One in a Million
Directed bySidney Lanfield
Written byLeonard Praskins
Mark Kelly
Eddie Cherkose
Lester Lee
Samuel Porkass
Harold Rome
Produced byRaymond Griffth
Ben Silvey
StarringSonja Henie
Adolphe Menjou
Jean Hersholt
Ned Sparks
Don Ameche
The Ritz Brothers
Arline Judge
Borrah Minevitch
Julius Tannen
Montagu Love
CinematographyEdward Cronjager
John Van Wormer
Edited byRobert L. Simpson
John Brady
Jack Wells
Music byDavid Buttolph
Charles Maxwell
Louis Silvers
Distributed byTwentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release dates
  • December 31, 1936 (1936-12-31) (Premiere-New York City)[1]
  • January 1, 1937 (1937-01-01) (US)[1]
Running time
95 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.3 million[2]

One in a Million is a 1936 American musical comedy film directed by Sidney Lanfield and starring Sonja Henie, Adolphe Menjou and Don Ameche. It marked the Hollywood debut of the ice skater Henie. It was the first of a series of Twentieth Century-Fox musicals made by Henie, although she had previously made a silent film in her native Norway.[3] The film features footage from the 1936 Winter Olympic Games.

Choreographer Jack Haskell received an Academy Award nomination in Best Dance Direction at the 9th Academy Awards. One in a Million proved to be one of the highest-grossing films of 1937.[3]


American showman Thaddeus Spencer (Adolphe Menjou) is stuck without money in the Swiss Alps with his wife Billie (Arline Judge), a girls' band, a comedy trio (The Ritz Brothers) and a recent harmonica-playing discovery (Borrah Minevitch) when the group learns that the Grand Palace Hotel in Ardetz, where they were to perform, has burned down. Upon seeing Greta Muller (Sonja Henie), an innkeeper's daughter, ice-skate, Spencer has a vision of her performing with a skating ballet that will make him millions. He arranges for her to skate in a tryout performance at a St. Moritz casino for which he will be paid 950 francs.

American reporter Bob Harris (Don Ameche) from the Paris Herald arrives at the inn to investigate the hotel fire which, rumor has it, was an attempt to kill a European premier. Bob has his photographer, Danny Simpson (Ned Sparks), trail Ratoffsky (Montagu Love), a suspicious-looking bearded guest, and tries to romance Greta, who is sullen after a band member has Bob massage her neck.

When Bob learns that Greta's father Heinrich Muller (Jean Hersholt), a 1908 Olympic figure skating champion who lost his medal because he accepted money as a gift for teaching, has trained Greta for twelve years for the upcoming Olympics, he follows the troupe to St. Moritz and stops Greta after her first number, warning that she is risking her Olympic eligibility. Unaware that her exhibition involved money, Greta is grateful to Bob as they ride back on a sleigh.

At the Olympics, Greta wins first place in figure skating, but when she refuses to turn professional and skate for Spencer in New York, he threatens to expose her St. Moritz performance to the ruling committee. Heinrich returns Greta's medals himself when he learns of the St. Moritz exhibition, but Bob takes Spencer to explain the situation to the secretary of the committee, Sir Frederick Brooks (Montagu Love), who earlier was vacationing in the Alps incognito as Ratoffsky. As Greta has received no payment and Spencer has used all the money he received for expenses, Brooks declares Greta's eligibility proven, and the whole troupe, with Greta now as the star, performs in Madison Square Garden.



Jack Haskell nominated for Best Dance Direction


Filmink called it "A grab bag of a movie. Plays like a variety show with a whole collection of acts. Fascinating to see how they protect [Henie]."[4] Figure skating writer and historian Ellyn Kestnbaum analyzed the film in her book Culture on Ice: Figure Skating and Cultural Meaning (2003) to demonstrate her discussion about specularity in figure skating and "how the image of competitive skating made its way into the American consciousness through its depiction in the image-driven mass medium of Hollywood film".[5][6]


  1. ^ a b "One in a Million: Detail View". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey (2002) [1988]. Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  3. ^ a b Green, Stanley (1999). Hollywood Musicals Year by Year (2nd ed.). Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-634-00765-1.
  4. ^ Vagg, Stephen (April 24, 2020). "I saw every Sonja Henie film so you don't have to". Filmink.
  5. ^ Kestnbaum, Ellyn (2003). Culture on Ice: Figure Skating and Cultural Meaning. Middleton, Connecticut: Wesleyan Publishing Press. p. 121. ISBN 0-8195-6641-1.
  6. ^ See Kestnbaum, pp. 121—124.