Orchestra Wives

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Orchestra Wives
Orchestra Wives 1942 poster.jpg
1942 Theatrical poster
Directed by Archie Mayo
Produced byWilliam LeBaron
Screenplay by Karl Tunberg
Darrell Ware
Story byJames Prindle
Starring George Montgomery
Ann Rutherford
Lynn Bari
Cesar Romero
Marion Hutton
Music by Alfred Newman
Harry Warren
Mack Gordon
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by Robert Bischoff
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
Release date
  • September 4, 1942 (1942-09-04)
Running time
98 minutes
Box office$1.3 million (US rentals) [1]

Orchestra Wives is a 1942 American musical film by 20th Century Fox starring Ann Rutherford, George Montgomery, and Glenn Miller. The film was the second (and last) film to feature The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and is notable among the many swing era musicals because its plot is more serious and realistic than the insubstantial storylines that were typical of the genre. The movie was re-released in 1954 by 20th Century Fox to tie-in with the biopic The Glenn Miller Story .



Connie Ward (Ann Rutherford) is a young woman who on the spur of the moment marries Bill Abbott (George Montgomery), a trumpet player in Gene Morrison's (Glenn Miller) swing band (Miller's character was given a name with initials that matched Miller's so that the band could use their monogrammed stainless-steel music stands). She soon finds herself at odds with the cattiness and petty jealousies of the other band members' spouses, as they accompany their husbands on their cross-country train tour. Her discomfort is exacerbated by a flirtation between Abbott and Jaynie (Lynn Bari), the band's female vocalist. When Ward eventually walks out on Abbott, their split releases so many other tensions among the musicians and their wives, that leader Morrison is forced to break up the orchestra. Ward and the band's pianist Sinjin (Cesar Romero) then work behind the scenes to reunite the band, which also produces a reconciliation between Ward and Abbott (with additional help from Connie's father (Grant Mitchell).

Montgomery's trumpet playing on the soundtrack was performed by Johnny Best, Glenn Miller's lead trumpet player.


Orchestra Wives features a treasure trove of songs by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, the same team responsible for the hits featured in Miller's first film Sun Valley Serenade (1941). [2] 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 folksy vocal and some gutsy tenor sax work by Tex Beneke, backup singing by Marion Hutton with the Modernaires, and a gravity-defying dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers. [3] This was nominated as Best Music, Original Song in Academy Awards: Harry Warren (music), Mack Gordon (lyrics). [3]

Other songs include the period piece "People Like You and Me", a breakneck performance of "Bugle Call Rag" and the classic romantic ballads "At Last" (originally intended for Sun Valley Serenade) and "Serenade in Blue". [4] The film score uses "At Last" as a musical motif laced throughout the movie in dramatic and romantic scenes. "That's Sabotage" was also written for the movie but was cut from the film. The song was, however, released as a 78 single by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, and the unused soundtrack recording was featured on various LP compilations of Miller's soundtracks.

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, appears, first on the jukebox in the soda shop, then later when Ann Rutherford and Harry Morgan are shown dancing, but is uncredited on the soundtrack and film credits.

Cast listing

Ann Rutherford Connie Ward / Connie Abbott
George Montgomery Bill Abbott
Glenn Miller Gene Morrison
Lynn Bari Jaynie
Carole Landis Natalie
Cesar Romero Sinjin
Virginia Gilmore Elsie
Glenn Miller Orchestra Gene Morrison Orchestra
The Modernaires Themselves
The Nicholas Brothers Themselves
Ray Eberle Himself
Bobby Hackett Himself

Uncredited performances

Three future stars have uncredited appearances: Jackie Gleason portrays 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), and Dale Evans plays Ann Rutherford's friend Hazel. [5] Pat Friday dubbed Lynn Bari's singing, as she had done in Sun Valley Serenade. George Montgomery's on-screen trumpet playing was actually performed on the soundtrack by Miller sideman Johnny Best. Glenn Miller Orchestra pianist Chummy MacGregor dubbed Cesar Romero's playing.

Harry Morgan would co-star in the film The Glenn Miller Story in 1953, portraying MacGregor.

Award nominations

Academy Awards

Production notes

A brief clip of The Nicholas Brothers performing "Kalamazoo" appears on a monitor in the 2019 film Ad Astra .

See also

Related Research Articles

1942 in music Overview of the events of 1942 in music

This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1942.

Harry Warren American composer and lyricist (1893–1981)

Harry Warren was an American composer and lyricist. Warren was the first major American songwriter to write primarily for film. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song eleven times and won three Oscars for composing "Lullaby of Broadway", "You'll Never Know" and "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe". He wrote the music for the first blockbuster film musical, 42nd Street, choreographed by Busby Berkeley, with whom he would collaborate on many musical films.

Chattanooga Choo Choo Original song composed by Harry Warren with lyrics by Mack Gordon; from the 1941 film “Sun Valley Serenade”

"Chattanooga Choo Choo" is a 1941 song written by Mack Gordon and composed by Harry Warren. It was originally recorded as a big band/swing tune by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra and featured in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade. It was the first song to receive a gold record, presented by RCA Victor in 1942, for sales of 1.2 million copies.

Glenn Miller Orchestra

Glenn Miller and His Orchestra was an American swing dance band formed by Glenn Miller in 1938. Arranged around a clarinet and tenor saxophone playing melody, and three other saxophones playing harmony, the band became the most popular and commercially successful dance orchestra of the swing era and one of the greatest singles charting acts of the 20th century.

Mack Gordon was an American composer and lyricist for the stage and film. He was nominated for the best original song Oscar nine times in 11 years, including five consecutive years between 1940 and 1944, and won the award once, for "You'll Never Know". That song has proved among his most enduring, and remains popular in films and television commercials to this day. "At Last" is another of his best-known songs.

<i>The Glenn Miller Story</i> 1954 film by Anthony Mann

The Glenn Miller Story is a 1954 American biographical film about the eponymous American band-leader, directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart in their second non-western collaboration.

Tex Beneke

Gordon Lee "Tex" Beneke was an American saxophonist, singer, and bandleader. His career is a history of associations with bandleader Glenn Miller and former musicians and singers who worked with Miller. His band is also associated with the careers of Eydie Gormé, Henry Mancini and Ronnie Deauville. Beneke also solos on the recording the Glenn Miller Orchestra made of their popular song "In The Mood" and sings on another popular Glenn Miller recording, "Chattanooga Choo Choo". Jazz critic Will Friedwald considers Beneke to be one of the major blues singers who sang with the big bands of the early 1940s.

It Happened in Sun Valley

"It Happened in Sun Valley" is a 1941 song composed by Harry Warren, with lyrics by Mack Gordon. It was recorded and featured by Glenn Miller and his orchestra in the movie Sun Valley Serenade.

Chummy MacGregor

John Chalmers MacGregor, better known as Chummy MacGregor, a musician and composer, was the pianist in The Glenn Miller Orchestra from 1936 to 1942. He composed the songs "Moon Dreams", "It Must Be Jelly ", "I Sustain the Wings", "Doin' the Jive", "Sold American", "Cutesie Pie" in 1932 with Bing Crosby and Red Standex, and "Slumber Song".

At Last Song popularized by Etta James

"At Last" is a song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film Sun Valley Serenade (1941). Glenn Miller and his orchestra recorded the tune several times, with a 1942 version reaching number two on the US Billboard pop music chart.

<i>Sun Valley Serenade</i> 1941 film by H. Bruce Humberstone

Sun Valley Serenade is a 1941 musical film directed by H. Bruce Humberstone and starring Sonja Henie, John Payne, Glenn Miller, Milton Berle, and Lynn Bari. It features the Glenn Miller Orchestra as well as dancing by the Nicholas Brothers. It also features Dorothy Dandridge, performing "Chattanooga Choo Choo", which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1996, and was awarded the first Gold Record for sales of 1.2 million.

Serenade in Blue

"Serenade in Blue" is a 1942 Big Band song composed by Harry Warren, with lyrics written by Mack Gordon. It was introduced in the 1942 film Orchestra Wives by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, sung by Lynn Bari in the film but dubbed by Pat Friday.

(Ive Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo

"(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo" is a #1 popular song recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in 1942. It was written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren and published in 1942. It was featured in the musical film Orchestra Wives and was recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, featuring Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton and The Modernaires, who released it as an A side 78 in 1942, 27934-A. The B side was "At Last".

Glenn Miller discography

Between 1938 and 1944, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra released 266 singles on the monaural ten-inch shellac 78 rpm format. Their studio output comprised a variety of musical styles inside of the Swing genre, including ballads, band chants, dance instrumentals, novelty tracks, songs adapted from motion pictures, and, as the Second World War approached, patriotic music.

Boom Shot

Boom Shot is a 1942 song composed by Glenn Miller and Billy May for the 20th Century Fox movie Orchestra Wives starring George Montgomery and Ann Rutherford.

A String of Pearls (song)

"A String of Pearls" is a 1941 song composed by Jerry Gray with lyrics by Eddie DeLange. It was notably recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra on RCA Bluebird that November, becoming a #1 hit. The song is a big band and jazz standard.

I Know Why (And So Do You)

"I Know Why " is a 1941 song by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. The song appeared in the 20th Century Fox movie Sun Valley Serenade. The song was also released as an RCA Bluebird 78 single.

<i>In the Mood</i> (album) 1966 studio album by Chet Baker and the Mariachi Brass

In the Mood is a studio album by jazz trumpeter Chet Baker and the Mariachi Brass recorded in 1966 and released on the World Pacific label.

<i>Pure Gold</i> (Glenn Miller album) 1975 compilation album by Glenn Miller

Pure Gold is a 1975 compilation album of 10 studio recordings by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra recorded between 1939 and 1942 by RCA Victor. The recordings were all originally issued as 78 RPM records on the RCA Bluebird and Victor labels and was certified Gold by the RIAA. The album was originally issued in reprocessed (fake) stereo sound; in 1988, RCA remastered the album for reissue on compact disc in original monophonic sound.


  1. "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
  2. Clarke, Donald. "The Rise and Fall of Popular Music" . Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  3. 1 2 Miller, Glenn (1943). "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" (video). Orchestra Wives. YouTube . Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  4. Classic Movie Musicals, Orchestra Wives Archived 2012-03-06 at the Wayback Machine
  5. IMDb credits, Orchestra Wives