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The Band Wagon

Well, this is quite meta. Astaire is playing a washed-up musical star, but Ava Gardner is playing herself… And I guess Astaire was past his prime (commercially, at least).

It’s most amusing.

This is quite the old-fashioned musical, but it’s about putting on a Broadway show, so some of the dance routines are in-show, and some are “fantasy”.

Oh, this bombed?

According to MGM records, the film earned them distributor rentals of $2.3 million in the U.S. and Canada and $1,202,000 in other countries, resulting in a loss of $1,185,000.

I’m both surprised and not — this is an amusing movie, but it’s also a bit out of step with the times? It’s manic and frothy, like a late 30s musical. And doesn’t really have a hook like Singin’ in the Rain (which was released the previous year).


Well, OK, now it’s dragging a bit. Too Much Drama.

Heh, nice set.

Such serious.

Shell shocked!

Perhaps it’s not the frothiness that’s the problem, but rather the opposite — the movie takes a long time to get to the inflection point… The plot is that they’re putting on a show, and the director wants to make it Faust, and that takes up 80 minutes. Then they start fixing the show (and make it a success), and that’s the rest of the movie. By the time we get to the success part, it feels like we’ve ready for the movie to end (while there’s half an hour to go), which is the wrong vibe altogether.


Are there any real hits here? I guess there’s That’s Entertainment, but…

The “successful” version of the show they ended up with seems totally nonsensical and disjointed — basically a vaudeville skit show. Which is hard to get enthusiastic about.

It’s OK? I mean, it’s fine, but it’s also disappointing, because it started off like gangbusters. And then it … got to bogged down? But it’s pretty good. Astaire and Charisse both shine, and Nanette Fabray steals any scenes she’s in. The music is meh, and the dance routines are nothing special.

The Band Wagon. Vincente Minnelli. 1953.

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