[box cover]

Ice Castles

Though 1978's Ice Castles has its cinematic lineage (1939's Bette Davis vehicle Dark Victory among them), it couldn't exist without 1970's Love Story, as it made this sort of film popular with teenage girls (and weepy folks of all ages). Love Story was the film that told hopeless romantics that love isn't love unless someone gets horribly sick and/or dies. In that vein, Ice Castles is the story of ice skater Alexis Winston (played by future Bond girl Lynn-Holly Johnson), who has more natural talent than anyone her coach (Colleen Dewhurst) has ever seen before. Maybe that's not such a big deal, as they live in a small Iowa community — but Alexis' father Marcus (Tom Skerritt) doesn't want her to compete because she might get hurt. However, her boyfriend and true love Nick Peterson (as the back of the DVD box tells us, "70's teen heartthrob Robby Benson") encourages her to follow her dreams as he chases his own playing professional hockey. But Nick is on the long road to nowhere; Alexis, on the other hand, wins a regional tournament, attracting the attention of a big-time coach (Jennifer Warren) who wants her to compete nationally and perhaps aim for the Olympic Games. Alexis's career soars, but she is something of a showoff and — through the strangest of coincidences — accidentally hits her head really hard, making her blind. Can Alexis, with the love and support of her boyfriend and family, regain her confidence and return to the ice? Anybody willing to place bets? A film that brought up more backseat conversations about "would you love me if I didn't have my (insert sense or missing body part here)", Ice Castles isn't that bad, as overblown romantic sagas go. The drama is underplayed by professionals Dewhurst and Skerritt, and if forced at gunpoint to watch such sappy fare, it's not as painful as the aforementioned Love Story. But Ice Castles is a triumph over adversity by the numbers, so much so that the film's rises and falls could be timed by a stopwatch. For serious genre fans only. Columbia TriStar's DVD release features a good anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85:1) with slight grain, and audio in Dolby 2.0 (mono). Talent flies, trailer gallery. Keep-case.

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