"Mike" goes to live with her pregnant older sister, Babs, who plays string bass in Iturbi's orchestra. And the orchestra is rapidly turning completely female, what with the draft. As the orchestra travels around the country, Babs' fellow orchestra members intercept and hide her War Office telegram, to protect the baby. Written by
During the Second World War when this film was made on the MGM lot in 1944, other than harpists there were very few women in major world symphony orchestras. In order to justify the cast of women instrumentalists who are June Alyson's roommates in the story, the on-screen orchestra has an unusual proportion of females, among them the dumb blonde Marie Windsor ("My Friend Irma") on classical clarinet! Even today when there are numerous women in all major orchestras, it is still unusual to see as many women in the brass section as those who are pictured in this film. See more »
You'd think that any movie with June Allyson and Margaret O'Brien, Hollywood's two most famous "town criers," would be miserable, but "Music for Millions" is wonderful. Yes, there are tears. But with Jimmy Durante, there's also plenty to laugh about...and with Jose Iturbi there is plenty to sing about, although of course Iturbi plays, and doesn't sing.
Iturbi is the conductor of an orchestra whose male members are being swallowed into the war effort (by the end of the movie, there's only one man left in the orchestra besides Iturbi). Allyson is a bassist (NOT a cellist) who is pining away for her husband, missing in action in the Pacific. O'Brien is Allyson's baby sister "Mike," an eternal optimist and fiercely loyal to her sister. Durante is the manager, a frustrated musician himself and saddled with always making plans for things that you just can't make plans for.
Really, the star of the movie is the music itself, and it's some of the best you'll hear. Iturbi's "Clair de Lune" alone is enough to bring tears, and the first movement of Grieg's piano concerto--most of which we get to hear, when O'Brien isn't interrupting--is majestic. Durante has two numbers of his own, both hilarious reminders of why he was so well-liked.
I figure I'm pretty cynical, but even I was smiling through tears at the end. This is a terrific movie.
By the way, if you're interested in Jose Iturbi, please visit my new website, www.manyfountains.com to learn more about this great pianist and conductor.
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