One of the most amazing things about Youtube--cutting edge but mass-accessible Youtube--is the way it has so quickly become the nation's Internet attic, open to all to riffle through and replay seemingly long past cultural moments. A reader sent me this fantastic clip (click "Read More" to see it) of the Glenn Miller Orchestra featuring Marian Hutton, Tex Beneke and the Modernaires singing the World War II song "People Like You and Me." The sequence, set up like a recording sesssion, opens with the band, casually attired for rehearsal, getting into place and gradually working into the opening of "Chatanooga Choo-Choo." Sharp-eyed viewers may catch a youthful Jackie Gleason taking the stand with his stand-up bass, Caesar Romero plinking at the piano, and handsome George Montgomery on trumpet.
What gives? This proto music video is actually a number from the 1942 movie Orchestra Wives, also starring Ann Rutherford, a very entertaing little picture that features probably the best extended footage of the Miller orchestra--really, any big band that I know of--in existence. Other songs in the movie include "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," "Serenade in Blue," and "At Last"--the last of which, incidentally, featured prominently at the Obama Inauguration as Mr. and Mrs. O's "song." Singer Etta James was cat-scratchingly put out that singer Beyonce was chosen to sing "her" (James') song but, in fact, the Mack Gordon-Harry Warren standard has a long and star-studded pedigree--starting with Glenn Miller and Ray Eberle in Orchestra Wives.