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Second Fiddle (1939)

 -  Comedy | Musical  -  30 June 1939 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 212 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 2 critic

Studio publicist (Power) discovers Minnesota skating teacher (Henie) and takes her to Hollywood. She goes back to Minnesota but he follows her.

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Writers:

(story), , 1 more credit »
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Title: Second Fiddle (1939)

Second Fiddle (1939) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Trudi Hovland
...
Jimmy Sutton
...
Roger Maxwell
Edna May Oliver ...
Aunt Phoebe
Mary Healy ...
Jean Varick
...
Willie Hogger
Alan Dinehart ...
George 'Whit' Whitney
Minna Gombell ...
Jenny
Stewart Reburn ...
Trudi's Skating Partner
Spencer Charters ...
Joe Clayton
...
Studio Chief (voice)
The Brian Sisters ...
Schoolroom Vocal Trio
John Hiestand ...
Radio Announcer
George Chandler ...
Taxi Driver
Irving Bacon ...
Justice of the Peace Harvey Vaughan
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Storyline

Jimmy Sutton, tricky publicist for Consolidated Pictures, fetches teacher Trudi Hovland from snowy Minnesota to sunny Hollywood to test for the film of the best-seller "Girl of the North" - having come 436th in a competition several years earlier she is now next choice as leading lady. She gets the part, but despite his own growing attraction for her Jimmy deviously manufactures a romance between her and Roger Maxwell, a new star who desperately needs to pep-up his image. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The show that licked the World's Fair!

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 June 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Second Fiddle  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Jimmy Sutton: What are you making, Phoebe?
Aunt Phoebe: Don't know yet... started making a doily, and it got away from me!
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Soundtracks

Back to Back
Written by Irving Berlin
Sung by Mary Healy
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User Reviews

 
Sonja Skates, Tyrone Schemes, Rudy Sings, But Edna May Steals The Show
16 May 2002 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

A publicity agent finds himself playing SECOND FIDDLE when he fabricates a phony romance for a lovely new movie star he secretly adores.

Sonja Henie was Norway's ice queen when she won Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 & 1936. After going professional, she began a celebrated movie career at 20th Century Fox in 1936 with her American film debut, ONE IN A MILLION. Beautiful & talented, as well as being a natural in front of the cameras, she carved out her own special niche during Hollywood's Golden Age. Although Miss Henie's ice routines may look antiquated by comparison to modern champions, there was nothing antique about her dazzling smile or sparkling personality. In this regard, some of today's snowflake princesses could still learn a great deal from her.

As her career progressed, it became increasingly difficult for Fox to find decent stories for Miss Henie and the excuses for the lavish ice dancing numbers were often implausible. No matter. Audiences did not flock to her films to watch Sonja recite Shakespeare. The movies were meant to be pure escapist fantasy, plain & simple.

SECOND FIDDLE is no exception and its story is often quite silly. Also, Sonja is not given nearly enough skating time to really satisfy her fans. However, Sonja's costars do offer some compensation.

Although the role was certainly not one of his best, Tyrone Power is a lot of fun as the agent who must sublimate his own desires for the good of the Studio. Consequently, he has almost no romantic time with Sonja whatsoever, so instead he makes his somewhat unappealing role as charming as possible. His best moments are with marvelous character actress Edna May Oliver, playing Henie's sharp-tongued aunt, watching rather helplessly as she steals her every scene.

Rudy Vallee is onboard mostly to sing a few songs, but he deftly underplays what could have been a boring good guy character and makes him standout well in contrast to the much more manic Power.

Lyle Talbot has the small role of Sonja's Minnesota suitor. Movie mavens will recognize the voice of Charles Lane as that of the Studio Chief.

Irving Berlin composed the songs, all of which are pleasant, but none of them come close to being counted among his best.

Notice the sly script reference to 'Ferdinand.' This would be an allusion to Ferdinand the Bull, the somewhat less than masculine hero of Munro Leaf's 1936 story (and made into an Academy Award winning cartoon by Walt Disney in 1938). Since the line is spoken to Power, it could be that the scriptwriter had more than one inference in mind...

Ultimately, though, this is Sonja's show. She glides effortlessly into the viewer's heart, while balancing on a thin edge of silver, suspended over frozen water.


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