19 June 2001 | rsoonsa
BRILLIANT HENIE FORMS THE CENTER OF A PLEASANT MUSICAL DRAMA
Lent ongoing allure by the extraordinary early Technicolor process, this ice-skating romance also benefits from contributions by several Oscar-winning technicians, all in top form here, including cinematographer Ray Rennahan (Gone With the Wind), interior designer Wiard Ihnen, and set decorator Julia Heron. Additionally, those responsible for the superlative costumes and hair styling should be recognized, with all of these crew strengths nearly making the plot irrelevant, as a viewer is dazzled in one way or another and, of course, often by the skating of Sonja Henie. For precision skating, Henie has never been topped, and here her known acting shortcomings seem less obtrusive than is usual, as she is supported by a solid cast, including Michael O'Shea, Gus Schilling, Iris Adrian, and a startlingly beautiful Marie McDonald, whose agenda to steal O'Shea from Henie comprises the core of a somewhat melodramatic and simplistic screen play. The script turns upon Henie's love for O'Shea, who plays a professional hockey player who is permanently banned for punching an official, and whose fondness for alcohol leads to a variety of thorny situations which turn his life upside down, and which link him with the difficult to ignore McDonald. All involved in this effort are served well by journeyman director William A. Seiter, who takes charge of the action whenever the scenario flags, although the editing and blocking are at times obtrusive. It all comes down in the end to Henie on ice, and there the pirouetting dervish provides as usual, with her at times off-putting Norwegian inflections not an issue, skating as well as ever and benefiting, as throughout the film, including one non-gelid partnered dance scene, from a lovely score composed by Walter Donaldson and Edgar Leslie.