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Orchestra Wives

4.6 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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(Nov 01, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A new bride faces the strain of life on the road in this musical romance that features the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Miller is featured as band leader Gene Morrison, who embarks on a whirlwind national tour with his orchestra. While on the tour, trumpeter Bill Abbott (George Montgomery) impulsively marries one of his many ardent fans, a naïve young women named Connie (Ann Rutherford). At first Connie is more than willing to put up with such problems as not spending time with her new husband and the malicious gossip of other wives. But when she comes to believe that Bill is still involved with an old flame, the ensuing quarrel threatens to end both the new marriage and the entire band.

"It's Hep! It's Hot! It's Hilarious!" reads the tagline for Orchestra Wives, a frothy slice of celluloid made in 1942 and featuring the great Glenn Miller Band. And that tagline is, well, sort of true. As is often the case with films of this genre (musical comedy with the occasional touch of drama), the story is largely superfluous: a naïve, smalltown girl (Ann Rutherford) falls for a fast-talking, smooth-playing trumpeter (George Montgomery); he proposes after spending, oh, about fifteen minutes with her (and before he even knows her name); she joins the band on tour, where the female members of the troupe, wives and singers alike, while away the downtime gossiping and rumor-mongering; trouble ensues, but all ends happily (and predictably). The main attraction here is seeing Miller (going by the nom du cinema Gene Morrison), then at the height of his popularity, and some of his fine musicians in action. Though not an innovator on the level of Benny Goodman and some of his other peers, Miller had a band that could swing like mad, and performances of tunes like "At Last," "Kalamazoo," and the rockin' "Bugle Call Rag" are a definite gas. The musicians are virtually all uncredited, but they include singer Marion Hutton, saxophonist-singer Tex Beneke, singer Ray Eberle, and the great drummer Moe Purtill (also look for Jackie Gleason, the Great One himself, in a substantial role as the band's bass player), as well as the Nicholas Brothers, an amazing dance team. The black & white transfer is nice, the music has been remastered in stereo, and the fact that Miller disappeared during a plane flight over the English Channel in late 1944 makes Orchestra Wives (which includes a commentary track by Rutherford and Fayard Nicholas, along with a photo gallery) something of a collector's item. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: George Montgomery, Ann Rutherford, Glenn Miller, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Lynn Bari
  • Directors: Archie Mayo
  • Writers: Darrell Ware, James Prindle, Karl Tunberg
  • Producers: William Goetz, William LeBaron
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Black & White, Dubbed, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: November 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AP04LK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,046 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Orchestra Wives" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Glenn Miller made two films for 20th Century Fox during the early 1940s the first film was "Sun Valley Serenade," released in 1941, the second was "Orchestra Wives," released in 1942. Personally, I find "Orchestra Wives" the better of the two and am happy to know Fox will be releasing a DVD of this entertaining film.

When Glenn Miller signed on to have himself and his band appear in two films for Fox he insisted that the band play an integral part in the story. Up until this point bands had made brief appearances in feature films, usually in nightclub or dance hall scenes, but had never been fully worked into the storyline. "Orchestra Wives" fully integrates the Glenn Miller Band into the storyline with great success.

The story centers on the arrival of the Miller band into a small Midwest town. Ann Rutherford plays a naive, young woman obsessed with the orchestra's trumpet player played by George Montgomery. By chance Rutherford meets Montgomery and they fall instantly in love (that's how it happened in these old movies folks) and before too long they marry, thus throwing her among the pack of backbiting, backstabbing orchestra wives of the title. Lynn Bari plays a scheming vixen, also the band's principal girl singer, who already had designs on Montgomery. Bari plots to breakup the newlyweds in order to get her catty claws into Montgomery herself. So that's the basic plot. Although the story is kind of corny it's simply a vehicle for some great musical numbers by the Miller orchestra.

The songs in the film, mostly written by Fox's songwriting team of Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, became hits for Miller and most have gone on to become American standards.
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2 Comments 71 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on August 11, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This amazing musical from the early forties has more songs that became classics still heard today than "Meet Me in St. Louis." Glenn Miller and his merry troupe of musicians are the real stars. The story is forgettable but the music is what you really want. "People Like You and Me", "At Last," "Serenade in Blue" and the rousing "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo." Lynn Bari has a strange role: she's bitchy and cold but when she lip-synchs to her numbers, you love her. The knockout performer, who never even got a movie credit, was blonde, dynamic Marion Hutton, the sister of once great musical star, Betty Hutton. Marion captures your attention in her terrific rendition, along with the Modernaires, "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo." She looks fantastic in her black, sequined gown and matching hair piece. That's Dorothy Dandridge dancing with the Nicholas Brothers in their extended sequence of "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo." Marion made several movies during the forties, all musicals. If fate had been more favorable, she was the Hutton sister who should have achieved big-time stardom.
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This is one of my all-time favorite movies! I was raised on Rock & Roll and became a musician during the sixties, a part time occupation that I enjoy to this day. My favorite influences were Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane and Joni Mitchell. When I began, I knew nothing of the music that is featured in Orchestra Wives nor was I interested much. I've been a working musician for 35 years and have seen all the hardship that the business offers. This movie is THE MOST believable record of the highs and lows of playing music for a living that I've seen next to its closest runner up: Prince's 'Purple Rain'. The best line in the movie is when the horn player's girlfriend complains: 'Breakfast? Now? it's almost 2:00 pm!' The world of music performance has not changed AT ALL since this movie was made and I defy any young person to prove me wrong! It's the musicians' wives and girlfriends that put up with the trials of the biz just as much as the players do. The musicians cannot sustain themselves with their support. It's a very hard road if one chooses to perform music for a living. Also, you HAVE NOT LIVED until you've checked out the trumpet solo in 'At Last'!
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I LOVE this movie - makes me wish I had been born about 20 years earlier - when sexy women were still called "dames," and the styles of hair and dress were classy all the way. The music is the best of the best - this stuff really influenced the jazz of today - Ray Eberle's smooth vocals, the vocal jazz quartet - and lets not forget Tex Benneke (he's that hip cat playing the tenor sax and doing those cool vocals - God, my kingdom for a zoot suit!). The humor is priceless, and Glenn Miller actually could act. The final number, "Kalamazoo", makes ya wanna get out of your chair and find someone to jitterbug with. Get this movie and get out your saddle shoes :)
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By A Customer on January 15, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
A small town girl marries the trumpet player of a travelling swing band. A very popular film in its day, this movie is infinitely more enjoyable than the title - which sounds like a statistical classification - would suggest. The cast is fun if eclectic: George Montgomery, Carole Landis, Cesar Romero, Ann Rutherford, Lynn Bari, Jackie Gleason & the Nicholas Brothers! Numbers include the zany I'VE GOT A GAL IN KALAMAZOO. ORCHESTRA WIVES was the second and final film made by the famed band leader Glenn Miller who disbanded his civilian band in September of 1942 and entered the military. Miller's Army Air Force band was astonishingly modern for its day with a much more sophisticated sound with lush arrangements accompanied by strings and superlative solos from the best sidemen in the pop music business. Miller disappeared during his flight over the English Channel on December 15, 1944: the world mourned this most popular of all Big Band leaders of the fabled Swing Era.
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