The Band Wagon is a musical comedy film, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1953, which tells the story of an aging musical star who wants to star in a Broadway play that will restart his career. But the play's director wants to make it a pretentious retelling of Faust, and brings in a prima ballerina who clashes with the show's star. It stars Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray and Jack Buchanan.
The film was written by Comden and Green and Alan Jay Lerner (uncredited), directed by Vincente Minnelli, and produced by Arthur Freed. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Color, Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (for Comden and Green).
The film popularized the song "That's Entertainment!", which became a standard. Other numbers in the film include "Dancing in the Dark", "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," "Shine on Your Shoes," and "Triplets," which features Astaire, Fabray and Buchanan dancing on their knees, dressed in baby clothes. The film's most elaborate number is the "Girl Hunt Ballet," a spoof of Mickey Spillane hard-boiled detective novels, featuring Astaire and Charisse.
Charisse's singing was dubbed by India Adams.
One musical number shot for the film but dropped before release was a seductive dance routine featuring Charisse performing "Two-Faced Woman" (with vocal, as noted above, by India Adams). Adams' recording of the song was reused for the film Torch Song for a musical number featuring Joan Crawford. The retrospective That's Entertainment! III released the Charisse version to the public for the first time.
Many critics rank The Band Wagon (along with Singin' in the Rain) as the finest of the MGM musicals. The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The song "Dancing in the Dark" is considered part of the Great American Songbook.