ready to go out and have some drinks. He is met by the sight of the whole cast, including Gabrielle, dressed formally singing "For he's a jolly good fellow."

    Gabrielle gives him a touching speech about how much he's helped everyone, and tells him that they all learned to love him, including her. After a brief kiss, the writers of the script and the former director start singing. This is what would soon be the theme song of "That's Entertainment," which is the title of the song.

    Overall, this was a wonderful movie that every musical fan should watch.

    ...more info
  • One of the great film musicals
    This movie begins with a phenomenal if misleading shot. It shows a top hat and cane belonging to former dancing legend Tony Hunter being auctioned, with no takers. Of course, if you see a top hat and cane, you think "Fred Astaire." But despite the implication and reference, Fred Astaire was, at the time this film was being made, still very much the greatest dancer in the movies (with apologies to Gene Kelly). Unlike Tony Hunter, he had never ceased to make "A" pictures. But no one could have played this role with more authority than Astaire.

    The plot is simple: washed-out and used-up former dance legend Tony Hunter is returning to Broadway in an attempt to revive his sagging career. That provides the pretext that is needed for a nearly perfect musical. THE BAND WAGON is a magnificent blend of great songs, great music, great dancer numbers, great actors, and great comedy. The cast is perfect. You get not only the greatest song and dance man in movie history but also a magnificent partner in the elegant and leggy Cyd Charise. You get great comic relief with Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray. And you get one of the few musical comedy performers who could rival Fred Astaire for elegance and charm in Jack Buchanan.

    The musical numbers are both marvelous and apparently never ending. The film begins with Fred performing "By Myself" and then soon shifts to a thoroughly rousing version of "Shine on My Shoes." Later in the film, two enormously debonair song and dance men (Fred and Jack) perform "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan's." And that doesn't even come close to exhausting the list.

    Perhaps the highpoint of the film, however, comes when Tony and Gabrielle, the ballet performer the producers want to partner him with, uncertain that they will be able to dance with each other at all, take a carriage ride through Central Park to try to get to know each other. As they drive, they come upon an outdoor dance floor, with an orchestra playing the haunting Dietz and Schwartz classic "Dancing in the Dark" (which lyricist Dietz intended to be a meditation about the nature of human existence; Schwartz's music matched the mood of the lyrics perfectly). Tony and Gabrielle get out and begin to walk together in rhythm, gradually and tentatively attempting a few dance steps. Eventually, they discover each other's rhythm, and they begin to dance together marvelously and magnificently, matching the mood of the music precisely. It is one of the greatest moments in either Astaire or Charisse's career.

    This is a must see film for any fan of the movie musical. I have to confess that I am not, by and large, a big fan of the MGM musical. I prefer the kookiness of the older RKO musicals, or even the stylized musicals of Warners or even Fox. MGM musicals were, to me, too often overproduced and dominated by the art directors. This film, however, is a magnificent exception....more info

  • The man with the charm! The woman with beautiful legs!
    Warner Brothers has done it again! They last of the true hollywood musicals has been released in a gorgeous 2-disc special edition! Packed with tons of features! Vincente Minnelli has directed a great movie filled with music and great actors! Cyd Charisse gives us one of her best performances! Of course, the ever suave Fred Astaire never fails to leave me in awe! This is the first time that Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire team up! This would lead to good performances from thid duo in Silk Stockings! This movie never fails to grab your attention!...more info
  • The Band Wagon
    The dancing by Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, and the show biz contributions by Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant make this an excellent DVD....more info
  • The Band Wagon
    The dancing by Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, and the show biz contributions by Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant make this an excellent DVD....more info
    beautiful, funny, sad, enchanting, fascinating. Minnelli never made a better musical film(well,''Meet Me in St. Louis'' almost),this is one of the movies that never leaves you. Fred Astaire at his best as an aging film star deciding to appear in a broadway musical for his writer friends, getting tangled in a mess and falling in love with beautiful costar Cyd Charisse.Minnelli melds everything together seamlessly in a narrative full of echoes and doubles, himself echoing the ballet scene from his legendary ''American in Paris'' with a smoldering noir dance sequence, Charisse herself becoming the double side of an innocent waif and femme fatale. Smoldering movie world envelopes you, as life is a stage, and the stage is life....more info
  • The best of the lot (MGM lot, that is...)
    There are still people walking this fair land who, when "best MGM musical ever" is floated, will reflexively blurt out "Singin' In The Rain!!!". In order to disabuse these poor benighted souls of this ide fixe, let's do an itemized comparison between Singin' In The Rain (SITR) and The Band Wagon (TBW) for the title of Heavyweight Musical Champeen of the MGM Universe. Undoubtedly, SITR is the better-known of the two and features one of film's iconic dance sequences; in other words, SITR is conventional wisdom's favorite. That said, in mano-a-mano contest, TBW is the winner and handily so (pun mostly unintended). Let's begin, shall we?

    Star: Astaire over Kelly. As usual. (Stop that. You know it's true. There's no point in contesting it.)

    Co-star: Cyd Charisse slam-dunks the EVER-annoying Debbie Reynolds (herself a major overall factor in SITR's loss to TBW), but herself gets trounced by Jean Hagen (best squeaky virago ever). A draw.

    Supporting: Jack Buchanan, Oscar Levant, and Nanette Fabray triple-team Donald O'Connor (in his defining and best screen performance) and edge out a victory.

    Choreography: Kelly and O'Connor (under Kelly's direction) hoof up a storm, just outdoing Astaire and Charisse. Kelly's title track number takes Astaire/Charisse's Dancing In The Dark, although the latter is the best duet Astaire's done since Night and Day with Ginger Rogers, and is itself a textbook to economy, style, and subtlety.

    Music: Dietz and Schwartz over Freed and Brown. Despite Louisiana Hayride being a kitsch feature almost unparalleled in MGM musical history.

    Book: Comden and Green's TBW ties Comden and Green's SITR.

    Finale: Girl Hunt Ballet over Broadway Rhythm Ballet. By a mile. The former is tongue-in-cheek, visually-engaging despite its smaller scale, and imaginatively-choreographed. The latter a bit obvious and, in typical Kelly style, a little heavy-handed in its inclusion of "serious", "dramatic" elements. Cyd Charisse too, too hot in both, of course.

    Overall: SITR lights up in the Hagen-Kelly sparring and O'Connor's zinging bits, as well as in the "early days of talkies" sequences and the proto-postmodernism of the Beautiful Girls montage, but li'l Debbie Reynolds and the love interest numbers cause the film to drag and buckle. TBW, by contrast, hums throughout, going from strength to strength: Buchanan's God of the The-ah-tuh performance, Levant as Levant, Astaire's wistful By Myself, Triplets (why no Hoops?), the disaster that is the Damnation Scene, Astaire and Buchanan, signifiers for "class", soft-shoeing on I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plan. An uninterruptedly-enjoyable movie, from start to finish, one that _almost_ hearkens back to the snap and fizz of the big-attitude Warners musicals of the '30s, one that, accompanied only by It's Always Fair Weather, tracks a smidgen of post-war grit onto the spick'n'span floor of the MGM musical.

    So, there you have it. See The Band Wagon. Become a TBW fanatic. It's that simple. ...more info
    In this age of angst (to say the least), what better elixir than Fred Astaire, who is pure joy himself. Sure, he had problems professionally and in life like the rest of us, but you know what? The essence of this man transcended all of that, and I believe that is why we are all so drawn to his films today. Not only that, but this film takes place when the movies were leaving hoofers (tap dancing) behind, and moving into the realm of modern dance and ballet. Even in those territories, Fred holds his own. It is my belief that the decline in the producing and popularity of musicals from the late 40's and 50's to this day is because we left tap dancing (primal rhythm) behind for a mode that was too effete for most people to be affected by.

    As for the film, great!!! Have to admit the last production bored me, but is was worth the rest of the film. Shall we cherish Ms. Charrise now or later. I say always!!...more info

  • my favorite musical
    I love this movie. Cyd Charisse is the epitome of elegance dressed in red and dancing with Fred Astaire in the "Girl Hunt Ballet" sequence. In the track with Liza Minnelli and Micheal Feinstein critiquing the movie, Feinstein says that Cyd Charisse was upset that "Two Faced Woman" was rescued from the MGM archives because the number was in her opinion inferior. And actually I agree with Ms. Charisse. The theme of "Two Faced Woman" was developed better in "The Girl Hunt Ballet". If "Two Faced Woman" had been kept, it would've been too melodramatic and it would have been too much foreshadowing of "The Girl Hunt Ballet" ending. As always I am impressed by the sincerity and sheer elegance of the acting and direction....more info
  • Tha Band Wagon
    My husband and I had seen the Nanette Fabray clip of the triplets singing and decided that any movie with a song that goofy had to be worth seeing completely. It took a very patient clerk at a Virgin Megastore to help us discover the name of the movie. It never showed up on any of the movie channels so we bought it on Amazon. We were not disappointed - the movie as a whole was really good. If you were born too late to see these oldies in a theatre and you need a shot of what musicals used to be, they are worth every penny. ...more info
  • Hop on the Bandwagon With This Smash Hit!
    In my opinion, I think that 'The Bandwagon' is one of the best and certainly the funniest musicals of all time. Cyd and Fred sparkle on screen. The plot is classic, but wonderful. As for the songs and dances, they are definately some of the best. 'A Shine on My Shoes', 'Dancing in the Dark', 'Triplets', and 'I Love Louisa' are wonderful and creative.
    I have to admit, though my favorite person in the film is Fred, I have to say that my second favorite character is Jeff Cordova (Buchanan). He is the most hilarious and wonderfully stereotypical character I have ever seen!
    This film is certianly one of the best, so see it today!...more info
  • Worth seeing once or twice for song & dance
    There are 3 or 4 great musical number in this film, and that's all. The plot is about entertainers endeavoring to produce a musical comedy based on Faust. Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray provide a little comedy relief, but only the musical numbers stand out. That's Entertainment is the most memorable. Astaire has some fine dance sequences as always, and is good paired with Cyd Charrise in one scene and Jack Buchanan in another. Astaire, Buchanan, and Fabray also do a cute number as baby triplets. For the song & dance, it's worth viewing once or twice, but not over and over....more info
  • And You Say As You Go On Your Way--That's Entertainment!
    THE BAND WAGON is a unique film which gently mocks the conventions of the "backstage musical" genre by piling stereotype upon stereotype to comic effect. While some viewers see the film as purely cliche and dismiss it as such, those in tune with its covert satire often rank it as one of Hollywood's finest musicals. But however you look at it, THE BAND WAGON offers two of Hollywood's greatest dancers, three memorable character actors, fabulous music, and some of the finest musical set pieces ever created for film.

    The story is slight but contains unexpected twists. Fred Astaire is a has-been movie musical star (much of the film actually parodies his own history) who decides to return to Broadway--and unexpectedly finds himself trapped in a musical adaptation of Faust with a neurotic director (Jack Buchanan), two irate writers (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray) and a decidedly icy leading lady (Cyd Charisse.) Needless to say, disaster follows disaster until every one concerned decides to junk the Faust element and do something purely entertaining instead. As with most Vincent Minnelli films, THE BAND WAGON is visually stunning in virtually every manner possible, and the loose plot offers plenty of room for one dazzling musical number after another. Astaire literally defies time with his work in this film and Charisse makes an exceptional partner; at the same time, Buchanan, Fabray, and Levant lend a touch of acid humor that adds considerably to the fun.

    The musical numbers are everything here, and they are all--including the disasterous Faust rehearsal--beautifully and memorably staged: the opening shoe shine number, the simple beauty of 'Dancing in the Dark,' the brief turns by Buchanan, Fabray and Levant are all charmers... and 'That's Entertainment' sums up the intent of the film. Although some find it extremely slight, THE BAND WAGON remains one of the few truly great movie musicals of the 1950s--and easily one of the truly great movie musicals of Hollywood's golden age. Recommended....more info

  • fine MGM musical with love, a stageshow epiphany and a victorious opening just waiting to pop out at you
    The Band Wagon is one of those excellent MGM musicals with enough song and dance musical numbers to make your eyes bug out! The color is excellent and the sound is good. The plot moves along at a good pace; and there was never a dull moment. The cinematography and the choreography work very well, especially in scenes where the actors are performing a play within a movie.

    The action begins when Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire), a washed up actor and dancer, comes to New York to try his luck on Broadway as well as meet his old friends Lily and Lester Martin (Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant, respectively). Lily and Lester are not just married--they're also a writing team! They hatch a plan to revive Tony's career with a great artistic vehicle for him. Tony agrees but soon there's a great deal of uneasiness for Tony when he discovers that Lily and Lester want the great star Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan), who also directs and produces, to plan out the show.

    Things become even more uneasy when Tony doesn't exactly hit it off with the female leading lady, Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse). Tony worries that Gabrielle might be taller than he is; and Tony and Gabrielle just don't get along. Worse yet, Jeffrey Cordova insists that the vehicle for Tony's comeback be transformed into a type of Faustian play that Tony comes to loathe.

    Of course, from here the plot could go just about anywhere. Will Tony and Gabrielle ever see eye-to-eye? What about Gabrielle's boyfriend who is the choreographer for the show--how will he fit into the picture? Will the changing of the show to a Faustian theme really work? How will Lily and Lester react to the changes being made to the show? No spoilers here, folks--you'll just have to watch the movie to find out!

    Of course, you buy this for the movie; but the extras are extensive and very impressive. There's a great commentary by Liza Minnelli and you get a great documentary about Vincente Minnelli, the director of The Band Wagon. The Fred Astaire trailer gallery is nice but you'll probably be more amazed at a rare Vitaphone short featuring Jack Buchanan way before The Band Wagon was ever filmed!

    The Band Wagon is clearly one of the great MGM musicals. There are many timeless moments including the "That's Entertainment" number; and the sequence of musical numbers that wind up the film is wonderful to behold. I highly recommend this film for people who love classic movie musicals; and fans of the stars of this picture will almost surely want to get this for their collections.
    ...more info
  • Absolutely Amazing!!!
    I have a huge collection of Musicals, but this one is quickly becoming one of my favorites!! What's not to like about Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse!!! The supporting cast is wonderful and it's truly a timeless classic!! The scene with "The Triplets" is not to be leaves you scratching your head and wondering HOW they did it!! The answer is revealed in the comentary by Lisa Minelli whose father directed this fantastic musical. The dancing is superb and there's so many marvelous dance routines and songs that you really get a lot of entertainment for your money with this one!! I also really enjoyed the theatrical trailers that come with the C.D. I hope that parents get these musicals for their families to watch together and teach their children to love them so they won't be lost to future generations! All I can say is "That's Entertainment"!!!...more info
  • It's true: The Best Musical Ever
    Better than "Singin' In The Rain?" Better than "Top Hat?" Better than anything else? Yes. If you haven't seen it, do so immediately-- it's the crowning achievement of the MGM shop, and a lot of fun....more info
  • the BAND WAGON sparkles like never before!
    This stunning new 2-disc edition of THE BAND WAGON - in my opinion the greatest musical ever made at MGM - is a must for all classic movie fans. The story is simple and effective. Washed-up Hollywood hoofer Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) goes to try his luck on the Broadway stage, in a musical written by husband-and-wife team Lester and Lily Marton (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray). Bombastic `renaissance man' Jeffrey Kordova (Jack Buchanan) is assigned to direct and the simple sunny musical written by the Martons' is transformed into a moralistic Faustian tale. Tony is frustrated-still by his leading lady, elegant ballerina Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse). Will the show come together? Will Tony and Gaby ever get along? Find and join the joyous BAND WAGON!

    The film looks glorious in an all-new `Ultra Resolution' restorative transfer. The colours fairly pop off the screen. The sound is presented in a newly-mastered 5.1 mix (though the original mono track is also available for purists). Extras include a delightful audio commentary where old pals Liza Minnelli and Michael Feinstein have a grand time (Minnelli talks about her father's experiences directing the picture and she shares her memories of visiting the set as a wide-eyed 6-year-old). There's also a new Making-Of featurette, with new interviews of Nanette Fabray, Cyd Charisse, James Mitchell and Ava Astaire McKenzie, Fred's daughter. The cut number "Two-Faced Woman" is presented both in it's full length and in dailies (I still have no idea why this fabulous number was cut, it's a perfect example of Minnelli's style coupled with the smouldering sensuality that Cyd Charisse was perfect at conveying). There is also silent footage of some other cut scenes (including where "Two-Faced Woman" would have sat in the picture). There's also the vintage TV episode of "The Men Who Made the Movies" that focused on Vincente Minnelli (copious amounts of great footage from his musicals) and a rare Vitaphone short featuring a very young Jack Buchanan....more info
  • Low price. Fast Delivery.
    Leaving out the fact that we enjoyed the movie, Astro Video sold it at a very reasonably low price and delivered it by first class mail swiftly. I certainly will do business with this company again....more info
  • terriffic!
    what more can you say? as always, the others feet may fly but when fred dances, his feet never touch the ground....more info
  • Perfect musical!
    Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse look great together! The dances and songs are great! I really like Nanette Fabray's character, but Oscar Levant gets on my nerves. Who cares? I still LOVE this movie!...more info
  • "MGM has got a Leo, but mama has got a trio"...pure genius!
    No movie musical comes close to []the Band Wagon. The film is physically stunning and varied in terms of musical numbers. In fact, it's fantastic in every department. This is []the ultimate Vincente Minnelli musical. His brilliant use of sets in such numbers as A SHINE ON YOUR SHOES, DANCING IN THE DARK, and THE GIRL HUNT make the film one of the most atmospheric musicals to hit the screen. The quality of musical numbers in THE BAND WAGON is far more consistent than in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. For instance, TRIPLETS is funnier, and more original than MAKE 'EM LAUGH. In A SHINE ON YOUR SHOES, Minnelli treats the "breaking into song and dance" concept literally. In a 1930s musical, extras would stand around the action with a fake smile. Here the people in the background react realistically to Astaire's routine (everything from walking by to screaming from fright). The blending of real and unreal adds an entire dimension to the number. THE GIRL HUNT BALLET manages to be dream-like, humourous, and structured. It has a magical quality without being as lasse faire as the ballets in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN or AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. It's my candidate for the greatest musical number ever filmed...a close race with everything else in THE BAND WAGON. Oh, yeah. Many consider this film to include Fred Astaire's finest performance. He's a fabulous performer, in a semi-autobiographical role....more info
  • You Better Get Aboard the Band Wagon!!!
    This one of the best movies. I still can't decide if Singin in the Rain or The Band Wagon is better. The movie stars Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, and Jack Buchanan. Anyway the movie is about a old washed up movie star named Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) who decides to go back to New York. His friends and number one fans Lester and Lily Marton (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray) wrote a new broadway show and want Tony to star in it. Tony finally agrees and they get the hottest broadway producer Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan) to produce it. They also get the hottest ballet dancer on Broadway, Gabrielle Gerard (The lovely Cyd Charisse) to star as Tony's leading lady. Well she turns out to be a prima ballerina and her and Tony just don't get along. Part of it is she is taller than him and they can't dance together!. Well they eventually get along and work out their problems for opening night. Jeffrey change the plot of the show soo much the show became a flop. Everyone decides to help out and change the show. The show becomes a success and Tony gets the girl! This is a great movie and I consider this Fred's Singin in the Rain. This movie also has some great music.

    Here are the numbers:

    By Myself- Fred sings this after he gets off his train ride.

    A Shine on Your Shoes- Fred sings and dances to this song in game house. This is one of my favorite numbers!

    That's Entertainment- This is the best number Fred, Oscar, Nanette and Jack sing this number. It is pure delight! It is also sung at the end of the movie!

    Dancing in the Dark- Fred and Cyd dance in this number in a park. It is breathtaking. I think Fred and Cyd were great together. Another of my favorites!

    I Love Louisa- Fred sings this song and Nanette dances with him with the chorus!

    New Sun in the Sky- Cyd sings (really dubbed) and dances to this song with a chorus of guys. I like this number!

    I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan- Jack and Fred sing and dance to this song. This is another favorite of mine!

    Louisiana Hayride- Nanette sings to this number with a chorus. I really like this one too!

    Triplets- Fred, Jack, and Nanette sing and dance to this number. Its cute and they are all dressed up like babies! Its great!

    Girl Hunt Ballet- This is one of the coolest parts of the movie. Fred and Cyd dance to this number its just great! I love that red dress she wears too. She looks amazing!

    I am very happy that Warner Bros. released this on DVD and it has great extras!

    Here are the extras:

    Disc One:
    New Digital Transfer from Restored Picture and Audio Elements
    Soundtrack Remastered in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Original Mono
    Commentary by Liza Minnelli (daughter of Vincente Minnelli) and Michael Feinstein
    Astaire Trailer Gallery
    Subtitles - English, French and Spanish

    Disc Two:
    New Making-of Documentary Get Aboard! The Band Wagon
    In-depth Documentary analysis of the career of director Vincente Minnelli
    Outtake Musical Number Two Faced Woman
    Rare, Vintage Vitaphone Musical Short Jack Buchanan with the Glee Quartet

    Do yourself a favor and get aboard the band wagon!!!...more info
  • Marvelous String of Show Stoppers
    "The Bandwagon" gets my vote for best-ever movie musical. It tells a story within a story within a story (much like Cole Porter's "Kiss Me, Kate!") in which Fred Astaire pretty much plays himself as a maturing, but not yet over-the-hill song and dance star. He gets improbably teamed up with the magnificent Cyd Charisse in Jack Buchanan's send-up of the theater business -- an avant-garde redo of "Faust." (No doubt this is where Mel Brooks found at least a part of the inspiration for "The Producers"). Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray are equally contributing co-stars, and the ensemble puts on an entire film that is a virtual non-stop high-light reel. Astaire and Charisse have the classic "Dancing In The Dark" duet which is so graceful and fluid you are reminded of Torrville and Dean, except Astaire and Charisse are not wearing skates.

    There are so many great tunes and dances in this film that it would take a couple inches of space just to list them; "That's Entertainment" and "The Girl Hunt," to mention just two. I believe MGM dubbed Ms. Charisse's singing, but it is done well and does not adversly affect the music. (I wish I knew the name of the singer to give credit for her voice.) Even if this rankles the purist, her dancing more than compensates. This movie is a joy to watch and listen to, and it never gets tired. It will definitely leave a shine on your shoes and a melody in your heart that never wear out....more info

  • Make Room on "The Band Wagon" for Me!
    Yes, this is one of the best MGM musicals for sure. You'll read some reviews that say the romance is wearisome or that the plot is thin, but I don't think any of that holds water. I will grant you, though, that it gets a tad long, but I think you'll find that true of almost every single musical anyway, my gosh how many hours long is "Carousel"?

    Fred Astaire just got better as he got older, and that's pretty darn hard to do as a dancer--I remember that all the cast in "A Chorus Line" are dreading turning thirty because they'd be has-beens. Well, here our Fred is a spry 54 and dancing up a storm, even in a new style. While every number is great, I'd have to say that the standout for me is "Dancing in the Dark", where he and Cyd Charisse begin by walking through a mock Central Park and by bits and pieces go into a beautifully smooth dance number. Look at it closely--there's only one camera cut in the whole number, and I think that's just that they moved out of range. Which is to say, that you're almost watching a live performance in one take--incredible!

    Like one of the previous reviewers, I will also single out Jack Buchanan's great performance as the hambone director of the Faust play. What a pity that there doesn't seem to be anything else of his around to keep viewing his significant persona. When he and Fred do a number together towards the end, "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plans", gotta admit, most of the time I was watching Jack not Fred. Such aplomb! I wish I knew him!

    And of course, there are plenty of other classic routines, not the least of which is "That's Entertainment", well put over by Fred, Jack, and Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray. Yep, that's entertainment all right!

    So to sum up, scurry aboard "The Band Wagon" and ride on out to wherever with these great stars--hot time in the old town tonight....more info