One in a Million (1937)

92 or 94 mins | Musical comedy | 1 January 1937

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HISTORY

This was the first film of Sonja Henie, who won the gold medal for figure skating at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics, and according to a news item, won more championships than any other single athlete in history. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the studio paid Henie $60,000 to be in this picture. According to a Jun 1937 NYT article, when Henie first quoted $75,000 as her price to be in a film, no studio accepted the offer. She then hired an ice rink and put on a few evening shows, in which she made $28,000, $8,000 of which she donated to charity. With proof of her drawing power, she approached Darryl Zanuck, and he agreed to the figure she desired. After making this film, Henie attempted to arrange a tour of the skating rinks of the country, but promoters balked at her demanded guarantee of $10,000 a night. Again, to prove her drawing power, she rented a rink in Hershey, PA and made $28,000 in three nights. Promoters then agreed to her terms. When she returned to Hollywood, she asked Zanuck for $100,000 a film plus additional money if shooting ran over schedule, and because of the success of One in a Million , Zanuck agreed. NYT noted that studios which earlier ignored her, offered Fox double her salary for one film after the success of One in a Million .
       In story conference notes found in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, Zanuck advised the writers, "You ... More Less

This was the first film of Sonja Henie, who won the gold medal for figure skating at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics, and according to a news item, won more championships than any other single athlete in history. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the studio paid Henie $60,000 to be in this picture. According to a Jun 1937 NYT article, when Henie first quoted $75,000 as her price to be in a film, no studio accepted the offer. She then hired an ice rink and put on a few evening shows, in which she made $28,000, $8,000 of which she donated to charity. With proof of her drawing power, she approached Darryl Zanuck, and he agreed to the figure she desired. After making this film, Henie attempted to arrange a tour of the skating rinks of the country, but promoters balked at her demanded guarantee of $10,000 a night. Again, to prove her drawing power, she rented a rink in Hershey, PA and made $28,000 in three nights. Promoters then agreed to her terms. When she returned to Hollywood, she asked Zanuck for $100,000 a film plus additional money if shooting ran over schedule, and because of the success of One in a Million , Zanuck agreed. NYT noted that studios which earlier ignored her, offered Fox double her salary for one film after the success of One in a Million .
       In story conference notes found in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, Zanuck advised the writers, "You should give the story a smart, fresh development, and treat it like Thanks a Million [see below] rather than Sing, Baby, Sing [see below]. In other words, don't make it too hokey or too broad." According to the legal records, Diane Cook, Bonnie Bannon, June Wilkins, Clarice Sherry and Pauline Craig were borrowed from M-G-M. Georgia Spence was originally cast as one of the members of the girls' band, but she was not in the final film. In one of their musical numbers, the Ritz Brothers appear as Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton and Peter Lorre, the "horror boys from Hollywood." According to a HR news item, Samuel Pokrass and Edward Cherkose contributed special material for the Ritz Brothers. Borrah Minevitch, a newcomer to films according to MPH , performed with his "Gang of Harmonica Rascals." According to information in the Produced Scripts Collection, Larry Adler was originally scheduled to play "Adolphe," the role that Minevitch took. According to Henie's biography, ice skating became very popular in the United States after the release of this film. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Dec 1936.
---
Daily Variety
19 Dec 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Dec 36
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 36
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 36
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 36
p. 3.
Liberty
6 Feb 1937.
---
Motion Picture Daily
21 Dec 36
p. 13.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Oct 36
p. 51.
Motion Picture Herald
26 Dec 36
p. 52.
New York Times
1 Jan 37
p. 19.
New York Times
27 Jun 1937.
---
Variety
6 Jan 37
p. 40.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Bob Parrish
Fran Sawyer
Don Maxwell
Adele Pearce
Alyce Gaering
Peggy Carroll
Jimmy Natarro
Jimmy Gonzalez
Ron Dexter
+
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
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story and scr
Story and scr
Gags and addl orig dial
Gags and addl orig dial
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Asst cam
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst cutter
Asst cutter
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
Ward man
Ward woman
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Asst mixer
Boom man
DANCE
Skating ensembles staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Asst prop
Cable man
Casting
Still photog
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Horror Men of Hollywood" by Harold Rome and Lester Lee.
SONGS
"One in a Million," "Who's Afraid of Love?" "The Moonlight Waltz," "We're Back in Circulation Again" and "Lovely Lady in White," music and lyrics by Lew Pollack and Sidney D. Mitchell.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 January 1937
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 31 December 1936
Production Date:
late September--14 November 1936
retakes on 25 November and 28 November 1936
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 January 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7148
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
92 or 94
Length(in feet):
8,487
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2850
SYNOPSIS

American showman Thadeus Spencer is stuck without money in the Swiss Alps with his wife, a girls' band, a comedy trio and a recent harmonica-playing discovery when the group learns that the Grand Palace Hotel in Ardetz, where they were to perform, has burned down. Upon seeing Greta Muller, an innkeeper's daughter, ice-skate, Spencer has a vision of her performing with a skating ballet that will make him millions. Spencer arranges for her to skate in a tryout performance at a St. Moritz casino for which he will get paid 950 francs. American reporter Bob Harris from the Paris Herald arrives at the inn to investigate the hotel fire which, rumor has it, was an attempt to kill a European premier. Bob has his photographer, Danny Simpson, trail Ratoffsky, a suspicious-looking bearded guest, and tries to romance Greta, who is sullen after a band member has Bob massage her neck. When Bob learns that Greta's father Heinrich, a 1908 Olympic figure skating champion who lost his medal because he accepted money as a gift for teaching, has trained Greta for twelve years for the upcoming Olympics, he follows the troupe to St. Moritz and stops Greta after her first number, warning that she is risking her Olympic eligibility. Unaware that her exhibition involved money, Greta is grateful to Bob as they ride back on a sleigh. At the Olympics, Greta wins first place in figure skating, but when she refuses to turn professional and skate for Spencer in New York, he threatens to expose her St. Moritz performance to the ruling committee. Heinrich returns Greta's medals himself when he learns of the ... +


American showman Thadeus Spencer is stuck without money in the Swiss Alps with his wife, a girls' band, a comedy trio and a recent harmonica-playing discovery when the group learns that the Grand Palace Hotel in Ardetz, where they were to perform, has burned down. Upon seeing Greta Muller, an innkeeper's daughter, ice-skate, Spencer has a vision of her performing with a skating ballet that will make him millions. Spencer arranges for her to skate in a tryout performance at a St. Moritz casino for which he will get paid 950 francs. American reporter Bob Harris from the Paris Herald arrives at the inn to investigate the hotel fire which, rumor has it, was an attempt to kill a European premier. Bob has his photographer, Danny Simpson, trail Ratoffsky, a suspicious-looking bearded guest, and tries to romance Greta, who is sullen after a band member has Bob massage her neck. When Bob learns that Greta's father Heinrich, a 1908 Olympic figure skating champion who lost his medal because he accepted money as a gift for teaching, has trained Greta for twelve years for the upcoming Olympics, he follows the troupe to St. Moritz and stops Greta after her first number, warning that she is risking her Olympic eligibility. Unaware that her exhibition involved money, Greta is grateful to Bob as they ride back on a sleigh. At the Olympics, Greta wins first place in figure skating, but when she refuses to turn professional and skate for Spencer in New York, he threatens to expose her St. Moritz performance to the ruling committee. Heinrich returns Greta's medals himself when he learns of the St. Moritz exhibition, but Bob takes Spencer to explain the situation to the secretary of the committee, Sir Frederick Brooks, who earlier was vacationing in the Alps incognito as Ratoffsky. As Greta received no payment and Spencer used all the money he received for expenses, Brooks declares Greta's eligibility proven, and the whole troupe, with Greta now as the star, performs in Madison Square Garden. +

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.