Monday, September 13, 2010

Orchestra Wives (1942)

Orchestra Wives(1942). Cast: Ann Rutherford and George Montgomery, Lynn Bari, Carole Landis, Cesar Romero, Virginia Gilmore, Mary Beth Hughes and The Nicholas Brothers. The film was the second and last film to feature The Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Connie Ward marries Bill Abbott, a trumpet player in Gene Morrison's swing band. She soon finds herself having trouble with the other band member's wives. She is also worried by the flirtation between Abbott and Jaynie, the band's female vocalist. When Ward decides to walk out on Abbott, the tensions among the musicians and their wives, come to a head and band leader Morrison, is forced to break up the orchestra. Ward and the band's pianist Sinjin then work together to reunite the band, which also produces a reconciliation between Ward and Abbot.

This wonderful movie seems to be almost unknown, yet it should be on the top of the list of every Glenn Miller fan.

Orchestra Wives features many wonderful songs by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, who were also responsible for the songs featured in Miller's first film, Sun Valley Serenade (1941). 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 vocals and sax by Tex
Beneke, backup singing by the Modernaires, and the dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers.

Other songs include: "People Like You and Me", "Bugle Call Rag"..

and the romantic ballads "At Last"..

"Serenade in Blue"...

The film score uses "At Last" as a musical motif that is played throughout the movie.

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.

Three future stars have uncredited appearances: Jackie Gleason plays 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).

Dale Evans plays Ann Rutherford's friend Hazel. Pat Friday dubbed Lynn Bari's singing, as she had done in Sun Valley Serenade. George Montgomery's on-screen trumpet playing was performed on the soundtrack by Miller sideman Johnny Best.

Ann Rutherford began her film career in starring roles in Waterfront Lady for Mascot Pictures in 1935. Mascot merged with Republic Pictures, and Rutherford soon became a popular leading lady of Westerns with Gene Autry and John Wayne.

Afterward, she was placed under contract with MGM, where she performed in films: A Christmas Carol (1938) and Pride and Prejudice (1940).

She was loaned to Selznick International to perform as, Carreen O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).

From 1937 until 1942, she played Polly Benedict in the Andy Hardy series.

She also performed in a series of mystery/comedies with Red Skelton, Whistling in the Dark (1941), Whistling in Dixie (1942), and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943).

In Washington Melodrama (1941). She left MGM to freelance in the early 1940's, starring in such films as Orchestra Wives (1942), Two O'Clock Courage (1945) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947).


  1. I love this movie Dawn. Not too many people have seen this as it is a very underrated film. Awesome post with the added videos. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love this movie too! Especially the "At Last" scene where Connie is mooning over Bill's playing.

    When I later watched YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME (1948) with Dan Dailey and Jeanne Crain, parts of it were really familiar, such as the girl going on a bus to see him in the next town and then the eloping...turned out it was a partial remake of ORCHESTRA WIVES. Worth checking out if you haven't seen it, although ORCHESTRA WIVES is my favorite because of the Glenn Miller music.

    Best wishes,

  3. Monty, Thank you. I is a very underrated film.

    Laura, Thank You. I have not seen the film, YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME (1948). I will have to check it out. :)