The Band Wagon (1953)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This musical tells the tale of Tony Hunter, a multi-talented but aging movie star who heads for the Great White Way in hopes of bolstering his flagging career. His pals in New York are only too happy to help out by writing him a dazzling play. Unfortunately, the production bombs.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Adolph Green, Betty Comden
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 15, 2005
MGM Home Entertainment


as Tony Hunter

as Gaby Gerard

as Jeffrey Cordova

as Lily Marton

as Lester Marton

as Paul Byrd

as Hal Benton

as Col. Tripp

as The Movie Star

as Shoeshine Boy

as Agent

as Man on Train

as Man on Train

as Reporter

as Reporter

as Shooting Gallery Ope...

as Dancer in Park/Waite...

as Chambermaid

as Chauffeur

as Stagehand

as Stagehand

as Lady on Train

as Salon Model

as Barbara

as Dancer in Troupe

as Dancer in Troupe

as Dancer in Troupe

as Dancer in Troupe
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Band Wagon

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for The Band Wagon

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (7)

Sorry, the beloved "Singin' in the Rain" isn't the finest of the legendary MGM musicals. "The Band Wagon'' has better music, better dances, better direction, more lavish sets and costumes and a wittier script (by the same writers).

Full Review… | April 11, 2015
New York Post
Top Critic

The musical becomes a frenetic meditation on pop art versus high art, coming down hard on the side of the former.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Full Review… | July 22, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 20, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

April 21, 2005
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Band Wagon


One of the best, BEST, scenes in all musicals, and the always lovely Cyd Charisse.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Gene Kelly is a million times better than Fred Astaire. Sometimes it was really funny but the story in general kind of flopped. I really really liked the Triplets dance number though. Maaaagic!

Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

America has always suffered from an inferiority complex when it comes to "art", but in my mind the creative output of the country mid twentieth century ranks with anything Europe achieved in it's long history. Not many realised it at the time but in creating this unapologetic defense of American entertainment, Minnelli just may have. The irony is that across the Atlantic European critics were raving about film-makers like Minnelli, a technicolor respite from the stark tone of fifties European cinema. His use of color was particularly influential in Italy, a country whose neo-realistic cinema at the time was resolutely monochrome. Directors like Bava and Argento would adapt Minnelli's primary colors and elegant camera movement to fit the horror and thriller genres. The movie's finale was homaged by those other masters of musical comedy "The Muppets" in their comeback film of 2012. Even this year's Oscar winner "The Artist" owes much to this in it's tale of a fading star forced to auction his memorabilia.

We begin with this auction where even the famous top hat and cane associated with Astaire fails to sell. Giving up on Hollywood he takes a train to New York and is humiliated by disinterested passengers and paparazzi. It's here we get the wonderfully melancholy song "By Myself", one of the quieter numbers but possibly the most memorable. Upon hitting 42nd Street he finds much has changed and we get the first rollicking dance number "A Shine On Your Shoes", a delirious mix of color, rhythm, song and Astaire's nimbleness, outrageous given he was 54 years old at the time. Astaire's co-star in the scene is Leroy Daniels, a real life shoe shine man who Minnelli found in Penn Station while researching the scene. It might not be as respected as the movie's famous closing number but as an example of choreography between man and camera this is unsurpassed.

Of course Minnelli was a master of choreography but not just in the musical sense. A scene set at a party involving conversations in three separate (and color coded) rooms is dazzling, characters opening doors just at the right time to hear a snippet of conversation.
Broadway has changed too, with Buchanan's director insisting on twisting every show concept into something "meaningful". Astaire is skeptical but goes along for the ride, encouraged by the long legs of his young co-star Charisse, a rising ballet dancer. It's in the relationship between Astaire and Charisse that Minnelli demonstrates his point, that high art and entertainment can coexist. The movie's final number "The Girl Hunt Ballet" is one of the greatest ever expressions of this ideal. The American genre of the day was Film Noir and Minnelli gives us the most colorful Noir homage ever seen. He may resemble your elderly uncle but in this sequence Astaire achieves a level of cool that Dean and Brando could only dream of. It's a sequence famously homaged by Michael Jackson in his "Smooth Criminal" video.
For fans of classic Hollywood the real punch the air number is "That's Entertainment" and as it's lyrics suggest, this is the art that appeals to the heart.
The Movie Waffler

Super Reviewer

The Band Wagon Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Band Wagon on our Movie forum!