‘SUN VALLEY SERENADE’
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Welcome to Sun Valley
(sings) “It Happened…in Sun Valley…not so very…long ago….”
‘Sun Valley Serenade’ is one of two films featuring Glenn Miller and his Orchestra! My Dad showed me these films when I was a kid. I loved seeing both ‘Sun Valley Serenade’ and ‘Orchestra Wives’ with Glenn Miller in them, as I was getting into his music and enjoying some of the songs and tunes.
Out of the two films, ‘Sun Valley Serenade’ is my favourite! It’s the most light-hearted romantic comedy film and it contains some of my favourite musical numbers from Glenn Miller’s orchestra. These include ‘In the Mood’, ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’, ‘I Know Why’ and ‘It Happened in Sun Valley’.
The film stars Sonja Henie, John Payne, Milton Berle and Lynn Bari with Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. This is definitely a film to relax to when you’re feeling downhearted and need your spirits lifted. It is also a good film to watch at Christmas time, due to snowy landscapes, skiing and ice skating featured in it.
The original Glenn Miller films were made during the 1940s with ‘Sun Valley Serenade’ made in 1941. This was before Glenn joined the Armed Forces himself in the Second World War. It was amazing to see Glenn Miller star in these films, though he’s not playing the main character in them.
In the film, a struggling music band manages to get to work with popular soloist Vivian Dawn and go to Sun Valley. But Ted Scott’s potential romance with Vivian gets jeopardised when he has to take care of a refugee from the war. But the refugee isn’t a kid. It’s a beautiful young lady from Norway!
I love the comedy aspects of the film as well as the romance and the music featured by Glenn Miller. Even as a kid, I was able to get the jokes with characters like Nifty and enjoy the love story between Karen and Ted. The balance of comedy; romance and music was just right for this 1940s film classic.
‘Sun Valley Serenade’ was actually filmed in Sun Valley itself in Idaho in America. I like the Sun Valley setting as the snowy skiing scenes and the ice skating finale were spectacular to see. It was ground-breaking for its time, with how they filmed the actors and the actual skiers themselves on location.
Sonja Henie stars as Karen, the sweet, young refugee from Norway that Ted Scott is to take care off. Karen is wide-eyed, cheeky and falls in love with Ted for the first time when she sees him. She quickly wants to marry Ted and follows him down to Sun Valley in order to win his affections to her.
Apparently, Sonja is a world famous Norwegian skater in the film. So it’s no surprise that she ice skates tremendously well in the film and has her stand-out moments in the grand finale. Apparently Sonja was the highest paid actress at the time, as well as a 3 time Olympian champion and so forth.
John Payne stars as Ted Scott, the piano player in Glenn Miller’s band in the film. Ted is chosen to adopt the refugee who turns out to be Karen. He’s uncomfortable that she’s a grown up and not a kid. He’s equally uncomfortable when he finds that she loves him and he’s in love with Vivian Dawn.
I loved that chase scene between Ted and Karen on the snowy mountains of Sun Valley. Karen is cheeky when she gets Ted to chase her. Some of the shots of the skiing between Ted and Karen are spectacular to see in the film. It’s a very memorable scene and has me laughing every time I watch it.
Glenn Miller’s character name in the film is Phil Corey. He’s still Glenn Miller and I liked some of his moments when he has some dialogue and is concerned for his band at Sun Valley. His part in ‘Sun Valley Serenade’ isn’t big as later on when he appears in ‘Orchestra Wives’. But he’s still good in this.
Milton Berle stars as Nifty, the publicity manner for ‘Glenn Miller’s band. Nifty is the comic relief of the film and I love it when he sends himself up with his comedic moments and his catchphrases of ‘What am I saying?’ He tries to win Karen’s affections, but it doesn’t work well when she prefers Ted.
Lynn Bari stars as Vivien Dawn, the glamorous soloist in the film who Ted Scott falls in love with. Vivien is easily jealous when she sees that Karen tries to win Ted’s affections. Clearly Ted’s relationship with Karen is more loving compared with Vivien. Soon Vivien quits the band in a temper.
I do like the songs featured in ‘Sun Valley Serenade’. One of my favourites is ‘It Happened in Sun Valley’, composed by Harry Warren with lyrics by Mack Gordon. The song is catchy to sing to and it puts me in mind of Christmas, especially with the sledge rides; snowballs and seeing Sun Valley itself.
Another favourite song of mine is ‘I Know Why’. This is a lovely beautiful melody played throughout the film. I found it shocking when Lynn Bari as Vivien had her voice dubbed by Pat Friday when she sang it in the film. It was lovely when Ted and Karen sing and dance to it towards the end of the film.
I was so pleased to find my favourite Glenn Miller hit number, ‘In the Mood’, was in ‘Sun Valley Serenade’. I’ve heard this tune so many times and know it off by heart. It was great to hear it played to its full in the film, as Karen goes to see Ted with his band at the hotel when playing ‘In the Mood’.
There’s also the famous ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ that I know so well. This is the extended version of the song in the film, as it also includes the dance routine performed by the Nicholas Brothers with Dorothy Dandridge. I also liked the main part of the song as Tex Beneke sings with the Modernaires.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a theatrical trailer for this movie. Sadly there aren’t any making-of documentaries to see. I would have liked to have seen the behind-the-scenes story.
‘Sun Valley Serenade’ is my favourite out of the two films featuring Glenn Miller’s Orchestra. Some of my favourite numbers with Glenn Miller’s band are in it including ‘In the Mood’ and ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’. I also like the comedy aspects; love story and the Christmassy feel throughout this film.
‘Sun Valley Serenade’ rating – 10/10
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