Orchestra Wives Film Details
Overview: Connie Ward is in seventh heaven when Gene Morrison’s band rolls into town. She is swept off her feet by trumpeter Bill Abbot. After marrying him, she joins the bands tour and learns about …
Tagline: It’s Hep! It’s Hot! It’s Hilarious!
Review: This movie combines the excellent Big Band music of Glenn Miller and his Orchestra with a plot straight out of “Desperate Housewives.” One hopes that Glenn Miller and the members of his orchestra didn’t have these kinds of problems with their wives in real life when they went on tour. The story: Connie Ward (Ann Rutherford) a naive, small-town girl, falls in love with Bill Abbott (George Montgomery), a trumpet player with The Gene Morrison Band, after hearing his trumpet-playing on a jukebox record. When the band plays a dance at a local park, Connie goes to see them, and is entranced by Bill Abbott’s trumpet playing. After the dance, Connie meets Abbott behind the bandstand. Abbott is a self-described “big bad trumpet player.” Without bothering to even read her the Miranda Rights, he instantly drags Connie into a nearby car and tries to make out with her. Never mind that it’s *not even his car!* It belongs to somebody else! When the car’s real owner shows up and says, “Hey, what are you doing in my car?”, Abbott nearly punches him out! He’s such a world-class a–hole you wonder why Connie doesn’t kick him in the groin and leave. But the very next night, they are married. Abbott proposes to Connie, mostly out of lust, when she is about to get on a bus to go home. He doesn’t even know her name when he proposes to her. It’s a mystery why Connie accepts. Connie joins the band’s coast-to-coast tour, traveling from town to town on trains with Abbott and Gene Morrison’s orchestra. But she soon discovers that the wives of the band members, who are traveling with the band, are a catty bunch who are constantly chasing each others’ husbands and gossiping behind each others’ backs. The band’s female singer, Jaynie Stevens (Lynn Bari), still has a jones for Bill Abbott, and tries to seduce him away from Connie. The whole plot is ridiculous. And it becomes even more ridiculous when the intrigues of the orchestra wives threaten to break up the band. Connie has to pull a few tricks to get the band back together again. The movie is worth having on DVD for several reasons. First, there are the extraordinary Big Band numbers by Glenn Miller’s Orchestra, which was *the* greatest Big Band of all time! Backed up by some great camera work by Lucien Ballard, the band blows its way through those big brash brassy numbers that rock the house! The band members don’t just “play” the music. They “perform” like seasoned veterans, with precision and panache. The Big Band numbers are almost like highly-choreographed Busby Berkeley dance numbers. Miller and his trombone players use their bowler hats as trombone mutes, and flip them on and off their heads with Chaplin-like finesse. The trumpet players stand at attention and, like buglers in the King’s Court, raise their horns and play their hearts out. The sax players swing their saxes together as they play, like dancers in a chorus line. And master drummer Moe Purtill gives a brilliant staccato drum solo that is as good as anything Buddy Rich or Keith Moon ever did. There are some great songs, including short versions of Miller classics like “In the Mood” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” and new songs like “I Got A Gal In Kalamazoo,” “Serenade In Blue,” and the perennial favorite, “At Last,” which was introduced in this movie. (Miller, by the way, is no Jimmy Stewart, but does a fairly good acting turn as band leader Gene Morrison.) There are some good early-career performances. Cesar Romero appears as the band’s piano player, who can’t walk past a girl without propositioning her. Jackie Gleason appears as the band’s bass player, whose wife insists on bringing her new vacuum cleaner with them on the tour. (Amazingly, Gleason and his wife seem to have the sanest marriage in the movie.) And Harry Morgan, later of “M*A*S*H” appears as a jerk of a soda jerk. The movie closes with an amazing dance number by the slip-sliding, high-flying Nicholas Brothers. And there’s a funny scene between the orchestra wives, where Connie turns the tables and exposes their secrets to each other (i.e. who is running around with whose husband behind whose back). This leads to a hilarious “Crystal vs. Alexis”-style free-for-all between two of the wives. But mostly, this movie belongs to the band. The great musical numbers by Glenn Miller’s band still have their power and sweet sound after sixty years. And it is a joy to see the band in action, recorded for all time, in “Orchestra Wives.” P.S. The DVD includes a commentary track by Ann Rutherford and Fayard Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers, in which they reminisce together about making the movie, and about their days in vaudeville, radio, and the Golden Age of Hollywood. It’s such a wonderful and intimate commentary track. You can almost picture the two of them sitting together in the screening room, holding hands as they recorded it.
Duration: 98 min
Genre: Drama, Musical, Romance
Also known as: Orchestra Wives,Viudas del jazz,Жены оркестрантов,Kalamazoo,Vaarallisia vaimoja kiertueella,På tourné med Glenn Miller,Getrouwd met de band,Las viudas del jazz,オーケストラの妻たち,Orkesterfruar,Kalamazou,Serenata Azul,Voglio essere più amata,Mulheres e Música