Orchestra Wives

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Orchestra Wives
Orchestra Wives 1942 poster.jpg
Orchestra Wives 1942 Theatrical poster
Directed by Archie Mayo
Produced by William LeBaron
Screenplay by Karl Tunberg
Darrell Ware
Story by James Prindle
Starring George Montgomery
Ann Rutherford
Lynn Bari
Cesar Romero
Marion Hutton
Music by Alfred Newman
Harry Warren
Mack Gordon
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Editing by Robert Bischoff
Studio Twentieth Century Fox
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
Release dates September 4, 1942
Running time 98 min
Language English
1954 20th Century Fox re-release movie poster.

Orchestra Wives is a 1942 American musical film by 20th Century Fox starring Ann Rutherford, George Montgomery, and Glenn Miller. The film was the second and last film to feature The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and is notable among the many swing era musicals because its plot is more serious and realistic than the insubstantial storylines that were typical of the genre. The movie was re-released in 1954 by 20th Century Fox to tie-in with the biopic The Glenn Miller Story.

Synopsis[edit]

Connie Ward (Ann Rutherford) is a young woman who on the spur of the moment marries Bill Abbott (George Montgomery), a trumpet player in Gene Morrison's (Glenn Miller) swing band (Miller's character was given a name with initials that matched Miller's so that the band could use their monogrammed stainless-steel bandstands). She soon finds herself at odds with the cattiness and petty jealousies of the other band members' spouses, as they accompany their husbands on their cross-country train tour. Her discomfort is exacerbated by a flirtation between Abbott and Jaynie (Lynn Bari), the band's female vocalist. When Ward eventually walks out on Abbott, their split releases so many other tensions among the musicians and their wives, that leader Morrison is forced to break up the orchestra. Ward and the band's pianist Sinjin (Cesar Romero) then work behind the scenes to reunite the band, which also produces a reconciliation between Ward and Abbott (with additional help from Connie's father (Grant Mitchell)).

Songs[edit]

Orchestra Wives features a treasure trove of songs by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, the same team responsible for the hits featured in Miller's first film Sun Valley Serenade (1941).[1] The main production number is "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo", an analogue of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo", from the first film that features a folksy vocal and some gutsy tenor sax work by Tex Beneke, backup singing by Marion Hutton with the Modernaires, and a gravity-defying dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers.[2] This was nominated: Best Music, Original Song in Academy Awards) Harry Warren (music), Mack Gordon (lyrics).[2]

Other songs include the period piece "People Like You and Me", a breakneck performance of "Bugle Call Rag" and the classic romantic ballads At Last (originally intended for Miller's initial film, Sun Valley Serenade) and "Serenade in Blue".[3] The film score uses "At Last" as a musical motif that is played throughout the movie in dramatic and romantic scenes. "That's Sabotage" was also written for the movie but was cut from the film. The song was, however, released as a 78 single by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, and the unused soundtrack recording was featured on various LP compilations of Miller's soundtracks.

Glenn Miller's theme song "Moonlight Serenade" from 1939 also appears over the opening credits.

"Boom Shot", an instrumental composed by Glenn Miller and Billy May for the movie, also is played in the movie, first on the jukebox in the soda shop, then when Ann Rutherford and Harry Morgan are shown dancing, but is uncredited on the soundtrack and film credits. "Boom Shot" is heard in the movie when the Gene Morrison orchestra plays it at the dance as filmed by the camera in a boom shot.

Cast listing[edit]

Actor/Actress Role
Ann Rutherford Connie Ward / Connie Abbott
George Montgomery Bill Abbott
Glenn Miller Gene Morrison
Lynn Bari Jaynie
Carole Landis Natalie
Cesar Romero Sinjin
Virginia Gilmore Elsie
Glenn Miller Orchestra Gene Morrison Orchestra
The Modernaires Themselves
The Nicholas Brothers Themselves
Dorothy Dandridge Herself
Bobby Hackett Himself

Uncredited performances[edit]

Three future stars have uncredited appearances: Jackie Gleason portrays the band's bass player, Ben Beck, and in the soda fountain scene, Harry Morgan is the soda-jerk Cully Anderson, who also dates Connie Ward (Ann Rutherford), and Dale Evans plays Ann Rutherford's friend Hazel.[4] Pat Friday dubbed Lynn Bari's singing, as she had done in Sun Valley Serenade. George Montgomery's on-screen trumpet playing was actually performed on the soundtrack by Miller sideman Johnny Best.

Harry Morgan would co-star in the film The Glenn Miller Story in 1953, portraying Glenn Miller Orchestra pianist Chummy MacGregor.

Award nominations[edit]

Academy Awards

  • Nominated: Best Music, Original Song, "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo", Harry Warren (music), Mack Gordon (lyrics) (1943)

Production notes[edit]

  • Production Dates: 6 April-17 April; 22 April-early June 1941
  • The working title of this film was Orchestra Wife.
  • Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that an early draft of the film's screenplay was rejected by the PCA because it implied that some of the characters had committed adultery. After PCA officials met with producer William LeBaron in mid-June 1942, the story was approved on the condition that there would be no adultery depicted.
  • Orchestra Wives was the second and final film made by famed band leader Glenn Miller, who, in September 1942, disbanded his orchestra in order to enter the military.
  • An July 8, 1942 Variety news item reported that the song "At Last," composed by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, had originally been recorded by Miller and his orchestra for the 1941 Twentieth Century-Fox film Sun Valley Serenade.
  • Studio records indicate that the Gordon and Warren song "That's Sabotage" was recorded for Orchestra Wives and was included on the soundtrack album, even though it does not appear in the completed picture.
  • Instrumental versions of "You Say the Nicest Things, Baby" and "The Darktown Strutters' Ball" were also to have been recorded for the film, but were cut.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clarke, Donald. "The Rise and Fall of Popular Music". Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Miller, Glenn (1943). "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" (video). Orchestra Wives. youtube. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Classic Movie Musicals, Orchestra Wives
  4. ^ IMDb credits, Orchestra Wives

External links[edit]