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Bandwagon, the

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2 used from CDN$ 34.51

Product Details

  • Actors: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan
  • Directors: Vincente Minnelli
  • Writers: Adolph Green, Alan Jay Lerner, Betty Comden, Norman Corwin
  • Producers: Arthur Freed, Bill Ryan, Roger Edens
  • Format: NTSC
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: Nov. 1 2001
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0790749467
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,376 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)

Product Description


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

4.6 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By One singular sensation... TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 23 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
"Singing in the Rain" is more lovable. "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" has the best dance sequence. But..."The Bandwagon" is the very best musical ever to come out of Hollywood, no matter what studio one considers! It is sheer perfection. And that is part of the miracle. Almost the entire cast was experiencing some tragedy or grief in their lives at the time it was made, yet, somehow it all came together to be fantastically fabulous. Astaire's wife was dying. Fabray was being treated abysmally by Levant and Minnelli didn't stop it. After this movie, she left Hollywood and went back to Broadway. Jack Buchanan and his dentist were fighting to save his absessed teeth. Charisse was the only one not experiencing trouble, though she had to watch number after number of hers, filmed, get pulled out of the film. Levant had his usual temper tantrums, but accelerated them to major explosions causing his part to get smaller and smaller which resulted in more tantrums.But "That's Entertainment", the only new song in the show, sums up the result, for no matter what the cast went through, the audience is in for the greatest fun and spectacle that a musical ever presented to us. Astaire has his usual fabulous solos, his work with Fabray and Buchanan is sensational, and with Charisse, well, "Dancing in the Dark" is probably the most romantic and beautiful number ever put on film...even without the lyrics, which at this point in the story, would have been wrong. Neither has ever been better, together or apart. Even Rogers stated that she would have given anything to have done that number with Astaire- it really is that great.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda McDonnell on April 24 2002
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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Format: VHS Tape
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.
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