Watching 1939: Everything’s On Ice (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult.

everythings on ice1939 film:
Everything’s On Ice (1939)

Release date:
Oct. 6, 1939

Cast:
Irene Dare, Roscoe Karnes, Edgar Kennedy, Lynne Roberts, Eric Linden, George Meeker, Wade Boteler

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Erle C. Kenton

Plot:
Child ice skater Irene (Dare) is exploited by her chiseling uncle Felix (Karns) when he signs her up to perform at a resort in Florida. Felix is also trying to arrange romances with Irene’s older sister, Jane (Roberts), that seem to be financially profitable. Pretty soon, it becomes apparent that everyone is trying to use everyone else for money.

1939 Notes:
• Before this film, Lynn Roberts was billed as Mary Hart. This is the first film where she was billed under her new stage name.
• By the numbers:
– Irene Dare was in one film released in 1939.
– Lynne Roberts was in eight films released in 1939.
– Roscoe Karns was in four films released in 1939.
– Edgar Kennedy was in 12 films released in 1939, but only five are feature-length.
– Eric Linden was in two films released in 1939.
– George Meeker was in 18 films released in 1939.
– Wade Boteler was in 35 feature films released in 1939.

everythings on ice2

Irene Dare

Other trivia:
• Also released under the title “Frolics on Ice”
• Ventriloquist Paul Winchell and his dummy do not appear in the film, but his voice is heard in the film.

everythings on ice

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
As far as movie ice-skaters go, most film fans are familiar with Sonja Henie. And some are familiar with Belita, who went from ice skating musicals to ice skating film noir.

But the star of this week’s 1939 film, Irene Dare, may not be a name you are familiar with. The child actor and ice skater appeared in three films from 1938 to 1943, with “Everything’s on Ice” (1939) as her second film.

In “Everything’s On Ice,” Roscoe Karns plays Uncle Felix, who cons his family into having young Irene perform at a Florida resort so he can pick up the paychecks. Not only is ice skating Irene being exploited, by Uncle Felix is trying to find profitable love matches for her older sister.

This overlooked, low-budget film is good fun. Irene Dare is cute and also has fun skating routines. Sort of like Sonja Henie, she runs across the ice, but also does cartwheels and back-bends.

Dare retired from films at age 12 and ice skating professionally in the 1950s. Dare came to Hollywood in 1938 when she (and her parents) were approached about her auditioning for the role of Bonnie Blue Butler in “Gone with the Wind,” according to family interviews.

Roscoe Karns is great as usual. How is that even while he’s chiseling, you still can’t help but like him?

But the downside to this film is Eric Linden. Mainly because I’m not a fan of Linden.

This film isn’t 1939’s most important, but it’s an interesting look at an often overlooked child ice skating performer.

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