Thin Ice


1h 18m 1937

Film Details

Also Known As
Lovely to Look At
Release Date
Sep 3, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Der Komet by Attila Orbok (Budapest, 1922).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,041ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

The management of the Grand Hotel Imperial in St. Christophe in the Alps and, indeed, the whole town, prays for snow now that the temperature is eighty-two degrees and an international conference to sign a three power pact is to arrive the next day. It snows during the prayers, and the next day Prince Rudolph, who would rather ski than make history, arrives pretending to have influenza, so that the representatives of the other countries, the Baron and the Count, will be kept at each other's throats until the negotiations begin. When Prince Rudolph's chauffeur drives his sweetheart Lili Heiser, the skating instructress at the hotel, in the prince's limousine, villagers spread a rumor that the prince and Lili are having a romance. On the ski slopes, Lili meets the prince, who identifies himself as newspaper reporter Rudy Miller. She is surprised when she learns that the hotel manager, who earlier rebuffed her suggestion that she skate for the guests, now presents her with a contract. That night she gives a gala performance, which the prince, in disguise, attends. In the morning, Lili and the prince ski, and after he mentions the rumors, she returns to the hotel and angrily denies them to the Count and the Baron, who each want her to influence Prince Rudolph. The continuing headlines about the romance prompt scores of tourists to visit. Prince Rudolph proposes to Lili; however, Prime Minister Ulricht arrives and has the prince carried away to stop the marriage. After Lily, still unaware of the prince's real identity, refutes the rumors, the Baron and the Count, thinking that Prince Rudolph invented the story of the romance to trick them, unite and demand an immediate settlement of the pact. Ulricht, who has worked forty years to break the alliance of the Count and the Baron, now accepts Prince Rudolph's solution: he can prove that the story is true by letting them marry. When Prince Rudolph reveals his identity to Lili, who believed that "Rudy" left because of the stories, she faints in his arms but revives to skate again that night at the hotel.

Cast

Sonja Henie

Lili Heiser

Tyrone Power

Prince Rudolph

Arthur Treacher

Nottingham

Raymond Walburn

Uncle Dornik

Joan Davis

Orchestra leader

Sig Rumann

Prime minister [Ulricht]

Alan Hale

Baron

Leah Ray

Singer

Melville Cooper

Krantz

Maurice Cass

Count

George Givot

Alex

Greta Meyer

Martha

Egon Brecher

Janitor

Torben Meyer

Chauffeur

George Davis

Waiter

Hans Von Twardowski

Baron's secretary

Hans Furberg

Baron's secretary

Arno Frey

Baron's secretary

Nick Vehr

Baron's officer

Jacques Lory

Count's secretary

Leo White

Count's secretary

Constant Franke

Count's officer

Lon Chaney Jr.

American reporter

Otto Yamaoka

Japanese reporter

Eugene Borden

French reporter

Pat Somerset

English reporter

Rudolf Amendt

German reporter

Nino Bellini

Italian reporter

Walter Bonn

First officer to prime minister

Alphonse Martell

Second officer to prime minister

Bert Sprotte

Farmer

Marcelle Corday

Emma

George Ducount

Secret Service man

Jean Perry

Secret Service man

Glen Cavender

Secret Service man

Zoia De Groot

Chambermaid

Alex Palasthy

Schwab

Albert Pollet

Waiter

Georges Renavent

Head porter

Frank Puglia

First porter

Jean De Briac

Second porter

John Bleifer

Third porter

Alex Melesh

Fourth porter

Adolph Milar

Fifth porter

Joseph De Stefani

Innkeeper

Hans Herbert

Father

Bodil Ann Rosing

Mother

Emil Hoch

Watchmaker

Carlos J. De Valdez

Customer

Albert Morin

Attendant

Jack Chefe

Clerk

Iva Stewart

Member of girls band

Dorothy Jones

Member of girls band

June Storey

Member of girls band

June Gale

Member of girls band

Clarice Sherry

Member of girls band

June Wilkins

Member of girls band

Monica Bannister

Member of girls band

Bonnie Bannon

Member of girls band

Pauline Craig

Member of girls band

Ruth Hart

Member of girls band

Wanda Perry

Member of girls band

Doris Davenport

Member of girls band

Margaret Lyman

Member of girls band

Dorothy Stevens

Member of girls band

Diane Cook

Member of girls band

Edith Haskins

Skater

Margot Webster

Skater

Dorothy Walker

Skater

Leif Henie

Reporter

Herta Lind

Else Janssen

Paul Weigel

Robert C. Fischer

Elisabeth Frohlich

Hans Rainer

Ann Codee

Nita Pike

Jayne Regan

Louis Aldez

Tony Martelli

Bob Cautiero

Marcel De La Brosse

Viola Madfadyen

Belle Richard

Gracella Strauser

Lynne Kelly

Betty Mciver

Margie Mckay

Virginia Cook

Dale Dee

Alyce Goering

Jerry Jarrette

Clara Johnson

Nat Harty

Lloyd Carlos

Bennie Novicki

Earl Robson

Grant Peasley

Angela Blue

Gwen Baldwin

Peggy Carroll

George Stewart

Jason Bernie

Oak Burger

James Gonzalez

Bob Weldon

Kenny Williams

Ralph Zeunges

Frank Chase

Bob Christy

John Henderson

George Holmes

Jack Kearney

Aaron Phillips

Walter Ridge

Ed Somers

Jim Sisk

Bob Ridgeway

Alma Johnson

Evelyn Hadlett

Grace Gale

Aurelia Fairfax

Annabelle Brudie

Johnnie Kaye

Cliff Oddson

Bob Parrish

Bill Reid

Henry Stinton

Gene Thesloff

Nils Althin

Nondas Wayne

Marianne Brudie

Betty Bowen

Marion Weldon

Hope Taylor

Marcia Sweet

Marie Stewart

Katharine Snell

Eleanor Prentiss

Therese Jorgensen

Bob Heasley

Irving Gregg

E. Victor Cutrer Jr.

George Bruggeman

Betty Kiss

Sherill Rice

Betsy Ann Moss

Betty Richards

Ann Taylor

Mabel Thorns

Florence Stevens

Donald Maxwell

Earl L. Myr

Joe Hartman

George Ford

Ron Dexter

Lee Bennett

Carlyle Blackwell Jr.

Philip Ahlm

Jack Heasley

Joseph H. Fain't

Valerie Fink

Ted Harper

Louise Allen

Marian Fortin

Lindsay Chambers

Ann Woodford

Alfred Wagstaff

Richard Le Sur

John M. Farrell

Ray Johnson

Jerry James

John D. Mcdonald

Grace Evans

Richard Elmore

Kathleen Turner

Cynthia Hobart

Adolph Hebert

Virginia Kucharski

Farol Snavley

Film Details

Also Known As
Lovely to Look At
Release Date
Sep 3, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Der Komet by Attila Orbok (Budapest, 1922).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,041ft (9 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Dance Direction

1938

Quotes

Trivia

The original play opened in Budapest in 1922. An English translation of the play by Fanny Hatton and Frederic Hatton opened in New York on 23 October 1930 with the title "His Majesty's Car." It starred Miriam Hopkins and ran 12 performances.

Notes

According to news items and information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the title of this film was changed from Thin Ice to Lovely to Look At before it was changed back to Thin Ice on July 19, 1937. The play, as adapted by Fanny and Frederic Hatton, opened in New York on October 23, 1930 under the title His Majesty's Car and starred Miriam Hopkins. Thin Ice was the second film of Norwegian Olympic skating champion Sonja Henie, who was picked eighth on the Motion Picture Herald list of top ten money-making stars of 1937. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, contains conference notes from Darryl Zanuck dated April 28, 1937 concerning the final screenplay, with the following instructions to the writers: "Important Note: You are to go through and cut Lili's [the character played by Henie] lines down-to monosyllablic, one-line speeches, wherever possible." Zanuck also instructed director Sidney Lanfield that, "Every bit player must have a foreign accent." According to information in the legal records, the film was "based very slightly" on the screenplay for Fox's 1933 film My Lips Betray, which was also based on Orbok's play. The legal records note that "only a few incidents" in Thin Ice were taken from the earlier film, which had a screenplay by Hans Kraly and Jane Storm, and dialogue by S. N. Behrman. That film was directed by John Blystone and starred Lilian Harvey and John Boles.

       According to a Hollywood Reporter news item dated March 31, 1937, David Butler was to direct snow scenes at Mt. Rainier, WA with Henie and Tyrone Power, after which Sidney Lanfield would direct the main part of the film in the studio. However, a later news item in Daily Variety stated that although a company went to Rainier National Park, they returned without footage because of inclement weather, and the snow scenes were going to be done by process photography. In their review, Variety stated that outdoor scenes were shot at Mt. Rainier. This May have meant only the background footage in the process shots. The film included three ice ballets involving over 100 skaters. According to a New York Times article, the ice rink used for this and other Henie films was 100 by 145 feet in length. Another New York Times article noted that dance director Harry Losee was not a skater and had not previously designed skating routines. A press release for the film stated that Henie's brother Leif played a reporter in the film. The copyright entry credits Samuel Kaylin with musical direction, while screen credits and all other sources credit Louis Silvers. The names of Christian Rub and Eleanor Wesselhoeft, listed in the roles of "Minister" and "Minister's wife," have been crossed out on an early cast listing in legal records. Leonard Mudie is credited as playing a chauffeur in an early cast listing, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to the legal records, Elisha Cook, Jr. was originally cast in the role that George Givot eventually played.

       According to the legal records, on July 7, 1937, the day before production ended on this film, Zanuck wrote a letter to Paramount Pictures chief executive Adolph Zukor in which he charged that the Paramount film Easy Living, which was due to be released shortly, was based on the same play as Thin Ice (which was then called Lovely to Look At). Zanuck stated in the letter, "There is no question in my mind but what someone sold you or your Scenario Department a New York version of our Hungarian play....There is no question but what the entire premise [of Easy Living] is exactly the same and a number of the individual scenes are the same....too many of them are the same to blame it on coincidence." Zanuck included an inter-office memo from Raymond Griffith, the associate producer of Thin Ice, in which he specified the similarities: "A poor girl, living in poor circumstances, by accident gets into the car of an important man....She is then mistaken for the mistress of this important man....The rumor is spread...in our case through the hotel manager, and in their case through the hotel manager. Our hotel manager and in the play, the hotel manager takes the girl into a beautiful hotel. In their case, they go to a hotel. In both stories presents are lavished on the girl in exactly the same way. The count and Prime Minister in our picture try to influence the girl in their favor. In their picture the hotel manager tries to have the girl influence the financier in his favor. In ours there is a false rumor that she is not the mistress. In theirs there is a false rumor that the stock is going down. In both our pictures and the play the thing that solves it is that the girl marries the prince in ours, and in theirs she states that the stock is going up." Two days later, on July 9, 1937, Twentieth Century-Fox's legal counsel, George Wasson, wrote a letter to Zukor's attention in which he pointed out that Thin Ice cost in excess of $1,000,000 and then stated, "we are positive that the release of your...production prior to a reasonable period after the release of our picture, would absolutely destroy the value of our picture to us." He warned, "while we do not wish to alter the cordial relations which exist between our respective companies...unless you immediately give us assurance that you will not exhibit or further exhibit your said production until after the completion of the exhibition of our motion picture in the first run houses in the United States...we will be forced to commence action against your company." The planned release date for Thin Ice was 3 September 1937.

       Zukor responded in a four-page letter dated the same day, July 9, 1937. After stating that "the charges, insinuations and tone of these communications are wholly unjustified and unwarranted and have no basis in fact," Zukor claimed that the similar scenes in the two films were not in the original play, but in the treatments developed coincidentally by the two studios. Additionally, he pointed out that Easy Living differed from the play substantially: "...the ignorance of the girl [in the play] regarding the suspicion that she is someone's mistress lasts for a very short time and after that she is part and parcel of the conspiracy...because she is gradually falling in love with the King whose mistress she is supposed to be. Our picture has no such scenes or implications. In ours the girl never knows what she is suspected of being until the very finish of the picture and that only lasts for a few seconds....the girl, in complete ignorance of what everybody else in the picture suspects, goes from scene to scene never knowing what it's all about other than that apparently people are kind to her." Zukor concluded, "I must advise you that there is no reason why we should, and we do not intend to, alter our present plans and commitments for the release of our picture."

       In a letter dated July 13, 1937, Wasson reiterated the claim that the plots of Easy Living and the 1933 film My Lips Betray were "identical" and warned, "Because of the cooperative and friendly relations between Paramount and Twentieth Century-Fox, we regret at this time to disrupt same by legal procedure, however your failure to do anything but practically ignore our rights and the facts in the case has driven us to a position where we see no alternative." Also on July 13, 1937, the Twentieth Century-Fox legal counsel from the New York office, Edwin P. Kilroe, sent a telegram to Wasson after viewing Easy Living, in which he stated that relying on his memory of My Lips Betray, he did not "believe we could sustain our claim of infringement against Easy Living." Kilroe then had a comparison made between the two films. The document concerning the comparison concluded: "Only in general set-up is there a resemblance here....Treatment, development, and details are entirely different....Characters are entirely different....there are almost no scenes or situations common to both scripts in which the same lines could have been used." No further documents concerning the dispute have been located.

       As noted in a review, Sonja Henie and Tyrone Power were, at the time of the film's release, the subject of numerous newspaper columns linking them romantically. According to a biography of Henie, she insisted on Power as her co-star despite Zanuck's initial refusal. The biography also notes that Jack Pfeiffer was dance director Harry Losee's assistant and Belle Christy was cast as a chorus girl. Losee was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the "Prince Igor Suite" number. According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, this film was banned in Germany during 1937 and 1938.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1937

Released in United States on Video February 16, 1994

Released in United States 1937

Released in United States on Video February 16, 1994