"The Band Wagon" Is Released
The Band Wagon is a 1953 musical comedy film that many critics rank (along with Singin' in the Rain) as the finest of the MGM musicals, although it was only a modest box-office success.
It tells the story of an aging musical star who hopes a Broadway play will restart his career. However, the play's director wants to make it a pretentious retelling of Faust, and brings in a prima ballerina who clashes with the star.
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. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide