(Review originally written at 31 December 2009)

In a way Fred Astaire is playing himself in this movie; an aging actor, who plays in a dying genre; the dancing and singing musicals. This movie got made in 1953, the rock-'n-roll era. These type of movies were already starting to get old fashioned. The best years of the genre were long over already but nevertheless the best movies in this genre got made at the end of it, such as this movie.

It's not the best genre movie I've ever seen but there is no denying it that this is simply one great movie. It's clich├ęd and has all of the usual ingredients you could expect. It's predictable and not surprising in any way really but yet "The Band Wagon" manages to excel within its genre. It's just a movie in which everything fits together nicely. The directing, the story, the characters, the actors, the dancing, the singing. It all works out together in this one. No big surprise when you have director Vincente Minnelli at the helm of your production.

But still they made some wrong choices. They let Fred Astaire sing too much and Cyd Charisse act to much. Nothing wrong with Fred Astaire's acting and dancing and nothing wrong with Cyd Charisse's dancing neither but the movie lets them do things as well which they are simply not too talented in. I always liked Cyd Charisse best in her non-talking parts, in which she just had to look sensual and dance. In this movie she however plays the female lead and love-interest of our main character, which means that lot of acting is involved for her this time. She obviously took some classes but no, not really any Oscar material at work here. On top of that she and Astaire had very little chemistry together outside of their dancing sequences. Astaire could had very easily been her father and the idea of these two people falling for each other seems too hard to believe.

There are a couple of memorable musical moments in this movie, which don't have that much to do with its music but more with its dancing really. It's one of those colorful and happy MGM musicals and is one of the last great ones within its genre, that still shows Vincente Minnelli, Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse all at the top of their game.

Despite being very formulaic and predictable, this still is one of the great movies that the genre has to offer, due to its wonderful execution, despite its obvious flaws and weaknesses.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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