Second Fiddle


1h 26m 1939

Brief Synopsis

A Hollywood PR man tries to turn a Minnesota teacher into a star.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cupid Goes to Press, Heart Interest, Irving Berlin's Second Fiddle, Love Is Tops, When Winter Comes
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Release Date
Jul 14, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: 5 Jul 1939
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,804ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

Consolidated Pictures' purchase of the best-selling novel, Girl of the North , initiates a two-year search for a leading lady that extends to all corners of the country, and ends when studio publicist Jimmy Sutton journeys to Bergen, Minnesota to escort schoolteacher Trudi Hovland back to Hollywood for a screen test. At first reluctant, Trudi is persuaded by Jimmy to return with him, and her performance so impresses the studio production chief that she is awarded the part. To build Trudi up, Jimmy concocts a romance between her and leading man Roger Maxwell, thus infuriating Roger's girl friend, Jean Varick. To appease Jean, Jimmy suggests that Roger need only be seen with Trudi while he, Jimmy, will send love notes and flowers in Roger's name. Jimmy's scheme backfires when he falls in love with Trudi himself, while Trudi falls in love with Roger's notes. Trudi's romance is shattered when a jealous Jean announces that it has all been a publicity stunt, after which she flies back to Minnesota. When Trudi's film is a great success at its premiere, Jimmy's boss tricks him into following her to Minnesota to bring her back. Upon his arrival, Jimmy learns that Trudi has eloped with her old beau, Willie Hogger, and after confessing to Trudi's aunt Phoebe that he really loves her niece, Phoebe and Jimmy race to stop the wedding. They arrive just in time, and true love wins out when Jimmy convinces Trudi that he really loves her and is promoted from second to first fiddle.

Cast

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

Skating partner

Spencer Charters

Joe Clayton

Charles Lane

Voice of chief

The Brian Sisters

Specialty

John Hiestand

Announcer

George Chandler

Taxi driver

Irving Bacon

Justice of the peace

Maurice Cass

Justice of the peace

Herbert Ashley

Motorcycle cop

Charles Brokaw

Leyland Hodgson

A. S. Myron

Gene Berg

James Gonzalez

Edith Haskins

Jack Heasley

Belle Richard

George Stewart

Mary Stewart

Angela Blue

Don Ackerman

Jean Ashton

Patsy Bedell

John Benson

Bill Brande

Tex Brodus

Lloyd Carlos

James Cooley

Grace Davies

Jack Dawson

June Earle

Oliver Eckhardt

Frank Erickson

Grace Gale

Mildred Gaye

Sugar Geise

Alyce Goering

Sol Haines

Harry Joyce

Lynne Kelly

Marilyn Kinsley

Dona La Barr

Buddy Lawler

Lois Lindsay

Margie Mckay

George Murray

Eleanor Peterson

Byron Poindexter

Hal Rand

Roland Rego

Vivian Reid

Jack Reynolds

Ramon Ros

Marcia Sweet

Gene Thesloff

Frederick Vroom

Bob Weldon

Bud Winters

Dan Fritz Wyler

John Matt Farrell

Henry Stinton

Alexander Novinsky

Bob Christy

Patricia Lee

Warren Mace

Bud Carpenter

Tommy Hicks

Jimmy Grant

Sam Rice Sr.

Wanda Perry

Diane Cook

Monica Bannister

Pauline Craig

Clarice Sherry

Dorothy Ward

Charles Meakin

Patsy Perrin

Lee Bailey

Valerie Traxler

Midgie Dare

Barbara Carabin

Wilma Holly

Mildred Morris

Annabelle Brudie

Virginia Kucharski

Jimmy Caesar

Irving Gregg

Ted Harper

Jack Kearney

Bernard Lynam

Gene Morgan

Cliff Oddson

Jerry Jarrette

Edna Holmes

Marny George

Shirley Ann Ewins

Wallace Van Sickle

James Sisk

Grant Peasley

Margot Webster

Kay Walker

Ann Taylor

Marianne Brudie

Robert B. Tobin

Dot Rogers

Robert Pringle

Norris Houser

Marian Hinds

Catherine Guy

Noel Coffey

Betsy Burton

Marian Wood

Leroy Tarp

Therese Jorgensen

Mary Taylor

George Holmes

Film Details

Also Known As
Cupid Goes to Press, Heart Interest, Irving Berlin's Second Fiddle, Love Is Tops, When Winter Comes
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Release Date
Jul 14, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: 5 Jul 1939
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,804ft (9 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Song

1939

Articles

Second Fiddle


The list of professional and amateur athletes that have sought to forge a second career as a movie performer runs somewhat longer than the list of those that actually made a go of it. After Esther Williams, the next most successful that comes to mind is Sonja Henie, the three-time Olympic gold medalist figure skater from Norway who headlined assorted popular Fox vehicles from the late thirties to the mid-forties. These slight but profitable projects understandably leaned less on Henie's acting skills than her natural charisma, and the readiness to have her lace up her blades at the first opportunity. Representative of her star run is Second Fiddle (1939), which cast her for the second time opposite onetime paramour Tyrone Power.

The springboard for the story is premised in a dig at producer David O. Selznick's much-hyped casting hunt for Scarlett O'Hara. Jimmy Sutton (Power), a young flack for Consolidated Pictures, has been tasked with promoting the studio's search for the ideal lead to anchor its anticipated adaptation of Girl of the North. His first assignment is to track down and interview one of the many unknowns that applied: Trudi Hovland (Henie), a schoolteacher from a tiny Minnesota town. He has to bring all of his charm to bear in order to convince Trudi's overprotective Aunt Phoebe (Edna May Oliver) that Hollywood isn't the snake pit she believes it to be. With her aunt's blessing, the skating schoolmarm flies westward for a screen test--and sticks the landing, winning the part.

Jimmy's next assignment is to ballyhoo the actual production, and he does so by fabricating a blossoming romance between Trudi and her leading man, Roger Maxwell (Rudy Vallee). Unfortunately, Trudi is the only one who doesn't realize that it's all a trump-up, believing the flowers and love notes to be genuine. Jimmy, for his part, has grown smitten, and is pouring his soul into his Maxwell-signed epistles. When she learns that it's merely been an angle, the heartbroken Trudi storms back home, intent on marrying long-suffering boyfriend Willie (Lyle Talbot). Of course, the completed film is a smash, and the studio heads tell Jimmy to go and bring her back under contract, or not come back at all.

Ironically enough, by the time Second Fiddle went before the cameras, the studio-encouraged and -touted romance between Henie and Power--from the time of their first pairing in Thin Ice (1937)--had run its course. Biographer Fred Lawrence Guiles stated in Tyrone Power: The Last Idol that "It was difficult in the Hollywood of that day to tell the real from the fake, even among some of Tyrone's friends...Sonja was headed for a major disillusionment. Tyrone was a congenial, attentive escort in whom love seemed to have no existence." The songs provided by Irving Berlin for the soundtrack don't rank amongst his most memorable, but "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" wound up procuring Second Fiddle its one Oscar® nomination.

Producers: Gene Markey, Darryl F. Zanuck
Director: Sidney Lanfield
Screenplay: Harry Tugend (writer); George Bradshaw (story)
Cinematography: Leon Shamroy
Art Direction: Richard Day, Hans Peters
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge, David Raksin (both uncredited)
Film Editing: Robert L. Simpson
Cast: 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 (Skating Partner), Spencer Charters (Joe Clayton).
BW-85m.

by Jay S. Steinberg
Second Fiddle

Second Fiddle

The list of professional and amateur athletes that have sought to forge a second career as a movie performer runs somewhat longer than the list of those that actually made a go of it. After Esther Williams, the next most successful that comes to mind is Sonja Henie, the three-time Olympic gold medalist figure skater from Norway who headlined assorted popular Fox vehicles from the late thirties to the mid-forties. These slight but profitable projects understandably leaned less on Henie's acting skills than her natural charisma, and the readiness to have her lace up her blades at the first opportunity. Representative of her star run is Second Fiddle (1939), which cast her for the second time opposite onetime paramour Tyrone Power. The springboard for the story is premised in a dig at producer David O. Selznick's much-hyped casting hunt for Scarlett O'Hara. Jimmy Sutton (Power), a young flack for Consolidated Pictures, has been tasked with promoting the studio's search for the ideal lead to anchor its anticipated adaptation of Girl of the North. His first assignment is to track down and interview one of the many unknowns that applied: Trudi Hovland (Henie), a schoolteacher from a tiny Minnesota town. He has to bring all of his charm to bear in order to convince Trudi's overprotective Aunt Phoebe (Edna May Oliver) that Hollywood isn't the snake pit she believes it to be. With her aunt's blessing, the skating schoolmarm flies westward for a screen test--and sticks the landing, winning the part. Jimmy's next assignment is to ballyhoo the actual production, and he does so by fabricating a blossoming romance between Trudi and her leading man, Roger Maxwell (Rudy Vallee). Unfortunately, Trudi is the only one who doesn't realize that it's all a trump-up, believing the flowers and love notes to be genuine. Jimmy, for his part, has grown smitten, and is pouring his soul into his Maxwell-signed epistles. When she learns that it's merely been an angle, the heartbroken Trudi storms back home, intent on marrying long-suffering boyfriend Willie (Lyle Talbot). Of course, the completed film is a smash, and the studio heads tell Jimmy to go and bring her back under contract, or not come back at all. Ironically enough, by the time Second Fiddle went before the cameras, the studio-encouraged and -touted romance between Henie and Power--from the time of their first pairing in Thin Ice (1937)--had run its course. Biographer Fred Lawrence Guiles stated in Tyrone Power: The Last Idol that "It was difficult in the Hollywood of that day to tell the real from the fake, even among some of Tyrone's friends...Sonja was headed for a major disillusionment. Tyrone was a congenial, attentive escort in whom love seemed to have no existence." The songs provided by Irving Berlin for the soundtrack don't rank amongst his most memorable, but "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" wound up procuring Second Fiddle its one Oscar® nomination. Producers: Gene Markey, Darryl F. Zanuck Director: Sidney Lanfield Screenplay: Harry Tugend (writer); George Bradshaw (story) Cinematography: Leon Shamroy Art Direction: Richard Day, Hans Peters Music: Cyril J. Mockridge, David Raksin (both uncredited) Film Editing: Robert L. Simpson Cast: 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 (Skating Partner), Spencer Charters (Joe Clayton). BW-85m. by Jay S. Steinberg

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

In the opening credits, the film is called "Irving Berlin's Second Fiddle." The working titles of this film were Cupid Goes to Press, Heart Interest, Love Is Tops and When Winter Comes. According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Library, George Bradshaw's original unpublished story on which the film was based was titled "Heart Interest." After reading a revised treatment of the story by Harry Tugend, studio head Darryl F. Zanuck decided to make the story into a Sonja Henie film, and later decided to build the part of Jimmy for Tyrone Power. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, also at UCLA, Irving Berlin's contract called for him to receive $75,000 plus 10% of the gross receipts and proceeds over and above $1,125,000. According to a pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter, Don Ameche was originally slated to play the role of "Jimmy Sutton," but his previous commitment to The Story of Alexander Graham Bell prevented his appearance. Another pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that Sidney Lanfield replaced William Seiter as director when Seiter replaced Walter Lang on Susannah of the Mounties. During production, photographer George Barnes took over for Leon Shamroy when Shamroy was hospitalized for an appendectomy, according to a news item in Hollywood Reporter. Additional scenes were filmed by Bert Glennon. Other items in Hollywood Reporter add that this was the first film in which Sonja Henie had a skating partner. According to the legal records, exterior locations were shot at the Earl Carroll Theater in Hollywood, while the inside of the theater was reproduced at the studio. Berlin's song "I Poured My Heart into a Song" was nominated for an Academy Award.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1939

Released in United States 1939