Star Archive

Jack Buchanan (1890 - 1957)

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.

Jack Buchanan on the set of Goodnight Vienna Cigarette Card of Jack Buchanan


1917 Auld Lang Syne
1919 Her Heritage
1923 The Audacious Mr Squire
1925 The Happy Ending
1926 Settled Out of Court
1926 Bulldog Drummond's Third Round
1927 Confetti
1928 Toni
1929 Paris (US)
1929 The Show of Shows (US)
1930 Monte Carlo (US)
1931 Man of Mayfair
1932 Goodnight Vienna
1933 Yes Mr Brown (+co-dir.)
1933 That's a Good Girl (+dir.)
1935 Brewster's Millions
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