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HISTORY

According to news items and information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the title of this film was changed from Thin Ice to Lovely to Look At before it was changed back to Thin Ice on 19 Jul 1937. The play, as adapted by Fanny and Frederic Hatton, opened in New York on 23 Oct 1930 under the title His Majesty's Car and starred Miriam Hopkins. Thin Ice was the second film of Norwegian Olympic skating champion Sonja Henie, who was picked eighth on the MPH list of top ten money-making stars of 1937. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, contains conference notes from Darryl Zanuck dated 28 Apr 1937 concerning the final screenplay, with the following instructions to the writers: "Important Note: You are to go through and cut Lili's [the character played by Henie] lines down--to monosyllablic, one-line speeches, wherever possible." Zanuck also instructed director Sidney Lanfield that, "Every bit player must have a foreign accent." According to information in the legal records, the film was "based very slightly" on the screenplay for Fox's 1933 film My Lips Betray (see above), which was also based on Orbok's play. The legal records note that "only a few incidents" in Thin Ice were taken from the earlier film, which had a screenplay by Hans Kraly and Jane Storm, and dialogue by S. N. Behrman. That film was directed by John Blystone and starred Lilian Harvey and John Boles.

       According to a HR news item dated 31 ... More Less

According to news items and information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the title of this film was changed from Thin Ice to Lovely to Look At before it was changed back to Thin Ice on 19 Jul 1937. The play, as adapted by Fanny and Frederic Hatton, opened in New York on 23 Oct 1930 under the title His Majesty's Car and starred Miriam Hopkins. Thin Ice was the second film of Norwegian Olympic skating champion Sonja Henie, who was picked eighth on the MPH list of top ten money-making stars of 1937. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, contains conference notes from Darryl Zanuck dated 28 Apr 1937 concerning the final screenplay, with the following instructions to the writers: "Important Note: You are to go through and cut Lili's [the character played by Henie] lines down--to monosyllablic, one-line speeches, wherever possible." Zanuck also instructed director Sidney Lanfield that, "Every bit player must have a foreign accent." According to information in the legal records, the film was "based very slightly" on the screenplay for Fox's 1933 film My Lips Betray (see above), which was also based on Orbok's play. The legal records note that "only a few incidents" in Thin Ice were taken from the earlier film, which had a screenplay by Hans Kraly and Jane Storm, and dialogue by S. N. Behrman. That film was directed by John Blystone and starred Lilian Harvey and John Boles.

       According to a HR news item dated 31 Mar 1937, David Butler was to direct snow scenes at Mt. Rainier, WA with Henie and Tyrone Power, after which Sidney Lanfield would direct the main part of the film in the studio. However, a later news item in DV stated that although a company went to Rainier National Park, they returned without footage because of inclement weather, and the snow scenes were going to be done by process photography. In their review, Var stated that outdoor scenes were shot at Mt. Rainier. This may have meant only the background footage in the process shots. The film included three ice ballets involving over 100 skaters. According to a NYT article, the ice rink used for this and other Henie films was 100 by 145 feet in length. Another NYT article noted that dance director Harry Losee was not a skater and had not previously designed skating routines. A press release for the film stated that Henie's brother Leif played a reporter in the film. The copyright entry credits Samuel Kaylin with musical direction, while screen credits and all other sources credit Louis Silvers. The names of Christian Rub and Eleanor Wesselhoeft, listed in the roles of "Minister" and "Minister's wife," have been crossed out on an early cast listing in legal records. Leonard Mudie is credited as playing a chauffeur in an early cast listing, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to the legal records, Elisha Cook, Jr. was originally cast in the role that George Givot eventually played.

       According to the legal records, on 7 Jul 1937, the day before production ended on this film, Zanuck wrote a letter to Paramount Pictures chief executive Adolph Zukor in which he charged that the Paramount film Easy Living (see above), which was due to be released shortly, was based on the same play as Thin Ice (which was then called Lovely to Look At ). Zanuck stated in the letter, "There is no question in my mind but what someone sold you or your Scenario Department a New York version of our Hungarian play....There is no question but what the entire premise [of Easy Living ] is exactly the same and a number of the individual scenes are the same....too many of them are the same to blame it on coincidence." Zanuck included an inter-office memo from Raymond Griffith, the associate producer of Thin Ice , in which he specified the similarities: "A poor girl, living in poor circumstances, by accident gets into the car of an important man....She is then mistaken for the mistress of this important man....The rumor is spread...in our case through the hotel manager, and in their case through the hotel manager. Our hotel manager and in the play, the hotel manager takes the girl into a beautiful hotel. In their case, they go to a hotel. In both stories presents are lavished on the girl in exactly the same way. The count and Prime Minister in our picture try to influence the girl in their favor. In their picture the hotel manager tries to have the girl influence the financier in his favor. In ours there is a false rumor that she is not the mistress. In theirs there is a false rumor that the stock is going down. In both our pictures and the play the thing that solves it is that the girl marries the prince in ours, and in theirs she states that the stock is going up." Two days later, on 9 Jul 1937, Twentieth Century-Fox's legal counsel, George Wasson, wrote a letter to Zukor's attention in which he pointed out that Thin Ice cost in excess of $1,000,000 and then stated, "we are positive that the release of your...production prior to a reasonable period after the release of our picture, would absolutely destroy the value of our picture to us." He warned, "while we do not wish to alter the cordial relations which exist between our respective companies...unless you immediately give us assurance that you will not exhibit or further exhibit your said production until after the completion of the exhibition of our motion picture in the first run houses in the United States...we will be forced to commence action against your company." The planned release date for Thin Ice was 3 Sep 1937.

       Zukor responded in a four-page letter dated the same day, 9 Jul 1937. After stating that "the charges, insinuations and tone of these communications are wholly unjustified and unwarranted and have no basis in fact," Zukor claimed that the similar scenes in the two films were not in the original play, but in the treatments developed coincidentally by the two studios. Additionally, he pointed out that Easy Living differed from the play substantially: "...the ignorance of the girl [in the play] regarding the suspicion that she is someone's mistress lasts for a very short time and after that she is part and parcel of the conspiracy...because she is gradually falling in love with the King whose mistress she is supposed to be. Our picture has no such scenes or implications. In ours the girl never knows what she is suspected of being until the very finish of the picture and that only lasts for a few seconds....the girl, in complete ignorance of what everybody else in the picture suspects, goes from scene to scene never knowing what it's all about other than that apparently people are kind to her." Zukor concluded, "I must advise you that there is no reason why we should, and we do not intend to, alter our present plans and commitments for the release of our picture."

       In a letter dated 13 Jul 1937, Wasson reiterated the claim that the plots of Easy Living and the 1933 film My Lips Betray were "identical" and warned, "Because of the cooperative and friendly relations between Paramount and Twentieth Century-Fox, we regret at this time to disrupt same by legal procedure, however your failure to do anything but practically ignore our rights and the facts in the case has driven us to a position where we see no alternative." Also on 13 Jul 1937, the Twentieth Century-Fox legal counsel from the New York office, Edwin P. Kilroe, sent a telegram to Wasson after viewing Easy Living , in which he stated that relying on his memory of My Lips Betray , he did not "believe we could sustain our claim of infringement against Easy Living ." Kilroe then had a comparison made between the two films. The document concerning the comparison concluded: "Only in general set-up is there a resemblance here....Treatment, development, and details are entirely different....Characters are entirely different....there are almost no scenes or situations common to both scripts in which the same lines could have been used." No further documents concerning the dispute have been located.

       As noted in a review, Sonja Henie and Tyrone Power were, at the time of the film's release, the subject of numerous newspaper columns linking them romantically. According to a biography of Henie, she insisted on Power as her co-star despite Zanuck's initial refusal. The biography also notes that Jack Pfeiffer was dance director Harry Losee's assistant and Belle Christy was cast as a chorus girl. Losee was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the "Prince Igor Suite" number. According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, this film was banned in Germany during 1937 and 1938. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Aug 1937.
---
Daily Variety
7 May 37
p. 5.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Jun 37
p. 7.
Film Daily
24 Aug 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 37
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 37
sect. II, p. 90.
Motion Picture Daily
23 Aug 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
29 May 37
p. 41.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Aug 37
p. 49.
New York Times
18 Jul 1937.
---
New York Times
4 Sep 37
p. 8.
New York Times
12 Jun 1938.
---
Variety
25 Aug 37
p. 17.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Bodil Ann Rosing
Viola MadFadyen
Peggy Carroll
Bob Parrish
Florence Stevens
Ron Dexter
John M. Farrell
John D. McDonald
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst cutter
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
Ward man
Ward woman
MUSIC
Mus dir
Vocal supv
Music cutter
Asst music cutter
SOUND
Asst mixer
Boom man
DANCE
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup dept
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Asst grip
Asst prop
Casting
Casting
Follow up
Secretary
Still photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Der Komet by Attila Orbok (Budapest, 1922).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"My Secret Love Affair," "Over Night" and "My Swiss Hilly Billy," words and music by Lew Pollack and Sidney D. Mitchell
"I'm Olga from the Volga," words and music by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel
"Sleep Baby Sleep (Yodel melody)," words and music by John J. Handley.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Lovely to Look At
Release Date:
3 September 1937
Production Date:
6 May--8 July 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 September 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7469
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
78
Length(in feet):
7,041
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
3439
SYNOPSIS

The management of the Grand Hotel Imperial in St. Christophe in the Alps and, indeed, the whole town, prays for snow now that the temperature is eighty-two degrees and an international conference to sign a three power pact is to arrive the next day. It snows during the prayers, and the next day Prince Rudolph, who would rather ski than make history, arrives pretending to have influenza, so that the representatives of the other countries, the Baron and the Count, will be kept at each other's throats until the negotiations begin. When Prince Rudolph's chauffeur drives his sweetheart Lili Heiser, the skating instructress at the hotel, in the prince's limousine, villagers spread a rumor that the prince and Lili are having a romance. On the ski slopes, Lili meets the prince, who identifies himself as newspaper reporter Rudy Miller. She is surprised when she learns that the hotel manager, who earlier rebuffed her suggestion that she skate for the guests, now presents her with a contract. That night she gives a gala performance, which the prince, in disguise, attends. In the morning, Lili and the prince ski, and after he mentions the rumors, she returns to the hotel and angrily denies them to the Count and the Baron, who each want her to influence Prince Rudolph. The continuing headlines about the romance prompt scores of tourists to visit. Prince Rudolph proposes to Lili; however, Prime Minister Ulricht arrives and has the prince carried away to stop the marriage. After Lily, still unaware of the prince's real identity, refutes the rumors, the Baron and the Count, thinking that Prince Rudolph invented the story of the romance ... +


The management of the Grand Hotel Imperial in St. Christophe in the Alps and, indeed, the whole town, prays for snow now that the temperature is eighty-two degrees and an international conference to sign a three power pact is to arrive the next day. It snows during the prayers, and the next day Prince Rudolph, who would rather ski than make history, arrives pretending to have influenza, so that the representatives of the other countries, the Baron and the Count, will be kept at each other's throats until the negotiations begin. When Prince Rudolph's chauffeur drives his sweetheart Lili Heiser, the skating instructress at the hotel, in the prince's limousine, villagers spread a rumor that the prince and Lili are having a romance. On the ski slopes, Lili meets the prince, who identifies himself as newspaper reporter Rudy Miller. She is surprised when she learns that the hotel manager, who earlier rebuffed her suggestion that she skate for the guests, now presents her with a contract. That night she gives a gala performance, which the prince, in disguise, attends. In the morning, Lili and the prince ski, and after he mentions the rumors, she returns to the hotel and angrily denies them to the Count and the Baron, who each want her to influence Prince Rudolph. The continuing headlines about the romance prompt scores of tourists to visit. Prince Rudolph proposes to Lili; however, Prime Minister Ulricht arrives and has the prince carried away to stop the marriage. After Lily, still unaware of the prince's real identity, refutes the rumors, the Baron and the Count, thinking that Prince Rudolph invented the story of the romance to trick them, unite and demand an immediate settlement of the pact. Ulricht, who has worked forty years to break the alliance of the Count and the Baron, now accepts Prince Rudolph's solution: he can prove that the story is true by letting them marry. When Prince Rudolph reveals his identity to Lili, who believed that "Rudy" left because of the stories, she faints in his arms but revives to skate again that night at the hotel. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.