Monday, December 8, 2014

Only now does it occur to me... THE BAND WAGON

Only now does it occur to me... that Fred Astaire/Cyd Charisse/Vincente Minnelli vehicle THE BAND WAGON– one of the last great Technicolor musicals from Hollywood's golden era– could easily be refashioned as an expressionist horror film.

For instance, the number "Triplets"– which recasts full-grown adults as monstrous baby-children–

captures an uncanny sense of proportion and movement that probably belongs in a CHILD'S PLAY movie.

Later, the show-stopping "Girl Hunt Ballet" depicts a crime-laden labyrinth of candy-colored terror

 with ominous shadows at every turn,

creepy silk quasi-surgical masks,
rooms packed with nearly as many mannequin heads as TOURIST TRAP,

 I need a closer look at that...

 My God, WHY?!

 Real heads, too?  And what's with the terrifying papier-maché Freddy Krueger head beside him?!  I'll be seeing that rictus grin in my nightmares!

and violence meted out at every turn by hordes of identical noir villains, whose choreographed uniformity and overwhelming force of numbers feel like a more existential threat, like something out of a Kafka story.  Hell, they probably work for the same government that's depicted in THE TRIAL.

I mean, look at the effect all this has on Astaire.
That's not a man in a musical comedy– that's a man gazing deeply into a Lovecraftian abyss.  And I really appreciate that.


J.D. Lafrance said...

That's serious messed up. Mario Bava couldn't have dreamed up something as surreal. Weird!

Sean Gill said...

Indeed– clearly Minnelli, despite his American upbringing, had plenty of latent Italo Horror lurking beneath the surface!