It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
“Silver Skates” (1943)– Musical #518
Belita, Kenny Baker, Patricia Morison, Joyce Compton, Frank Fraylen, Irene Dare, Danny Shaw
Specialty performances: Skating team Frick and Frack-Werner Groebli and Hans Mauch, Eugene Turner, Ted Fio Rito Orchestra
Claire Thomas (Morison) owns an ice show that is financially on the rocks. The only thing keeping the show afloat is ice skater Belita (as herself). However, Belita is leaving the show to get married. Show member Eddie (Fraylen) starts a rumor that Belita is in love with the show’s singer Danny (Baker) so she will stay. However, Danny is engaged to Claire. Along the way, Claire meets a war orphan, Katrina (Dare), who joins the skating show and Claire would like to adopt. The only issue is, she needs to be married to adopt Katrina.
-Played on a double bill with the Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles film “Journey into Fear.”
-Belita’s ice skating performances
-Irene Dare, the child ice skater
-The Cowboy ice skating
-“A Girl Like You, a Boy Like Me” performed by Kenny Baker and Patricia Morison
-“Love Is a Beautiful Song” performed by Kenny Baker
-“Lovely Lady” performed by Kenny Baker
-“Dancing on Top of the World” performed by the chorus, skated by Irene Dare
This film is in the same vain as Sonja Henie’s ice skating extravaganzas, but with a lower budget.
Belita was an English ice skater who competed against Henie at age 12 in the 1936 Winter Olympics. Henie won the gold and Belita placed 16th. Similar to Henie, Belita went to Hollywood in 1941. Along with her ice skating, she also was known for her underwater ballet (though she wasn’t on film doing it like Williams) and was featured on the cover of LIFE magazine in the water.
“Silver Skates” is a simple, low budget B-film but it’s entertaining. The majority of the film is made up ice skating routines from Belita, child stars Irene Dare and Danny Shaw, and Frick and Frack. I particularly enjoyed watching the children ice skate.
Patricia Morison is the main actor in the film, making up the plot, but the focus isn’t as much on her. Morrison was wasted in this film, but I imagine producers needed a name and straight actor to headline the film. Kenny Baker, who I like to call a poor-man’s Dick Powell, is an adequate singer, but he isn’t much of a leading man.
Don’t turn to “Silver Skates” for a serious plot. It is a fun escapism piece with some lovely ice skating sequences.
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I enjoyed reading about this, Jessica! I have a copy but haven’t seen it yet. Hope to rectify that soon as I’ve been working my way through the films of Patricia Morison — too bad she’s wasted here. She was an underutilized talent!
I highly recommend Belita’s LADY, LET’S DANCE! which is out from the Warner Archive. The plot is virtually non-existent but the dance and skating numbers are real wows, I had such a good time watching it!
I like Belita the best in her skating noirs, but it’s so fun to see her more cheerful in this one. She’s proof that you don’t need to know how to act if you have an interesting personality!