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While Nero Fiddled (1944)

Fiddlers Three (original title)
A pair of Jolly Jack Tars on shore leave take a Wren (lady sailor) to Stonehenge and get caught in a time warp finishing up in ancient Rome.



(original screenplay) (as Angus Macphail), (original screenplay)
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Complete credited cast:
Tommy Trinder ...
Frances Day ...
Sonnie Hale ...
Francis L. Sullivan ...
Diana Decker ...
Elisabeth Welch ...
Mary Clare ...
Ernest Milton ...
Frederick Piper ...
Robert Wyndham ...
Russell Thorndike ...
High Priest
Danny Green ...
Centurion of the 8th legion


Two sailors and a Wren (the UK version of an American W.A.V.E.) are struck by lightning in Stonehenge and transported back to the first century and the court of the Roman emperor. There, they run afoul of Nero, who is about to have them beheaded when they remember and predict events in the history of the Roman Empire and are appointed court prophets. Empress Poppaca plies her feminine wiles on one of the sailor, Tommy, and this further complicates an already-delicate situation. Lots of songs, comedy and a cross-dressing masquerade. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Release Date:

29 April 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

While Nero Fiddled  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


First film of Alec Mango. See more »


When struck by lightning at Stonehenge, they arrived in Rome in sailors' uniforms. One year later when struck by lightning in Rome, they arrived at Stonehenge back in uniform; they should have been dressed as Romans. See more »


Nero: Delicious debauchery!
See more »


Follows Three Cockeyed Sailors (1940) See more »


Sweet Fanny Adams
Music by Geoffrey Wright
Lyrics by Roland Blackburn
Sung by Tommy Trinder and Sonnie Hale
See more »

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User Reviews

FIDDLERS THREE (Harry Watt, 1944) ***
18 April 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

To begin with, I had acquired a number of Tommy Trinder musical comedy vehicles but this is actually the first one I checked out, even if it is officially a sequel to SAILORS THREE (1940)! The result was surprisingly satisfactory and, even more so, remarkably inspired: in fact, it even treats an inherent lack of originality (being the old 'transported to ancient times' routine, probably dating from Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court") as a joke – when a Roman the heroes meet mentions a Mr. Eddie Cantor having 'visited' them previously (in the 1933 ROMAN SCANDALS; there is even a play on the latter title when Trinder loses a sandal in Poppea's private quarters and Nero – played by Francis L. Sullivan – organizes a Cinderella-type 'contest' to find its proprietor and get even with him!).

The time-travel incident occurs during a stormy night at Stonehenge and also involves fellow sailor Sonnie Hale and a girl they save from the clutches of a lecher. They first come across a Roman legion (headed by James Robertson Justice) and, subsequently, they are captured and taken to the market-place to be sold at auction – however, here we get a jab at the slowness of transport in this era when they take a whole year to arrive, by which time Trinder and Hale's features are well hidden under a mass of facial hair! They end up at the Palace where, predictably, Hale has been purchased as a woman (later on, the star himself turns up at an orgy doing an incongruous Carmen Miranda impersonation!) and Trinder as a sort of prophet (for which ruse the Emperor's exploits as laid down in the history books suddenly comes in handy)...although, funnily enough, it takes him a long time to foretell the one act Nero is most notorious for today i.e the burning of Rome!

The finale, then, has the trio being inventively thrown to the lions (they stand in the above section of a compartment, with the floor slowly opening under their feet to reveal the hungry felines below)…but another providential storm comes to their rescue, and they are soon back where we started (except that they should logically be in whatever has taken the place of the arena in the present day!). While there are a few too many songs, these are admittedly rather good (with lyrics co-written by future director Robert Hamer!) – one of them even has Poppea giving us the low-down on a number of Roman Emperors she had 'known' and, yet another, is warbled by her black maidservant! By the way, the same year saw the release of a similarly-themed film (and which I also own) from this country i.e. TIME FLIES: this had another Tommy, Handley, turning up during the reign of Elizabeth I; while the title of the film under review refers to nothing in particular, there was later an unrelated Three Stooges short in 1948 that went under the same moniker!

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