ORCHESTRA WIVES FOX STUDIO CLASSICS #35 Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2005 Film Length: 98 minutes Genre: Musical Drama Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.37:1 Colour/B&W: Colour Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo Subtitles: English Film Rating: G Release Date: November 01, 2005. Film Rating: / Starring: George Montgomery (Bill Abbot), Ann Rutherford (Connie Ward/Abbot), Glenn Miller (Gene Morrison), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (Gene Morrison’s Orchestra), Lynn Bari (Jaynie Stevens), Cesar Romero (St. John ‘Sinjin’ Smith) Directed by: Archi Mayo It's Hep! It's Hot! It's Hilarious! Orchestral Wives is an almost timeless picture telling the story of the wives whose husbands are in a band. Life on the road is hard and tiresome. Band members hate it and the wives begin to dislike the boringness of it by the day. The story is about Connie, a 20 year-old roadie of Gene Morrison’s Orchestra (played by the real-life Glenn Miller Orchestra). She falls in love with the sight of the band’s trumpet player Bill Abbot and before she knows it she’s married to him and becomes an orchestra wife on the road with the band. She learns a lot about her new husband and the people around her five weeks into her new life. The wives, who really are gossip queens about each other, sucker Connie into a trap so Bill’s past love can get another chance with him. This all leads to disaster within the band and friendships broken. It will take a miracle to get the band together again…or maybe just a bit of hard work This title features several hits of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and is played live on screen. The music is big band with a jazz flavour. The movie takes some time to get the story rolling since most of the beginning is basically the band playing different songs. I found it a little slow, but not because of the type of music because I do like it very much. Once the story got the movie moving it became more interesting to me. VIDEO QUALITY / Now that I’ve seen quite a few Studio Classics from Fox as well as the titles from the Film Noir series, I’m having more references to judge the image quality of each title that is released. The picture quality for Orchestra Wives is not bad at all. It’s not as resolute as some of the other Studio Classics we’ve seen or to the degree that a noir title like Panic in the Streets turned out. Still, given the quality we’ve seen from Fox, this is sure to be the best available copy to this date. The darkest parts of the picture aren’t always dark. There are some varying levels of black during the night scenes and details in those areas aren’t always refined. This is without doubt due to the available materials/original photography of this picture because there is little to complain about the DVD transfer. The compressing of this title is excellent because of the clean picture throughout. This film is softer than others I’ve seen but I’m not complaining much because film artefacts are kept to a minimum. The aspect ratio is 1.37:1 except for the title sequence…it appears with black area all around it; it’s more like 1.47:1 but the sides also have the same amount of black area (although most of you probably won’t see that because it’ll be covered up with overscan and I’m viewing with less than 1%). AUDIO QUALITY / The sound isn’t that bad despite getting a rating of 2.5 stars of five. It’s my attempt to curb my sometimes generous quality ratings for titles. There is more background noise than other titles and also voices and sounds tend to have a little distortion accompanying them. I recommend listening only to the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack even though a fake stereo version is available. The mono track, of course, is focussed and sounds better at all frequencies. The sound of the band is limited in fidelity. There isn’t much between the music soundtrack and the rest of the dialogue and effects. It’s fairly flat sounding. SPECIAL FEATURES / This DVD has a commentary with actors Fayard Nicholas and Ann Rutherford. It’s entertaining in the sense of being cute more than anything when listening to Nicholas and Rutherford talk about the people in the film, what they did at the time, their importance as well as experiences with them on the sets. While this was a long time ago, there is nothing better than listening to stories of those who experienced living in the day especially with the people in these films. I’m sure many of these memories were never documented until now. They are of things in history that we would never get to know from film historians until the stories are told. I’m glad this commentary was included for these reasons! You can also view the film’s theatrical trailer as well as a stills gallery of images from the set. There are about 50 of them. IN THE END… While I didn’t enjoy this entry in the Studio Classics series as much as other titles, this film is still a classic and like all films – worth preserving. The commentary including Rutherford is the gem on this disc, and the movie itself looks very clean. If you like the jazzy big-band music of the era especially ones from the Glenn Miller Orchestra, you are in for an orchestral treat. Michael Osadciw October 26, 2005.