ming movie reviews

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The Band Wagon (1953)

US 111m, Colour
Director: Vincente Minnelli; Cast: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan

Borrowing from the original 1931 Broadway musical of the same name, The Band Wagon is a lighthearted self-referential musical comedy. The film’s main character, Tony Hunter is an old-time song and dance man played by Fred Astaire, who like his character attempts to revive his musical and dance career in The Band Wagon. Although shot in colour with music and dance numbers more in tune with the early 1950s, the film’s modest box office success suggests that it was out of step with younger audiences. Best remembered for its recurring musical theme “That’s Entertainment” which has since become a Hollywood standard,  The Band Wagon might best be considered Astaire’s last hurrah in the musical (Klaus Ming January 2012).

6 comments on “The Band Wagon (1953)

  1. nicolas krizan

    found you through squish’s 1001 movies blog club and just added a link to your blog from mine, hope this is ok

    • Klaus

      Sure thing! Always nice to meet anther 1001 book enthusiast.

  2. Anthony Lee Collins

    I think this was the first Astaire movie I ever saw (probably on television, with my parents), and it led me to the earlier Astaire/Rogers musicals. This is somewhat different from the earlier films, though, since it is (as you mention) more self-referential. A very enjoyable picture, though. In addition to Astaire, I think the best part is Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant, essentially playing writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green. It makes me think also of Sullivan’s Travels, since they have the same basic point: that entertaining people is an honorable thing to do, and just because you make something darker and more depressing and “serious,” that doesn’t mean it’s actually better (and frequently you can ruin it entirely).

    • Klaus

      Sounds like you’ve thought about this movie a whole lot more than I have. While I really do like Fred Astaire’s earlier films, I thought this one was really trying too hard to be “hip” for the 1950s audiences. There are very few musical post 1950 through the 60s that I’m very fond of. I enjoyed the humor and story more than the musical dance routines in this one.

      • Anthony Lee Collins

        My early movie viewing was set by my father’s enthusiasms, so I got a good education in his areas of enthusiasm (Bogart, Cary Grant, Howard Hawks, Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Katherine Hepburn, Astaire and Rogers, William Powell and Myrna Loy, many others) and missed out on the things he didn’t like (westerns, Bette Davis, some others).

        So, there was quite a bit of back and forth about The Band Wagon vs. the earlier ones (he liked both — he certainly preferred the dancing in the earlier pictures, but as you say the humor in The Band Wagon appealed to him), Cyd Charisse vs. Ginger Rogers (no contest), and Swing Time vs. Top Hat vs. … (he was always willing to go over the relative merits of each of the Astaire-Rogers pictures).

        He loved Sullivan’s Travels, too. He was a humorist, and that message was close to his heart.

  3. Klaus

    Same here, which is why I’d not seen a lot of musicals 🙂 Mostly comedy – W.C. Fields, Peter Sellers, and action and science fiction films.

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This entry was posted on 01/14/2012 by in 1001 List, 1950s, All and tagged .
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