Cast & Crew
Edna May Oliver
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.
Edna May Oliver
The Brian Sisters
A. S. Myron
Dona La Barr
Dan Fritz Wyler
John Matt Farrell
Sam Rice Sr.
Shirley Ann Ewins
Wallace Van Sickle
Robert B. Tobin
A. F. Erickson
W. D. Flick
Harry Losee Skating Ensembles Staged By
Darryl F. Zanuck
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).
by Jay S. Steinberg
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.
Released in United States 1939
Released in United States 1939