Second Chorus (1941)

83 mins | Musical, Romance | 3 January 1941

Director:

H. C. Potter

Producer:

Boris Morros

Cinematographer:

Theodor Sparkuhl

Editor:

Jack Dennis

Production Designer:

Boris Leven
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HISTORY

Although Fred Astaire is listed as associate producer in all pre-production credits and on the release dialogue script in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, and a Paramount production information sheet noted that Astaire had acquired a financial interest in the film and assisted on it, only Robert Stillman is listed as associate producer onscreen. Other items in the Paramount Collection indicate that prior to the press preview, Paramount re-cut the film. While Paramount records do not indicate how many scenes were cut, they do indicate that a dance sequence featuring choreographer Hermes Pan and the song "Me and the Ghost Upstairs," composed by Bernard Hanighen and Johnny Mercer, was cut from the film prior to its national release. The college scenes were shot at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA.
       This was the first film produced for Paramount by Boris Morros, formerly the head of Paramount's music department. Modern sources add the following music credits: musician Bobby Hackett doubled on trumpet for Fred Astaire, Billy Butterfield doubled for Burgess Meredith, and Perry Botkin was the instrumentalist on "Dig It" and "Poor Mr. Chisolm." Modern sources add that choreographer Hermes Pan appears in the film as a musician with the college band. According to his autobiography, Astaire agreed to appear in the film because he wanted to work with Artie Shaw and his swing band. In an interview dated approximately 25 years after its release, Astaire called this the worst film he ever made. According to modern sources, the script, which originally included no dance numbers, was rewritten for Astaire after filming had already begun. Paulette Goddard noted in her autobiography that she spent many ... More Less

Although Fred Astaire is listed as associate producer in all pre-production credits and on the release dialogue script in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, and a Paramount production information sheet noted that Astaire had acquired a financial interest in the film and assisted on it, only Robert Stillman is listed as associate producer onscreen. Other items in the Paramount Collection indicate that prior to the press preview, Paramount re-cut the film. While Paramount records do not indicate how many scenes were cut, they do indicate that a dance sequence featuring choreographer Hermes Pan and the song "Me and the Ghost Upstairs," composed by Bernard Hanighen and Johnny Mercer, was cut from the film prior to its national release. The college scenes were shot at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA.
       This was the first film produced for Paramount by Boris Morros, formerly the head of Paramount's music department. Modern sources add the following music credits: musician Bobby Hackett doubled on trumpet for Fred Astaire, Billy Butterfield doubled for Burgess Meredith, and Perry Botkin was the instrumentalist on "Dig It" and "Poor Mr. Chisolm." Modern sources add that choreographer Hermes Pan appears in the film as a musician with the college band. According to his autobiography, Astaire agreed to appear in the film because he wanted to work with Artie Shaw and his swing band. In an interview dated approximately 25 years after its release, Astaire called this the worst film he ever made. According to modern sources, the script, which originally included no dance numbers, was rewritten for Astaire after filming had already begun. Paulette Goddard noted in her autobiography that she spent many hours training for her dance sequence with Astaire and then shot the number in one take. Shaw received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Scoring) category, and he and Johnny Mercer's song "Would You Like to Be the Love of My Life" was also nominated for an Oscar. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
28 Nov 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Dec 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 40
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 40
pp. 38-39.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 40
pp. 14-15.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
2 Dec 40
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Sep 40
p. 32.
Motion Picture Herald
7 Dec 40
p. 43.
New York Times
16 Jan 41
p. 25.
Variety
4 Dec 40
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Assoc dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Contr to scr
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Assoc mus dir
DANCE
Dance dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to prod mgr
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Concerto for Clarinet" by Artie Shaw.
SONGS
"Would You Like to Be the Love of My Life" music by Artie Shaw, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
"Poor Mr. Chisolm (Hoe Down the Bayou)," music by Bernard Hanighen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
"Dig It," music by Hal Borne, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
+
SONGS
"Would You Like to Be the Love of My Life" music by Artie Shaw, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
"Poor Mr. Chisolm (Hoe Down the Bayou)," music by Bernard Hanighen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
"Dig It," music by Hal Borne, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
"Sweet Sue," music and lyrics by Will Harris and Victor Young
"I'm Yours," music and lyrics by E. Y. Harburg and Johnny Green.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 January 1941
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 3 December 1940
Production Date:
29 July--early September 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 January 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10155
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
83
Length(in feet):
7,814
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6708
SYNOPSIS

Danny O'Neill, the leader of his college orchestra, and his roommate, trumpeteer Hank Taylor, are the oldest students on campus. One day, they meet bill collector Ellen Miller, who serves them with a summons for an overdue bill. After getting Ellen fired from her job, the pair offer her a position as their agent, and she becomes such a success that she begins to sell the band against Artie Shaw and other name bands. In self-defense, Shaw hires Ellen away from the boys and she moves to New York. There Ellen convinces Shaw to audition Danny and Hank for spots in his band, but they fail to get the job when they all but ruin the band's performance because of their childish rivalry for Ellen's affections. Forced to become musical outcasts, Hank takes a job as a bugler at a race track while Danny dresses up as a Russian dancer to get a job. Salvation comes to them in the form of J. Lester Chisolm, an elderly businessman with the soul of a musician, who becomes Ellen's benefactor. The boys finagle Chisolm into sponsoring them for a spot in Shaw's concert. When Chisolm drugs Hank at the last minute, he sleeps through the concert, but Danny achieves success at ... +


Danny O'Neill, the leader of his college orchestra, and his roommate, trumpeteer Hank Taylor, are the oldest students on campus. One day, they meet bill collector Ellen Miller, who serves them with a summons for an overdue bill. After getting Ellen fired from her job, the pair offer her a position as their agent, and she becomes such a success that she begins to sell the band against Artie Shaw and other name bands. In self-defense, Shaw hires Ellen away from the boys and she moves to New York. There Ellen convinces Shaw to audition Danny and Hank for spots in his band, but they fail to get the job when they all but ruin the band's performance because of their childish rivalry for Ellen's affections. Forced to become musical outcasts, Hank takes a job as a bugler at a race track while Danny dresses up as a Russian dancer to get a job. Salvation comes to them in the form of J. Lester Chisolm, an elderly businessman with the soul of a musician, who becomes Ellen's benefactor. The boys finagle Chisolm into sponsoring them for a spot in Shaw's concert. When Chisolm drugs Hank at the last minute, he sleeps through the concert, but Danny achieves success at last. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.