DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Orchestra Wives

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Oct 26, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    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

    [​IMG] [​IMG]







    Release Date: November 01, 2005.


    Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    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.


    [​IMG]VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    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%).


    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    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.


    [​IMG]SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    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.
     
  2. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    michael, I and Bart Pierce of Fox mixed a true stereo track for this film where all of the songs and musical numbers were in true two channel stereo - not fake - are they not used here? I was told they would be used.
     
  3. Ken Koc

    Ken Koc Screenwriter

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    Was there anything indicating what is next up for Studio Classics?
     
  4. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Joe

    When listening to the stereo soundtrack sitting between my speakers (each speaker 30 degrees off center with appropriate toe-in and an eight foot spread btw L/R channels and with me sitting directly in the middle 8 feet from the speakers), it doesn't sound like 2-channel stereo; it sounds like that fake-stereo diffused soundstage with both dialogue, effects, and music coming from all accross the soundstage.

    There are no hard left-right sounds nor is there any positioning of instruments/voices specifically within the L-R channels. It's all scattered everywhere.

    Just to make sure, I decoded this with Pro-Logic II and all instruments, voices, etc were coming out of all five channels. There should have been some focus somewhere...

    Like other titles that have this diffused soundstage, the audio leans to the left slightly too.

    Based on these observations, I'm assuming your "true stereo" audio version was not used. That's a shame. [​IMG]

    Mike
     
  5. Dave Jessup

    Dave Jessup Stunt Coordinator

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    Picked this up yesterday and ran a quick check on certain sections of the film. I heard some original-production overdubs that were not present in the VHS release, and that's good news. Heard those on both tracks ("stereo" and mono). Have to listen closer when time allows, for both options sounded identical on this casual audition. Memory may play me false, but in a couple instances it seems the main vocals were mixed a little too low; the backing was almost overwhelming Ray, Tex, Marion, and the Modernaires.

    Look forward to checking the commentaries.

    Because my wife asked, I'll note something mentioned in the review above: the music was prerecorded on the soundstage, then the band mimed to the prerecords for filming. That was standard practice.

    The recordings are fabulous; as often said, the best-quality recordings of that original band (where the medium was 35mm optical soundtracks instead of wax/shellac 78rpm discs for RCA/Bluebird's commercial recordings). Only a few of the soundtrack album releases reflect that; as time went by many of those releases were marred by added reverb, fake stereo effects, and edits to the material. (RCA's 10-inch LPs {1954} from the soundtracks reflect the quality best, later pressings and those from 20th-Fox records show the defects I mentioned.)
     
  6. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

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    Now where's SUN VALLEY SERENADE for Glenn Miller completists? For that matter, there's no representation of Sonja Henie on dvd!!! SUN VALLEY SERENADE also includes Milton Berle, John Payne, Joan Davis, Lynn Bari, Dorothy Dandredge, and the Nicholas Brothers (whose KID MILLIONS was cancelled by DVDEmpire.)
     
  7. Patrick Picking

    Patrick Picking Auditioning

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    After I watched this film with the commentary track I called Ann Rutherford, and told her I loved watching the film with her talking. She said she didn't like doing the commentary track, and didn't know what to say. After all it was 63 years ago, and what does one remember about working on something for a few weeks after all that time? She said she wouldn't do another commentary track. I told her I wanted her to do a commentary track for every film, and she said "NOOOOOO!!"

    --
    Patrick
    http://www.picking.com/ann-rutherford.html
     
  8. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    I seem to recall the Laserdisc not only being in true Stereo but also having a seperate Music and Effects Track as well.

    The Laserdisc featured both Orchestra Wives and Sun Valley Serenade as a 2 Disc set.
    Why couldn't the new DVD offer the same?
     
  9. Rabari

    Rabari Auditioning

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    True stereo was only experimental in the early 40's. However, the musical numbers in Orchestra Wives were recorded multi-mike on separate optical 35 mm film strips. From these you can mix a ”sort-of” stereo soundrtrack, which certainly is much better than any pseudo-stereo filtering or the mono soundtracks of the day.These recordings are some of the absolute best ever to be made of the Glenn Miller orchestra, and as such the DVD's are absolute gems.

    I am a bit surprised that the reviewer didn't know about this fact before dismissing the soundtrack as ”fake” and ”diffused”.

    Update 2011: Seems the PAL version I got differs from the disc reviewed here - there is no commentary track and no separate mono or stereo tracks. The sound opens up big time during the musical numbers, however there is limited stereo separation (as would be expected from multi-mike). This makes me think I have the tracks which originally were on the LaserDisc versions. It may very well be that the NTSC-version reviewed here contains artificial stereo.

    Cheers,
    Rabbe
     

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