Second Chorus (3-Dec-1940)|
Director: H. C. Potter
Writers: Frank Cavett; Elaine Ryan; Ian McLellan Hunter; Johnny Mercer
Producer: Boris Morros
Keywords: Musical Comedy
||Broadway ballroom dancer
||This is the Army
||Reap the Wild Wind
||Rocky and Grumpy Old Men
||Clarinetist, big band leader
Review by Dan R. VanLandingham (posted on 5-Aug-2007)
1940 saw the return of clarinetist/bandleader Artie Shaw to to the music scene after his much publicized escape from the band business in November of that year.Shaw had been riding high since the summer of 1938 when he found out,quite by accident,a recording he made for RCA,"Begin the Beguine",broke wide open when he and his band were on tour following that date which also included singer Billie Holiday.1939 saw Shaw making more records for Bluebird(RCA's 35 cent subsidiary)and after a nearly fatal blood disease,Shaw made a movie called "Dancing Co-Ed" with Lana Turner whom he married before the year was out.
"Second Chorus" was Shaw's second movie and there would be no more after this one was finished.Fred Astaire played a college student named Danny O'Neill who was also a trumpet playing,bandleading college student who should have had his college degree by the end of the roaring twenties.Also featured was Burgess Meredith who also played trumpet and was also a longtime college student.Shaw,after prodding by his managers,the IRS,RCA Records(he owed the label six sides to fulfill his recording contract which he signed in 1938)as well as his fans,organised a new band that had a large bank of strings,great jazz talent and his trumpet soloist Billy Butterfield,played in the soundtrack of the movie alongside cornetist Bobby Hackett,brought in to overdub the second trumpet solo features.Paulette Goddard,who married Meredith in 1944,was the "love interest".Astaire and Meredith's characters were in a constant "battle" over Goddard's character who winds up working for Shaw.In the end,Astaire got Goddard,and an elderly gent named "Mister Chisolm",who was a mandolin player,gets a number written for him by Astaire and is a showcase for Adaire's dancing and vocal talents.It is interesting that Shaw wrote the song "Love of My Life" after the men assigned to that task,failed and Shaw decided to write one.Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics and when Shaw began recording in earnest(in September,1940),his vocalist Anita Boyer did a nice job singing the part which was released late that year.This movie was just a fair one:Goddard wore a number of hats which included a jive talking "hip-kitten" selling prospective bookings of Danny O'Neill's Perennials-Astaire's big band.She could-and did-change hats becoming more cultured to those who were not teenaged big band jazz fans.All in all,a nice bit of fun without the overblown,outlandish plots that usually plagued such big band oriented movies of that time.
This review is dedicated to the memory of guitarist Al Hendrickson(1920-2007)who was hired by Shaw when this movie was filmed.Mister Hendrickson was kind and gracious to fill in any details regarding this film as well as his personal recollections of his short stay in Shaw's band which ended in January of 1941 when Shaw's run on the Burns and Allen radio show ended in early 1941.
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