Ice Castles

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Ice Castles
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDonald Wrye
Screenplay by
  • Donald Wrye
  • Gary L. Baim
Story byGary L. Baim
Produced byJohn Kemeny
CinematographyBill Butler
Edited by
Music byMarvin Hamlisch
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
December 31, 1978
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$9.5 million[1]

Ice Castles is a 1978 American romantic drama film directed by Donald Wrye and starring Lynn-Holly Johnson and Robby Benson. It is the story of 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", performed by Melissa Manchester, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 52nd Academy Awards.[2]

A remake, also directed by Wrye, was released direct to video in 2010.

Plot summary[edit]

Alexis "Lexie" Winston is a sixteen-year-old girl from Waverly, Iowa, who dreams of becoming a champion figure skater. Her boyfriend, Nick Peterson, dreams of being a hockey player.

Coached by a family friend and former skater, Lexie enters a regional championship over her father's protests. There she is discovered by an elite coach, who sees her potential despite her lack of training and her relatively advanced age. Over her father's objections, Lexie moves from Waverly to Colorado Springs to train at the legendary Broadmoor World Arena. She becomes unpopular among her fellow trainees because of the attention lavished on her natural talent and the publicity she receives.

Lexie qualifies for the senior championship level, her life changing drastically in the process. She becomes a star, alienates her boyfriend, and begins dating a grown man, television broadcaster Brian, who is a television broadcaster. Becoming uncomfortable with the direction her life is taking, she leaves a sponsorship party and heads to a nearby outdoor skating rink. Her coach and the partygoers watch through the windows as she skates. She attempts a difficult triple jump but lands off the ice onto a set of tables and chairs chained together near the edge of the rink. Lexie suffers a serious head injury, a blood clot in her brain robbing her of her eyesight and leaving her able to see only light and blurry shapes. The doctor is uncertain if her injury will be permanent.

Lexie returns home and becomes a recluse. Nick, who still resents her affair with Brian, demands that she get out of the house and back onto the ice. Despite their mutual resentment and Lexie's depression, they work through their estrangement and rediscover their love for each other. With help from Nick, her father Marcus, and original coach Beulah, Lexie begins to believe she can still fulfill her dreams. Though virtually blind, she can still see the boards at the edge of the rink, and so learns how to compensate for her disability.

She enrolls in the sectional championship and presents a flawless program that provokes a standing ovation from the audience. Her disability, however, is revealed when she trips over roses thrown onto the ice by adoring fans. Nick rushes to her side and says, "We forgot about the flowers," as the crowd realizes that Lexie has not recovered from her injuries but rather risen above them.

Cast and characters[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The film holds a 44% "Rotten" rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 9 reviews, with an average score of 5.3/10.[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 called the film a "schmaltzy classic skating movie for romantics."[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."[8]


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


Director Donald Wrye remade Ice Castles in 2009.[12] The namesake film, starring Taylor Firth and Rob Mayes, was released as a direct-to-DVD title on February 9, 2010, shortly before the 2010 Winter Olympics.[13]

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). "Screen: 'Ice Castles,' Skater's Story:Slush". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  9. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  10. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  11. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  12. ^ "Firth to star in Ice Castles", The Hollywood Reporter, April 6, 2009
  13. ^ IMDB: Release information on Ice Castles (2010).

External links[edit]