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Second Fiddle (1939)

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


Sidney Lanfield


Harry Tugend (screenplay), George Bradshaw (story)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sonja Henie ... Trudi Hovland
Tyrone Power ... Jimmy Sutton
Rudy Vallee ... Roger Maxwell
Edna May Oliver ... Aunt Phoebe
Mary Healy ... Jean Varick
Lyle Talbot ... Willie Hogger
Alan Dinehart ... George 'Whit' Whitney
Minna Gombell ... Jenny
Stewart Reburn Stewart Reburn ... Trudi's Skating Partner
Spencer Charters ... Joe Clayton
Charles Brokaw ... Assistant Director
The Brian Sisters The Brian Sisters ... Schoolroom Vocal Trio
John Hiestand John Hiestand ... Radio Announcer
George Chandler ... Taxi Driver
Irving Bacon ... 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 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) See more »

Also Known As:

Second Fiddle See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film abounds with 'in jokes', many related to 'Gone With the Wind'. The PR chief and Tyrone Power's boss is called Whitney, possibly a reference to millionaire Jock Whitney, a major investor in Selznick International Inc. who put up half the money for the $50,000 option on Margaret Mitchell's novel "Gone With the Wind," then invested more money for its production. The studio boss (heard only on the telephone and not named) signs off with "I'll send a memo" - a clear reference to Selznick who was famous for communicating with everyone by lengthy memoranda. The big dance number "Back to Back" is possibly a sly joke by Irving Berlin at his own expense; Berlin's biggest dance hit was "Cheek to Cheek" in TOP HAT, the Astaire-Rogers classic made 4 years earlier. 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 »


The Song of the Metronome
Written by Irving Berlin
Sung by ensemble of school children featuring The Brian Sisters
See more »

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User Reviews

Entertaining, diverting Sonja Henie vehicle with Edna May Oliver for good support...
9 February 2012 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Fox certainly knew what kind of material to give their skating star, SONJA HENIE--a light but diverting plot, lots of musical interludes, a few skating sequences, a handsome co-star, some comedy relief and as many Sonja close-ups as possible.

They scored on every point with SECOND FIDDLE. It's light entertainment for the masses who came to see Sonja skate with everyone else playing second fiddle to her in importance. But TYRONE POWER manages to be impressive as her leading man, more charismatic than usual and spirited, suggesting that there was a lot more to him than the kind of roles he was getting at the time. It doesn't hurt that he's at his handsomest in this early film. And EDNA MAY OLIVER had no peer when it came to stealing the spotlight on an almost regular basis whenever she could.

Furthermore, RUDY VALLEE gets a chance to warble a couple of Irving Berlin tunes. He's part of a scheme by Power, a publicity agent for a Hollywood studio, to revive Vallee's fading career by getting a phony romantic buildup pairing him with Henie. Henie, of course, knows nothing of the scheme and therefore she and Power have romantic misunderstanding until the final reel.

It's a diverting piece of entertainment, one of the better Sonja Henie films produced by Fox and well worth seeing for the skating sequences alone, if you're a Henie fan. Her graceful routines are well choreographed for the camera.

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