Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One in a Million

One in a Million

20th Century-Fox, 1936, B/W, 95 minutes, ***½

Premiere release December, 1936

General release January, 1937

In Sonja Henie's first film, she plays Greta Muller, a young skater who hopes to make the Swiss Olympic team. Her father Heinrich Muller (Jean Hersholt) won the Olympic Gold Medal for figure skating in 1908 but had to forfeit the medal when it was determined that he had skated "professionally," though Greta insists that he had not really done so. At any rate, many years have passed and now Heinrich owns an inn near San Moritz in the Swiss Alps, and has been training his daughter for Olympic competition all of her life.

Purely by chance, Adolph Menjou and his all-girl troupe of entertainers come to stay at the Muller's inn, and Menjou sees Sonja skate. He realizes immediately that she is star material and wants to put her on contract. He convinces her to put on an exhibition - not knowing that this would jeopardize her amateur standing. But Don Ameche, another guest at the inn, realizes that Sonja's performance in the exhibition will disqualify her for the Olympics and tries to keep her from skating. But Sonja skates in the exhibition, completely unaware that Menjou is being paid for her appearance. She continues on to the Olympics and wins the Gold, only to have it taken away from her just as her father did. But a mysterious man, yet another guest at the inn, can save the day for Sonja.

Features hundreds of wisecracks from Arline Judge, several numbers by Leah Ray and some great skating by that one-in-a-million skater, Sonja Henie. Having just won her third consecutive Olympic Gold Medal in 1936, it is not surprising that this film would involve her in the Olympic competition.

In Charge of Production: Darryl F. Zanuck

Associate Producer: Raymond Griffith

Directed by: Sidney Lanfield

Assistant Director: William Forsyth

Story and Screen Play by: Leonard Praskins and Mark Kelly

Music and Lyrics by: Lew Pollack (music) and Sidney D. Mitchell (lyrics)

Musical Director: Louis Silvers

Skating Ensembles Staged by: Jack Haskell

Art Direction: Mark-Lee Kirk

Set Decorations by: Thomas Little

Costumes: Royer

Sound: Arthur von Kirbach, Roger Heman

Photography: Edward Cronjager

Film Editor: Robert Simpson

Awards: Academy Award nomination for Best Dance Direction (Jack Haskell)

Cast: Sonja Henie [Greta Muller], Adolphe Menjou [Ted Spencer], Jean Hersholt [Heinrich Muller], Ned Sparks [Danny Simpson], Don Ameche [Bob Harris], Ritz Brothers [Themselves], Arline Judge [Billie Spencer], Borrah Minnevitch and His Harmonica Rascals [Adolphe and His Gang], Dixie Dunbar [Goldie], Leah Ray [Leah, Singer in Girls Band], Montagu Love [Ratoffsky], Albert Conti [Hotel Manager], Julius Tannen [Chapelle], Shirley Deane, June Gale, Lillian Porter, Helen Ericson, Diane Cook, Bonnie Bannon, June Wilkins, Clarice Sherry, Pauline Craig [Girls in Band], Additional Cast: Margo Webster [French Skater], Frederick Giermann [German Announcer], Bess Flowers [Woman in Box], Egon Brecher [Chairman], Paul McVey [Announcer at Madison Square Garden]

Musical Program: [0:00] Overture: "One in a Million" / "Who's Afraid of Love?" (played by Orchestra behind titles); [0:01] One in a Million (played by Orchestra [Girls Band onscreen]); [0:01] One in a Million (sung by Leah Ray with Girls Band); [0:02] Train Song: medley of tunes including "Chloe" / Dixie / "The Old Folks at Home" / My Old Kentucky Home / "They Call Me Arizona" (medley of short excerpts sung by the Ritz Brothers); [0:04] unidentified number (played on harmonica by Borrah Minnevitch); [0:17] Sonja skating scene (training, no music); [0:18] The Moonlit Waltz (played by Orchestra, skated by Sonja Henie and Girls Chorus costumed like snow-covered Christmas trees); [0:35] Sonja skating scene, Don Ameche tries to skate, too, but falls (training, no music); [0:41] We're Back in Circulation Again (sung by Leah Ray, Dixie Dunbar, Sonja Henie, The Ritz Brothers and Ensemble in sleighs bound for San Moritz); [0:44] The Moonlit Waltz (played by Orchestra [Girls Band onscreen], skated by Sonja Henie at San Moritz); [0:48] We're the Horror Boys of Hollywood (comedy number sung and danced by the Ritz Brothers immitating Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton and Peter Lorre); [1:00] Who's Afraid of Love? (played by Orchestra [Girls Band onscreen], sung by Leah Ray, Don Ameche and some of the members of the Girls Band); [1:03] Comic number with several different music fragments, most prominently "One in a Million" (performed by Borrah Minnevitch and His Harmonica Rascals - great number!); [1:10] French Women's Contestant skates in the Olympic Competition; [1:13] The Queen's Lace Handkerchief: Roses from the South, Op.388 (played by Orchestra, skated by Sonja Henie at the Olympic competition); [1:25] unidentified number (played by Orchestra, skated by Sonja Henie and Ensemble); [1:27] "Can-Can", "Toreador Song" and other excerpts from the opera CARMEN (played by Orchestra, along with fragments of other music during comedy skating number by the Ritz Brothers as a bull and a torreador); [1:31] Finale: One in a Million (sung by Chorus, skated by Sonja Henie and Ensemble)

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