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


Vincente Minnelli


Betty Comden (story by), Adolph Green (story by)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Fred Astaire ... Tony Hunter
Cyd Charisse ... Gabrielle Gerard
Oscar Levant ... Lester Marton
Nanette Fabray ... Lily Marton
Jack Buchanan ... Jeffrey Cordova
James Mitchell ... Paul Byrd
Robert Gist ... Hal Benton


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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Did You Know?


An identical tuft of synthetic hair was attached to the front of each actor's bonnet in the "Triplets" number, each dyed a singular color. See more »


As Tony leaves the train, he walks on a red carpet past a Santa Fe coach car into Grand Central Depot. The New York Central used the red carpet only for the 20th Century Limited, which did carry some Santa Fe cars for through passengers. Both trains carried exclusively Pullman (sleeping car) passengers, and coaches were not carried on either train at this time. See more »


Tony Hunter: Oh, I'm afraid I've been awfully rude, I haven't told you how wonderful you were tonight.
Gabrielle Gerard: Oh, thank you, I'm a great admirer of yours too.
Tony Hunter: Oh, I didn't think you'd ever even heard of me.
Gabrielle Gerard: Heard of you? I used to see all your pictures when I was a little girl. And I'm still a fan, I recently went to see a revival of them at the museum.
Tony Hunter: [offended] Museum? 'Step right this way, ladies and gentlemen, Egyptian mummies, extinct reptiles, and Tony Hunter, the grand old man of the dance!"
Gabrielle Gerard: Oh I-I didn't mean...
Tony Hunter:
Gabrielle Gerard:
Tony Hunter:
Gabrielle Gerard:
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Referenced in Pour la peau d'un flic (1981) See more »


A Shine on Your Shoes
(1932) (uncredited)
Music by Arthur Schwartz
Lyrics by Howard Dietz
Sung by Fred Astaire and Danced by him and Leroy Daniels
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User Reviews

Now that's entertainment, and perhaps Astaire's best film
5 August 2017 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

The Band Wagon is one of those films such as "The Maltese Falcon" and "Some Like It Hot", where just about everybody involved does the finest work of their career, both in front of and behind the camera. It is certainly the best collaboration between two legends of the musical genre, hoofer Fred Astaire and director Vincente Minnelli.

Astaire plays has-been Hollywood star Tony Hunter who hopes to revive his popularity by returning to Broadway in a new musical written by his friends Lester and Lily Marton (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray in essence portraying the screenplay's authors, Adolph Green and Betty Comden).

The Martons have entrusted the staging of their show to wunderkind actor/director/producer Jeffrey Cordova (a combination caricature of Orson Welles and Jose Ferrer played by British song-and-dance man Jack Buchanan). Two of Cordova's inspirations include casting ballerina Gabrielle Gerard (Charisse) as the female lead (good idea) and turning the show into a pretentious Faust allegory (really bad idea).

Tony and Gabrielle rub each other the wrong way - at first, and Cordova's joyless concoction lays an egg. But the cast vows to forge ahead and try again with another musical, this time with no mention of hell or the devil.

As clever as the script is, the main attractions are the exquisitely performed musical numbers (written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz) including "That's Entertainment", "A Shine on Your Shoes","Dancing in the Dark" and the greatest grand finale in the history of movie musicals "The Girl Hunt Ballet", a parody of film noir with Astaire as private eye Rod Riley and Charisse in a dual role as good girl and femme fatale.

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English | French | German

Release Date:

7 August 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Love Louisa See more »


Box Office


$2,169,120 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(Turner library print) (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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