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The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939) Poster

Trivia

None of the three main stars could skate; the screenplay was written with this in mind.
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The only film in which Joan Crawford was seen in 3-color Technicolor. A decade later Joan made a cameo in the Techicolor film It's a Great Feeling (1949), and it was another four years before she made her first all-color film Torch Song (1953).
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In the opening sequence of Mommie Dearest (1981), Joan Crawford (played by Faye Dunaway) is getting ready for this movie.
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This film was a flop at the box office, resulting in a loss to MGM of $343,000 ($6M in 2017) according to studio records.
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Joan Crawford announced her impending divorce from Franchot Tone during this production.
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When this film not only tanked at the box office, but also prompted The New York Times to suggest "Miss Crawford should not make any more films like this," Crawford began to question the wisdom of the M-G-M executives who had guided her career since 1925. Within a few years (and after several more unpopular movies) she bought her way out of her Metro contract, and all but went into retirement while seeking an appropriate "comeback vehicle." Her eventual choice was Warner Brothers' 1945 melodrama Mildred Pierce, for which Crawford won an Academy Award as Best Actress.
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This film was an attempt by M-G-M to replicate Fox's surprising success with "extravaganzas on ice" starring Olympic Gold Medal winning Norwegian skater Sonja Henie. In one sequence, Joan Crawford is even seen with blonde hair, emulating the appearance of Henie. Unlike Fox's Henie films, which catapulted their star into the Top Ten Box Office Players list, this film bombed so badly that Crawford's future movie career was impacted by its failure.
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A large number of actors listed in studio records did not appear in the movie: Charles Williams (Max Morton), Eddie Conrad (Hal Gibbs), Mary Forbes (Lady Hilda), Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer (Small Boy), Darla Hood (Sister) and Armand Kaliz (Count). The movie was heavily edited; 'Joan Crawford' recorded three songs, all of which were cut.
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This film went into production around the time Joan Crawford's name was included in a trade publication's list of actresses who were considered "box office poison" (Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and Katharine Hepburn were also listed). The fact that M-G-M gave this film a million dollar budget, gave Crawford James Stewart and Lew Ayres as co-stars and filmed a sequence in the then expensive process of Technicolor suggests the studio believed they could restore Crawford to her former status as a Top Ten Box Office star. The fact that the film lost money for the studio suggests they were wrong.
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This film was reportedly among Joan Crawford's least favorite films of her entire career, and its failure was a major factor in Crawford's decision to buy her way out of her M-G-M contract a few years later.
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This film received its initial telecasts in Seattle Saturday 23 March 1957 on KING (Channel 5) and in Portland OR Sunday 24 March 1957 on KGW (Channel 8); it first aired in Los Angeles 1 April 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), in Kansas City MO 15 April 1957 on KCMO (Channel 5), in Philadelphia 9 June 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Chicago 20 June 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Altoona PA 26 June 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Minneapolis 6 July 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9), in Phoenix 15 September 1957 on KPHO (Channel 5), in Akron 16 October 1957 on WAKR (Channel 49), and in Fresno CA 3 December 1957 on KMJ (Channel 24); it was first telecast in San Francisco 19 August 1959 on KGO (Channel 7), but its earliest documented television showing in New York City did not take place until 17 January 1962 on WCBS (Channel 2). Its Technicolor sequences were not restored to their original hues until Turner Classic Movies took control of it in the late 1980s.
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When Faye Dunaway, playing Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, is preparing for this movie (during the opening credit sequence), reading "The Ice Follies of 1939" script in her dressing room, she then, ironically, splashes hot water full of ice cubes on her face.
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A promotional photo from this movie, of Lew Ayres and Jimmy Stewart dressed in ice-skating costumes, is one of the many that can be seen on the wall in the background of the Lucille Ball movie, "Du Barry Was a Lady" (1943). It appears on the wall of Ball's character's dressing room and can be seen early on in the film when Gene Kelly's character shows her his new song.
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