Though made-for-TV ice skating musical, based on the classic children's book by Mary Mapes Dodge, possesses a number of modest virtues, it's not one for the ages. Holland, 1838: Once the members of the Brinker family could hold their heads high, but after their patriarch (John Gregson) suffers brain damage in a house-building accident he can neither continue to work nor remember where he sequestered the family's savings. Mama Brinker (Eleanor Parker) makes the most of their scant resources, but her children, Hans (Robin Askwith) and Gretel (Roberta Tovey), can only afford wooden ice skates and even a champion like Hans needs metal blades if he hopes to win the kind of competitions that pay cash prizes. Anne (Sheila Whitmill), the unmarried of the town's richest family, takes a fancy to Hans, but her snobby relatives interfere and beg Mama Brinker to nip the romance in the bud. Though Hans' future options are limited, one former neighbor, Doctor Boekman (Richard Basehart), has gone on to greater glory in Amsterdam; if Hans could skate to Amsterdam, perhaps he could prevail upon Doctor Boekman to treat his father! Annie works behind the scenes to enable Hans to get part-time carving work that pays for the silver skates he needs, but Hans' first encounter with ultra-busy society physician Doctor Boekman is none too encouraging. Hans thinks he's failed his family, but Dr. Boekman pays the Brinkers a surprise visit, warns the family that an operation will be risky but agrees to perform the surgery without cost. As Hans participates in a high-stakes race, he's driven forward by the thought that restoration of his father's good health would be the sweetest victory of them all. This schmaltzy musical is a pleasant enough diversion, but the budget-conscious decision to stage several large-scale production numbers with voice-over singing to save on the cost of lip-synching backfires and makes the production look cheap.
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