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William A. Seiter
The Bride's Fair in a small Norwegian village is interrupted by the forced landing of Jimmy Hall and Duke Sargent, two Americans lost - really, really lost - while flying from New York to Paris. Jimmy is the manager of Duke, a publicity-seeking band leader. An old superstition points to Duke as the appointed husband-to-be (not likely) of Trudy Ericksen, daughter of villager Herr Ericksen. Duke, however, has an understanding with Flo Kelly back in the states, and leaves for Paris. Trudy follows him to New York, only to find he has left for Florida with Flo. Jimmy takes Trudy skating in Central Park, falls in love with her and is so impressed that he gets her a contract to skate professionally. Duke hears of her success and flies back and begins a series of romantic entanglements. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sonja Henie who was the Olympic figure skating champion for three straight Olympics turned professional in 1936 and got thousands of offers. In addition to her own ice shows, movie offers came her way, all the studios wanted her. She signed with Darryl F. Zanuck.
Beneath her sparkling personality was a shrewd businesswoman who knew her value. Because she was a star and had other venues she negotiated with Mr. Zanuck as an equal and 20th Century Fox paid dearly for her services. I saw an interview with co-star Cesar Romero who marveled at the way dealt with Zanuck as so few other players had the wherewithal to do the same.
What also has to be remembered is that Ms. Henie was more than a star athlete. Norway had only been independent after several hundred years since 1905. Her exploits on the ice probably made her the most known Norwegian in the world. She was a national treasure.
It got harder and harder to work her ice routines into film as the years went on. But Sonja herself knew when to quit.
It was still fresh when Happy Landing was made. Egomaniacal band-leader Cesar Romero decided to fly a plane to Paris with his manager Don Ameche. Ameche's job in addition to managing Romero's business affairs is to keep bailing him out of trouble. During a storm they make a wrong turn and land in Norway. Guess who they find there?
Romero handles it in his usual love 'em and leave 'em style, but Sonja follows him to America. Ameche has to fend her off for Romero and nature takes it's course.
Sonja's skating routines are nicely handled, they would have been since she supervised her own choreography. Laughs are provided by three experienced scene stealing comics at various points of the film, Wally Vernon, El Brendel, and Billy Gilbert.
Ethel Merman is on hand to sing a few forgettable tunes. By this time Merman was a major star on Broadway, but Hollywood never really knew what to do with her. She'd leave Hollywood shortly and wouldn't be back until the Fifties when she reprised her Call Me Madam triumph.
Admittedly Ms. Henie was know actress, but she projected her personality well on the screen. And she sure puts to shame some of today's figure skaters.
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