35 user 15 critic

Second Chorus (1940)

Passed | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 3 January 1941 (USA)
When perennial college students Danny O'Neill and Hank Taylor are forced to make it on their own, the competitive pair get jobs with Artie Shaw's band and reunite with ex-manager Ellen Miller.


H.C. Potter


Frank Cavett (original story), Elaine Ryan (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Fred Astaire ... Danny O'Neill
Paulette Goddard ... Ellen Miller
Artie Shaw ... Self
Charles Butterworth ... Mr. Chisholm
Burgess Meredith ... Hank Taylor
Frank Melton ... Stu
Jimmy Conlin ... Mr. Dunn (as Jimmy Conlon)
Don Brodie ... Clerk
Marjorie Kane ... Secretary
Joan Barclay ... Receptionist
Willa Pearl Curtis Willa Pearl Curtis ... Scrubwoman
Artie Shaw and His Orchestra ... Artie Shaw's Orchestra (as Artie Shaw And His Band)


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 <hamilton@gl.umbc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The Oscar-nominated song "Would You Like to Be the Love of My Life" was written one afternoon over lunch. Artie Shaw knew they had a big hit with the song and was eager to share it with the studio, but co-writer Johnny Mercer persuaded him to sit on it for a couple of weeks, lest the studio started thinking they weren't working too hard. See more »


At c.3 minutes Danny's chair suddenly jumps to immediately (and intimately) next to Ellen's left side at the table.. See more »


Danny O'Neill: [hiding himself] What'ya think you're doing under this bed?
Hank Taylor: Looking for a collar button.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: A UNIVERSITY IN NEW ENGLAND See more »


Music by Maceo Pinkard
Played at the university dance by Danny O'Neill's Perennials
Fred Astaire (dubbed by Bobby Hackett) and Burgess Meredith (dubbed by Billy Butterfield) on trumpet
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User Reviews

Dancing And Band Leading Don't Mix
9 March 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

After Fred Astaire finished his RKO contract in 1939 with The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, he freelanced for the rest of his career. His first film under the Paramount banner was Second Chorus which had him co-starring with marrieds to be Paulette Goddard and Burgess Meredith and big bandleader Artie Shaw. There seems to be a consensus among the reviewers that this was Astaire's worst musical film and I'm not going to dispute that.

Of course second rate Fred Astaire is better than most and he does have some nice dance numbers, but even they're not up to his usual creative genius. I think Astaire realized he was in a turkey and walked through it to collect his paycheck and move on to something better.

Poor Paulette Goddard however. She was just beginning her career and she had gotten good notices for Modern Times and The Women. She had been in stage choruses before so it wasn't like she didn't have any musical training. The following year she was in another musical disaster, the independent United Artist film Pot O' Gold with Jimmy Stewart. That was with another bandleader, Horace Heidt. Something about Paulette and bandleaders. Anyway she got a long term Paramount contract for the Forties and much better parts including three DeMille films.

As an actor, Artie Shaw was a great clarinetist and bandleader. Of course he joins other great contemporary thespians like Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman all who made Hollywood films at the time. His band has a few great numbers though I would have liked to have seen Shaw reprise his all time classic instrumental hit, Begin the Beguine.

The film starts off kind of dumb to begin with. We're asked to believe that the 41 year old Fred Astaire and his pal Burgess Meredith are a pair of perennial college students who keep flunking courses to stay in college so they can advertise their band as a college orchestra. Even Jack Oakie didn't stay in college forever.

After horror of horrors Meredith graduates they have to start looking for work and they keep trying to get a break with Artie Shaw. Of course it all works out in the end, but for those interested in seeing the film, I shan't say how.

Charles Butterworth is on hand to play another of his droll eccentrics and he gets a few laughs. But unless you like Fred Astaire and/or Artie Shaw you might well skip Second Chorus.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

3 January 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Second Chorus See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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