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Band Wagon
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The Band Wagon

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Cast: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant


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One of the most subtle and sophisticated of the musical comedies that came out of MGM's Arthur Freed Unit in the '40s and '50s, The Band Wagon stars Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, a movie star whose career is in a downturn. Looking for a boost, Tony decides to try starring in a Broadway musical. His friends Lester and Lily Marton (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray)


One of the most subtle and sophisticated of the musical comedies that came out of MGM's Arthur Freed Unit in the '40s and '50s, The Band Wagon stars Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, a movie star whose career is in a downturn. Looking for a boost, Tony decides to try starring in a Broadway musical. His friends Lester and Lily Marton (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray) have written a show they feel would be just right for Tony, and the three team up with Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan), a self-styled "genius" director, who gets the idea to turn the play into a revised version of Faust. Cordova's more pretentious ideas don't always sit well with the Martons, and Tony isn't too happy with his leggy co-star, Gaby Gerard (Cyd Charisse), whom he's convinced is too tall (then again, she thinks he's too old). But when the show proves a disaster in out-of-town tryouts, everyone realizes they have to put aside their differences if they want a show that will be on Broadway for longer than four hours. The Band Wagon featured a rare American appearance for British musical star Jack Buchanan, who does a fine soft-shoe with Fred Astaire on "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan." Astaire also shines in the numbers "Shine on Your Shoes" and "The Girl Hunt," a witty Mickey Spillane parody.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Karen Backstein
When "popular culture" meets high art, will the show go on, or is it curtains for the cast? That is the question that sets this gorgeous late-MGM musical in motion. The supremely graceful Fred Astaire plays a washed-out film star who returns to the stage for one last shot at reviving his career. But when the pompous director of the show partners the easy going entertainer with a high-class ballerina (Cyd Charisse), the two just step on each other toes. Music and dance lovers will find much to treasure in Band Wagon: Astaire strolling down the street wistfully singing "By Myself" or turning an arcade into his personal playground in "A Shine on Your Shoes"; Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan, and Astaire dressed as infants in the comic gem "Triplets"; glorious duets between Astaire and Charisse; and a showstopping "noir" ballet that cleverly spoofs Mickey Spillane. At the time Band Wagon was made, Astaire, in real life, was actually experiencing many of the same problems as his character, yet his dancing never looked as beautiful as it does in this classic.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Made towards the end of MGM producer Arthur Freed's peak period of musical productions, at a time when movies, theater, and other forms of entertainment were all feeling the heat from the rise of television, preeminent musical director Vincente Minnelli's backstage story celebrates the musical itself and its brand of pop entertainment. Pitting Fred Astaire's washed-up movie hoofer against Jack Buchanan's high-falutin' artiste and Cyd Charisse's transplanted ballerina, The Band Wagon reflexively pokes fun at the musical's excesses and delves into the question of what an audience really wants, implicitly defending traditional forms of entertainment at a time when Hollywood was in decline and consumers were turning to new form of recreation. As with Freed's Singin' in the Rain (1952), the sophisticated comedy of show business manners becomes a showcase for the Freed Unit's sparkling production values and musical acumen, as well as Minnelli's stylistic virtuosity. While numbers such as Astaire's 42nd street dance "Shine on Your Shoes" and Astaire's and Charisse's "Dancing in the Dark" reveal Minnelli's mastery at integrating dance and story, the final "Band Wagon" revue is a peerless sequence of pure musical entertainment, with "The Girl Hunt" deftly mixing the high and low arts of ballet and jazz in a parody of Mickey Spillane's detective yarns. Though not one of Minnelli's Oscar winners, The Band Wagon has come to be considered his best musical, and a wise elegy to the form.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
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Special Features

Closed Caption; New digital transfer from restored picture and audio elements; Soundtrack remastered in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and original mono; Commentary by Liza Minnelli and Michael Feinstein; Astaire trailer gallery; Subtitles: English, Français & Español; New making-of documentary Get Aboard! The Band Wagon; Vintage documentary The Men Who Made the Movies: Vincente Minnelli; Outtake musical number Two Faced Woman, plus dailies; Musical short Jack Buchanan With the Glee Quartet

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fred Astaire Tony Hunter
Cyd Charisse Gaby Gerard
Oscar Levant Lester Marton
Nanette Fabray Lily Marton
Jack Buchanan Jeffrey Cordova
James Mitchell Paul Byrd
Robert Gist Hal Benton
Richard Alexander Actor
Ernest Anderson Porter
Paul Bradley Dancer in Park/ Waiter
Roy Engel Reporter
Betty Farrington Fitter
Al Ferguson Stagehand
Bess Flowers Lady on Train
Sam Hearn Agent
Al Hill Shooting Gallery Operator
Judy Landon Girls in Troupe
John Lupton Jack, the promoter
Owen McGiveney Prop Man
Peggy Murray Actor
Emory Parnell Men on Train
Elynne Ray Actor
Frank Scannell Actor
Lotte Stein Chambermaid
Jack Tesler Ivan
Jimmy Thompson Actor
Dee Turnell Girls in Troupe
Herb Vigran Actor
Bobby Watson Bobby, the Dresser
Smoki Whitfield Chauffeur
Stuart Wilson Actor
Bert May Boys in Troupe
LeRoy Daniels Shoeshine Boy
Ava Gardner The Movie Star
Thurston Hall Col. Tripp
Julie Newmar Salon Model

Technical Credits
Vincente Minnelli Director
Albert Akst Editor
Preston Ames Art Director
Betty Comden Screenwriter
Alexander Courage Musical Arrangement
Adolph Deutsch Musical Direction/Supervision
Howard Dietz Score Composer,Songwriter
Roger Edens Associate Producer
Arthur Freed Producer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Keogh Gleason Set Decoration/Design
Adolph Green Screenwriter
Harry Jackson Cinematographer
Michael Kidd Choreography
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Mary Ann Nyberg Costumes/Costume Designer
Arthur Schwartz Score Composer,Songwriter
Oliver Smith Choreography
Jerry Thorpe Asst. Director
William J. Tuttle Makeup
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc 1
1. Credits; Personal Noneffects [2:40]
2. Washed Up [3:26]
3. By Myself [1:35]
4. Lily and Lester [4:06]
5. A Shine on Your Shoes [5:47]
6. Oedipus Rex [3:11]
7. A Modern Faust? [5:43]
8. That's Entertainment! [4:27]
9. Casting Coup [3:26]
10. La Femme Rouge [2:59]
11. Watch Your Backers [7:27]
12. Rehearsals [3:56]
13. Tony's Independence Day [3:36]
14. Two Nervous Wrecks [:21]
15. Dancing in the Dark [5:13]
16. A Snag or Two [4:35]
17. Up in Smoke [3:40]
18. No Reason to Party [3:31]
19. I Love Louisa [4:31]
20. Let's Put On a Show [4:51]
21. New Sun in the Sky [3:28]
22. I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plans [1:27]
23. Louisiana Hayride [1:53]
24. Very Much in Love [2:09]
25. Triplets [2:53]
26. Opening Night [2:32]
27. Girl Hunt [1:52]
28. By Myself Reprise [11:51]
29. Finale: That's Entertainment [1:58]
Side #2 -- Disc 2
1. Dreamy Introduction [5:02]
2. Cabin in the Sky [4:03]
3. Meet Me in St. Louis [12:53]
4. The Pirate [8:54]
5. Madame Bovary [3:41]
6. Ziegfeld Follies [1:56]
7. An American in Paris [5:29]
8. The Band Wagon [5:53]
9. Gigi [2:40]
10. The Clock, Father of the Bride [1:58]
11. Lust for Life, Some Came Running [1:45]
12. That's Entertainment! Magic [2:57]
13. End Credits [1:02]


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