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William A. Seiter
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Danny and Hank are surprised when Artie Shaw hires competent manager Ellen away from their college band. The two trumpet players scheme to get into Shaw's outfit themselves, each trying to trump the other's plays. Written by
Diana Hamilton <email@example.com>
While Fred Astaire was making this film, Ginger Rogers was making Kitty Foyle (1940). This went on to win her the Academy Award for Best Actress. When she won, Astaire sent her a telegram simply reading "Ouch". See more »
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There are not many strong points to "Second Chorus", and it is really only watchable because of Fred Astaire, whose talent and charisma provide for some good moments. The writing is noticeably weak, and the rest of the production is not strong enough to overcome the faulty story-line and the mediocre dialogue. The whole premise of the college band does not work for a moment, and there is never a time when the viewer is not overly conscious that the whole situation is contrived.
To be sure, some of Astaire's most enjoyable pictures have lightweight plots, which allow him and the rest of the cast to be the center of attention. But the good ones are much more creative than this, and they also come with much better characters and dialogue. As slight as the story lines may be in "Top Hat" or "Swing Time", you don't think about it while you are watching them, because everything else is of such high quality. "Second Chorus", on the other hand, seems thrown together, as if they just hoped that Astaire could keep it afloat by himself.
That's not to criticize the rest of the cast, who do their best. Paulette Goddard can be very charming, but her character here gives her very little to work with. She does manage to get a couple of nice moments out of it, anyway. Burgess Meredith is stuck with a character who is both ill-defined and annoying, so he never has any chance to show what he could do.
It's worth watching once, as is practically anything that stars Astaire. There is at least one very good number, and most of the time it is watchable, as long as your expectations are not too high.
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