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The Band Wagon (1953)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Musical, Romance  |  7 August 1953 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 6,808 users  
Reviews: 93 user | 55 critic

A pretentiously artistic director is hired for a new Broadway musical and changes it beyond recognition.

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Title: The Band Wagon (1953)

The Band Wagon (1953) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Lester Marton
...
Lily Marton
Jack Buchanan ...
Jeffrey Cordova
...
Paul Byrd
Robert Gist ...
Hal
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Storyline

Tony Hunter, a famous singer/dancer movie star, is feeling washed up and old hat (old top hat, tie and tails to be exact). The reporters are out for Ava Gardner, not him. But his old friends Lily and Les Martin have an idea for a funny little Broadway show and he agrees to do it. But things begin to get out of hand, when bigshot "artistic" director/producer/star Jeffrey Cordova joins the production, proclaims it's a modernistic Faust and insists on hiring a prima ballerina, Gabrielle Gerard, to star opposite Tony, and it's hate at first sight. And her jealous choreographer isn't helping to ease the tension. The show is doomed by pretentiousness. But romance, a "let's put on a show" epiphany, and a triumphant opening are waiting in the wings. After all, this is a musical comedy! Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

M-G-M's Top Technicolor Musical! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

7 August 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Love Louisa  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,169,120 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print) (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title is from an original 1931 Broadway musical, by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, which starred Fred Astaire and his sister, Adele Astaire. Only the title and some of the songs were borrowed for this film, and the stories are entirely different. The exact same thing occurred later with Fred Astaire in Funny Face (1957), in which Astaire and his sister Adele Astaire had originally appeared on Broadway in 1927. The only opportunity Astaire had to recreate a role on film that he had originated on Broadway was in The Gay Divorcee (1934), from Broadway's "Gay Divorce". See more »

Goofs

Theater people never wish each other "Good Luck" (as Gaby and Tony do in the alley before opening night). They're superstitious that this will bring bad luck instead. That's why they always say "Break a leg". See more »

Quotes

Jeffrey Cordova: [pitching his idea for the show] Exploiter of children! Purveyor of evil!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Moonwalker (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Triplets
(1937) (uncredited)
Music by Arthur Schwartz
Lyrics by Howard Dietz
Performed by Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray and Jack Buchanan
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The best of the lot (MGM lot, that is...)
28 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Basically, the only competition for The Band Wagon (TBW) for the title of MGM's Uncontested Musical Champion is Singin' In The Rain (SITR). SITR is certainly the better-known of the two and features one of film's iconic dance sequences. That said, in an itemized comparison, TBW is the winner and by more than a nose.

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 over 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 in choreography.

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" bits and the proto-postmodernism of the Beautiful Girls sequence, but 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 role, 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.

So, there you have it. See The Band Wagon. Become a TBW fanatic. It's that simple.


22 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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