DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

WINTERTIME (director: John Brahm; screenwriters:  E. Edwin Moran/Jack Jevne and Lynn Starling/from a story by Arthur Kober; cinematographers: Glen MacWilliams/Joe MacDonald; editor:  Louis Loeffler; music:  Leo Robin/Nacio Herb Brown; cast: Sonja Henie (Nora), Jack Oakie (Skip Hutton), Cesar Romero (Brad Barton), S. Z. Sakall (Hjalmar Ostgaard), Cornel Wilde (Freddy Austin), Helene Reynolds (Marian Daly), Carole Landis  (Flossie), Don Douglas (Mr. Rogers), Woody Herman (Himself, Band Leader); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Le Baron; 20th Century-Fox Cinema Archives; 1943)

"A sub-par Sonja Henie vehicle that still manages to skate through its charmless love story without falling on its face."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A sub-par Sonja Henie vehicle that still manages to skate through its charmless love story without falling on its face. Director John Brahm ("The Locket"/"Face to Face"/ "Singapore") invigorates the stiff musical comedy with a few amusing slapstick sketches, but can't skate out of trouble entirely with such a childish love story. The pic is most animated when Henie is on ice. Otherwise it's pleasant enough fluff, that treats the Nazi invasion of Norway as just so much more fluff. It's based on a story by Arthur Kober, and is painlessly written by E. Edwin Moran, Jack Jevne and Lynn Starling.

To save the old Chateau Promenade from foreclosure, the Canadian hotel's economically strapped co-owner Skip Hutton (Jack Oakie) manages to divert the train of Norwegian refugees, the Norwegian ice champion Nora (Sonja Henie) and her millionaire uncle Ostgaard (S. Z. Sakall), from staying at Canada's finest hotel, the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec,  to unwittingly staying at his rundown but scenic winter wonderland hotel. Co-owner Freddy Austin (Cornel Wilde) meets their train and falls in love with Nora at first sight. Since she likewise falls in love and wishes to stay in the hotel to get to know Freddy better, she lets on to Skip that Uncle once bought a hotel in Oslo just to fire a rude clerk. The next morning Skip schemes to get Uncle to buy the hotel just to fire the irritating hotel singer Brad Barton (Cesar Romero), who acts as a rude room service waiter when promised by Skip that he will receive his back pay immediately for this service and thereby spills hot coffee on Uncle.

A problem arises when the influential editor of a popular winter sports magazine, Marian Daly (Helene Reynolds), comes to the new owner's hotel to watch Nora perform on ice, and Freddy fawns over her to get a good review for the hotel. Nora saves the hotel, as the hotel is fully booked to catch her act. But through a misunderstanding over Freddy's attention to the editor, the love-birds break-up. Meanwhile Brad, still on the payroll, resorts to hiding from the new owner by being in disguise, runs from his possessively jealous  love interest and singing partner Flossie (Carole Landis), but dumps her when he gets a chance to court Nora. The other problem is that Uncle's assets, all in Norway, are frozen during the Nazi occupation, and he needs money to run the hotel's modernization program and pay off the bills. Uncle thereby encourages Nora to accept from big-time NYC  ice show promoter, Mr Rogers (Don Douglas), his generous offer for her to star in his ice special.

Miss Henie does a ballroom dance, accompanied by Mr. Romero to the tune "Later Tonight," but she's much more entertaining when on ice.

This is the last of Henie's musicals for Fox, and it's too bad it turned out so routine.

REVIEWED ON 9/25/2014       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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