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DVD Review: It’s A Pleasure! (1945)

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Norwegian skating champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist Sonja Henie gets the lead billing as Chris Linden, a skater (gee) in this very adult-oriented Technicolor feature from 1945 also starring Michael O’Shea, Gus Schilling, and Marie McDonald (who would later appear alongside Jayne Mansfield in 1963’s Promises! Promises! — two years before she committed suicide). The reason I refer to It’s A Pleasure! as “adult-oriented” is the subject matter: the Wildcats’ star player Don Martin (O’Shea) is fired and subsequently barred from hockey completely due to a brawl in which he punches a referee (wait, was this the inspiration for Happy Gilmore?). With no job and no money, Don relies on his pal Bill (Schilling) to help him out while he tries to get back on his feet again. Fortunately for him, Chris is madly in love with the big dumb alky, and gets him a job performing in the skate show she’s a part of.

Naturally, even the most simple of plans must become as complicated as possible, and a jealous skating rival (McDonald) who is married to another one of Don’s friends has some ideas of her own in mind for the washed-out star. All throughout the 90-minute length of It’s A Pleasure!, the viewer witnesses nothing but Don struggle with alcohol (are you sure this isn’t an Adam Sandler film?) coupled with some rather unexciting skating sequences. Personally, I could do without such a thing, but I can appreciate the fact that someone else may very well hail this as a classic. My biggest qualm with the film however, is the fact that MGM DVD marketed the title as more of a golden age musical. It isn’t. It does have some skating/dancing scenes, but there are no “musical numbers” per se in this film: it’s a Technicolor drama and nothing more (although young David Janssen, the future star of The Fugitive, does appear in this title towards the end as one of the kids Don is teaching to play hockey).

It’s A Pleasure! is preserved in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on DVD from MGM. The early Technicolor feature comes through with some fairly bright colors and with only minimal wear and tear. Mono stereo sound is available in English and French, while optional subtitles in English and Spanish bring up the rear in the A/V department. There are no special features included on this release.

With its joyful-looking cover art, a world-famous skating star in the lead, and a title like It’s A Pleasure!, you’d at least expect some fun song-and-dance routines and a zany screwball Astaire/Rogers-style romance or two. Instead, It’s A Pleasure! wound up being anything but a pleasure for me. Hey, MGM: next time, dig out some honest-to-goodness musicals, will ya?

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.