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Breaking the Ice (September 22, 1938)

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Bobby Breen in Breaking the Ice

Released on September 22, 1938: Bobby Breen is a young Mennonite from near Philadelphia who runs away from home to find his fortune.

Directed by Edward F. Cline

The Actors: Bobby Breen (Tommy Martin), Charles Ruggles (Samuel Terwilliger), Dolores Costello (Martha Martin), Irene Dare (Irene Dare), Robert Barrat (William Decker), Dorothy Peterson (Annie Decker), John 'Dusty' King (Henry Johnson), Billy Gilbert (Mr. Small), Margaret Hamilton (Mrs. Small), Charles Murray (janitor), Jonathan Hale (Mr. Kane), Delmar Watson (Reuben Johnson), Spencer Charters (farmer Smith), Cy Kendall (Judd), Maurice Cass (Mr. Jones).


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Many, many years ago Stephen Berkey left the German speaking part of Switzerland and came to America . . . Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Mennonites had been invited to settle and build a new life. The Berkey's eventually made their way west to the Somerset, Pennsylvania area, where the name Berkey is very common. My grandfather's family made their way a bit further west to the Youngstown, Ohio area. When my grandfather was a youngster, one night when the kids all made their way to bed, one of his brothers, Moses, carefully and secretly placed his shoes outside the back door on the ground. In the middle of the night he quietly got up, climbed out the bedroom window, put on the shoes that were waiting for him outside the back door, and left for parts unknown. Many years later, when Pap (my grandfather) was an adult, he read an article in a local newspaper about a man named Moses Berkey in California. He contacted this Moses and discovered that it was his brother who had run away from home so many years before. Pap travelled to California that summer and met with his brother and renewed a bond that was broken for most of their life.

This movie features child stars Bobby Breen and ice skater Irene Dare, along with very young veteran actors Charles Ruggles, Jonathan Hale and John 'Dusty' King. It is 1938, and Breen is the son of a widowed Mennonite mother near Philadelphia. Henry Johnson, a single Mennonite man is heading for Goshen, Kansas, and he hints that he is sweet on Breen's mother, but leaves town without asking her and her little boy to come along. Through a series of mix-ups, little Tommy must earn $90 to pay for a train trip for his mom and himself to Kansas. He decides that the only way to earn this money is to run away from home, so he leaves during the middle of the night for nearby Philadelphia to earn the money that will get him and his mother to John in Kansas. I hope you have popped a big bowl of white kernel popcorn to enjoy with your family as you watch this adventure, because you'll want something tasty to munch on as you watch Tommy smile and sing his way through a myriad of misfortune on his way to fortune and a train trip to Kansas.

Bobby BreenBobby Breen and Charles Ruggles
Bobby Breen - 1938Bobby Breen and Charles Ruggles
Dolores Costello and John 'Dusty' KingCharles Ruggles and Bobby Breen
Dolores Costello and John 'Dusty' KingCharles Ruggles and Bobby Breen
Charles RugglesIrene Dare
Charles Ruggles - 1938Irene Dare - 1938
Irene DareIrene Dare
Irene Dare - 1938Irene Dare Ice Skating in 1938
Jonathan HaleRobert Barrat, Dorothy Peterson
Jonathan Hale - 1938Robert Barrat and Dorothy Peterson