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"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 Allyson's roommates in the story, the on-screen orchestra has an unusual proportion of females, among them the dumb blonde Marie Wilson ("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 »
Music that covers every genre of the time and a wonderful performance by June Allyson as the expectant war bride who works playing a bass fiddle for Jose Iturbi's orchestra are the main hallmarks of Music For Millions. Of course the big name in the cast for the time is little Margaret O'Brien who was winning hearts all over the USA during the World War II years.
There were numerous films during those years that covered women doing all kinds of work in occupations for men. Why would playing in a symphony orchestra be different. Jose Iturbi is hemorrhaging male musicians in his orchestra to the draft and his ensemble was starting to look like Phil Spitalny's band.
One fine evening Allyson's little sister Margaret O'Brien comes to town and interrupts a concert at Carnegie Hall. Iturbi and orchestra manager Jimmy Durante are put out, but the women in the orchestra really take to O'Brien the way America did. Even Iturbi and Durante come around and Margaret becomes a kind of mascot.
A real crisis erupts when a War Department letter arrives for Allyson, but she doesn't get it courtesy of her fellow musicians. June is pregnant now and the women figure no news is good news until she has the baby. One of June Allyson's best acted scenes is with Iturbi where she confesses how frightened she is not knowing and hoping for the best for her husband out in the Pacific.
Iturbi does some classical music and appropriately the film ends with Handel's Hallelujah Chorus and why appropriate you watch the film for. And Jimmy Durante is his own comic self and his rendition of Umbriago is a film highlight.
Women certainly play in orchestras now. I live around the corner from the Kleinhans Symphony in Buffalo and I see many a female musician parking their cars and carrying their instruments to the hall. And we have a female conductor named Joann Falletta. This review is dedicated to her.
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