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4.5 out of 5 stars71
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on 6 February 2008
In 1941 the Glen Miller Orchestra (swing style big band really) was reaching it's top of the American pops position. This was partly due to the fact that it could swing as well as Goodman and Shaw and the many other big bands whose names and popularity still echoes down the 70 years since swing became the American way of music and lingers there especially through the high school bands of today, and partly due to its ability to be excessively sickeningly sentimental...So what has this to do with the movie, well as the other reviewer suggests not only do you get the Miller band in superb sound but you get to see how the "well off American" spent a week skiing in New York State (I think that's where Sun Valley is or supposed to be) as well as Sonja Henie, John Payne, oh and Milton Berle and some lovely tweed overcoats straight out of Hollywood's wardrobe department, never been near a snow field nor a grubby city like I assume '40's New York was!.

The story is light weight but in fact very enjoyable and although the comedy is not laugh out loud its certainly a timely upbeat when clearly America either was just in or about to be in WWII. The songs are good, the band never played better and SH skates like a dream. You also get Dorothy Dandridge and the dancing Nicholas Brothers were a head line act of the time in Chattanooga Choo Choo.

If you are getting this just for the Miller band you'll be more than happy and no doubt also have Orchestra Wives, somewhat more about the band but still with bus and train (internal only) appearances of the time and again with excellent sound and whilst I am at it you should also get the Fred Astaire movie with Artie Shaw; Second Chorus. Shaw appears wooden as himself, clearly lacking in humour which was probably true to type, though plays wonderfully as ever. Miller plays himself in both movies rather better in my view, though was equally said to be very strict with the band. Shaw I think had better musicians, at least they sound better on film and disc although Second Chorus has not weathered nor been released with the care splashed on the Miller films. Most UK buyers will no doubt have seen the Miller films every 2 years on BBC TV, that's how I got to know them!

Just a cautionary note, the British did not get to hear the Miller band and their compatriots very much at all until they arrived as the US Army Airforce band in 1943/4 to entertain American troops amassing in the UK for the invasionary forces. Instead Britain's own top line dance bands, of which there were many and many as good as if not better than the Americans were pumping out similar styles of music including cover numbers of American compositions. I mention this as there is a tendency to take the glitzy Miller sound as typical of war time Britain when it was scarcely heard there at all before '43 and then only became popular throughout the nostaligic fervor postwar culminating in the sixties and seventies with Syd Lawrence and his Miller sound a like band (whilst he did a good job it always lacked the real buzz you will note from this film when they play, especially in the studio). Had Miller not died somewhere over the English channel flying to France to prepare for the band to follow the American invasion force it is conjectured he would not have remained quite so popular as he has (the "Diana" syndrome). Personally I think he is only one of the many who produced upbeat driving music that matched the period and left a unique footprint much as the Beetles did 20 years on!

Unreservedly recommended for whatever reason you care to choose not least Sonja Henie and her skating, the band and the extras, Chattanooga etc! Oh it was nominated for 3 academy awards; Cinematography (presumably the skiing and band parts especially), Scoring of a musical picture (you don't just get Miller but also a huge Hollywood string orchestra for the Henie finale) and Best Song Chattanooga ...Oh and Lynn Bari makes a great '40's band singer and can sing quite well!
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on 31 October 2008
This is the first of only two Glenn Miller films (the other one being "Orchestra Wives") and as a result probably suffers from the studios reluctance to allow the Miller band to carry the film alone, without the "added attraction" of olympic skater, Sonia Henie. Despite the oil and water mix the resuling film is probably better than you might expect. Henie gives an engagingly naive performance in a simple story line, with some wonderful skating pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure, while the Miller band sequences are just about as good as it gets. The band started work on the picture on 24th March 1941 and finished on 3rd of May. Personel was unchanged from the previous November and this shows in the performance. The "togetherness" is breathtaking. Many of the sidemen would go on to form their own bands later, (Billy May; Ray Anthony; Tex Beneke; Hal McIntyre), or move into the "studios" when the big bands lost their appeal and the singers took over in the late forties early fifties. It has been said that Glenn Miller never hired a "dud" musician and his work for the Fox Studios in 1941 and 1942 certainly prove this point.
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on 8 December 2007
Wonderful example of classic Hollywood during the early 1940s. A rare and probably the finest example of the real Glenn Miller and his band and music nicely integrated into a PG romantic story. Period cars, trains, attire and towns including art deco decor.
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on 3 November 2003
In this troubled world it is neccessary every now and then to escape-ok-then the escape valve comes in the form of the movie "Sunvalley Serenade" appearing are some great entertainers
-The Glen Miller Band-- the lovely ice skating former olympic
champion-sonja henie-John Payne-Ceaser Romero-and some very clever ski-ing shots all wrapped up in a visit to Sunvalley
and music wise it is a treat- watch out for the trains arrival
and the subsequent sleigh ride to the accompaniement of the Glen Miller number "It happened in sun valley" a perfect song
for the occasion-makes you wish you were right their with them-
well the next best thing is- when you have seen the movie for the first time-make your self a coffee and settle in and watch it
again- the "feel good" glow will last for quite a while- L Collins
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on 22 April 2008
This is one of my all time favourite films! The perfect show case for Miller's Orchestra with Sonja Henie and John Payne acting their roles wonderfully. Great support roles too from Milton Berle and Lynn Bari (who also appeared in Miller's only other film, Orchestra Wives). The film includes a great dance routine by the Nicholas Brothers (who were also in Orchestra Wives), with a young Dorothy Dandridge who charmingly sings with them in Chatanoogoo Choo Choo. My only regret is that we are unable to see the final skating routine in colour as it must have been beautiful. My top tip - look out for Sonja Henie's amazing spins, you won't believe that someone could go that fast!
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on 29 January 2009
SUN VALLEY SERENADE - Don't take the storyline too seriously, just enjoy the Glen Miller music for itself. In war-torn England 1941 this was the sort of film that made us forget, for an hour or so, all the privations that lay beyond the cinema. This film made an impact on me as a nine year old boy in the bombed-out city of Hull, and seeing it again on DVD brought back the memories of those times. For those without the baggage of nostalgia enjoy it for what it is, a spendid vehicle for Glen Miller and Sonjae Henie. This is what entertained us during the war and it will entertain you now. ROBERT WARDELL
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on 7 September 2008
Like all Sonja Heine films , this is a perfect way to spend some time enjoying her talents . Throw in Glenn Miller and his orchestra , some great music , and an entertaining story . What more could you ask for ? .
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on 15 October 2013
Unfortunately Glenn only participated in two films, this and Orchestra Wives. Both for Fox In this film, the orchestra is part of the movie. The original is not well preserved and the quality is not the best. But that does not matter. The movie is fabulous. All interpretations of the GM orchestra are excellent. Although they interpreted Moonlight Serenade, In the Mood and other great songs the best is Chattanooga Choo Choo. First GM and The Modernaires and then The Nicholas Brother with the spoiled Dorothy Dandridge just 19 years. The prinicipal music of the film is by the prolific Harry Warren and arrangements are very good. And Sonja makes an excellent representation of his skating, so she was Olympic champion. All this we can see in just 86 minutes. This movie is not sold in USA, seems to be vetoed. But you must see it and buy it, to keep seeing it over and over again.

Lastimosamente Glenn solo participó en dos películas, esta y Orchestra Wives. Ambas para Fox. En esta película, la orquesta forma parte de la película. El original no está bien conservado y la calidad no es la mejor. Pero eso no importa. La pelicula es fabulosa. Todas las interpretaciones de la orquesta de GM son excelentes. Aunque se interpretan Moonlight Serenade, In the Mood y otras fabulosas canciones del grupo de GM, lo mejor es Chattanooga Choo Choo. Primero la interpretan GM y The Modernaires y luego The Nicholas Brother con la malograda Dorothy Dandridge de apenas 19 años. La música prinicipal de la película es del prolifíco Harry Warren y los arreglos son muy buenos. Y Sonja hace una excelente representación de su patinaje sobre hielo, por eso fue campeona olímpica. Todo esto podemos ver en apenas 86 minutos. Esta película no se vende en USA, parece estar vetada. Pero debe verla y comprarla, para seguir viendola una y otra vez.
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on 8 October 2009
This very musical and entertaining film is the first of the two great movies featuring the Glenn Miller Orchestra. (The second is, of course, 'Orchestra Wives' that followed not too long after). Bands and Orchestras had provided music for films from the beginning, but usually in an incidental role. Soundtrack theme music or scenes in a film that required a musical input,dance hall scenes for example). 'Sun Valley Serenade' was the first to feature the Orchestra as an integral part of the storyline of the film. Miller had insisted on this contractual clause. The same arrangement would also apply to 'Orchestra Wives'. The result was, as all officianados will know, are two very entertaining movies. 'Sun Valley Serenade' has an ice dancing theme, featuring Sonia Henjie in a starring role. Henjie, a former Olympic ice champion was by all accounts a bit of a handful to work with and demanded to be the centre of attention. She did however deliver the goods in this film with some remarkable ice dance skills. Various love entanglements in the film's story line, and the dancing do not however get in the way of the music of the Miller band. It's all pretty lighweight but great fun and pleasant, feel-good entertainment (despite some scenes with poor back-projection!) The sharp eyed might notice a young Billy May and Ray Anthony among the trumpets, both of whom went on to follow distinguished careers fronting their own bands. Both of these movies were so successful that others starring the GM Orchestra were planned. Sadly, this was not to be. Events got in the way, Miller was lost later during the war and the rest is history!
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on 16 August 2015
This very agreeable romantic musical comedy from 1941 links two seemingly incompatible elements, both very popular at the time it was filmed: Sonja Henie's ice skating and Glenn Miller's big band jazz. It's admittedly fluffy, but is also very hard to dislike.

The slim plot of sorts: Ted (John Payne), a pianist in a struggling jazz big band headed by Glenn Miller (though he is given another name here), has volunteered for publicity reasons to take a refugee from war torn Norway. He expects to get a small child, but she gets the grown, beautiful Karen Benson (Sonja Henie). Karen is too eager to get involved romantically with Ted, the problem is he already has a girlfriend, the temperamental Viv (played by Lynn Bari), who is also a singer with the band. Henie's character is just short of grating - we are supposed to find her a sympathetic character, and mostly we do, even as she tries to steal a man from other woman. When Ted and Viv goes to the ski resort of Sun Valley for a performance there in the middle of the winter, Karen decides to join them hiding in the train with the help of the band manager (Milton Berle).

Of course more than the plot, the important thing here is the music (In the Mood and Chattanooga Choo Choo are some of the pieces included) and Henie's skating. There is also a nifty prolonged scene of Henie pursuing Payne in skis (even if the close ups were obviously filmed in studios, and doubles were used in distant shots).
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