10 user 2 critic

Second Fiddle (1939)

Passed | | Comedy, Music | 30 June 1939 (USA)
Studio publicist (Power) discovers Minnesota skating teacher (Henie) and takes her to Hollywood. She goes back to Minnesota but he follows her.



(screenplay), (story)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jimmy Sutton
Roger Maxwell
Aunt Phoebe
Mary Healy ...
Jean Varick
Willie Hogger
George 'Whit' Whitney
Stewart Reburn ...
Trudi's Skating Partner
Spencer Charters ...
Joe Clayton
Assistant Director
The Brian Sisters ...
Schoolroom Vocal Trio
John Hiestand ...
Radio Announcer
Taxi Driver
Justice of the Peace Harvey Vaughan


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


The show that licked the World's Fair!


Comedy | Music


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 June 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Irving Berlin's Second Fiddle  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The plot of this movie, in which a Hollywood studio searches for an actress to play the lead role in the movie version of a best-selling novel, was inspired by the famous "Search for Scarlett O'Hara." From 1937-39, over 1400 actresses were interviewed by MGM, and production was delayed for two years, before Vivien Leigh was cast in the lead role in Gone with the Wind (1939). See more »


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


Referenced in Hollywood Steps Out (1941) See more »


An Old Fashioned Tune Is Always New
Written by Irving Berlin
Sung by Rudy Vallee and ensemble
See more »

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User Reviews

musical Cyrano with a twist
2 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Tyrone Power is a publicist who does his job too well in "Second Fiddle," also starring Sonja Henie. Power plays Jimmy Sutton, who is helping in the search for a star of a movie being made from a best-selling book. This was perhaps inspired by the search for Scarlett. When they find their girl, she's a Norwegian schoolteacher living in Minnesota. Power sets up a publicity stunt, which is a fake romance between her and another star (Rudy Vallee). He then is responsible for the flowers, the love poems, and finally writes her a song. By now, of course, he's madly in love with her, and she's in love with Rudy. This is much to the consternation of Rudy's girlfriend, played by Mary Healy.

The two stars are delightful, but of course, some of the best lines are from Edna May Oliver, who is hilarious as Henie's aunt. One line not Oliver's that certainly got a laugh in theaters is from Henie to Power: "You'd be handsome if you took care of yourself." He's pretty dazzling as is.

The Irving Berlin music is okay, but I have to admit my favorite is "Back to Back" which I found lively and fun.

Though skating styles have changed a great deal over the last 66 years, Sonja Henie's skating holds up. She was a graceful, fast skater who could dance and spin magnificently. Back then, the jumps were all singles and landed low, but it's obvious that if she were a young skater today, she would still have what it takes.

Very entertaining.

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