It’s a Pleasure

In 1936, Norwegian ice-skating sensation Sonja Henie, winner of three Olympic Gold Medals, became a movie star as soon as she signed the contract from crafty Darryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox. He had seen her ice show in Los Angeles and rushed backstage before other Hollywood moguls could snag her. As head of the recently incorporated Fox, he needed new stars, and here was one already famous for her athletic, ballet-inspired skating. But for all her icy brilliance, she couldn’t do anything else a major movie star is supposed to do — like, oh, act. Zanuck instinctively knew how to handle this shortcoming, as he notes in a 1937 memo: “I caution you against giving Sonja Henie too many lines. You should work it…where we get the impression that she is carrying the whole thing, whereas if you analyze it, you will see that everything is happening around her, and only occasionally does she speak a line.” This policy worked surprisingly well for Zanuck and Henie, and was quite lucrative.

Shown through Houston IKEA’s Silver Screen series, It’s a Pleasure (1945), Henie’s first film in luxuriant Technicolor, was made by short-lived indie company International Pictures. Basically, it’s an ice-inspired A Star Is Born, in which skater Sonja rises, while her hubby, a former hockey pro played by Michael O’Shea, drinks more and more. The ending is happy, though, as is the scrumptious lensing by ace cameraman Ray Rennahan and those mad nightclub settings from famed art director Wiard Ihnen, fresh from his Academy Award-winning job on Wilson. 6:30 p.m. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713‑400‑7336 or visit
Wed., Jan. 11, 6:30 p.m., 2012


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