Hollywood had Fred Astaire, we had Jack Buchanan. They both made their name in the musical theatre of the 20s, and between them they cornered the market in the top-hat-and-tails style of film musical. Buchanan couldn't dance as well as Astaire (who could?) and his style was more brittle; but if his films are revived less often than those of Astaire, it's certainly not Buchanan's fault.
He was born in Helensburgh near Glasgow. His father's gambling habits kept the family poor, and Jack started his working life as an auctioneer. His first professional acting work was in 1911. He moved to London in 1913. Because of his deprived childhood he was medically unfit for the army, so when war broke out he was able to continue his stage career.
By the early twenties he was an established star with his own production company. Indeed, he was so successful he built his own theatre, the Leicester Square Theatre (now a Warners' cinema), which opened in 1930. He also dabbled in film, and worked in Hollywood during the craze for musicals that followed the arrival of the talkies.
His busiest period in cinema was the 30s. He appeared in a string of light musical comedies while his theatre career continued to flourish. The 40s were less kind: his film career ran into the sand, he lost a lot of money on the show Top Hat and Tails, and his theatre was bombed. The one bright spark was his marriage - a surprise to those who assumed he was a confirmed bachelor.
Though he still continued to tour, it took the film musical The Band Wagon to really bring him back into public notice. He died from cancer.
|1917||Auld Lang Syne|
|1923||The Audacious Mr Squire|
|1925||The Happy Ending|
|1926||Settled Out of Court|
|1926||Bulldog Drummond's Third Round|
|1929||The Show of Shows (US)|
|1930||Monte Carlo (US)|
|1931||Man of Mayfair|
|1933||Yes Mr Brown (+co-dir.)|
|1933||That's a Good Girl (+dir.)|
|1935||Come Out of the Pantry|
|1936||When Knights Were Bold|
|1937||This'll Make You Whistle|
|1937||Smash and Grab|
|1937||The Sky's the Limit (+prod.)|
|1937||Sweet Devil (prod. only)|
|1938||Break the News (+prod. +co-dir.)|
|1939||The Gang's All Here (+co-prod.)|
|1939||The Middle Watch|
|1939||Bulldog Drummond Sees It Through|
|1953||The Band Wagon (US)|
|1954||As Long As They're Happy|
|1955||Josephine and Men|
|1955||Les Carnet du Major Thompson (Fr)|
Jack Buchanan at Amazon UK
Jack Buchanan at Amazon US