Welcome to week two of Musical Month here at Film Fashion Friday! This week's pick comes from 1942 and stars Ann Rutherford and George Montgomery in Orchestra Wives. I just recently discovered this film and it has since become a fast favorite. If you are into 40s big band musical or are a fan of Glenn Miller, then this picture is for you!
Ann Rutherford stars as a hometown girl, Connie, that falls for Bill (Montgomery), the star trumpet player in one of the most popular bands. When the band travels to her town, Connie makes sure to make it to the show and ends up exchanging kisses with Bill. They then decide they should get married and there beings the real meat of the movie. Connie has a difficult time fitting in with the rest of the wives, making for a musical version of The Women (1939). All of this is inter-cut with the band numbers, all preformed by the Glenn Miller Band. At the conclusion of the film, you are also treated to a performance by the wonderfully talented Nicholas Brothers. If you haven't ever seen them dance, you are really missing out!
Earl Luick designed the costumes for this film and did a truly wonderful job capturing the everyday look of the early 1940s. The main female characters are dressed very much like we would have expected the middle class to have looked like. While their are some gowns, I feel that they are a bit tamer than one who expect a Hollywood starlet to wear to a premiere. I suspect that since this film was made in such a close time frame to the US's entrance into WWII that this could have effected the costuming slightly. Regardless, the main actress are stunning and a true inspiration for anyone looking to recreate a 40s look. And you can't forget the extras!! The extras are also worthy of looks during this film, especially at the big dance where we see a few swing dancers showing off their spectacular moves -- not to mention the great clothing, shoes, and hairstyles. I was really digging Ann Rutherford's hair throughout the entire film and may even try to recreate some of her signature looks in this role. I must say, Rutherford is quite adorable in this role and is definitely much more grown-up then her role as Carreen in Gown with the Wind (1939). Orchestra Wives is currently an instant on netflix and is available on DVD.
My recommendation for this week is Four Jills in a Jeep (1944), which is loosely based on Carole Landis' book of the same title. The book is based on Landis' experiences while touring Europe during WWII entering G.I.s. The book is really interesting and I haven't even made it through the whole thing yet! Four Jills doesn't just feature the four main girls, it also features Betty Grable, Alice Faye, and Carmen Miranda, all doing some kind of a performance. You definitely get a lot of bang for your viewing with this film. Some historians have noticed this as well and have noted that they feel this was 20th Century Fox's way of luring in a bigger audience because they felt the four main girls couldn't carry the film all on their own. While I see their point, I highly disagree. With the lovely Carole Landis singing, the stimulating dancing of Mitzi Mayfair, and the ever so witting comedy from Martha Raye, how could one not enjoy this film?
While Luick didn't have very long career in Hollywood, the costume designer of Four Jills did. Yvonne Wood worked in Hollywood for about forty years and Four Jills was only her second picture, although you wouldn't have ever known it. Wood also does an excellent job of presenting a realistic approach to dress in the 40s. It also helped that the girls were supposed to be on tour in Europe, so, naturally they didn't have their hair and make-up dressers at their disposal. Four Jills in on DVD and is also apart of the Alice Faye Collection Volume 2.
Look for week three's picks next Friday!