20th Fox Lets It Snow
Sun Valley Serenade (1941) Is A Swing Vacation
|Fox Crew and Cameras On Location at Sun Valley|
The Sirius music service I subscribe to has a Christmas channel that each year uses It Happened In Sun Valley among holiday rotation. I never considered this a Yule song, but maybe it should be for celebration that is Sun Valley Serenade, my nominee for best of all black-and-white Fox musicals (favorite in color? The Gang's All Here). Unaccountably not on DVD, Sun Valley Serenade has gone wished-for and unfulfilled since a laser disc release that was 20th's last word till recent arrive of HD broadcasts on the FXM network, which look/sound great. Want the Glenn Miller songbook in toto? This one has nearly that. Fans of the sweet band King (wait, I should say Orchestra) must regard this a Holy Grail. Certainly the movie does, its camera pulled slowly back as His Reverence begins a first full-on number (and there's little wait, for it comes early). We can guess or look at history re Miller's popularity, living/listening in 1941 an only way to truly feel his impact. Fox put Glenn prominent on every poster and ad. He wasn't an actor, played not himself (instead, a character named "Phil Corey"), but Miller in background amounted to patron idea of foreground, him not needing to talk or emote to be in command. Demon publicist Milton Berle refers to theirs as "the sweetest band in the country," which Miller's group was, but who wants to know about sweet bands in 2016? Glenn Miller can be called, at least, the most fashionable of an unfashionable breed of vintage bands.
He'd came back big in 1954 with The Glenn Miller Story, so much so that Fox reissued both Sun Valley Serenade and Orchestra Wives (soon afterward came rock/roll to splinter music's audience). The Miller orchestra had continued after the war under leadership of Tex Beneke (some good CD's available), "ghost bands" US-touring through the 60's and (how far?) beyond. Dying out of the initial audience and celebration of "true" jazz pushed Miller into margins afterward, a 1985 revive of The Glenn Miller Story doomed to fail. Like all big bands, Miller's played heavily at movie housing, before and between flix, but his live act was confined to larger cities that could fill capacity, small bergs making do with screen work by him and the boys. Miller knew rubes bought records too, and had juke/radio access, so film appearance was a needed thing, whatever the better $ he could earn on roads or shellac sales. Sun Valley Serenade could cross-promote his latest 78's set, while Miller staff handed out Serenade flyers at all touring stops. This was synergy revved up for the good of all, no one with access to media failing to get word of Sun Valley Serenade. Personality helped a bandleader unless music was exceptional enough not to need it. Glenn was one that didn't need it, his being screen spoon bread mattering not the least. Glenn became Tyrone Power with lift of baton and making with the Miller sound.
|The Nicholas Brothers with Dorothy Dandridge|
|Back in Hollywood and Shooting a Sun Valley-Set Dance Number|
Movies always saw fun in folks busting their rear on skis, as snow was soft and one could plunge off abyss to no serious harm. Zanuck had sent a unit to capture winter wonder of