Ice Castles (1978)

PG | 113 mins | Drama, Romance | 22 December 1978

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HISTORY

       The film marked the motion picture debut for teenage ice skater Lynn-Holly Johnson in the role of “Alexis ‘Lexie’ Winston.” In 1974, Johnson won the silver medal in the novice division of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, as explained in AMPAS library production files. A leg injury forced her to abandon competition, but she returned to the sport as a featured skater with the Ice Capades. According to a 7 Feb 1979 Var article, the filmmakers' original plan was to cast a known actress for Lexie, and use a double for the skating scenes, but they realized this would sacrifice the film’s authenticity, so undertook a nationwide search for a skater with acting potential. Johnson was on tour with the Ice Capades when she was called for an audition, and she regarded the skating show as valuable preparation for appearing on film. In an Associated Press article syndicated in the 9 Feb 1979 Tribune Chronicle, Johnson stated that she was not comfortable with the original script, which was targeted for an R-rating.
       To prepare for his role, actor Robby Benson, a beginner skater, trained with National Hockey League (NHL) teams, the New York Islanders and the Minnesota North Stars, as described in a Feb 1979 Marquee article. NHL coach Barbara Williams and former skating champion Richard Vraa, who is credited as “special skating consultant,” also advised him.
       Principal photography was scheduled to begin 6 Mar 1978, as mentioned in a 15 Feb 1978 DV news item. According to production notes and a 12 May 1978 HR column, location ... More Less

       The film marked the motion picture debut for teenage ice skater Lynn-Holly Johnson in the role of “Alexis ‘Lexie’ Winston.” In 1974, Johnson won the silver medal in the novice division of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, as explained in AMPAS library production files. A leg injury forced her to abandon competition, but she returned to the sport as a featured skater with the Ice Capades. According to a 7 Feb 1979 Var article, the filmmakers' original plan was to cast a known actress for Lexie, and use a double for the skating scenes, but they realized this would sacrifice the film’s authenticity, so undertook a nationwide search for a skater with acting potential. Johnson was on tour with the Ice Capades when she was called for an audition, and she regarded the skating show as valuable preparation for appearing on film. In an Associated Press article syndicated in the 9 Feb 1979 Tribune Chronicle, Johnson stated that she was not comfortable with the original script, which was targeted for an R-rating.
       To prepare for his role, actor Robby Benson, a beginner skater, trained with National Hockey League (NHL) teams, the New York Islanders and the Minnesota North Stars, as described in a Feb 1979 Marquee article. NHL coach Barbara Williams and former skating champion Richard Vraa, who is credited as “special skating consultant,” also advised him.
       Principal photography was scheduled to begin 6 Mar 1978, as mentioned in a 15 Feb 1978 DV news item. According to production notes and a 12 May 1978 HR column, location shooting started in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, for six to eight weeks, then moved to CO. The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, CO, an actual Olympic training facility, provided a central setting for the figure skating competitions. The production also shot in Denver, CO. A 23 Jun 1978 HR advertisement announced that principal photography had been completed.
       In a Sep 1978 interview for Millimeter magazine, director of photography Bill Butler mentioned that he and director-screenwriter Donald Wrye wanted to avoid special lighting effects for the arena sequences in order to reflect the “uniform conditions” of skating competition. They took a similar approach for the outdoor scenes and tried not to manipulate the natural settings. Butler also described how he and the camera crew designed specialized dollies for the ice, with wide-angle lenses, to represent the skater’s movement and point of view.
       As reported in a 13 Nov 1978 DV brief, the world premiere took place 14 Dec 1978 in Minneapolis to benefit U.S. figure skating and hockey organizations. The film was first released 22 Dec 1978 in nine select cities, prior to opening nationwide in early 1979. The distributor, Columbia Pictures, revealed in a 3 Jan 1979 DV article that the film grossed $365,000 during the first eleven days of the limited engagements. Considering the Christmas competition, the studio considered this initial earning as an indication of a potential hit. The film’s circulation was scheduled to peak by 14 Feb 1979, in time for a Valentine’s Day promotion aimed at winter sports enthusiasts and high school students, as explained in a 2 Aug 1978 Var article.
       The film received an Academy Award nomination for Music (Original Song), “Through The Eyes Of Love,” for composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Carole Bayer Sager.
       According to the 8 Nov 1980 issue of TV Guide, the television premiere aired 10 Nov 1980 on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
       Donald Wrye directed a remake, also titled Ice Castles, which was released on DVD in 2010.
      End credits include the following statements: "This film was shot entirely on locations in Minnesota and Colorado;" "The appearance of U.S.F.S.A. registered amateur members was sanctioned by the United States Figure Skating Association, whose advice and assistance is gratefully acknowledged by the producers;" “Special thanks to the Minneapolis Society for the Blind and to Stations KSTP Minneapolis, KRDO Colorado Springs.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1978.
---
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1978.
---
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1978.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 1978
p. 3, 16.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jan 1979
p. 1.
Marquee
Feb 1979.
---
Millimeter
Sep 1978
p. 16, 20, 24, 26, 84.
New York Times
23 Feb 1979
p. 7.
Tribune Chronicle
9 Feb 1979
p. 4.
TV Guide
8 Nov 1980.
---
Variety
2 Aug 1978.
---
Variety
20 Dec 1978
p. 27, 30.
Variety
7 Feb 1979.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A John Kemeny Production
A Donald Wrye Film
An International Cinemedia Center Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
Stillman
Stillman
Key grip
Best boy elec
Best boy grip
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Skating cost des
of Polar Sport
MUSIC
Main and end title mus arr
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Unit pub
Asst to the prod
Prod secy
Tech adv and U.S.F.S.A. representative
Spec skating consultant
Broadmoor figure skating club representative
Skating coach
Skating coach
Skating coord
Skating coord
Winter clothing and snowmobiles by
Prod asst
Auditor
Loc mgr
Transportation capt
Driver
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
SOURCES
SONGS
"Theme From Ice Castles (Through The Eyes Of Love)," music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, sung by Melissa Manchester
"Midnight Blue," performed by Melissa Manchester, courtesy of Arista Records
"Voyager," performed by The Alan Parsons Project, courtesy of Arista Records
+
SONGS
"Theme From Ice Castles (Through The Eyes Of Love)," music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, sung by Melissa Manchester
"Midnight Blue," performed by Melissa Manchester, courtesy of Arista Records
"Voyager," performed by The Alan Parsons Project, courtesy of Arista Records
"A Fifth Of Beethoven," composed and performed by Walter Murphy, based on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, courtesy of RFT Music Publishing Corp. and Private Stock Records, Ltd.
+
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 December 1978
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Minneapolis: 14 December 1978
Los Angeles opening: 26 January 1979
New York opening: week of 23 February 1979
Production Date:
6 March--June 1978
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 April 1979
Copyright Number:
PA27406
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
113
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25431
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After dropping out of college, Nick Peterson returns to his rural hometown of Waverly, Iowa, and reunites with his girl friend, sixteen-year-old Alexis “Lexie” Winston, an aspiring figure skater. Lexie practices at the local rundown ice rink owned by Beulah Smith, a former regional champion, who coaches the teenager and believes she has the talent of an Olympic skater. However, Lexie’s father, Marcus Winston, a widower, is overprotective and does not want his daughter’s dreams shattered. Despite her father's reluctance, Lexie is determined to compete at the next level while she is still young enough, and Beulah and Nick accompany her to the Upper Great Lakes Regionals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the locker room, the other contestants ridicule Lexie’s old-fashioned skating dress, a hand-me-down from Beulah. During the competition, Lexie delivers a beautiful routine, but the judges’ scores are disappointing, and she fails to finish in the top three. Yet, the spectators make Lexie feel like a winner by giving her a rousing ovation and throwing roses on the ice. Watching in the stands, professional coach Deborah Mackland is impressed with the novice’s raw talent and travels to Waverly to ask Beulah and Marcus if she can train Lexie. Although sixteen is often considered too old to begin formal training as a figure skater, Beulah and Deborah believe Lexie has the natural gift to overcome the disadvantage. Marcus does not like the idea of his daughter leaving home, but knowing Lexie has ambitions to be a champion, he gives his approval. At the Broadmoor training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Lexie is housed in a dormitory with ... +


After dropping out of college, Nick Peterson returns to his rural hometown of Waverly, Iowa, and reunites with his girl friend, sixteen-year-old Alexis “Lexie” Winston, an aspiring figure skater. Lexie practices at the local rundown ice rink owned by Beulah Smith, a former regional champion, who coaches the teenager and believes she has the talent of an Olympic skater. However, Lexie’s father, Marcus Winston, a widower, is overprotective and does not want his daughter’s dreams shattered. Despite her father's reluctance, Lexie is determined to compete at the next level while she is still young enough, and Beulah and Nick accompany her to the Upper Great Lakes Regionals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the locker room, the other contestants ridicule Lexie’s old-fashioned skating dress, a hand-me-down from Beulah. During the competition, Lexie delivers a beautiful routine, but the judges’ scores are disappointing, and she fails to finish in the top three. Yet, the spectators make Lexie feel like a winner by giving her a rousing ovation and throwing roses on the ice. Watching in the stands, professional coach Deborah Mackland is impressed with the novice’s raw talent and travels to Waverly to ask Beulah and Marcus if she can train Lexie. Although sixteen is often considered too old to begin formal training as a figure skater, Beulah and Deborah believe Lexie has the natural gift to overcome the disadvantage. Marcus does not like the idea of his daughter leaving home, but knowing Lexie has ambitions to be a champion, he gives his approval. At the Broadmoor training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Lexie is housed in a dormitory with other top amateur skaters who are also vying for the Olympics. Deborah warns Lexie that she will have a difficult time convincing the judges that she belongs among the elite competition. Meanwhile, Nick participates in tryouts for the North Stars, a professional ice hockey team, and is chosen for their farm club. During practice one day, Lexie wants to prove herself in front of her rivals and attempts a triple jump. Although she pulls off the challenging technique, Deborah reprimands her for displaying “show-off acrobatics,” which could have caused an injury. In anticipation of the 1980 Olympics, Deborah persuades a television sports reporter, Brian Dockett, to broadcast a story about the unknown contender. Brian and his camera crew continually follow “the sensation from Waverly,” reporting on Lexie’s six-month transformation into a world-class skater. Meanwhile, the other girls are jealous of the hype surrounding the newcomer and snub her. After Lexie appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, she telephones Nick, who reveals that he quit the hockey team. Furthermore, Lexie senses indifference in his voice and is disappointed that he is unable to visit her in Colorado. During a television special featuring the top Olympic competitors, Lexie emerges as the most promising skater. Following the broadcast, she is the center of attention at a cocktail party as Deborah introduces her to sponsors. That evening, Brian reassures Lexie about her newfound stardom, and the two begin a romantic relationship. Later, at the Midwest Sectionals, Lexie stands in fourth place at the start of the final round. As Nick watches from the stands, Lexie wins the competition. He rushes to congratulate Lexie, but stops when he sees her and Brian kissing. Although Lexie attempts to reassure Nick, he turns her away. That evening, Lexie attends a celebration party and appears distracted. She leaves the gathering and goes outside to skate at an adjacent outdoor rink. From the window, Deborah and the other party guests watch as Lexie gains speed and attempts a triple jump. When she lands, her skate catches on a rail, causing her to fall head first into nearby patio furniture. In the hospital, the doctor reveals to Marcus and Deborah that a blood clot has formed in Lexie’s brain. Although the clot has diminished since the accident, Lexie’s vision is impaired to the point where she can only see light and shadows. Back in Waverly, Lexie is depressed and angry as she struggles with the loss of her promising career. She ignores her father and quarrels with Beulah. Eventually, her hostility lessens, and one day she slowly skates on the frozen pond while Marcus braces her. When Nick appears, he guides Lexie along the ice with his voice and demands that she challenge herself. Although Marcus accuses Nick of giving up on Lexie as he did with college and the hockey team, Nick continues to practice with her. Gradually, Lexie finds her rhythm and balance on the ice and is able discern the boundaries of the rink. Meanwhile, she and Nick resume their romance. At dinner one night, Nick insists that Lexie could be ready for competition in five months. Marcus and Beulah appear hesitant, but Lexie is willing to try, if they can disguise the fact that she is blind. She does not want anyone feeling sorry for her. Her father, Nick, and Beulah accompany her to the sectional title in St. Louis, Missouri, and guide her through the arena and the crowds. The trick works and no one, except Brian, is aware of her disability. During the long program, national champion Annette Brashlout skates a superb routine prior to Lexie’s turn. As Marcus, Nick, and Beulah anxiously watch from the sidelines, Lexie appears unintimidated and executes a flawless performance. Once again, she becomes the crowd favorite. However, when spectators throw roses on the ice, Lexie trips. She struggles to gain her footing and the audience becomes silent. Tearful, Nick enters the rink and playfully reassures Lexie that they neglected to prepare for the fans’ flowers. He walks her to the middle of the ice, and everyone cheers loudly. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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