Saturday, September 08, 2012

Some Levity: The Band Wagon (1953)

 It's Tuesday: that means it's T.A.G. day.

 Let me attempt to lighten our mood with some doodles I whittled while watching TCM (with the twin inducements of family coming to stay and the Summer Olympics, we finally broke down and signed up for cable again).

My Grannie and I sat down to watch the old Fred Astaire/Cyd Charisse musical, "The Band Wagon." Lots of laughs and luscious technicolor!
But with Vincente Minelli directing, you'd expect a little more...Freddy's great, and Cyd's megawatt beauty is undeniable--but she's not much of an emotional presence. Worse still, Fred's got no chemistry with her--he was getting to that age where he looks more like Cyd's dad than her "lover" (a situation that descends to pedophiliac levels for Fred in "Daddy Longlegs").

On the plus side, there's Oscar Levant (tho' not enuff of him), and an array of period faces from the theatrical troupe. Also the disturbing "Triplets" number where Fred, ham-bone Jack Buchanan and Nannette Fabray do a dance on their knees dressed as infants (see right, bottom of page).  Strange and cool!


MrGoodson2 said...

Love to watch the Fred Astaire dancing. Knowing how hard they worked to make you see "effortless."

Love the drawings too. Good captures. I like the guy doing the grab the arm handshake pump.

MrGoodson2 said...

I'm looking for the clip I want to share. Youtube is angering me for not giving me instant gratification.

Tom Moon said...

I was always partial to the Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse-in-the-green-dress dance in "Singing in the Rain".

MrGoodson2 said...

Well. It was fun looking at a lot of clips.
Can't find what I want.
Might be from the Gay Divorcee. Saw that in a film class I took in college.
I'm looking for something where they get out of the rain in a gazebo, dance after it lets up and then exit like, boom, to the left of the screen in this great synchronized walk.

Tom Moon said...

"Isn't This a Lovely Day?" is a popular song written by Irving Berlin for the 1935 film Top Hat, where it was introduced by Fred Astaire in the scene where his and Ginger Rogers' characters are caught in a gazebo during a rainstorm. The lyric is a perfect example of a song which turns a bad situation into a love song, a common style for Irving Berlin, as in I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm and Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee.

Tom Moon said...

MrGoodson2 said...

Tom, that so perfectly fits what i described, it means I've mixed memories.

The one I'm thinking of she has a nice frothy white gown, great for the big arcing pivot moves with Fred.

But it's set where they are alone. No band as background.

I just remember the velocity of how they went from big, high kick, final step into this casual walk.

And I think it also includes a cool move where Fred catches her weight as she spins into his arms where you can see at the last possible moment his right foot switch and "T" out so he could catch the weight.

Tom Moon said...

Fred and Ginger alone, no band, white gown but not frothy, some pivoting, not really a high kick at the end but synchronized walk exit.

More mixed memories?

Where's Beata? She's the expert in all this.

MrGoodson2 said...

I saw that one and had high hopes for it. But that is as a "number." Where the band is cut to, at first and the end. What I'm thinking of is staged as "real."
You're good at this Tom.
I'm going to find a complete copy of Gay Divorcee and see if that's it. It's probably public domain and on youtube in its entirety.

Davis Chino said...

Ha! I love the archival digging this has set you

Ellis, I thought the scene you're describing sounds like something from Top Hat...but (if memory serves) I think there is a longer/different/alternate take of one of the numbers that may have shown up in a later "That's Entertainment" style documentary (??). Because I definitely remember the punchy "walk off" strut...but I've never watched all of Top Hat. Only seen those numbers as extracts for documentaries, etc. Maybe a long-ago "American Masters" on PBS?

Tom, I agree on yr Cyd selection: she seems at her best when she's that distant icon. Maybe that's why her best movie is Silk Stockings (the foreign, ice-cold-commie thing).

MrGoodson2 said...

I bet it is Top Hat. Not like I've seen every thing they did. Just the big ones. And Top Hat would have been in that film class.
Top Hat has the butler doing a rotating crawl/backstroke in the canal right? I think that focuses the search.

Tom Moon said...

Top Hat contains the dance I originally linked you to, with the two of them in the gazebo during the thunderstorm. So maybe your memory combined that dance with one earlier or later in the movie.

MrGoodson2 said...

Maybe. Bugs me that something that made such an impression on me wouldn't be easy to find. Maybe it was some sort of small interlude dance. Cheek to Cheek looks right, famous feather dress (frothy), but the song isn't right and of course ends totally wrong. No exit.

I officially give up.

Beata said...

Looks like I missed out on all the fun!
Fred has always been my fave.
Can't stay, ... but I'll get back on later this evening.

As usual, LOVE your sketches, Marty.

MrGoodson2 said...

The Exit is Kinda similar to this. But faster and even more casual