Wednesday, April 01, 2015
The Band Wagon
Minnelli saw Leroy Daniels, a real shoeshine man who sang and danced as he worked, and that not only inspired the number, but got Daniels a trip to Hollywood and a scene where he co-stars with Astaire. He's a gifted performer, his timing as precise as Astaire's, and perhaps because he's the real thing, we sense a freshness and joy. Note, too, Astaire's casual strength when he lifts himself on the arms of the chair so he can kick in mid-air.
Most of the scene's charm is because of Astaire and Daniels, but some, too, was contributed by Minnelli. McElhaney recommends watching the "Shine on Your Shoes" number, but not focusing on Astaire and Daniels: "Instead, only take note of the direction of the extras; watch it again, and only note the function of the decor and the camera movements; then watch it one final time putting all of these elements together." What that exercise would illustrate is that for Minnelli, the whole screen was always in play, not just the foreground and the stars.