The Band Wagon at Coral Gables Art Cinema

Tuesday March 29, 2022

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse headline this musical comedy about a Hollywood star who returns to the Broadway theater when no producer wants him for a movie. Egos clash between the movie star, his lithe ballerina co-star, and their effete director–and the show bombs in out-of-town tryouts. But the initial failure convinces the stars to work together, re-creating the Musical to entertain their audience rather than satisfy their own artistic desires … and they produce a Broadway hit.

The Band Wagon was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Color, Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, and Best Writing, Story, and Screenplay. In 1995, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

For many, The Band Wagon represents the height of the American musical. Fred Astaire is a washed-up Hollywood star, Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant are a husband-and-wife writing team, and Jack Buchanan is an artsy Broadway director. Roughly translating the film’s quasi-autobiographical overtones, Astaire equals Astaire, Fabray and Levant equal Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the scenarists, and Buchanan equals director Vincent Minnelli. The Musical becomes a frenetic meditation on pop art versus high art.

The songs written specifically for the film have become a hit and a standard in popular music, the stage adaptation and the tributes paid by the legendary king of pop Michael Jackson in his music videos (Smooth Criminal, You Rock My World and Billie Jean), made The Band Wagon, a cultural phenomenon.

“The Band Wagon is the finest of the legendary MGM musicals.”
–The New York Times

“Part of the film’s appeal comes from our sense that what we see is not far removed from the actual process of making the movie.” – Roger Ebert, Great Movies

U.S., 112 min, 1953, 2K DCP, Dir. Vincente Minnelli, Not Rated, Warner Bros.

Directed by legendary Vincent Minnelli, The Band Wagon is considered along with Singin’ in the Rain (1952), as one of the finest Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals.

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