#10. The Band Wagon – 1953
(#17 on the AFI list)
This is the second Fred Astaire film on the list, this time pairing him with the long, lean and gorgeous Cyd Charisse in her first leading role.
The Band Wagon is about a fading musical star (Astaire) who gets a chance at a comeback through a Broadway musical. He is paired with a rising star ballerina (Charisse) and the two get off to a rocky start before, naturally, falling in love.
The play’s director, a pompous artiste, envisions the musical as a dark retelling of the Faust story, an idea that doesn’t go over very well with early audiences. That leaves Astaire to save the day by reimagining the show into a comical song-and-dance extravaganza in time for the Broadway debut.
The Band Wagon‘s most famous song is ‘That’s Entertainment’ but its best-known sequence is today’s clip, a Central Park pas de deux set to ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ In this beautiful set piece, you watch two people fall wordlessly in love.
The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Costume Design, Musical Score, and Screenplay. Astaire was nominated for an Oscar only once, in 1975 for a supporting role in The Towering Inferno. He was also given an honorary Oscar in 1950, which was presented to him by Ginger Rogers.