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Breaking the Ice

Breaking the Ice(1938)

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Crying Boy

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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Although Pennsylvanian Mennonite Martha Martin longs to move to Goshen, Kansas to be near widower Henry Johnson, William Decker, her brother-in-law, refuses to lend her $92 for the train trip and writes a letter to Henry stating that if Henry wants to marry widow Martha, he should send the train fare himself. Embarrassed for his mother, little Tommy Martin tears up the letter and offers his collection of old newspapers to Samuel "Swapping Sam" Terwilliger, a wily, cheap "antique" dealer who gives the boy a dollar and, as a gift, a harmonica. That evening, the pious William punishes Tommy severely for accepting Sam's harmonica without earning it. Frustrated, Tommy runs away and convinces Sam to bring him to Philadelphia, where he hopes to earn the needed money. The next day, William discovers that a twenty-dollar bill, which had blown off a table and into Tommy's newspapers, is missing from his crop payment and denounces Tommy as a thief to Martha. In Philadelphia, Tommy lands a job as an ice skate boy in the rink that neighbors Sam's antique shop and later impresses the rink's owner, Mr. Kane, with his singing talents. Billed with six-year-old skater Irene Dare, Tommy is given a $25-per-week salary, of which Sam secretly takes twenty. When Tommy, who has been sending his earnings home, learns of Sam's deceit, he is crushed but returns home with all of his money. Scorned and branded as a thief by William, Tommy vows to prove his innocence before moving to Kansas. With help from a contrite Sam, Tommy, having determined that the ink-stained bill blew off the table, tracks the newspapers, which Sam had used as "antique" chair stuffing, to a museum in Washington, D.C. Vindicated, Tommy says goodbye to Sam and his singing career and happily leaves for Kansas.