Ice Castles

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This article is about the film. For other uses, see Ice Castles (disambiguation).
Ice Castles
Directed by Donald Wrye
Produced by John Kemeny
Written by Gary L. Baim
Donald Wrye
Starring Lynn-Holly Johnson
Robby Benson
Tom Skerritt
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by Michael Kahn
Melvin Shapiro
Maury Winetrobe
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates December 31, 1978
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $9.5 million[1]

Ice Castles is a 1978 American romantic drama, starring Lynn-Holly Johnson and Robby Benson. A paperback novelization of the screenplay, by Leonore Fleischer, was released in conjunction with the film. It is the story of Alexis "Lexie" Winston, a young figure skater, and her rise and fall from super stardom. Tragedy strikes when, following a freak accident, Lexie loses her sight, leaving her to hide away in the privacy of her own despair. She eventually perseveres and begins competing in figure skating again.

The work was filmed on location in Colorado and Minnesota. Its theme song "Through the Eyes of Love" was made famous by Melissa Manchester and was nominated for the 52nd Academy Awards (April 1980).[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Alexis "Lexie" Winston is a young girl from a small town in Iowa, who dreams of becoming a champion figure skater. Her boyfriend, Nick Peterson, dreams of being a hockey player.

Coached by a family friend & former skater, Lexie enters a regional championship despite her father's protests. There, she is discovered by an elite coach who sees her potential despite a lack of training and qualifications at an advanced age for figure skaters. Despite initial protests from her father Lexie moves from her home in Waverly, Iowa to train at the legendary Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is not well received by the other girls because of the attention lavished on her natural talent, but she proves herself and qualifies for the next level. Lexie's life is drastically changed; she becomes a star, alienates her boyfriend and begins dating an older man.

Feeling uncomfortable at a party, Lexie leaves and goes to the rink nearby to skate in her dress clothes. In plain view of the party-goers and her coach, she jumps, and as she lands, she trips on a set of tables and chairs on the edge of the ice, causing her to fall and hit her head. This accident creates a blood clot in her brain, causing her to lose her eyesight. The doctor is uncertain if her injury is permanent.

In the midst of feeling sorry for herself, she and Nick rediscover their love for each other. With help from Nick, her father Marcus and original coach Beulah, Lexie begins to realize that she can still fulfill her dreams with Nick's reverse psychology and tough love, learns how to skate blind and competes once again, skating a flawless program that merits an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd. Her ruse, however, is discovered when she trips over the roses thrown onto the ice by adoring fans after her performance, she promptly loses her footing, and falls to the ice. Nick rushes to her side and commits to cinematic history the line "We forgot about the flowers," pointing out the obvious reaction by fans to an excellent performance.

Cast and characters[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The film holds a 44% "Fresh" rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 9 reviews, with an average score of 5.3/10. (The site's audience review rating was higher, at 68% and with an average of 3.5 of 5 stars.)[3]

A movie reviewer for Variety wrote, "Ice Castles combines a touching love story with the excitement and intense pressure of Olympic competition skating" and praised the performances of Dewhurst and Skerrit.[4]

Roger Ebert disliked the sentimentality of the movie, writing, "Call me Scrooge; stories like this make me cringe. I don't deny the bravery of the characters being portrayed -- I just object to the emotional bankruptcy of the people making the movies... One of the melancholy aspects of Ice Castles is the quality of talent that's been brought to such an unhappy enterprise. Lynn-Holly Johnson, who plays the figure skater, is an appealing young woman who actually happens to be a good skater who can act. Robby Benson, as her boy friend, is always an engaging performer... The supporting cast includes the irreplaceable Colleen Dewhurst... There's also a brief role (as a hard-boiled coach) for the fascinating actress Jennifer Warren, who was electrifying in Night Moves and never seems to get the roles she deserves. They all act well together, and the direction by Donald Wrye tries to get beneath surfaces, to show plausible people in actual situations, to give some notion of the pressures on young athletes. The girl's small town is colorfully painted, the family's home life is drawn in a nice offbeat way, and the details of competitive ice-skating are worked in casually."[5]

Reviewer Austin Kennedy also gave a lukewarm review, though praised the acting as "the better part of this movie. Real life skater Lynn-Holly Johnson is charming and does a fine job as the innocent starlet."[6]

Common Sense Media, which advocates on child and family issues, gave the film 3 stars out of 5 and wrote, "Parents need to know that 16-year-old Alexis is thrown into a world too fast and big for her. As a consequence, she makes some self-destructive decisions... With a plot that will engage romantics young and old, this Academy Award-nominated film is an excellent illustration of what happens to a girl when she becomes successful too soon."[7]

Janet Maslin, in The New York Times, complained that she found the movie "amazingly hard to follow," "confusing," and "baffling;" she writes, "Wrye's bungling renders the story sob-proof." The (unscientific) response of readers of The Times gave higher praise, at a 4.5 of 5 stars.[8]

The website "Spirituality and Practice" called the movie "a totally affecting story" and a "melodrama that really works, thanks to the sure-handed directing abilities of Donald Wrye. He never lets it slip into sloppy sentimentality. And there are several very strong performances."[9]


Director Donald Wrye filmed a remake of the movie in 2009.[10] The movie, starring Taylor Firth and Rob Mayes, was released as a direct-to-DVD title on February 9, 2010, shortly before the 2010 Winter Olympics.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard Nowell, Blood Money: A History of the First Teen Slasher Film Cycle Continuum, 2011 p 256
  2. ^ Arnold, Christine (November 15, 1987). "This Year's Melissa Not the Same Old Song and Dance". The Miami Herald. p. 1K. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Ice Castles". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ Variety staff (December 31, 1977). "Review: Ice Castles". Variety. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 29, 1979). "Ice Castles". Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  6. ^ Kennedy, Austin (May 7, 2012). "The 31 Day Movie Challenge - Day 9 - ICE CASTLES (1978)". Sin Magazine / The 1 and Only Film Geek. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ Boerner, Heather (August 28, 2007). "Ice Castles". Common Sense Media. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ Maslin, Janet (February 23, 1979). Tomatoes "Ice Castles (1979)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  9. ^ Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann. "Film Review: Ice Castles". Spirituality & Practice. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Firth to star in Ice Castles", The Hollywood Reporter, April 6, 2009
  11. ^ IMDB: Release information on Ice Castles (2010).

External links[edit]