Ice Castles (1978)

Ice Castles (1978)

“If you’re not tough enough, you’re never going to make it.”

Against the wishes of her widowed dad (Tom Skerritt), a talented small-town ice skater (Lynn-Holly Johnson) is encouraged by her coach (Colleen Dewhurst) and her boyfriend (Robby Benson) to accept an offer of being mentored by a big-time trainer (Jennifer Warren) — but is fame and success all it’s cut out to be?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Aspiring Stars
  • Blindness
  • Rise-and-Fall
  • Robby Benson Films
  • Sports

This soaper-on-ice — about an aspiring skater who attempts to enter the big league at the ripe old age of 16 (!!!) — is well-adored by viewers of a certain age (who perhaps caught it on repeat TV broadcasts), as well as those enamored by ice skating. Indeed, there’s some beautiful skating on display here by real-life skater Johnson, who’s well-cast in the lead role. Other supporting performances are nicely played as well (I’m particularly fond of Skerritt as Johnson’s grieving father) — but the screenplay ultimately lets us down. It’s full of trite dialogue:

“If she doesn’t try, it’s going to be second-best — for us.”
“Not trying is wondering your whole life if you gave up too soon.”

and goes in narrative directions that must be seen to be believed. However, it’s all convincing enough if you’re willing to get drawn into the lure of its fairy tale charm. Indeed, this remains a sufficiently enduring story that it was remade by the same director (Donald Wrye) in 2010 — a version I haven’t seen.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Solid performances by the cast
  • Some affecting, well-filmed moments

Must See?
No, unless you remember this fondly from your youth and would like to revisit it.


One thought on “Ice Castles (1978)

  1. A Lifetime movie that features a fine performance by Tom Skerritt. Lynn-Holly Johnson is fine as the skater, and Dewhurst adds some spunk as her first coach and small town bar/bowling alley owner. The professional coaching and competition (along with the depiction of the other skaters) is way less interesting. Robby Benson – a variation of his performance in One on One (which I like) and Ode to Billy Joe…but he is what one would expect (little did we know he had The Chosen to show off his chops).
    I do watch figure skating with my wife some (especially during the Olympics). The sport was so different in 1978 (figure eights, less jumps, different scoring system). With that said, why is this film in the guide? Money making reasons. The Oscar nominated song (which is a stinker). Who knows! Could be way worse, but this is definitely not a must see!

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