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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
"The Band Wagon" is not just a musical, but a musical about musicals. Fred Astaire plays a slightly down-and-out version of himself, "Tony Hunter," who was "in all those singing and dancing pictures ten or twelve years ago, but the critics say he's washed up." Against his better judgment Tony gets teamed up with Cyd in an arty version of "Faust" that has disaster written all over it. But you know show people . . . and musicals . . .
This movie really gets a split response. Nobody hates it but for some it's "just okay" and then there are the ones like me who LOOVE it. It's my favorite musical and one of my favorite movies, period. I'm very glad Amazon is stocking it again. If you're a fan of Astaire, director Vincente Minnelli, or the MGM films of the early fifties, I doubt you'll be disappointed if you take a chance on "The Band Wagon."
Most recent customer reviews
THE BAND WAGON  [Blu-ray] [US Import] The Greatest of Movie Musicals!
In this Vincente Minnelli's directed classic backstage story, sees Fred Astaire dazzle in... Read more
The DVD was in excellent condition and delivered on time.
Enjoyed this classic musical. Astair and Cyd Charisse! It doesn't get much better than that! Read more
This is one of my favourite musicals, with lots of Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire. The musical numbers are a mix of beauty and riotous humour. Read morePublished on Dec 30 2010 by Dana Shaw
Astaire & buddies decide to put on a travelling show. This somewhat defiant response to Gene Kelly's forward looking & somewhat cynical Singin in the Rain, provided a big... Read morePublished on June 1 2004 by J
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. Read morePublished on May 21 2004
The Band Wagon is a very good movie!
It's list of musical numbers include, That's Entertainment!, The Girl Hunt, and Triplets. Read more
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. Read morePublished on April 2 2004
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. Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2004
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