Thanks so much to my dear friend Lilah Lohr for showing me Andy Ihnatko’s wonderful blog Celestial Waste of Bandwidth and especially his Amazon Advent Calendar. I love his tribute to the classic musical “The Band Wagon,” which he bravely asserts is the best ever.
Okay, “The Band Wagon.” You need to know two things about this movie: One, that it is indeed “The Band Wagon” and not “The Bandwagon.” Getting it wrong is a rookie mistake and the true film snobs to whom you were so shabbily attempting to ingratiate yourself will see to it that you’ll never get into a Max Ophuls film festival in this town again.
Secondly, that it is the single greatest musical ever made.
I would not call it the best ever, but “The Band Wagon” is simply sublime and Ihnatko’s commentary is delightful. If you have not seen “The Band Wagon,” take a look — I promise you will say at least three times, “That song is from THIS movie?” It includes standards like “A Shine on Your Shoes,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and, yes, “That’s Entertainment” plus one of the most deliriously silly musical numbers ever filmed, “Triplets” and the song Ihnatko loves, “By Myself.” And it has the wicked and brilliantly danced satire, “Girl Hunt.” It also has a better book than most of the musicals of its era, with a shrewd insider’s take on artistic pretension and a frank acknowledgment of issues of aging and risk-taking in work and in life, and one of the most gorgeously romantic dance numbers ever, with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse dancing in the dark, waltzing in the wonder of why we’re here. It doesn’t get any better than that.