Sunday, February 22, 2009

That's Entertainment | The Band Wagon

The Band Wagon is a 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.

The music was written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz originally for the 1931 Broadway musical, also called The Band Wagon, with a book by George S. Kaufman and starring Fred Astaire and his sister Adele. The film popularized the song "That's Entertainment!", which has become a standard. Another song, "Dancing in the Dark", is considered part of the Great American Songbook and was from the original Broadway production.

The film 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).

Since the movie, the song has become an anthem for Hollywood and theater in general, being used as an opening number in many shows. It is considered, alongside "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Hooray for Hollywood," entertainment's signature tune.

MGM used the song title for its nostalgic series of films featuring clips from its golden musical age, as That's Entertainment!. The original 1974 release spawned two sequels in which the song was retained.

In That's Entertainment, Part II, new lyrics were written for the song and performed by hosts Gene Kelly and Astaire.


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