The Band Wagon

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Jeff
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#1 Post by Jeff » Sun Mar 06, 2005 2:29 pm

Scheduled for release March 15, 2005. Available individually, or as part of the Classic Musicals Collection.

Features:
* Commentary by Liza Minnelli and Michael Feinstein
* New digital transfer from restored picture and audio elements
* New making-of documentary: "Get Aboard! The Band Wagon"
* Vintage documentary: "The Men Who Made the Movies: Vincente Minnelli"
* Outtake musical number: Two Faced Woman, plus dailies
* Musical short: Jack Buchanan with the Glee Quartet
* Astaire trailer gallery

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david hare
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#2 Post by david hare » Fri Mar 11, 2005 1:11 am

I am hoping this edition will include the released version of "Two Faced Woman" with Joan Crawford lip-synching in Technicolor blackface!! Plus faggy chorus boys -directed by Charles Walters!!! The clips are shown with the Cyd Charisse version dropped from BAND WAGON on a split screen in THAT'S ENETRTAINMENT 3.

I still keep the old Laserdisc of TORCH SONG for this scene alone - a very private sort of comfort on lonely nights (and I was afraid this forum would degenerate into camp...)

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david hare
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#3 Post by david hare » Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:35 pm

Review up at DVDTimes. Savant isn't exactly glowing about the color transfer. It seems like this hasn't been given the ultra-res. treatment. Also my hoped-for inclusion of Joan in Blackface from TORCH SONG is not part of the package! (Like they would??)
My own copy is en route. Can''t wait.

unclehulot
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#4 Post by unclehulot » Mon Mar 14, 2005 10:48 am

flixyflox wrote:Review up at DVDTimes. Savant isn't exactly glowing about the color transfer. It seems like this hasn't been given the ultra-res. treatment. Also my hoped-for inclusion of Joan in Blackface from TORCH SONG is not part of the package! (Like they would??)
My own copy is en route. Can''t wait.
It's a pretty glowing review, don't you think? I'm confused about something though. The Ultra-resolution process is only used on 3 strip technicolor films, right? There's no point, or possibility even, of using it for a such a film as The Bandwagon, which was NOT filmed in three strip, right?

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david hare
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#5 Post by david hare » Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:03 pm

Yes MGM started out with the hideous Ansco process in 1953 with KISS ME KATE and others. Mercifully all the previous Arthur Freed produced movies are three-strip (Although there are missing negs from AMERICAN IN PARIS and others.) A kind of finale to this was MGM's foray into their own process, "Metrocolor' (a form of Eastman) which looks pretty ordinary in, say LDs of the 50s and 60s Minelli melodramas not to mention Ray's terrific PARTY GIRL. BLOW UP and ZABRISKIE POINT are of course Metrocolor. The former looks to me to be overly gray on DVD but the latter (on LD) looks terrific, as though they possibly made and used a Techni print for the transfer.

unclehulot
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#6 Post by unclehulot » Tue Mar 15, 2005 10:42 am

So who's got it right, reviewer-wise? From Barrie Maxwell's column at thedigitalbits.com:

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/ ... 1505b.html


Warners has applied its Ultra-Resolution process to the restoration and the results are equivalent if not superior to its efforts on the likes of Singin' in the Rain, Adventures of Robin Hood, and Gone with the Wind. The image is sharp and vibrant with sparkling colour, deep blacks, clean whites, and excellent image detail. There are no edge effects and with a slight amount of grain in evidence, the overall effect is very film-like indeed.

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reaky
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#7 Post by reaky » Tue Mar 15, 2005 6:49 pm

The layman's view: I think it looks gorgeous. On a par with the Meet Me In St Louis transfer of last year.

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david hare
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#8 Post by david hare » Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:53 pm

Ours are the only views that matter. You fill me with hope!

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reaky
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#9 Post by reaky » Sat Mar 19, 2005 5:25 am

A review from the HTF with screenshots here for you, Flixy. Didn't I tell you it looked good?

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htforum ... did=228479

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david hare
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#10 Post by david hare » Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:54 pm

A superlative disc. Rather different I think to the other Ultra-resolution titles. Not quite as sharp for one thing. But a great transfer of this title (the first of Minelli's "melancholy" musicals. And later melodramas.)
Have yet to get to the extras. I am not especially taken with the DD 5 channel remix. The voices sound a little more forward to me than on the original mono track, but this may be just the improved clarity.

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david hare
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#11 Post by david hare » Tue Mar 29, 2005 12:04 am

A thought here in response to watching (for the eight or ninth time this week) the fabulous Michael Kidd choreography, particularly in the "Girl Hunt" sequence, and more specifcally the 42nd St subway section with the gangtsers doing their murderous routines in pairs. Is this the first time in American cinema in which males partner males? (later of course more Kidd male groupings in Seven Brides.) While I am fully aware Kidd was not a gay artist, I find the juxtaposition of the murderous male pairs in their fantastically colored shirts and their liebestod-like partnerships a stunning counterpoint to the swooning- courting of Astiare/Charisse in the foreground. Anyone else?.

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david hare
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#12 Post by david hare » Mon Apr 18, 2005 5:21 am

If anyone's still listening I got an answer to the 5-channel soundtrack enquiry from a great local reviewer. Given MGM was releasing true multi-track titles by the mid-fifties it comes as no surprise they had been experimenting since 1946 with this, and Atcheson Topeka and the Santa Fe. Feltenstein apparently found out MGM had recorded a three track "exprerimental" music/dialogue score for the Band Wagon numbers. Alas he also discovered it had been trashed. BUT he found two similar but differently audio-ed mono tracks and pursued these - through Chase etc - and came up with the more delineated track for Band Wagon. I have - I think - complained about slight tinniness and more forward vocals, but I am prepared to revise my opinion. Certainly the vocals are clean, even if the string tones fropm the orchestra are tinny, but not the cellos.) For all that might be tinny the BAND WAGON score actually gives you a real feel for the miraculous Conrad Salinger orchestration. Try "Dancing in the dark" with Brucknerian chromatic horns over the lush strings, and "Shine on my Shoes" with the major brass outburst at the top.

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Michael
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#13 Post by Michael » Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:35 am

I have a question for you fans of Band Wagon (those who have expressed love for this film - davidhare, zedz and devlinn). What was your initial response to Band Wagon when you first saw it? Did it grow on you over the years? Senses of Cinema covers this film more than any other Vincente Minnelli films. One of them says to get the "richness" of Band Wagon, it has to be experienced a few times at least and even goes on how emotionally complex it is. Maybe I didn't read the film correctly but I saw it more like a formulaic "boy meets girl then put on a show" musical. What I love the most about Band Wagon is its completely stunning and original choreography.. and of course, Cyd Charisse. All oozes pure class and elegance. Do you find the first half (between Shoeshine and Dancing in the Dark) entertaining at all with the folks buzzing nonstop surrounding the extremely slow build up of the Faust musical? To me it felt like an hour went by without anything memorable (except for that astonishing eye-melting black-green dress Charisse had on after the ballet).

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Belmondo
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#14 Post by Belmondo » Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:46 am

I first saw THE BAND WAGON quite a few years ago on Turner Classic Movies. The host assumed we were not too familiar with it and spent a good five minutes convincing us that this is "the OTHER great musical from the 1950's".

Upon first viewing, I thought each musical number was superb, but the plot conflicts and the Faust issue was borderline goofy. The "Senses of Cinema" article certainly explains all that and adds a level of understanding and richness to what may have been a deeper experience than I ever realized.

However, I remain only partly convinced and think it is entirely possible to read too much into the plot of what is, after all, a musical comedy. Are we really meant to conclude that we are watching Minnelli's subtext that he is a "slave" to the studio? I think the best conclusion, as stated in the article, is that Minnelli did a wonderful job of combining elite and popular culture, and sent a wonderful signal in the title "The Girl Hunt Ballet".

As always, we hear the names Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and as always, they fail to get the artistic credit they deserve. This team delivered exactly what was needed every time they were asked. When Leonard Bernstein wanted beautiful, meaningful lyrics for "On the Town", he teamed with them. When Hollywood insisted that all this be dumbed down for the movie version, they swallowed their pride and did both music and lyrics - looks like everyone was a slave to the studio.

THE BAND WAGON; SINGIN' IN THE RAIN - just which one is the OTHER great musical from the 1950's?

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zedz
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#15 Post by zedz » Fri Jun 15, 2007 7:34 pm

In response to Michael, I loved it from the start, but I was aware of its reputation and initially I felt it wasn't quite up to Singin' in the Rain. But it gets better and better for me, and is now my favourite 50s musical. Singin' remains marvellous, but there are some numbers that seem to mark time (and am I the only person unmoved by the title number?), and sometimes I think it's real strength is as a great comedy (take a bow, Jean Hagen). I think every musical number in Band Wagon hits its target dead-on (even the fragmentary ones representing the final performance) and the basic storyline gains strength from its self-reflexivity.

This conversation is doing some serious thread-hopping, but I was reminded of another musical that had a tone as unique and complex as your 40s favourite Meet Me in St Louis: It's Always Fair Weather. Check it out, if you haven't already. It's worth it for Kelly's rollerskate number alone.

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david hare
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#16 Post by david hare » Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:04 pm

There was a most interesting discussion of Band Wagon's thematic threads recently at a_film_by in the context of musicals generally. Something that always comes up is the supposed tension between "high culture" and "entertainment", vis a vis Buchanan's wildly egocentric/avant garde Oedipus Rex (who hasn't ever had to sit thru stuff like this in real life!) and the good old Broadway Show ("That's Entertainment") Paralleled with Cyd's classical ballet background and Fred the (mere) hoofer.

These little subthemes are then played off against other dualities like Kidd's modernism and Astaire's classicism. And Minelli himself alternates the decor, color and set design from minimalism to full blown meta-kitsch (from the wondeful NYC staircase scene and 42nd ST subway to the fashion show and the woman's apartment in Girl Hunt, all coming together at Dem Dere Bones.) But of course it's Fred who sells off one of his impressionist paintings that allows the rescue of the reborn show to go ahead. Similarly Fred's opening number, after the beautifully melancholy "By Myself" is no less than another hommage to HIS roots in Bill Robinson with "Shine". The way the movie shuffles the "classical" and "popular" aspects around like a deck of cards leaves a similar thematic strand in Singin in the Rain in the dust, IMO. (I still love it but Gene Kelly - for one - often grates on me in Singin. Broadway Rhythm is a terrific number, especially for Cyd - again - but the big cheesy optical CU of Kelly at the end says it all really.)

I definitely prefer Band Wagon. It, as well as American in Paris both display a darker emotional depth which very much anticipates Minelli's great work with the melodrama a few years later.

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Michael
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#17 Post by Michael » Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:22 pm

I'm going to revaluate Band Wagon over the weekend. I hope this ongoing discussion will encourage many other members to hunt down the film before turning in their 50s list for the Lists Project.

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david hare
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#18 Post by david hare » Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:11 pm

Michael it would be fair to say Band Wagon is definitely a movie that grew WITH me as I grew older. Each passing decade (he says lugubriously) I see more meaning in it. And Im more and move moved by it. It has a special place in my own movie canon but, then, I still cannot decide how to place it against Funny Face (all time fave) in the 50s list. It's like deciding between favorite Sirk and favorite Sternberg. Impossible!

Donen also deserves some attention from 50s list compilers. Zedz already mentioned It's Always Fair Weather - teriific picture with another quite biting undertone, and Donen - who would have known him only too well - uses Kelly's dark side to great effect. Besides which it's fabulous fun and, like Pajama Game another wonderful Donen, it has substantial outdoor shoots. His blocking, use of space and decoupage of dance sequences is completely masterful and exemplary, throughout the 50s pictures. Watch how effortlessly he sets up and stages and then seemingly intuitively just follows Kay and Fred in "Clap Yo Hands". I can't think of one example of misjudged Donen choreography. And what are movies about if they aint about movement and space?

EDIT: On the subject of liberating outdoor shoots and choreogprahy. I recently got a very weak but viewable boot of Preminger's Porgy and Bess. The movie has a fabulous opening sequence a la Donen set to Summertime but then proceeds indoors to a soundstage for most of the remainder, and loses all the energy of the opening. It may have been Preminger's intention to drive home the contrast of "open" and "closed" sequences as tonally constrasted but the movie definitely shifts gear from "Movie" musical mode to "Stage" (and it's not helped by Poitier's stagey performance and utterly lukewarm persona. Only Sammy Davis Jnr keeps the show on its feet.)

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Michael
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#19 Post by Michael » Sat Jun 16, 2007 8:43 pm

All I have to say to those who are planning to watch The Band Wagon: watch it then once again two days later. I just did that and the movie was totally different the second time, I just can't even explain it. Something hit me that I never expected it, I ended up weeping through the whole damn movie. There was something sad simmering underneath the bright Technicolor gloss that I didn't get the first time I watched it. I'm not saying that it's a depressing movie, it's a joy - an absolute euphoria! but there's definitely something going on behind what you see on the surface and it's so breathtakingly subtle which is not a normal thing to say about just about every musical movie made in that magical era. It also feels very "grown up" ... no cheese, no corn. Just pure class.

I had the same experience with 8 1/2 (my all time fave) ten years ago and I can't even believe to this day that I once hated that movie.

And that Cyd Charisse refuses to dance out of my head. There's no woman more beautiful than her in all cinema.

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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#20 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:39 am

I recently saw Scorsese's BFI doc on American film and it featured this film. I was immediately intrigued. The colors were something I'd never seen before in a musical. Actually, it reminded me of Mishima to be honest. Then the camera moved over to Cyd Charisse and that woman's red dress and black hair sold me immediately. I just ordered a copy. Is this a good Minelli to start with or should I go for Some Came Running, too?

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Belmondo
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#21 Post by Belmondo » Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:28 pm

SOME CAME RUNNING is a damn good movie. Always loved the young Shirley MacLaine and Sinatra and Dean Martin are surprisingly good. It is generally accepted that this is one of only three movies (along with YOUNG LIONS and RIO BRAVO) in which Dino turned in a real performance.

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Michael
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#22 Post by Michael » Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:37 pm

Jean-Luc, please take my advice. Like I said previously here, watch Band Wagon and if you end up feeling uncertain about it - don't dimiss it immediately like I regretfully did, then wait a couple of days and then rewatch it. It worked its weird spell on me that I'm not able to watch anything with a clear mind these days. I hope the spell will wear off sooner so I can start focusing on new movies.

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zedz
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#23 Post by zedz » Wed Jun 20, 2007 6:02 pm

Michael wrote:Jean-Luc, please take my advice. Like I said previously here, watch Band Wagon and if you end up feeling uncertain about it - don't dimiss it immediately like I regretfully did, then wait a couple of days and then rewatch it. It worked its weird spell on me that I'm not able to watch anything with a clear mind these days. I hope the spell will wear off sooner so I can start focusing on new movies.
If you don't get over it soon, we can always send in the deprogrammers with their Sound of Music DVDs!

Panda
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#24 Post by Panda » Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:03 pm

For fans of "The Bandwagon" (I count myself as one), a 35 mm print will be screened in Boston, MA July 25th 7 PM at Harvard Film Archive.

Panda

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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#25 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Sun Jun 24, 2007 7:00 pm

I saw this yesterday and loved it. I'm still dreaming about Charisse's gams, but the whole thing has me feeling like I'd seen it before - cue Fonda's speech to Stanwyck but pretend it's Bandwagon and not her that he saw - and now it's like all I could imagine in a musical is contained in this one movie. I'm quite impressed.
So who'd win the fight? Red Shoes or Bandwagon? I'd like to know who'd get Scorsese's bet. :)

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