A summer screening and indoor picnic.

The Band Wagon stars Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in their prime. “… 1953 musical comedy film that many critics rank, along with Singin’ in the Rain as the finest of the MGM musicals, although it was only a modest box-office success. It tells the story of an aging musical star who hopes a Broadway play will restart his career. However, the play’s director wants to make it a pretentious retelling of Faust and brings in a prima ballerina who clashes with the star” – Wikipedia. Lots of brilliant songs and wonderful dance routines.


  • Doors open: 5.15 pm
  • Indoor picnic: 5.30 pm (There’s direct access to a garden, incidentally, if you wish to brave the weather).
  • Film: 6.30 pm
  • After the film: coffee etc.
  • Event ends at approx. 9.00 pm

Other important information: We will provide tea, coffee, soft drinks, but the food will be on a “bring and share” basis. But the sharing is not compulsory – it’s up to you! Alcoholic drinks cannot be provided, so by all means bring your own. We will provide glasses etc.

Venue: Resource and Wellbeing Centre, Crabtree Close, Audlett Drive, OX14 3GD

Admission: £7.00

If you can let us know that you hope to come, please do so via Otherwise just turn up and perhaps bring a guest or two? It should be a great Saturday evening.

Programme Notes

The Band Wagon
USA 1953 112 minutes Cert. U

The Band Wagon surprisingly was not a box-office success on its release in 1953, despite now being acknowledged by many as one of the greatest – if not the greatest – musical ever to come out of the MGM studios. Certainly it is packed with terrific performances from iconic artists including Fred Astaire, who was then 54 years old. There is also a brief appearance by 6-year–old Liza Minnelli, the director’s daughter.

As is often the case with musicals, the story is not especially consequential, and involves the conflicts arising from the unrealistic artistic aspirations of Jeffrey Cordova (played by Jack Buchanan) the musical director, and the insecurities the “aging hoofer” Tony Hunter (played by Fred Astaire). Astaire and Cyd Charisse play characters brought together by Cordova, who thinks the lively little musical by the Martons should be reworked as a version of Faust. The Cordova character is said to be inspired by Jose Ferrer, who at the time was starring in one Broadway show and producing three others, but in the ego and the big plans there’s also an echo of Orson Welles.

Tony Hunter – Fred Astaire
Gabrielle – Gerard Cyd Charisse
Lester Marton – Oscar Levant
Lily Marton – Nanette Fabray
Jeffrey Cordova – Jack Buchanan
Producer – Arthur Freed

Director – Vincente Minnelli
Screenplay – Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Cinematography – Harry Jackson
Original Music – Adolph Deutsch, Alexander Courage, Conrad Salinger

“The vibrantly talented but viciously uneven director Vincente Minnelli turned in his most streamlined and cohesive film with The Band Wagon… ” Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid.

“Everyone knows that Charisse wasn’t a great actress, but that fact has tended to obscure how marvelous a dancer she was, and how alluring a beauty.” Chris Dashiell, CineScene.


“Super film – great entertainment”

“Great film – what a tribute to hats and canes”

“I didn’t think I was going to be pleased with this film but I was! Very entertaining.”

“A fractured musical masterpiece. Not every song was memorable and Jack Buchanan outshone a fifty-something Fred Astaire but it was an excellent piece of film history. Shame most people couldn’t tear themselves away from Britain’s Got Talent rather than see a 60yo film that positively cries out ‘Hollywood Had Talent’!”

“I especially liked the persuasion scene (Byrd insists on Gabby’s casting) and the bizarre subway shoot-out scene. Interesting how tastes have changed, though.”

“Dance sequences were superb – especially the gangster sequence. For that reason, I could forgive the incoherent dialogue. Cyd Charisse was absolutely wonderful!”

“Once we got through the first third, it was marvellous. The dancing was extra-ordinary.”

“A curious showcase for Astaire’s talents and Charisse’s legs!”

“Some good tunes”

“Some scenes had good moments. Maybe all a bit dated.”

“Poor acting with few redeeming features. The ‘detective’ scene near the end was well done, though.”

“Unsure about using ‘English films’ to describe ABCD – either it’s ‘British films’ or ‘English language films’. It was interesting to note that the only non-white faces in this particular film were in menial jobs. Not a complaint , just saying it was interesting for a 1956 [sic] Hollywood film.”


A:7, B:9, C:1, D:0, E:1 to give 79%