Fabray and Oscar Levant are Lily and Lester Marton, the husband and wife Broadway team that's written an entertaining new musical comedy to lure Tony Hunter (Astaire) from Hollywood back to his Broadway roots. Tony's movie stardom has dimmed a bit. He's in a career lull. The Martons are positive they have his comeback vehicle but they have to convince their sweet, worried friend that he's not too out-of-date to bring in a Broadway audience.
Tony, a top Hollywood song-and-dance man, hasn't made a movie in a couple of years. Some catty columnists have written him off as being "washed up." The Band Wagon cleverly opens with a bright overture and credits over Hunter's -- and Astaire's -- trade mark. A top hat.
This rhymes the opening of the original 1935 RKO musical comedy, co-starring Ginger Rogers, that made Fred Astaire a major Hollywood star -- Top Hat.
However, in The Band Wagon, Tony Hunter's trademark from one of his old musicals is now up for auction to the highest bidder. If there is a bidder. That's Hollywood. In Manhattan, Tony's working with acclaimed multi-talented, pretentious and lovably egotistical director/actor Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan). Cordova casts a new sensation, the highbrow ballerina Garbrielle Gerard (gorgeous Cyd Charisse), to be Tony's leading lady in the Martons' show.