Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tonight's Movie: Orchestra Wives (1942)

This is another musical treasure from 20th Century-Fox. The magic begins as "Moonlight Serenade" plays under the opening credits. The plot is a bit silly but interesting, concerning a trumpeter (George Montgomery) with the "Gene Morrison Orchestra" (the Glenn Miller Orchestra) who impulsively marries a dreamy-eyed young girl (Ann Rutherford) he spots at a performance; she has to adjust to life on the road and deal with the catty gossip of some of the other "orchestra wives."

Along the way we get to enjoy a number of great songs including "Serenade in Blue" and the gorgeous "At Last," which also underscores the couple's love scenes. The film builds to a happy ending and a razzle-dazzle performance of "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," featuring Tex Beneke, the Modernaires, Marion Hutton and, for good measure, the amazing dancing of the Nicholas Brothers. What's not to love? :)

"I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song, but lost to a forgettable little ditty called..."White Christmas." One of the other nominees that year was Jerome Kern's "Dearly Beloved." It's kind of sad to compare that list to this year's Oscar nominees, particularly the ultimate 2006 winner, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." What a comedown for movies and the Academy, going from the genius of Warren, Berlin, and Kern to a song that can't be listened to by children.

ORCHESTRA WIVES has a terrific supporting cast full of the usual 20th Century-Fox players, including Cesar Romero, Lynn Bari (as in SUN VALLEY SERENADE, she's a witchy "girl singer"), Carole Landis, and Harry Morgan. The movie is in black and white and has a running time of 98 minutes.

ORCHESTRA WIVES is available on DVD as No. 35 in the Fox Studio Classics series. The DVD includes a stills gallery and a commentary by leading lady Ann Rutherford and dancer Fayard Nicholas.

The movie is also available on VHS.


Blogger jau said...

Thanks for the heads up. I LOVE black & white movies anyway (I'm watching a June Allyson movie right now, as a matter of fact). You are so right about the contrast between then and now.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

My pleasure! :) This is a fun one. Would enjoy hearing more about the June Allyson movie you saw.

Thanks for visiting, please come again!

Best wishes, Laura

6:24 PM  

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