AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Orchestra Wives
Director: Archie Mayo (Dir)
Release Date:   4 Sep 1942
Production Date:   6 Apr--17 Apr; 22 Apr--early Jun 1941
Duration (in mins):   97
Duration (in feet):   8,784
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   George Montgomery (Bill Abbott)  
    Ann Rutherford (Connie Ward Abbott)  
  with Glenn Miller (Gene Morrison) and His Band
    Lynn Bari (Jaynie Stevens)  
    Carole Landis (Natalie Mercer)  
    Cesar Romero (St. John "Sinjin" Smith)  
    Virginia Gilmore (Elsie)  
    Mary Beth Hughes (Caroline Steele)  
    Nicholas Brothers (Specialty dancers)  
    Tamara Geva (Mrs. Beck)  
    Frank Orth (Rex Willet)  
    Tex Beneke (Phil Mercer)  
    Moe Purtill (Buddy Steele)  
    Ray Eberle (Himself)  
    Marion Hutton (Singer)  
    The Modernaires (Singers)  
    Grant Mitchell (Dr. Ward)  
    Henry ["Harry"] Morgan (Cully Anderson)  
    Jackie Gleason (Ben Beck)  
    Edith Evanson (Hilda)  
    Alec Craig (Henry Fink)  
    Kay Linaker (Margie)  
    Olin Howlin (Attendant)  
    Arthur Loft (Recording official)  
    William Newell (Clerk)  
    Tom Dugan (Bus driver)  
    Iris Adrian (Woman in bus station)  
    George Durgom (Bullets)  
    Trudy Marshall (Irene)  
    Dale Evans (Hazel)  
    Jane Goude (Hostess)  
    Henry Roquemore (Fat man)  
    Dick Rush (Conductor)  
    Nick Cochrane (Musician)  
    Dick Winslow (Musician)  
    Lillian Porter (Cigarette girl)  
    Robert Emmett Keane (Headwaiter)  
    Bill Cartledge (Bellhop)  
    Kenneth Howell (Boy)  
    Dick Hogan    

Summary: The musicians of Gene Morrison's popular swing band are dismayed to learn that they are about to go on tour, as the rigors of their last tour almost destroyed several marriages. The only unconcerned members are trumpet player Bill Abbott, who believes that marriage is for fools, and his womanizing friend, pianist St. John "Sinjin" Smith. Meanwhile, small-town girl Connie Ward accepts the invitation of soda clerk Cully Anderson to see Gene's band. Connie is thrilled by the concert, especially when she meets Bill, who is her idol. Bill is moved by Connie's beauty and naïveté, and is excited to steal a kiss from her. He invites her to see him the next night in another town, and Connie's understanding father, Dr. Ward, allows her to go. As Connie cannot enter the dance hall without an escort, she waits outside until the show is over. Bill finds her, and the pair, suddenly finding themselves in love and unable to part, marry that night. The next day, Connie and Bill join the band on a train bound for the next tour stop. Some of the other "orchestra wives," Natalie Mercer, Caroline Steele and Elsie, are bored with the constant travel and look upon the innocent Connie as a welcome distraction. They also are curious about how band singer Jaynie Stevens, who had been Bill's girl friend, will react to his marriage. As five weeks pass, Bill and Connie's love grows, but Connie becomes unsettled by the blur of hotel rooms and different towns. She also tires of the other wives, who have nothing better to do than flirt with one another's husbands and tell tales about it. One evening, the wives remain in Des Moines while the band plays in nearby Iowa City, and Natalie reveals to Connie that Bill and Jaynie used to be romantically involved. Distraught, Connie takes a bus to Iowa City, but before she arrives, Natalie calls Jaynie and tells her that the young bride is coming. Jaynie arranges for Bill to be in her hotel room when Connie arrives, and Connie assumes the worst despite Bill's protestations. The next day, Connie pleads with Bill to forget what happened, but he is still angry that she checked up on him. When Connie learns that Natalie set her up, she angrily repeats the gossip about Natalie and Caroline flirting with each other's husbands, Phil and Buddy. Natalie and Caroline then force their husbands to quit the band, and Bill quits also when Gene orders him to keep Connie quiet. After another fight, Bill and Connie decide to end their marriage, and Connie returns to her home town. She is miserable without Bill, however, and with Sinjin's help, decides to reunite the band. She and Sinjin send out telegrams telling the members to meet, and bring about a reconciliation between Natalie and Caroline. The band members agree to open a new casino, which Connie attends with her father. When Gene tells Bill to steer clear of Connie, Sinjin reveals her part in the band's reunion, and a grateful Bill demands that Connie return to him. Connie enjoys the show, then kisses her husband as she dances with him. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Archie Mayo (Dir)
  John Brahm (Dir)
  Bernard Carr (Asst dir)
Producer: William Goetz (Exec prod)
  William LeBaron (Prod)
Writer: Karl Tunberg (Scr)
  Darrell Ware (Scr)
  James Prindle (Orig story)
Photography: Lucien Ballard (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Richard Day (Art dir)
  Joseph C. Wright (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert Bischoff (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
Costumes: Earl Luick (Cost)
Music: Alfred Newman (Mus dir)
Sound: Fred Lau (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Dance: Nick Castle (Nicholas Brothers dances staged by)
Make Up: Guy Pearce (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Harry Brand (Pub dir)
  William Koenig (Prod mgr)
Stand In: Pat Friday (Singing voice double for Lynn Bari)
  Steve Lipkin (Trumpet double for George Montgomery)
  Chummy MacGregor (Piano double for Cesar Romero)
  Don Goldberg (Bass fiddle double for Jackie Gleason)
Country: United States

Music: "Moonlight Serenade," music by Glenn Miller; "Chattanooga Choo Choo," music by Harry Warren; "Boom Shot" by Glenn Miller and William May; "American Patrol" by F. W. Meacham; "Bugle Call Rag" by Jack Pettis, Billy Meyers and Elmer Schoebel.
Songs: "Serenade in Blue," "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," "People Like You and Me" and "At Last," music and lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren.
Composer: Mack Gordon
  William May
  F. W. Meacham
  Billy Meyers
  Glenn Miller
  Jack Pettis
  Elmer Schoebel
  Harry Warren
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 4/9/1942 dd/mm/yyyy LP11643

PCA NO: 8418
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Musical
Sub-Genre: Show business
 
Subjects (Major): Band leaders
  Gossip
  Marriage
  Music fans
  Musicians
  Wives
 
Subjects (Minor): Concerts
  Cynics
  Dancing
  Fathers and daughters
  Flirts
  Frame-ups
  Hotels
  Jealousy
  Singers
  Slang
  Small town life
  Soda jerks
  Trains
  Vacuum cleaners
  Womanizers

Note: The working title of this film was Orchestra Wife . A 19 Feb 1942 LAEx news item reported that Gregory Ratoff had been set to direct the picture, although HR announced the next day that John Brahm would be the director. According to HR news items, John Brahm began direction of the picture but was replaced by Archie Mayo on 21 Apr 1942. A studio press release noted that Brahm was replaced due to illness. Other HR news items noted that first Maureen O'Hara and then Linda Darnell had been cast in the picture. Contracts in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, disclose that Harry Davenport was originally signed to play "Dr. Ward." Although a publicity item included Roseanne Murray in the cast, her appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed.
       Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that an early draft of the film's screenplay was rejected by the PCA because it implied that some of the characters had committed adultery. After PCA officials met with producer William LeBaron in mid-Jun 1942, the story was approved on the condition that there would be no adultery depicted.
       According to studio publicity and Down Beat , actors George Montgomery, Cesar Romero and Jackie Gleason were coached and dubbed by trumpeter Steve Lipkin, pianist Chummy MacGregor and bass fiddler Doc Goldberg, their real-life counterparts in Glenn Miller's band. An 8 Jul 1942 Var news item reported that the song "At Last," composed by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, had originally been recorded by Miller and his orchestra for the 1941 Twentieth Century-Fox film Sun Valley Serenade (see below). Studio records indicate that the Gordon and Warren song "That's Sabotage" was recorded for Orchestra Wives and was included on the soundtrack album, even though it does not appear in the completed picture. Instrumental versions of "You Say the Nicest Things, Baby" and "The Darktown Strutters' Ball" were also to have been recorded for the film, but were cut, according to the legal file. Gordon and Warren received an Academy Award nomination for their song "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," but lost to Irving Berlin, the composer of "White Christmas." In 1943, a lawsuit filed against Gordon and Warren by Ira B. Arnstein, who claimed that they plagiarized his composition "Kalamazoo," was dismissed, but the disposition of Arnstein's companion suit against Twentieth Century-Fox and its music publisher is not known.
       The film marked the screen debut of Dale Evans. Studio publicity reveals that George Durgom, who plays "Bullets" in the film, was Tommy Dorsey's press agent. In 1948, Twentieth Century-Fox produced You Were Meant for Me (see below), which was a partial, uncredited remake of this picture.
       Orchestra Wives was the second and final film made by famed band leader Glenn Miller, who, in Sep 1942, disbanded his orchestra in order to enter the military. During a 1944 tour entertaining the troops in England, Miller boarded a Paris-bound plane in England, but during the flight, the plane disappeared and Miller was declared missing. In 1985, it was reported that Miller's plane had accidentally been destroyed over the English channel by a British bomber that was unloading its bombs before returning from an uncompleted mission. After his death, Miller's orchestra was led at various times by band members Tex Beneke, Ray McKinley and others. In 1954, Universal Pictures released the biographical film The Glenn Miller Story , in which James Stewart portrayed the popular band leader. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   15 Aug 1942.   
Daily Variety   11 Aug 42   p. 3, 8
Daily Variety   6 May 43   p. 6.
Down Beat   1 Oct 42   p. 6.
Film Daily   11 Aug 42   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Feb 42   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Feb 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Mar 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Apr 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Apr 42   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Apr 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   29 May 42   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jun 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Jun 42   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Aug 42   , 15564
Los Angeles Examiner   19 Feb 1942.   
Motion Picture Daily   11 Aug 1942.   
Motion Picture Herald   26 Sep 1942.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   15 Aug 42   p. 838.
New York Times   24 Sep 42   p. 23.
Variety   8 Jul 1942.   
Variety   12 Aug 42   p. 8.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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