LGTTM – The Bandwagon & Back to the Future 3

LGTTM – The Bandwagon & Back to the Future 3


LGTTM – The Bandwagon & Back to the Future 3

THE BAND WAGON (1953)                                    


One of the most delightful musicals ever to reach the screen, The Band Wagon concerns a pretentiously artistic director hired to make a new Broadway musical and changes it beyond recognition. The picture stars Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Jack Buchanan, Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray, but it is the songs that make it memorable. That and the magical dancing of Astaire and Charisse. This was the first of two pairings of Fred and Cyd, the second being Silk Stockings released in 1957.

Nanette Fabray

L to R: Jack Buchanan, Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray & Oscar Levant in The Band Wagon

Among the cast there was just one fly in the ointment – the irascible, sour-faced Oscar Levant. Nanette Fabray stated that he was extremely difficult to work with. Whenever something would go wrong or he would make a mistake, he would blame whomever was nearby. This included his fellow actors, stage hands, lighting technicians etc. Since she was usually positioned closest to Levant, Nanette caught the brunt of his abuse. Eventually, following another botched take, he made the mistake of blaming her for it once too often. She lost her temper and told him off using most unladylike language. Everyone on the set applauded and, after that, he became much easier to work with. In the movie the two characters portrayed by Nanette and Oscar were a song-writing team married to each other.

Band Wagon Triplets - YouTube

Fred, Nanette and Jack performing ‘Triplets’

During ‘Louisiana Hayride’, Nanette gashed her leg when she broke through the top of a prop crate on which she was standing. She said that during the later filming of ‘Triplets’, standing on her knees was so painful that she had to take large numbers of pain-killers. The song featured her, Fred and Jack as babies, which required them to perform whilst on their knees and wearing prosthetic baby feet attached at varying lengths so that all three players would appear identical in height. Synthetic hair was attached to each actor’s bonnet in the sequence.

Viewers should watch out for the brief appearance by statuesque Julie Newmar (she stood 5 feet eleven inches), when she appears in the fashion show near the start of the ‘Girl Hunt’ number, just after Fred walks through the green door. Julie is the third of the three models – the redhead. Six years later, she would memorably play ‘Stupefyin’ Jones’ in the wonderful musical movie Li’l Abner.

THE BAND WAGON, 1953, Fred Astaire Cyd Charisse classic movie musical Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan, Vincente Minnelli, Arthur Freed MGM film

Fred & Cyd dancing up a storm

To a certain extent, the characters reflected real life. Just like his character, Tony, Fred Astaire was seriously contemplating retirement. Lily and Lester, played by Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant, were based on the film’s screenwriters, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Jack Buchanan’s character, Jeffrey, was based on actor Jose Ferrer, who at the time was producing four Broadway shows and starring in a fifth.

THE BAND WAGON, 1953, Fred Astaire Cyd Charisse classic movie musical Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan, Vincente Minnelli, Arthur Freed MGM film

‘That’s Entertainment’ amen to that.

According to studio records, The Band Wagon was a hit at the box-office upon its initial release, but the film was so expensive to make that it resulted in a loss to the studio of $1, 185,000, a sizeable sum in 1953. Of course, studio accountants were not averse to ‘doctoring’ the books back then, so we only have MGM’s word for this.


BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III (1990)                     

The premise for this delightful comedy/adventure promises a lot of fun and we are not let down. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is stranded in 1955 when he learns about the death of his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) back in 1885 at the hands of a gunslinger. Marty must travel back in time in the DeLorean to save him, but with no fuel available for the vehicle in the Old West, the two must figure out how to escape the frontier town before Doc is murdered.

Dusty Hill Caused Trouble on 'Back to the Future III' Set

ZZ Top in the film

The rock group ZZ Top was hanging around the set of the film when they were asked if they wanted to portray the town band. They jumped at the chance, but during one take the camera broke. While waiting for it to be repaired, Michael J, Fox asked if they would play ‘Hey Good Lookin’’, which they did. Over the next two hours more requests were played until someone inquired if the camera had been repaired. Director Robert Zemeckis replied that it had, in fact, been repaired for quite a while; he just did not want to stop the party that had evolved.

Clint Eastwood was asked if he would grant permission for his name to be used by Marty in the film. Not only did he give his consent, he was said to be tickled by the homage. When Doc and Marty are at the drive-in (in 1955) preparing the Delorean for its trip back to 1885, Marty mentions Clint Eastwood, to which Doc replies, ‘Clint who?’ On the wall of the drive-in is a movie poster show-casing Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula, featuring two of Eastwood’s first film appearances as a bit player in 1955. Marty briefly glances at the poster as he says to Doc, ‘That’s right, you haven’t heard of him yet’. Incidentally, the location of 1885 Hill Valley is the same one used in Eastwood’s 1985 western Pale Rider.

COMING SOON - Marty McFly (BTTF Part 3) Sixth Scale Figure Set by Hot Toys - ForbiddenPlanet InternationalForbiddenPlanet International

In one scene Marty uses a pie plate to knock a gun from the hand of Buford ‘Mad Dog’ Tannen’s hand. The Frisbie Pie Company had started up in Connecticut in 1871 and their pie pans were believed to have been first thrown by students on the campus of Yale University. This eventually led to the invention of Frisbees. In another scene where Tannen attempts to lynch Marty, Fox was accidentally hanged and rendered unconscious for a short while.

The character of Clara Clayton (played by Mary Steenburgen) is based on Clara Clemens, Mark Twain’s daughter. She went on a sleigh ride with her future husband, Ossip, whereupon the horse took fright at a wind-swept newspaper and bolted. Ossip lost control and at the top of a hill, next to a fifty-foot drop, the sleigh overturned, throwing Clara out. She was fortunate not to have gone over the cliff.

In 2016, there was talk of a fourth film in the series. However, Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s Disease has made his return playing Marty McFly extremely doubtful. A trailer for Back to the Future IV was made but is unlikely to be utilized.

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