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Mary and Larry are are a modestly successful skating team. Shortly after their marriage, Mary gets a picture contract, while Larry is sitting at home, out of work. To prove that he can accomplish things on his own, he leaves Hollywood and convinces a former partner to put on an ice revue in Canada. The show is a huge success, but it makes it impossible for him to be with his wife, but the studio boss has a wonderful idea. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I really like the Lew Ayres character in "Ice Follies of 1939." His hapless "Take-it-on-the-Chin" wisecracker adds needed dimension to an abbreviated screen play of the "Rags-to-Riches Coney Island" plot.
There are really no great "Lessons to live by" here, as we may find in other films of this ilk and during this period. Seems as though MGM had decided to film a skating show featuring performers who do not act, and to modify it with a fill-in plot centering around actors who do not skate.
Why not star resident beauty Joan Crawford with the up-and-coming James Stewart and young veteran actor Lew Ayres? - seems the reasoning of the moment. After all, she had done struggling performers in the past, and so a behind-the-scenes show within a show ought to prove right up her alley. Joan could then do at least one customary weeping scene, while James could add his token "Yippie!" routine, which seems mandated of his 1930's appearances.
"Ice Follies of 1939" may work a little more readily than it seems to do if its plot weren't as overdone as it were during its release decade. On top of this, it's abbreviated with one shortly-cut scene after another and practically devoid of plausible emotion in the process.
We rarely find Joan and James sharing the same train of thought here; when she is up, he is down. We don't know why these two care for each other, but Lew generally conveys his character's feelings through his bouncing around a room--most of them very small here, at least for him.
In at least two regards, "Ice Follies of 1939" seems dramatically incorrect: first in respect to the studio contract handed to Joan's character and response to her announcement one year later. The film proceeds from there, launching from black & white into Technicolor, which signifies that 1939 may have lasted longer than 12 months, according to this.
On a couple of additional positive notes, this film contains interesting figure skating routines by "The International Ice Follies" and, especially, its male solo skaters. Some of its cinematography during the sequences on ice proves outstanding, affording the film audience with reflections and contrasts. And, of course, Joan Crawford looks radiant throughout in appearance and fashionable wardrobe.
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