This weekend at the Cinematheque: ‘The Band Wagon’ and ‘Jolly Fellows’

If you aren’t yet sick of musicals then you might be soon, that is, if you’re planning to attend either Friday or Saturday night’s screenings at the Cinematheque. But don’t let that dissuade you from going.

Friday’s screening is another film in the Cinematheque’s ongoing (and tremendous) Vincente Minnelli retrospective: The Band Wagon (1953), a Technicolor spectacle that seems to have a bit of something for everyone, including a satirically modernist meta-adaptation of Faust and a flurry of dance sequences featuring a fading Fred Astaire. I’m sure this film will contain a fair amount of cheese, but whatever: Minnelli’s films seem incapable of disappointing, provided that one goes in with the right expectations.

But I’m even more jazzed (pun, unfortunately, intended) about Saturday night’s screening: Grigori Alexandrov’s Jolly Fellows (1934). This film marks the beginning of the Cinematheque’s series of Soviet musicals directed by Alexandrov, who served as an assistant director to Sergei Eisenstein during the 1920s. Honestly, how often does the opportunity to see a film such as this on a 35mm print present itself? Seriously, if for no other reason, go for the novelty and the historicity—after all, musicals were the preferred genre of a certain Soviet dictator.

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