Claire (Patricia Morison), owner of an ice-show, faces bankruptcy because Belita (Belita), star of the show, is about to leave and marry her sweetheart Tom (Henry Wadsworth). Danny (Kenny Ba... Read allClaire (Patricia Morison), owner of an ice-show, faces bankruptcy because Belita (Belita), star of the show, is about to leave and marry her sweetheart Tom (Henry Wadsworth). Danny (Kenny Baker), singer with the show, and Claire are in love but Claire refuses to wed until she can... Read allClaire (Patricia Morison), owner of an ice-show, faces bankruptcy because Belita (Belita), star of the show, is about to leave and marry her sweetheart Tom (Henry Wadsworth). Danny (Kenny Baker), singer with the show, and Claire are in love but Claire refuses to wed until she can get the show back on its feet. Katrina (Irene Dare), 10-year-old orphaned refugee from Ho... Read all
The story, set in the Broadway district of New York City, finds Claire Thomas (Patricia Morison), producer of "Silver Skates Ice Revue," may go out of business after her star ice skating attraction, Belita (Belita) finishes her two week engagement to marry Tom (Henry Wadsworth), a Chicago businessman. Claire, who's loved by Danny Donovan (Kenny Baker), refuses to marry the singer in the show until she can clear herself of back debts. Thanks to Eddie (Frank Faylen), a stage hand, who, after receiving his two week notice, spreads a rumor that Belita secretly loves Danny, and because of that, feels that this would start of a romance that have Belita remain in the revue, thus keeping his job. During the complications which finds Danny engaged to two women at the same time, Claire encounters a little Dutch girl named Katrina (Irene Dare) in the lobby of her Broadmoor Arms apartment. It is learned that Katrina not only has gotten separated from Miss Martin (Ruth Lee) of the Netherlands Relief Commiittee, but turns out to be an orphan awaiting news about her Uncle Conrad Humperdinck, a former skater in Claire's shows. Learning Uncle Conrad has gone to serve in the Army, and her parents killed in an air raid, Claire assumes responsibility for the child with the intent on adopting her. Complications occur as Claire tries to induce Danny to marry her, only to learn about his "engagement" to Belita. Other members of the cast include the ever reliable Joyce Compton (Lucille, Eddie's girlfriend); Paul McVey (Roscoe Hayes, the booking agent); John Maxwell (Blake); Ruby Dandridge (The Maid); and Ted Fio Rito and his Orchestra.
With the plot being as ordinary and secondary as forties musicals go, the song interludes, particularly the ice skating portions choreographed by Dave Gould, certainly highlight this production. With pleasing music and lyrics by David Oppenheim and Roy Ingraham, song numbers include: "Lovely Lady" (sung by Kenny Baker, skated by Belita); Dream sequence skating number with Irene Dare with Holland setting; "Cowboy Joe" (sung by chorus, skated by Danny Shaw); "Can't You Hear Me Calling From the Mountain?" (performed by Frick and Frack); "A Boy Like You, a Girl Like Me" (Sung by Kenny Baker and Patricia Morison); "Hollywood Victory Party" (skating sequence by Irene Dare and Danny Shaw); "Dancing on Top of the World" (sung by chorus, skated by Irene Dare); "Love is a Beautiful Song" (sung by Baker); and finale, "Sing a Song of the Sea" (Baker, Belita, chorus).
With Monogram Pictures having a reputation of being second features of low-budget production value, SILVER SKATES comes as a surprise for anyone expecting very little. Though not quite 20th Century-Fox nor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, it is an interesting effort in Monogram's attempt on rising itself to better quality films. Though not quite Academy Award winning material, the film overall is an entertaining 73 minutes from its ten minute ice skating opening to grand scale final, with a little in-between amusements of amusing wisecracks and some hit and miss comedy. For anyone familiar with Patricia Morison, it's interesting finding her playing against her bad girl/ femme fatal type for decent, caring woman for a change. Her musical participation with Kenny Baker comes as a sheer reminder of the crooning style of Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler from his thirties musicals, yet something of a disappointment listening to Morison singing to an obviously dubbed vocalization. The star attraction, Belita, may not a good actress but somewhat forgivable in terms of being a newcomer to films who presents herself well enough as an agreeable new screen personality.
Virtually forgotten by cast, title and reputation due to lack of television broadcasts since the 1950s or so, and never distributed to home video, SILVER SKATES was resurrected on cable TV's Turner Classic Movies in May of 1997 as part of its then monthly viewer's movie request. After that sole broadcast, it wasn't repeated again until many years later starting in October 2014. SILVER SKATES is definitely a "B" class musical regardless of its "A" production effort, but a worthy rediscovery as ice skating musicals go. (**1/2)
- Feb 15, 2015