Nov 29, 2009
Second Chorus

The picture shows Artie Shaw and his band in a scene from Second Chorus. This is a vehicle for Fred Astaire, Burgess Meredith, and Paulette Goddard. Goddard was an immensely beautiful actress. When I saw her in Modern Times she was so striking, so beautiful, that I almost fell in love with her. It is easy to see what Charlie Chaplin saw in her, and made her his third wife.

Fred Astaire, age 41, and Burgess Meredith, age 33, play college students who have delayed their graduation and have spent seven years in college so they could play in the college band. So Astaire was about 16 years older than he should have been to be believable in the part, and Meredith was about eight years too old. The two are contenders for positions in Artie Shaw’s band, and for Goddard’s heart.

Having said all of this, however, it must be said that no one ever watched Fred and Ginger, or Fred and anyone else, for the plot. The dancing is, naturally, great, and Artie Shaw swings with the best of them. Shaw collaborated with Johnny Mercer on “Would You Like to be the Love of My Life.”