Musical Monday: It’s a Pleasure (1945)

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:
It’s a Pleasure (1945) – Musical #312

Studio:
International Pictures

Director:
William A. Seiter

Starring:
Sonja Henie, Michael O’Shea, Marie McDonald, Iris Adrian, Bill Johnson, Gus Schilling, Cheryl Walker, Arthur Loft, Dave Willock (uncredited), David Janssen (uncredited)

Plot:
Don Martin (O’Shea) is a star hockey player but gets barred from the game after hitting a referee. Chris Linden (Henie) is the lead in the ice-capades and gets Don a job with the show. The show, produced by Buzz Fletcher (Johnson), is a success and Don and Chris fall in love and marry. Buzz’s wife, Gale (Fletcher), causes trouble for the couple.

Trivia:
-Sonja Henie’s only Technicolor film
-Sonja Henie’s second to last film
-Lola Lane was originally announced in the Hollywood Reporter as the secondary female lead, which ended up going to Marie McDonald.
-Actress Marie MacDonald, who usually was blonde in her films, dyed her hair red for the film. Sonja Henie had a clause in her contract that said no other blondes could star in her films.
-Paul Bradley performed the ice skating stunts for Michael O’Shea.
-Though he was not credited, Billy Wilder began drafting the script, which was called “Of Ice and Women,” according to “It’s the Pictures That Got Small”: Charles Brackett on Billy Wilder and Hollywood’s Golden Age by Anthony Slide.
-David Janssen has an uncredited role as a child playing hockey. He was 14.

Sonja Henie in the finale number

Highlights:
-Technicolor cinematography
-Ice skating sequences

Notable Songs/Numbers:
-“Summer Dance”
-“Tico Tico”

My review:
While revisiting this movie with my parents, my dad would occasionally shake his head and repeat a line Sonja Henie gave in the same lifeless manner.

“I’m no movie expert but she’s terrible,” he said. “At least athletes like Esther Williams had personality!”

And I agree with my dad, Sonja Henie was not a stellar actor. In her first film in 1936, “One in a Million,” Darryl F. Zanuck wrote to give the Norwegian skater “as little and as simple dialogue” and “give her only questions and answers; questions which are questions, answers which are direct statement.” He picked a script for Henie that had very few acting scenes, according to Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck: The Golden Years at Twentieth Century Fox.

Nine years later with her second to last film, Henie had only marginally improved as an actor.

“It’s a Pleasure” isn’t a traditional musical and doesn’t have any singing, but I consider it a musical because of several skating and dancing numbers. Sonja Henie’s figure skating is more doing these quick little runs across the ice and occasionally gliding across. While Sonja Henie has three dedicated skating numbers and one dance, I was still wanted to see more instead of the montage that is in the film.

Marie Mcdonald as a redhead

Regardless of Henie’s acting, “It’s a Pleasure” is a very beautiful Technicolor film. From Marie McDonald’s red hair and green suits to brightly colored ice skating costumes, everything is beautifully photographed.

Micheal O’Shea is a decent, but fairly forgettable leading man. Marie McDonald does a good job of making you want to dislike her and looks beautiful while doing so.

Despite acting abilities, “It’s a Pleasure” is entertaining enough.

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