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The Band Wagon (1953)

Passed | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 7 August 1953 (USA)
A pretentiously artistic director is hired for a new Broadway musical and changes it beyond recognition.



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



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Complete credited cast:
Lester Marton
Lily Marton
Jeffrey Cordova
Paul Byrd
Robert Gist ...


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


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

7 August 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Love Louisa  »

Box Office


$2,169,120 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print) (copyright length)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The original Broadway show, "The Band Wagon," opened on June 3, 1931, at the New Amsterdam Theater and ran 260 performances. It marked the last Broadway show to feature Fred Astaire and his sister Adele Astaire, who left the act shortly thereafter to get married. The cast also featured such future film luminaries as Helen Broderick (mother of Broderick Crawford), Frank Morgan and Tilly Losch. A musical revue (rather than a book musical), only three of its' Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz songs were retained for the film: "I Love Louisa," "Dancing in the Dark," and "New Sun in the Sky." See more »


At the New York opening night, the theater name on the marquee is Alcott Theatre, but the program cover has Stratton Theatre. See more »


[narration during the Girl Hunt ballet]
Tony Hunter: She came at me in sections... more curves than a scenic railway.
See more »


Referenced in The Garden of Women (1954) See more »


Oedipus Bridge
Music by Arthur Schwartz
Lyrics by Howard Dietz
Performed by Jack Buchanan and chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

Last of the great Hollywood musicals
22 December 1998 | by (kent, uk) – See all my reviews

Just saw this again, for the first time in 10 years. What a show! This is unquestionably the last of the great line of MGM – and, therefore, Hollywood – musicals . . . the last real flowering of Arthur Freed's genius at holding together a team of top production talents which had produced such a fine string of musicals. Not a dull spot in the entire movie and tremendous style in Minnelli's direction. Nice to see Jack Buchanan getting a last chance in the spotlight – his top hat routine with Astaire is one of the highlights of the movie. Astaire himself, playing the fading musical star which he was by 1953, has a magnificent opening with two contrasting numbers – the wistful By Myself and the exuberant Shine on your Shoes – tailored to set up his character perfectly. The Girl Hunt ballet is, of course, the dancing highlight of the movie and it is here that the utterly wonderful Cyd Charisse comes into her own. Apart from being arguably the best female dancer in Hollywood history, she was certainly the most beautiful: the scene in the ballet in which she appears on a bar stool and slips off her coat to reveal a dramatic red dress oozes with as much sex appeal as any movie moment I've ever seen.

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