Joan Crawford in The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939)


(director: Reinhold Schunzel; screenwriters: story by Leonard Praskins/Leonard PraskinsFlorence Ryerson/Edgar Allan Woolf ; cinematographer: Joseph Ruttenberg; editor: W Donn Hayes; music: Roger Edens; cast: Joan Crawford (Mary McKay), James Stewart (Larry Hall), Lew Ayres (Eddie Burgess), Lewis Stone (Douglas Tolliver), Bess Ehrhardt (Kitty Sherman), Lionel Stander (Mort Hodges), Charles D. Brown (Barney), Truman Bradley (Melvyn Rodney), Marie Blake (Effie Lane) and The International Ice Follies with Bess Ehrhardt, Roy Shipshad, Eddie Shipshad and Oscar Johnson; Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Rapf; WB Archive Collection (MGM); 1939)

A lavish musical romantic comedy that skates on thin ice.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A lavish musical romantic comedy that skates on thin ice. It was shot in black and white except for the final seventeen-minutes shot in Technicolor, as it presented a portion of the Cinderella fantasy by the International Ice Follies. The script by Leonard Praskins, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf, is based on the story by Praskins. The story is only secondary to the ice show. German-born filmmaker Reinhold Schunzel(“The Irene Girl”/”Melody Master”/”Cairo Season”) never makes the story seem believable or exciting. The result is both a box office flop and a critically savaged film.

Larry Hall (James Stewart) and Eddie Burgess (Lew Ayres) are partners as professional showbiz ice skaters in LA. When Mary McKay (Joan Crawford) joins the act, the trio can’t keep the small jobs they once had. On an impulse, after being fired, Larry marries Mary. Eddie tries to put on a happy face. Meanwhile Mary contacts a big-time Hollywood producer (Lewis Stone) over a fender-bender incident and after telling him she’s not interested in getting an acting job winds up starring in the producer’s next film, and when that’s a hit is signed with a lucrative contract for another film. Eddie leaves for the East, and Larry feels useless doing domestic duty. Soon Larry also splits for the East. By accident the former partners meet in NYC in the office of producer Mort Hodges (Lionel Stander) and reunite. Larry finally gets to do his impresario thing and his Ice Follies show is a hit.

Everything works out for the couple, who find a way to reunite, which is strictly Hollywood mush. Of the two songs Joan sings that were not deleted from the film, her voice is dubbed by Jeanette MacDonald.