Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It happend in Sun Valley (and probably in Burbank)

For my first movie review on this blog I have selected the 1941 film Sun Valley Serenade, which I watched earlier this evening. As a fan of the Glenn Miller Orchestra I have been meaning to see this film for some time. I regret that back in the winter of 99' I was unable to make the trip up to Sun Valley for a showing of the film with some of the surviving members of Millers orchestra, that would have been a neat experince.

In watching this film it seems to me as if the whole movie were constructed by the studio in a despereate attempt to do something with various players they'd signed but had no idea how to use. The Nicholas brothers are here doing a dance number with a young Dorothy Dandridge (Note: I got to meet Fayard Nicholas in Burbank this last summer at the age of 90!). A pre-television Milton Berle does a fine job in a role that would have gone to Bob Hope if the film had been made at Paramount rather then Fox. Finally Glenn Miller himself comes off as a particularly stiff version of George Reeves in his Clark Kent persona.

The plot is typical of a programer of this sort, a light romance full of misunderstandigs and songs. John Payne is the lead playing Ted Scott a piano player with a little known band that's headed by Miller and managed by Berle. As part of a publicity stunt for the band Ted is talked into sponsoring a refuge from Europe. But craziness ensues when instead of the young tike he expected, Scott is saddled with the responsibility for 29 year Sonja Henie (in the film she's a refugee from Norway named Karen Benson). This situation of course leads to conflict with Vivan Dawn (Lynn Bari) the irritable lead singer Scott's been courting. So when Vivan gets so irritated that she splits just before the opening of the bands Sun Valley gig, it is very helpful that the group now has an Olympic quality figure skater on hand to take her place in the show. Yes I gave away the ending but you don't watch movies like this for plot. Anyway the flicks a harmless little distraction valuable mainly for its unusual cast and well choreographed musical numbers.


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