Orchestra Wives

Overview

Fox Video has finally issued Orchestra Wives, one of the two major starring vehicles of legendary bandleader Glenn Miller. While Miller might not be everyone's cup of tea musically, the movie is worth seeing for the staging of the musical numbers, beginning with the opening shot of the orchestra at work in the studio -- and if that doesn't do it for you, then the Nicholas Brothers' dancing on "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" will. The camera moves, the sound, and the arrangements practically make Miller an extra in ...
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Overview

Fox Video has finally issued Orchestra Wives, one of the two major starring vehicles of legendary bandleader Glenn Miller. While Miller might not be everyone's cup of tea musically, the movie is worth seeing for the staging of the musical numbers, beginning with the opening shot of the orchestra at work in the studio -- and if that doesn't do it for you, then the Nicholas Brothers' dancing on "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" will. The camera moves, the sound, and the arrangements practically make Miller an extra in his own movie. And just in case the movie's own virtues (which include the presence of Jackie Gleason as Beck, the band's bassist) aren't enough, then Fox has given us a priceless audio commentary track by Fayard Nicholas and Ann Rutherford, both of whom were in the movie and share their reminiscences of the shoot and the era, and that's worth double what Fox is asking for this DVD. Between them, Rutherford remembers everything and Nicholas recalls everything else, and their talk is delightful, informative, and deeply evocative of the film's era -- when Rutherford recalls George Montgomery as "the handsomest man in the world" and launches into his later work as a sculptor and designer of furniture, you can't buy or fake the enthusiasm and honesty of the recollection. Similarly, Nicholas gives us priceless information -- that "At Last," a Miller hit that is a highlight of this movie in its staging, had originally been intended for Sun Valley Serenade but was cut there. His description of the relationship between the Nicholas brothers and dance director Nick Castle is fascinating (Castle reveled in finally having a team that could realize his greatest creations). The film transfer itself looks gorgeous, the black-and-white full-screen image (1.33:1) glittering with silver sprayed on black, and the sound is more than a match. One of the best recorded musical films of the '40s, it's been transferred to DVD with the audio at full volume and awash in rich detail, which is especially welcomed on the performance numbers, but also allows the dialogue to stand out. This is a great showcase for the band as well, as the close-ups and the panning shots of the group in action give every member a good moment onscreen, and those who didn't previously know it can appreciate the beauty and power of the big bands. The 98-minute movie has been given a very generous 28 chapters, which allows each song to get its own chapter designation and to break down the plot properly. There's also a trailer for this movie and four trailers for earlier releases in the Fox Studio Classics series: Anna and the King of Siam, A Letter to Three Wives, Alexander's Ragtime Band, and Desk Set. All are accessible through an easy-to-use multi-layer menu that opens automatically on start-up.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by actors Fayard Nicholas and Ann Rutherford; Still gallery; Theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Hans J. Wollstein
The best reason to watch Orchestra Wives today -- in fact, the only reason to do so -- is the music, especially "I've Got a Girl in Kalamazoo," performed to the hilt here by Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton (Betty's sister), and the Modernaires. 20th Century Fox, who had Glenn Miller and band under contract, knew what they were doing -- no reason to spend money on such niceties as script and good actors when the kids came only to listen to Miller and his crew. The bandleader had been supporting the likes of Sonja Henie and Tyrone Power in earlier songfests but Orchestra Wives was popular music stripped down to the essentials, and instead of wasting prestigious stars, featured the likes of Lynn Bari, George Montgomery, and Carole Landis, in other words, the Fox B-unit players. But the music -- which also includes "Moonlight Serenade," "People Like You and Me" and "At Last" -- remains the saving grace and what a saving grace it proves to be.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/1/2005
  • UPC: 024543208242
  • Original Release: 1942
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20th Century Fox
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:37:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
George Montgomery Bill Abbott
Ann Rutherford Connie Ward
Glenn Miller Gene Morrison
Cesar Romero Sinjin
Lynn Bari Jaynie
Jackie Gleason Beck
Carole Landis Natalie
Mary Beth Hughes Caroline
Tamara Geva Mrs. Beck
Frank Orth Rex Willet
Grant Mitchell Dr. Ward
Edith Evanson Hilda
Alec Craig Henry Fink
Iris Adrian
Tex Beneke
Dale Evans Girl at soda fountain
Virginia Gilmore Elsie
Marion Hutton
The Modernaires Themselves
Henry Morgan Cully Anderson
Fayard Nicholas Himself
Harold Nicholas Himself
The Nicholas Brothers Specialty
Technical Credits
Archie Mayo Director
Lucien Ballard Cinematographer
William Le Baron Producer
Robert Bischoff Editor
Richard Day Art Director
Earl Luick Costumes/Costume Designer
Alfred Newman Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Karl Tunberg Screenwriter
Darrell Ware Screenwriter
Harry Warren Score Composer
Joseph C. Wright Art Director
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Orchestra Wives
1. Main Titles [:59]
2. Chattanooga Choo-Choo [1:10]
3. People Like You and Me [3:41]
4. Going on Tour [3:47]
5. A Date for the dance [2:44]
6. At Last [2:22]
7. A Big, Bad Trumpet Player [2:22]
8. Dad's Permission [4:01]
9. Bugle Call Rag [3:37]
10. Missing the Bus [3:21]
11. Mrs. Bill Abbot [2:00]
12. The Problem With Jaynie [2:18]
13. The Wife's Best Friend [4:49]
14. All by Ourselves [3:43]
15. Natalie's Game [3:50]
16. Serenade in Blue [1:01]
17. Catty Callers [2:11]
18. Confrontation With Connie [3:39]
19. Angels With Dirty Tongues [4:15]
20. Breaking Up [1:24]
21. Let's Call It Off [7:00]
22. Without Bill [4:21]
23. Reunion [4:12]
24. Opening Night [2:59]
25. Bill's Competition [2:40]
26. I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo [1:00]
27. The Nicholas Brothers [5:38]
28. The Missing Trumpeter [1:49]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Orchestra Wives
   Play
   Scene Selection
   Language Selection
      Languages
         English Mono
         English Stereo
      Subtitles
         English
         Spanish
         None
      Commentary by Actors Fayard Nicholas and Ann Rutherford
   Special Features
      Commentary by Actors Fayard Nicholas and Ann Rutherford: On/Off
      Theatrical Trailer
      Studio Classics Trailers
         A Letter to Three Wives
         Alexander's Ragtime Band
         Anna and the King of Siam
         Desk Set
      Still Gallery
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2004

    As a music lover, I find;

    This movie is exceptionally good and should be placed on a DVD.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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