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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Band Wagon (1953)

A musical film star (Fred Astaire) whose career is on the skids returns to New York to do a Broadway show. His writer friends (Nanette Fabray, Oscar Levant) wrote a light and airy musical comedy but the show's director (Jack Buchanan) sees a more dramatic "relevant" musical based on the Faust tale. Everyone, including the show's leading lady (Cyd Charisse) clashes and the project seems headed for disaster. One of the highpoints of the American film musical, perhaps only SINGIN' IN THE RAIN has melded all the elements so perfectly. The screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green (the basis for the Fabray and Levant characters) is topical and witty, the songs by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz are all winners, not a dud among them and Michael Kidd's choreography highlighted by the sensational Girl Hunt Ballet is sensational. All the performers are very good and in Buchanan's case, more than that, he's brilliant. That sorcerer Vincente Minnelli whips it all together and what you get is a vibrant, intelligent, terrific looking movie. Who could ask for anything more? With Ava Gardner, Steve Forrest, Julie Newmar, James Mitchell, Barbara Ruick and Robert Gist.

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