Sunset Over Hope Valley: Praying for a Solution

When Lee goes to the Infirmary after he injured his back, Joseph Canfield, a new character on When Calls the Heart, tells Rosemary he’ll pray for Lee. Not only was the gesture thoughtful, but it also highlights an important component of the show. Since the show’s beginning, faith has been interwoven throughout the overall story. Whether it was Elizabeth’s students putting on a Nativity play during Christmastime or the characters adding Biblical values to their lives, faith is one of the cornerstones of Hope Valley. It has been a while since services were shown in the church or since a pastor has stayed in the town for more than a few episodes. Adding a new pastor to When Calls the Heart’s growing cast of characters would continue to emphasize the importance of faith. It would provide the town with someone to turn to whenever someone is struggling. The pastor’s journey of faith could also be explored. In the meantime, let’s start this week’s re-cap of When Calls the Heart!

Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. 

Season: 8

Episode: 2

Name: Honestly, Elizabeth

Major Stories:

Helen Bouchard spends her morning reading Elizabeth’s manuscript. When Lucas visits her at the Queens of Hearts Saloon, Helen expresses no interest in leaving her room. Later that day, as Elizabeth is on her way to the Infirmary to visit Lee, Lucas asks Elizabeth if she’ll visit Helen. After Lucas explains how Elizabeth is easier to talk to, Elizabeth agrees. At the Saloon, Elizabeth arrives at Helen’s room, bringing a basket of homemade muffins. Helen refuses the muffins and also frowns upon Elizabeth’s lateness when it came to handing in her manuscript. When Helen asks if Elizabeth can meet with her the next morning to look over Elizabeth’s manuscript, Elizabeth agrees. The following day, Elizabeth and Helen work on editing the manuscript. They have difficulty seeing eye-to-eye, as they only finish the first page. To resolve this issue, Elizabeth suggests they take a break by going for a walk. On this walk, Helen reveals that she likes Elizabeth’s honest writing. She also confides in Elizabeth how her husband left her. Helen says her husband was in London the last time he was located. She tells Elizabeth not to tell Lucas about this news. When Lucas arrives to invite Elizabeth to dinner, she turns down the invitation. Instead, she recruits Lucas to help plan a special night in for Lee and Rosemary. Throughout the episode, Helen takes notice of Lucas’ feelings for Elizabeth.

A box for the Coulters arrives at their house. Joseph Canfield comes to help Lee bring the package into the home. During this procedure, Lee hurts his break. He is taken to the Infirmary by Rosemary, Joseph, and Jesse. At the Infirmary, Carson discovers Lee has sprained his back. He tells Lee and Rosemary how Lee will have to rest at the Infirmary until the afternoon, when Lee will be able to go home. Back at home, Lee is still in pain. He plans to take it easy by sitting on the sofa. Later that evening, Elizabeth surprises Lee and Rosemary by planning a special night in. She gives them wine and a record that have something to do with Hawaii. As they dance to the music, Lee confesses to Rosemary how he has always wanted to visit Hawaii. The next day, they discover what the box contained. While the majority of the contents consist of coffee, they also give a sombrero and poncho to Elizabeth’s son, Jack.

Old-fashioned books image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/books-seamless-pattern_1539033.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

Nathan visits Bill with the intention of starting the process of Ally’s adoption. Even though Bill thinks it is a bad idea with Ally’s father in prison, Nathan explains how this is the perfect time to start the process. As Bill fills out the necessary paperwork, Nathan finds a map of Bill’s property. Bill explains how the land is for sale, as he doesn’t spend much time using it. Later in the episode, Nathan tells Elizabeth how he plans to visit Bill’s land. He also shares his desire to settle down. Before the episode ends, Nathan expresses his feelings about Bill’s property to Elizabeth, saying how it would the perfect place to build a house. Elizabeth tells him how she cares about him and is concerned about the future of their relationship. She doesn’t want to lose him like she lost her husband. Even when Nathan explains how he’d quit being a Mountie, that doesn’t dispel any of Elizabeth’s concerns. After Nathan tells her he loves her, Elizabeth rides away on her horse, Sergeant.

Toward the beginning of the episode, Fiona opens her barber shop, which is called Nichols and Dimes. She explains how she incorporated her former boss’ name into her business, as a symbolic gesture to show how she is more than just “a small spoke in a big wheel”. When she is seeking customers, Henry, Jesse, and Mike turn down the offer. As the episode progresses, Mike comes to the barber shop after he lost a bet with Jesse. As Fiona is giving Mike a haircut, she explains why she re-opened the barber shop. During this process, she accidently cuts Mike’s ear with the trimming scissors. Horrified by the ordeal, Mike rushes to the Infirmary. Later in the episode, Mike returns to the barber shop. He apologizes for abruptly leaving. Fiona tells him both of them are equally to blame. She then becomes surprised when Clara and Faith bring Jesse and Carson to get a trim.

While driving through the country roads, Joseph Canfield experiences car trouble as the car’s engine stops working. He goes to Hope Valley in search of help. When he enters town, Joseph finds Jesse and asks him for help, an offer Jesse accepts. When Jesse finishes fixing Joseph’s car, they witness Robert’s horse-riding adventure. As Robert loses control of the horse, Elizabeth chases after him while riding her own horse. When revisiting Hope Valley, Joseph expresses interest to Bill about purchasing the gas station. Joseph also shares how he’d like to call Hope Valley his home. Bill and Henry take Joseph to Henry’s house, which is currently for sale. Even though the house needs some repairs, Joseph purchases the house, claiming it will be the perfect place for his family to live. After this exchange, Henry visits the mercantile. When he discovers his letter has been returned and partially opened, Henry demands to know who is responsible. Carson, who just so happened to come to the Mercantile at that very moment, suggests Henry leave in order to prevent the conflict from escalating further. As Henry is leaving, he collapses on the stairs. While Carson reminds Henry of his troubling blood pressure, Henry tells Carson how nothing he does will ever be good enough. Carson takes Henry to the Infirmary in an attempt to resolve this issue.

Barber Shop image created by dgim-studio at freepik.com Ribbon vector created by dgim-studio – www.freepik.com

Some thoughts to consider:

  • This episode was much stronger than the season premiere! I liked how the overall story placed more emphasis on the plots and conflicts of the characters instead of the love triangle and relationships. Within the episode, interesting storylines were either revisited or introduced. Nathan’s plan to adopt Ally is one example. After Nathan explained why he wants to adopt Ally now, I have gained an understanding for the creative team’s decision to not use Ally’s father to serve a multi-episode storyline.
  • Why is Mollie suddenly interested in Bill romantically? For seven seasons, Mollie has never expressed any desire to be in a relationship with anyone. In this episode, she seemed jealous of Helen when Mollie spotted Helen and Bill at the Saloon. To me, this part of the story feels random.
  • Similar to the previous season, there is a lot of mystery surrounding Henry’s character. Not only do we not yet know the significance of the letter, but also why Henry is suddenly interested in getting back into the petroleum business with Lucas. I hope we start receiving answers as this season continues.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this episode? Which storyline interests you the most? Tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Abominable Dr. Phibes Review

The Abominable Dr. Phibes was recommended by one of my readers named Michael. When I found out the movie was considered a horror-comedy, I thought it’d be a perfect entry for MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur, as horror-comedies are the theme for February. Then I discovered the film was released in 1971. Because Kim and Drew, from Tranquil Dreams and Drew’s Movie Reviews, are hosting the 6th Annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon, where the subject is movies premiering in years ending in 1, I decided to review The Abominable Dr. Phibes for both blogathons! As of early 2021, this is the fifth film of Vincent Price’s I’ve seen and written about. Most of these movies have either belonged in the horror genre or have been mysterious in nature. With The Abominable Dr. Phibes, this will be a little different, as part of the story is a comedy. Out of the movies of Vincent’s I have seen, none of them have featured a large amount of humor. So, by choosing this film for the aforementioned blogathons, I am given an opportunity to see Vincent work with slightly different material!

The Abominable Dr. Phibes poster created by American International Pictures.

Things I liked about the film:

The mystery: In horror movies, there is usually a mysterious element that can come in a variety of forms. One of these forms is a mystery. Throughout The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the detectives at Scotland Yard are attempting to figure out why several doctors in their neighborhood are dying of mysterious causes. The way the mystery is presented allows the audience to solve it alongside the characters. This presents the idea of the audience sharing an experience with the detectives in the film. Even though we see what is making these doctors die, it doesn’t take away from the intrigue of the mystery. In fact, it keeps the audience invested in what is about to happen next. Seeing how all the pieces of the story connected was interesting to see. It definitely kept my attention as I watched the film!

The craftmanship: There were several items in this movie that caught my eye due to their quality and artistry. A frog mask is just one example. The head covering mask is covered in three different shades of green, allowing it to shine from many different angles. Gold piping can also be found on the mask, assisting in distinguishing its shape. Jewels add finishing touches as the mask features gold gems around the frog’s eyes and an emerald clasp in the back. Dr. Phibes’ mask also boasts incredible craftsmanship! The eye covering mask is shaped like a bird and is coated in shiny shades of green, bronze, and gold. Both masks were two of the beautiful I’ve ever seen!

The set design: The Abominable Dr. Phibes features several interesting set designs that are worth noting. Despite Dr. Phibe’s house only being shown at night and only part of its exterior could be seen, it was a magnificent structure! Its Victorian style brightened the night with its white frames and cherry wood doors. The house features a grand white marble staircase paired beautifully with chandeliers and crystal sconces. I wish more scenes had taken place by this staircase, as it is an impressive part of Dr. Phibes’ residence! Other locations in the story also displayed memorable set designs.  Dr. Vesalius’ apartment is a great example. Near the front door is a curved, frosted window. The door itself was covered in a light and dark wood that ending up complimenting the faded yellow walls. This location looked reflective of the late ‘60s to early ‘70s due to its color scheme and furniture selections.

Scared audience image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/terrified-friends-watching-horror-movie-in-cinema_1027311.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The underutilization of Vincent Price: As I said in my introduction, this is the fifth film of Vincent Price’s I’ve seen. Therefore, I, as an audience member, know what he is capable of, talent wise. Despite being the top billed actor in The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Vincent wasn’t given much material to work with. He didn’t have any speaking lines in this movie. While there is an explanation given within the story, the only time we hear Vincent’s iconic voice is through recordings. It also doesn’t help that the different ways Dr. Phibes went after his victims overshadows Vincent’s performance. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the creative team behind this film cast Vincent Price simply to get more people to see the movie?

Weak on comedy: The Abominable Dr. Phibes is classified as a horror-comedy. When I made this discovery, I was expecting the movie to be more like Young Frankenstein. Even though there were a few times I found myself giggling, the film didn’t contain much humor. The Abominable Dr. Phibes relies more on the horror genre. It also contains a mystery within the overall plot, which would make it a horror-mystery. I felt misled after these reveals.

Depiction of demises partially used for shock value: Strictly from a story-telling perspective, it was interesting to see how Dr. Phibes carried out his plan. But when the plan is put into practice, the depiction of his victims’ demises comes across as more gross than scary. Within a segment of the story involving rats, there was a brief shot of a rat chewing on what looks like a bloody bone. I won’t spoil The Abominable Dr. Phibes, in case any of my readers haven’t seen it. But parts of the film like the one I described feels like the movie’s creative team just wanted to shock their audience.

Ultimate Decades Blogathon (1) banner created by Kim and Drew from Tranquil Dreams and Drew’s Movie Reviews.

My overall impression:

When I think of the term “horror-comedy”, Young Frankenstein immediately comes to mind. Even though I haven’t seen this film, I am aware of its premise. Because of my expectations, I was somewhat let down by The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Sure, its mystery was intriguing and kept me invested in the overall story. But as I look back on this movie, I find myself expecting more. Despite its classification as a horror-comedy, it ended up being a horror-mystery, with very little comedy to be found. I was also disappointed to see Vincent Price underutilized in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. While he was given different material to work with, he didn’t have any speaking lines. The way Dr. Phibes’ victims met their demise overshadowed Vincent’s performance. These factors make his portrayal of the titular character feel like a part of an ensemble instead of someone leading a film. This is an interesting movie, but I can think of stories of this nature that are stronger than this one. I still prefer a picture like The Crow over The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Overall score: 7-7.1 out of 10

Have you seen a horror-comedy? Which film of Vincent Price’s would you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Scarlett Review

Originally, I was going to review a different movie for the 3rd Annual So Bad It’s Good Blogathon. But when I found a DVD copy of Scarlett at a local consignment store, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to review the film! Last year, I discovered Gone with the Wind received a sequel many years after its release. While I’m not a fan of the sequel’s predecessor, I thought the 1994 film would be perfect content for the aforementioned event. According to IMDB, Scarlett premiered as a TV mini-series. This gives the sequel a run-time of six hours, which is even longer than the first movie. I never thought Gone with the Wind needed another chapter, as everything ended on a definitive note. However, curiosity got the best of me, as I wanted to find out if this could finally be the “so bad it’s good” movie I’ve been looking for!

This is the DVD I purchased from a local consignment store. Even the packaging calls Scarlett a six hour film. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While I like the acting overall, there were three performances that were stand-outs. The first one came from Sean Bean. I haven’t seen much from his filmography, but I remember his portrayal of Ian Howe from National Treasure. Based on these two movies, it seems Sean is very talented when it comes to portraying on-screen villains!  Without spoiling the film, I will say Lord Richard Fenton is a despicable individual. However, it was interesting to see how Sean carried his character in each scene he appeared in. Whenever in public or around Scarlett, Richard comes across as a dashing gentleman. But behind closed doors, he reveals himself to be selfish and controlling, which makes Richard’s overall persona very ugly. In all my years of watching movies, I’ve seen few actors effectively portray characters that had likable and unlikable qualities. Within the film, Scarlett, Sean single-handedly accomplished this; making the audience despise Richard, but appreciate Sean’s acting abilities! The second stand-out performance was Annabeth Gish’s! In historical fiction/period stories, few female characters from a wealthier background contain a personality that is gentler in nature. With the way Annabeth approached her character, Anne, she brought something to the table that isn’t seen often. This not only provided a contrast to Scarlett, but allowed Anne to be her own character. Anne’s gentleness came across on screen very naturally as well! Tina Kellegher’s portrayal of Mary Boyle is the third stand-out performance! A strong sense of emotionality worked in Tina’s favor. This component to her performance presented her character as a believable individual, as if Mary had actually existed at some point in time. Miss Boyle experiences some difficult situations throughout the movie. However, Tina pulled off a performance that appeared flawless!

The costumes: In period films, one of the notable aspects is the costumes. They are one example of a physical representation of the story’s respective time period. The costumes in Scarlett not only looked historically accurate, but also impressive! It also helps how the costumes compliment the actors wearing them. Scarlett’s wardrobe was amazing! It featured a color palette that never appeared over-the-top. Each piece featured patterns and textures that felt fitting for the 1870s, with color combinations working well together. I honestly can’t choose a favorite outfit, as it was fun to discover what outfit Scarlet would wear next! While I realistically don’t have any place to wear one of Scarlett’s outfits, it’s nice to think about which piece I’d like to own in real-life.

The conflict between the British and Irish: Within the overall story, there was an ongoing conflict between the British and Irish. According to the Irish characters, this was due to the British wanting to take over Ireland. I’m not familiar with this particular period in world history. Despite that, I found this part of the story to be fascinating! Because of Scarlett’s Irish heritage and the fact she had family living in Ireland, it gave Scarlett a reason to be aware of the political and social environment around her. Her interactions with Richard also highlight the different sides of the conflict itself. There were other people in this story who were directly connected to this conflict as well. One of Scarlett’s cousin’s, Colum, is a priest. However, he is also a member of a group of Irish people fighting for freedom against the British. It was interesting to see how Colum navigated his own struggles of religious duty and standing up for his people.

The Third So Bad It’s Good Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Scarlett and Rhett’s on-again/off-again relationship: I am not a fan of Scarlett and Rhett’s relationship. Even when I try to give it a fair chance and watch it with an open mind, I still do not like their relationship in this movie. One of the reasons why is how it was continually on-again/off-again. This was so repetitive, it became tiresome. It was also difficult to determine if Joanne Whalley and Timothy Dalton, the actor and actress who portrayed Scarlett and Rhett, had any on-screen chemistry. Scarlett and Rhett’s relationship problems did not need to be explored, especially after Gone with the Wind’s ending. In fact, seeing Scarlett and Rhett’s on-again/off-again relationship diminishes one of the most famous scenes and quotes in cinematic history, where Rhett says “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. In my opinion, this situation took place simply to justify the sequel’s existence.

Unnecessary stories: As I already mentioned in my previous point, Scarlett and Rhett’s on-again/off-again relationship felt like it was taking place simply to justify the sequel’s existence. This wasn’t the only story within the film to make me feel this way. In the first half of Scarlett, Ashley is struggling to keep his business afloat. Scarlett recruits Sam, a former slave of the O’Hara household, to assist Ashley in building more homes, in order to save Ashley’s business. That storyline is one I found myself not caring about. It also didn’t lead anywhere, as it didn’t have a consistent presence in the overall film. Scarlett’s feud with her sister was another story I thought was unnecessary. Throughout the film, they refused to see eye-to-eye about the future of Tara. While Scarlett’s sister was still living in the house, Scarlett was considering selling it. I thought it was odd for Scarlett to think about selling Tara. In the first movie, she loved Tara so much, Scarlett slapped a woman in the face for expressing her opinion against the place. For Scarlett to completely change her mind without any explanation seemed random.

Choppy scene transitions: At some points in the movie, there were scene transitions that were so abrupt, it caused the film’s overall flow to feel choppy. When visiting a family member, Scarlett is about to share how she became so wealthy. Right as she was about to tell her story, the next scene started, showing another family member walking toward his house. It seemed like parts of the movie were missing. Some of these scene transitions were so jarring because the change of tone was so drastic. One scene showed Colum speaking with an Irish neighbor about their plans to fight the British. This dramatic and serious moment was met with a light-hearted scene where Scarlett goes to a horse fair. The journey from point A to point B needed a bridge.

Irish heart image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/label”>Label vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I can’t call Scarlett “so bad it’s good”. In fact, I would never consider it a bad movie. Objectively, this is a competently made project, where the creative team behind it clearly knew what they were doing. Subjectively, Scarlett is a mixed bag. The conflict between the British and Irish was the best part of this story! It was fascinating to see it unfold and discover how the characters were involved. With the parts of the story directly referencing Gone with the Wind, I found those to exist simply to justify the sequel. Until Scarlett went to Ireland, I was questioning why the movie was made. Personally, I would rather watch a miniseries about the British and Irish conflict over the one I just did. As I wrap up this review, I realize I still haven’t found my “so bad it’s good” movie. Time to go back to square one.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Do you have a movie in your life that you’d consider “so bad it’s good”? If so, what is it? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The We Heart Pirates Week Tag 2021

When I found out Hamlette, from Hamlette’s Soliloquy, was hosting another blogathon, I knew there would be a tag. I was curious what questions would be asked when I discovered the blogathon would be pirate themed. However, I was looking forward to creating another tag post! Last year, I participated in The Legends of Western Cinema Week, which was partially hosted by Hamlette. During that event, I was introduced to my first blogathon tag! While I don’t watch a lot of westerns, I still answered the tag questions based on the films and television shows I have seen. Because I’ve seen and read more pirate related content, I found it easier to answer the questions in the We Heart Pirates Week Tag than those from The Legends of Western Cinema Week Tag. So, hop onboard this ship as we set sail through my answers!

We Heart Pirates Week blogathon banner created by Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy
  1. What are your favorite pirate movies or books?

While I haven’t seen these movies in a while, I have enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy! I remember them being a lot of fun and intriguing. Each character is memorable and the stories are well written. When it comes to pirate books, I recall liking To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker! It was so good, I could honestly see it adapted into a film!

2. Who are your favorite fictional pirates?

My favorite character from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy is Calypso/Tia Dalma! I know she’s not a pirate, but she does play an integral role within that series. Naomie Harris did such a great job portraying Calypso/Tia Dalma, which is one of the reasons why she’s my favorite character from a pirate movie!

3. What do you like best about pirate stories? (Themes, costumes, aesthetic, etc.)

I’d say the adventure the characters embark on. In any of the pirate movies I’ve seen, there is always a journey that is filled with adventure. It’s interesting to see where the story goes and how the characters deal with their conflicts along the way.

4. If you were going to play a pirate on the stage or screen, what would your costume look like?

I don’t know what it would look like exactly. However, I do know I want it to be elegant. In my review of China Seas, I talk about how beautiful the pirate captain’s costume is. This is because two pieces of his costume were a silk blouse and a detailed jacket. Pieces like those would definitely be in my pirate wardrobe!

5. What pirate ship would you like to serve on?

The Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, of course! It’s too iconic of a ship not to catch a ride.

For this tag post, I thought this picture was appropriate. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

6. Any favorite sea shanties or pirate songs?

I don’t listen to sea shanties or pirate songs. However, I do like the Nightcore version of Lady in Black by Blackmore’s Night, which sounds like it could fit in a pirate movie.

7. Have you ever participated in International Talk Like a Pirate Day?

No, I haven’t.

8. Would you like to go sailing on a real tall ship?

I don’t sail, but the idea of boarding on a real tall ship sounds fun!

9. Have you ever learned anything about real pirates, or do you tend to stick to the fictional kind?

I’ve learned there were several female pirates who roamed the Seven Seas. However, I don’t spend a lot of time learning about real pirates because I’ve been focusing on the fictional ones and their stories, such as Calypso/Tia Dalma and Davy Jones’ relationship.

10.  Why is the rum gone?

Simple, Captain Jack Sparrow drank it all.

Ship steering wheel pattern image created by Jemastock at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by jemastock – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this tag? Do you enjoy watching pirate films? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: China Seas Review

Last month, I had planned on participating in the Star/Genre Of The Month Blogathon, with January’s star being Doris Day. However, multiple projects throughout the month had filled up my schedule, preventing me from joining the event. To make up for it, I decided to participate in the blogathon this month, where the featured star is Clark Gable! As the only film of Clark’s I’ve seen up until this point has been Gone with the Wind, I was excited to explore his filmography! When I was choosing which film to write about, I also signed up for the We Heart Pirates Week Blogathon. To meet the requirements for both events, I have selected the 1935 film China Seas! Since Gone with the Wind is considered a romantic drama, it will be interesting to see Clark in a movie from a different genre!

China Seas poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like I said in the introduction, the only film of Clark Gable’s I’ve seen is Gone with the Wind. Therefore, I didn’t know what to expect from his performance in China Seas. Even though this film was released four years before Gone with the Wind, Clark’s portrayal of Captain Alan Gaskell didn’t feel like a copy of Rhett Butler. For this particular role, Clark adopted the qualities of a natural born leader. Two of them were the strength and perseverance during times of conflict. When Alan is being tortured by the pirates, he never succumbed to the pain or surrendered to the enemy. He stood his ground instead, protecting his ship, as well as the guests and crew aboard it. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jean Harlow and Rosalind Russell in this film! Since I’ve seen very few projects from both of their filmographies, I was excited to see what they had to offer, talent-wise, in China Seas. What I liked about Jean’s performance was how versatile it was. Throughout the film, she used many different expressions as her character, Dolly, is boarding Alan’s ship. A fancy dinner in the ship’s dining room is a good example. At the beginning of that dinner, Dolly is in a pleasant mood, smiling and laughing at a friend’s joke. As the event goes on, she becomes bitter by Sybil’s presence. Speaking of Sybil, Rosalind’s performance was much different from her portrayal of Mother Superior from The Trouble with Angels and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. In China Seas, Sybil was more reserved than the other female characters. However, she had a gentler persona, which also helped her stand out. It was nice to see one of Rosalind’s earlier films, as this movie was released three decades before The Trouble with Angels.

The costume design: Some of the costumes in this movie were simply gorgeous! The dresses from the female characters definitely stole the show! At the dinner I mentioned earlier in my review, Jean wore a simple white dress that was slightly off the shoulder. The only applique was a metal paisley brooch, which added an element of pop to the dress. Later in the movie, Jean wears a satin gown. Similar to the aforementioned white dress, the satin gown was also given an element of pop. This time, the straps on the dress were covered with jewels. My favorite costume in China Seas was the pirate captain’s, as his was one of the most beautiful costumes I’ve ever seen in a pirate film! While it is simple, like Jean’s fancy dresses, it is the fine details that help it stand out! Paired with a silk blouse, the jacket is coated with an intricate design. The sleeves and boarders of the jacket are covered in fancy ribbon.

The pirate subplot: When I found out there would be pirates in China Seas, I was excited to see Clark Gable fight against them. The subplot involving the pirates was the best part of the overall story! It contained a mystery that unfolded as the movie progressed, featuring surprises and twists I didn’t see coming. There was also exciting action, which keep me invested. I was actually surprised by the amount of violence in China Seas because it was released in the Breen Code Era, where violence in films were kept at a minimum. However, it wasn’t graphic and over the top. This particular subplot also brought out each character’s true colors. I won’t reveal the movie for anyone, but I will say it was an interesting approach to providing character development!

Star of the Month (Clark Gable) blogathon banner created by Neil from Thoughts From The Music(al) Man

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited presence of the pirates: While I did like the conflict involving the pirates, they weren’t in the story for a long period of time. This part of the film was introduced fifty-eight minutes into this hour and twenty-seven-minute movie, with it lasting for about thirty minutes. I was honestly disappointed by this because I expected the pirates’ conflict to be the main story of China Seas. The captain of the pirate crew was one of the more interesting characters the movie had to offer, as he chose to become a pirate despite coming from a wealthy, noble family. However, the limited presence of the pirates prevented this character from receiving a lot of character development or screen time. Everything I said makes China Seas light on “action” and “adventure”.

A dull first half: As I just mentioned, China Seas is light on “action” and “adventure”. Even though those two things can be found in this movie, the story as a whole leans more into the drama genre. In the first half of the film, the script focuses on Dolly’s jealously toward Sybil. While this encouraged Jean to use a variety of emotions in her performance, I wasn’t interested in this part of the story. Other conflicts taking place in the movie’s first half includes whether Sybil’s pearls are real and Dolly trying to win back Alan’s love. These kinds of conflicts made China Seas feel like it was “Rich People Problems: The Movie”, revolving around problems that seemed stereotypical of wealthier individuals. Throughout the film’s first half, I kept asking myself, “When are the pirates going to get here”?

Confusing areas of the story: There were some areas of China Seas’ story that I found confusing. I’ll provide two examples for this part of the review. When Sybil is outside on the ship’s deck one evening, she is joined by one of Alan’s colleagues. Shortly after, the two can be seen kissing one another. Several scenes later, Sybil is spending time with Alan and expressing romantic interest in him. If she was romantically interested in Alan, why was she kissing another man? My second example is about the ending. While I won’t spoil it for any of my readers, I felt it didn’t fit within the overall story. The ending tried to wrap everything up in a nice little package. But with the events that led up to that ending, that part of the story became more confusing than it should have been. I know this film was released during the Breen Code Era, where happy endings were usually favored. However, the ending of China Seas was, in my opinion, not earned.

We Heart Pirates Week blogathon banner created by Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy

My overall impression:

While it was interesting to see Clark Gable in a different role and genre from what I’ve seen before, I found China Seas to be just ok. Were there aspects of the film I liked? Sure. The pirate captain’s costume was beautiful and I did like the acting performances. But I was disappointed by the limited amount of screen-time the pirates received. Before watching China Seas, I had expected the main plot to revolve around Clark Gable’s character dealing with the pirates. However, the most exciting parts of the story took place toward the end of the film, making the movie’s second half stronger than the first. Having a major part of the story focus on Dolly’s jealousy toward Sybil and obsession with Alan didn’t work for me. It came across as petty and immature. I do plan on seeing more of Rosalind’s, Clark’s, and Jean’s films in the future. But I hope the next movie is stronger than this one.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen any of Clark Gable’s films? What is your favorite pirate movie? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Something’s Going On

After a year without a When Calls the Heart Christmas movie, it’s nice to see our favorite Canadian frontier show return! As I write and publish this re-cap post, it feels weird getting back to regularly talking about a television show, especially since I wrote about When Calls the Heart’s seventh season a year ago. But with the way 2020 turned out, it’s good to have something to look forward to. Based on advertisements I’ve seen, there are exciting additions to the show! One of them is the Canfield family. While they didn’t appear in the season premiere, it will be interesting to see how they get along with the other members of the town. For now, viewers can get reacquainted with returning faces and fan favorites.

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season premiere of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. 

Season: 8

Episode: 1

Name: Open Season

Major stories:

After checking on Elizabeth and her son, Nathan discovers his brother-in-law, Dylan, has arrived in Hope Valley. When Nathan asks Dylan how he found him, Dylan shows Nathan a newspaper reporting on the Mountie who passed away at the end of season seven. All Dylan wants is a thousand dollars, threatening to make Nathan’s life miserable if he doesn’t get the money. After this confrontation, Dylan’s crosses paths with Elizabeth and Jack. Concerned for their safety, Nathan reminds Dylan to leave Hope Valley. Later in the episode, Nathan borrows the much-needed money from Lucas and plans to give it to Dylan that evening. When Bill finds out about Nathan’s plans, he insists on joining Nathan. However, Nathan feels that he must do this alone. Before he leaves Hope Valley, Nathan lets Elizabeth know he will be leaving town and that Ally is staying at Opal’s house. That night, as Nathan is riding on the trail, Dylan knocks Nathan off his horse. He steals Nathan’s rifle and the money, as well as causing Nathan’s horse to run away and beating Nathan up. The next morning, Nathan finds his horse and begins his search for Dylan. A few scenes later, Nathan finds Dylan in a nearby cabin. This was possible because Dylan left behind the newspaper he showed Nathan earlier in the episode, which listed the name of the town at the top of the front paper. Nathan also reveals he let Dylan attack him in order to provide a reason for arresting Dylan. After this explanation, some fellow Mounties appear out of nowhere to arrest Dylan and take him into custody. When Nathan returns to Hope Valley, he asks Elizabeth if she’d like to have dinner with him. As she tells him how Laura can’t take any time off to watch Jack, Nathan suggests to bring Jack with her and says he’ll bring Ally along. This dinner never happens because Elizabeth claims to not be feeling well as they are on their way to their destination.

At the beginning of the episode, Lucas visits Elizabeth and apologizes for abruptly leaving without an explanation. This event was explained in Elizabeth’s opening monologue which showed a flashback of Lucas leaving Hope Valley during Christmastime. Even though Elizabeth forgives him, Lucas tells her he’ll explain why he left when he is ready. Some time later, Lucas eventually tells Elizabeth what happened. At the end of season seven, he witnessed Elizabeth hugging Nathan. He admits he saw this embrace and became jealous. Lucas went to Louisiana to help rebuild a school that had been destroyed by a storm. He tells Elizabeth serving others allowed him to deal with his emotions. Later that day, Elizabeth tells Rosemary what Lucas told her. She also shares how she feels about Nathan and Lucas. When Rosemary asks Elizabeth if she has made a decision yet, Elizabeth quickly changes the subject. At the end of the episode, Lucas introduces Elizabeth to his mother, Helen Bouchard. This interaction makes Elizabeth feel intimidated.

Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

One morning, Jesse and Clara have an argument over whether or not Clara woke Jesse up on time. This causes both of them to be in a bitter mood. Clara tells Fiona and Rosemary what happened, unsure of what to do. To take her mind off of her problems, Clara helps Fiona with a personal project. When Clara discovers Fiona purchased Hope Valley’s pre-existing barber shop, Fiona explains how this decision will help her in business. Since she is starting a barber shop with a predominantly male clientele, Fiona says most men want to talk about business. By eavesdropping on their conversations, she’ll gain some insight into the business world. Meanwhile, Jesse is dealing with his and Clara’s relationship issues by staying late at work and reading. Lee and Rosemary volunteer to help Jesse and Clara with their problem. Lee takes Jesse to the spot where Jesse and Clara shared their first kiss, with Lee reminding Jesse how love is a choice, not just a feeling. Lee also purchases a two-person bicycle, which Clara and Jesse seem to enjoy. Rosemary and Lee remind themselves how the bike will not fix all of Jesse and Clara’s problems, so they’ll be there for the younger couple if they ever need help.

Carson is concerned when he doesn’t hear anything from Faith. She hasn’t come home when she said she would, which causes Carson to worry about her. Faith does arrive in Home Valley, but she hasn’t come alone. After an unknown wagon driver gives her a lift, Faith explains to Carson how her buggy broke down along the way. The wagon driver makes Carson feel jealous. As they examine the new patient file organizational system, Faith asks Carson what the matter is. Carson tells her how he feels, saying that he was afraid they were growing apart due to her time studying medicine in Chicago. Faith tells him she only thought about him during her trip back to Hope Valley, which puts Carson at ease. Later in the episode, Carson and Faith spend some quality time together by the lake. They promise each other they’ll go to Orchestra Hall someday.

Illustrated image of bicycle created by Freepik at freepik.com. Background vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I found it interesting how Coronavirus was incorporated into the script in very subtle ways. In Elizabeth’s opening monologue, she writes how the winter has held its grip on Hope Valley. Carson tells Faith how the year had crawled by. Considering when the eighth season was filmed, it makes sense that the creative team behind the show would want to at least mention the pandemic. It was enough to address it, but not overpowering enough to turn people off from being reminded about it again.
  • Hearing about Nathan’s plans to officially adopt Ally was a pleasant surprise! I’m also happy to see Fiona start her own business! Seeing these subplots evolve over the course of this new season, as well as the conflicts that may appear, is something I’m looking forward to.
  • At best, this episode was fine. But at worst, it was a mixed bag. There were parts of the story that felt like a season premiere. Other parts seemed like they came directly from a “filler” episode. The plot involving Dylan could have easily been a multi-episode arc. Instead, the show has placed all their eggs in the love triangle/relationship basket. I hope the season gets better, but I’ll keep my expectations low.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on the season premiere? Are you excited for the Canfield family to arrive in Hope Valley? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Hallmark’s Top 10 Missteps From the 2010s That Should Not Be Repeated

When I published my review for Teenage Rebel last December, it became my 225th movie review! Since then, I’ve been thinking about what kind of article I should write in honor of this milestone. A few days ago, I saw a video on Youtube titled ‘Top 6 AG Trends that need to *GO* this Decade’. This video focused on how American Girl could correct their mistakes from the 2010s. Created by pinksmartiesag, it inspired me to think about the ways Hallmark can improve in the 2020s. Like any company, Hallmark is not perfect.  There are areas where they can grow and find success. During the first year of the 2020s, I have seen Hallmark’s mistakes from the past decade seep into 2020. In this list, I will talk about the missteps that Hallmark should leave behind in the 2010s to have a chance to make better choices in this new decade. Similar to the list-articles I’ve written in the past, everything I talk about is based on my opinion of the things I have noticed as a fan and consumer. The list is meant to be critical in a constructive way, not mean-spirited or negative. When I refer to Hallmark in this article, I am focusing on the entertainment division of Hallmark; which consists of the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama.

Image of 2010 and 2020 on chart created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Infographic vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com
1. Hallmark Channel’s Over-Reliance on the Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) Genre

In the 2010s, when Rom-Coms made less appearances in the cinema than in previous decades, Hallmark made it their mission to save this genre from extinction. While Hallmark attempted to preserve Rom-Coms, they ended up putting almost all their eggs in one basket. Now, every movie on Hallmark Channel is a Rom-Com, telling the same types of stories over and over again. This decision has caused the films on this network to feel repetitive and predictable. When you look at a typical poster for a Hallmark Channel movie, you already know how the story will play out. Lately, I’ve been watching and reviewing past Hallmark films, which have much more interesting stories. It feels like those were the days when Hallmark would embrace originality and not shy away from taking creative risks. I would like to see Hallmark experiment with different genres and tell a variety of stories in the 2020s. Creativity and imagination should be the rule moving forward!

2. Continually Using the Same Tropes and Clichés

Because Hallmark Channel has focused on the Rom-Com genre, there are several genre related tropes and clichés that are continually used throughout Hallmark’s film library. In my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies, I talk about some clichés that have run their course. How many times can you tell a story where a woman from a big city goes back to her small hometown before you call it quits? The constant inclusion of these tropes and clichés cause a given film to be more predictable. Even though some creative teams have approached these story-telling concepts in new and interesting ways, it feels like that has been the exception to the rule. It’s time for Hallmark to either put a new twist on these clichés and tropes or abandon them altogether.

3. The Hypocrisy

Ever since 2019, I have noticed Hallmark’s blatant hypocrisy when it comes to certain areas of their entertainment division. For this point, I’ll provide two examples. In my editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I wrote about how, in 2019, Hallmark advertised they would be airing a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. However, that statement turned into a broken promise as there were some Saturdays when no new movies premiering. I also said in that editorial how Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries kept their promises to air a Christmas movie every Thursday and Friday night in correlation with the 10th Anniversary of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up. When it comes to subjects that Hallmark cares about, like Christmas, that becomes one of their top priorities. For everything else, it falls to the wayside.

While promoting Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups last year, Mike Perry, the CEO of Hallmark, claimed that “diversity and inclusion are a top priority for us”. But there are times when these words sound empty. The upcoming Hallmark Channel movie, Fit for a Prince, is a perfect example. Based on promotional material directly from the network’s website, we can see this is the same type of “royal” movie, starring the same types of actors in the same types of roles. Remind me how this is diverse? When it comes to story-telling, diversity is more than just a character’s appearance. It’s also about the perspectives, beliefs, and journeys those characters bring to the overall story. In my award post, The Sunshine Blogger Award and The Blogger Recognition Award: Two Awards for the Price of One, I said that I wanted to see Bai Ling join the main cast of When Calls the Heart as Hope Valley’s first female Mountie. One of the reasons why I want this is because it would be a beautiful opportunity for Hallmark to put their money where their mouth is. If diversity is that important to them, then they will take no issue in casting Bai on Hallmark Channel’s most popular scripted show.

4. Hallmark Making Promises They Know They Can’t Keep

As I just mentioned in point number three, Hallmark broke their promise to air a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. But that wasn’t the only promise the company broke in 2019. In my aforementioned editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I talk about several films that were mysteriously removed from Hallmark Channel’s and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ schedules after being promoted for weeks or months. If Hallmark had any thoughts about moving films out of their respective premiere dates, why would they spend so much time promoting them and setting dates? In the seventh season of When Calls the Heart, Clara and Jesse had entertained the idea of having an outdoor wedding. But when the wedding arrived, their ceremony ended up taking place indoors. According to Kami, from Hallmarkies Podcast, that episode was filmed in November. This begs the question; if the creative team behind the show knew it would be too cold to film any outdoor events, why would they mention the idea of an outdoor wedding in the first place? In the 2020s, it would be nice to see Hallmark stick to their word more often. Broken promises lead to broken trust with the viewers, which is not good for any business.

5. An Adoption Ever After Segment During the Seasonal Line-Up Preview Specials

When Larissa Wohl first joined Alison Sweeney in 2019’s “Valentine’s Day & Adoption Ever After Preview Special”, the program was used to not only promote Hallmark Channel’s Valentine themed movies, but also that year’s Cat Bowl, Kitten Bowl, and American Rescue Dog Show. At the time, the cross-promotion made sense. But as Larissa kept appearing in Hallmark’s other seasonal line-up preview specials, as well as the Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special, she ended up overstaying her welcome. Instead of promoting a worthy cause, it felt like she was interrupting the regularly scheduled program to host an infomercial about homeless pets. Most people can get behind the idea of raising awareness for shelter animals. However, using the same tactics over and over again gets repetitive and runs the risk of turning away potential supporters.  I don’t know if Hallmark has any plans to air preview specials for the various seasonal line-ups in the 2020s. If they do, I hope they think twice before adding the Adoption Ever After segments to the specials.

Heart shaped balloons image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by katemangostar – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.
6. Hallmark’s Excessive Obsession with Christmas

Hallmark loves Christmas; I get it. But is it really necessary for them to do the following?

  • Airing both Christmas line-ups for almost three months
  • Showing Christmas movies on three networks throughout the year
  • Creating over twenty movies between two channels
  • Devoting an entire month to Christmas in July

In my opinion, the answer is absolutely not, as there is a fine line between loving something and going overboard. Because of Hallmark’s excessive obsession with the holiday, they are actually doing more harm than good to their line-ups. In 2019 and 2020, the “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” line-ups received less viewership than in years prior. Hallmark’s decision to make more Christmas movies year after year prevents their films from becoming beloved classics. Movies like The Christmas Card, A Boyfriend for Christmas, and The Nine Lives of Christmas were able to achieve long term success because they premiered in years where Christmas line-ups were smaller, allowing these projects to stand out. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, Hallmark needs to pull back the reigns on their approach to Christmas. Give Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries ten movies each, as it would challenge each creative team to create something new and unexpected. Save Christmas films for a week in July and for a month and a half toward the end of the year. Once upon a time, Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups were anticipated events. Now, it has become run of the mill and one of the only things Hallmark cares about.

7. Movie Premiere Twitter Parties

For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Twitter parties take place for the premiere of new Hallmark programs and movies. Let’s use the upcoming movie Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con as an example. Before the film appears on television for the first time, someone directly connected with the project, either the director, producer, or stars, will encourage viewers to send tweets during the movie. There may even be pop up advertisements for the Twitter party while other films or shows are on T.V. When Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con airs on March 14th, viewers can tweet about their thoughts on the film, share their theories with other viewers, and have brief conversations with the stars. Personally, I never participated in these Twitter parties because I wanted to give my undivided attention to the film I was watching. The tweets from the Twitter parties are laced with spoilers, which means I have to avoid Twitter after a new movie or television show episode has premiered. From what I remember, Bill Abbott was a big advocate for this kind of interaction with the customers. But in 2020, Bill stepped down as President of Hallmark’s entertainment division. Also, Twitter isn’t as popular of a social media platform as it was five or ten years ago. With all these factors, it makes me wonder why Hallmark would still promote Twitter parties?

8. Giving Movies Unnecessary Hype

I haven’t seen this happen often on Hallmark networks. However, I have seen it happen enough to know that Hallmark needs to discontinue the practice. The two examples I’ll use for this point are 2014’s Northpole and 2019’s Bottled with Love. Before Northpole premiered, it seemed like news about the film was inescapable. Commercials would air constantly, reminding viewers of what they already knew. Even products directly associated with the film, like the North Pole Communicator, were sold at Hallmark stores. Even though the film received a large viewership number and a sequel, the movie has become forgotten. As the years go on, it is rarely featured in Hallmark’s Christmas schedules. As I mentioned in my review for Bottled with Love, Hallmark chose to overhype this film by proclaiming it was “the best movie you’ll see all year”. But when the movie premiered, it was only a “flash in the pan”. Its viewership numbers were fine, but nothing spectacular. I shared the same thoughts on the film itself. What Northpole and Bottled with Love have in common is how Hallmark overhyped these movies so much, they prevented them from being memorable in the long run. I’m hoping this was just a phase within Hallmark’s lifespan.

9. Launching Television Shows from Movies

Since Cedar Cove became Hallmark’s first scripted television show, Hallmark Channel has had three shows that originally started as a movie or a series of movies: When Calls the Heart, Good Witch, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered. But the only one that has found continued success is When Calls the Heart. While Good Witch has received more than five seasons, its overall quality has dropped since season three, as I’ve mentioned before on my blog. Meanwhile, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was converted into a movie series after the show’s first season and moved to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This isn’t a good track record for Hallmark. Instead, they should create shows based on new ideas or well-liked books that are overshadowed by more popular titles.

10. Hallmark’s Summer and Winter TCA Events

Twice a year, Hallmark partners with the Television Critics Association to host a special event where they announce upcoming media related projects. Back in 2018, I wrote a Word on the Street story about announcements made at Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event. Recently, it seems like Hallmark makes their more interesting announcements before or after these events. At each TCA event, announcements consist of projects most fans already knew about. Because of this and the fact that fewer social gatherings are taking place because of the Coronavirus, I question why Hallmark still hosts these events? I wish Hallmark would use those finances, time, and resources toward something more productive.

Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=2018+Summer+TCA. 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Another Man, Another Chance Review

When it comes to blog events taking place on or around Valentine’s Day, romantic stories or favorite couples are usually the chosen topic. But for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Unhappy Valentines Blogathon, there was an interesting twist placed on their event. For this blogathon, the theme was love stories that were “unhappily ever after”. After reading the requirements, I knew exactly which film I wanted to write about! For about a year, I have had the 1977 movie Another Man, Another Chance on my DVR. In this film, a man and woman who have each lost their spouses fall in love with one another. For some people, Valentine’s Day may not be a happy time. This can be the case for a variety of reasons. Whenever I’ve reviewed a Valentine’s Day themed film in honor of this holiday, the tone of those stories were lighthearted. So, it was nice to be given the opportunity to select a change of pace!

Because the poster for Another Man, Another Chance was featured on my television, I decided to take a screenshot of it with my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This isn’t the first western of James Caan’s I’ve seen. Prior to reviewing Another Man, Another Chance, I have seen JL Family Ranch and JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift (with the latter film receiving a review on this blog). In those films, James’ character was more reserved, his character, Tap, learning from his mistakes and defending his family. With his character in Another Man, Another Chance, David, he appeared surer of himself. However, he wasn’t afraid to express emotions. When he was looking for his wife, David expresses genuine concern throughout his search. As he discovers his wife has died, his eyes tear up as he physically turns away from the sight of his wife’s dead body. Within the movie, the relationship of Francis and Jeanne stole the show! Portrayed by Francis Huster and Geneviève Bujold, both actors had good on-screen chemistry, giving the impression their characters truly loved each other. Geneviève brought a gentleness to her role that is sometimes seen in female protagonists in westerns. This presented a contrast to the harsh environment Jeanne experienced in France and the United States. Francis had a way with words and thought outside the box. When Francis invites Jeanne to come to the United States with him, she reminds him how he barely knows her. Without skipping a beat, Francis tells her how he barely knows America. In order to earn extra money for his family, Francis tries to apply for a part time job at a newspaper by offering to be the Gazette’s photographer. These two examples show the intelligence and wisdom Francis was able to bring to his character!

Showcasing photography: It was interesting to see what the art and business of photography was like in the 1800s! Not only did the equipment look different, but the techniques were different as well. When a customer visits the studio, Jeanne makes him sit in a special chair. This chair features a vertical metal bar with a smaller, curved metal piece at the top. It helped customers sit up straight and keep their head in place as they had their picture taken. While in France, Francis says he can only take pictures for a certain amount of time and on certain days due to needing sunlight. His solution to this problem is moving to the United States and settling in the West, where he feels there will be more natural light.

An immigrant’s perspective: When it comes to stories in the western genre, most of them revolve around characters that were either born or raised in the United States. By devoting a large piece of the story to Francis and Jeanne, the audience is able to see a perspective that is rarely explored in this area of cinema. It also allowed the audience to witness these characters’ contributions to their environment. As I mentioned in this review, Francis tries to apply for a part time job at a newspaper by offering to be the Gazette’s photographer. In the 1800s, photographs were not included in newspapers. However, the editor in chief of the Gazette solved this dilemma by agreeing to create stencils of Francis’ photos and adding them to the paper. If it weren’t for Francis’ talent and profession, the Gazette would never have been ahead of their time!

The Unhappy Valentines Blogathon banner created by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Limited time spent with Jeanne and David’s relationship: One of the biggest plot points (and one of the reasons why I watched this film) is Jeanne and David learning to fall in love again. However, they don’t officially meet until an hour and twenty-eight minutes into the movie. Most of the film revolves around David’s and Jeanne’s life prior to their relationship. I know that context and build-up are important to any story. But for Another Man, Another Chance, there was too much build-up to Jeanne and David’s romance.

The run-time: Another Man, Another Chance is a two hour and sixteen-minute film. Personally, I think this run-time was unnecessary. Several scenes lasted longer than they needed to because of the creative team’s desire to satisfy this length in time. One example is when Francis and Jeanne open their photography studio. The scene itself is somewhere between two to five minutes. Because there are no major conflicts or significant moments happening, that scene could have reduced to either a few seconds or a minute. The film’s run-time might have been an hour and twenty or thirty minutes if scenes like that one had been shorter.

Too many unanswered questions: In the story of Another Man, Another Chance, there is a lot going on within the overall plot. This resulted in many questions remaining unanswered. At the beginning of the film, a wealthy woman named Alice is interested in opening a boarding school in France. She shares how she is unable to have children of her own and mentions her sympathy toward the French people. Later in the movie, Alice ends up starting a partial boarding school in her neighborhood. What caused her to change her mind about that boarding school in France? Where did her sympathy for the French people go? These questions were ignored throughout the story.

Small, western town image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Every so often, I come across a film that, intentionally or not, made a significant contribution to the world of film. In the case of Another Man, Another Chance, this was done by telling a type of story that isn’t often seen in westerns. The creativity found in this movie is something I can appreciate. It should also be noted how this is one of the few bilingual westerns. But, to me, the overall project could have been much stronger. Another Man, Another Chance did not need to be over two hours. While watching the film, I noticed several scenes that could have easily been cut shorter. It also doesn’t help that Jeanne and David’s relationship was not featured in the story as much as the synopsis advertised. Even though this blogathon highlights romance gone wrong, I feel there are better stories of this nature to watch on Valentine’s Day. My personal choice is the PixL film, Same Time Next Week. Similar to Another Man, Another Chance, the protagonists learn to fall in love again. But in the 2017 film, the overall story is a lot stronger.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you watched a western on Valentine’s Day? If so, which one was it? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun on Valentine’s Day!

Sally Silverscreen

The Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party Tag 2021

When Heidi, from Along the Brandywine, started her Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party, she also published an official tag! As I’ve already posted my entry for the event, a review of the Hallmark Hall of Fame picture, The Love Letter, I thought it’d be nice to answer the tag questions. As I said in that review, period dramas are not regularly covered on 18 Cinema Lane. However, I did try to answer each question as best as I could. If you’ve visited my blog before, you’d know this isn’t my first blogathon tag. Last year, when I joined the Legends of Western Cinema Week, I published my answers relating to the western genre. This time around, I’m answering questions about this blogathon’s theme: period dramas!

The Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.
  1. Your current three (or up to five!) favorite period dramas?
  • Swept from the Sea
  • The Enchanted Cottage
  • Ben-Hur (the 1959 version)
  • Nicholas Nickleby (the 2002 version)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

2. What would you recommend to someone who’s never seen a period drama as a starter?

Definitely Swept from the Sea! It was the best movie I saw in 2019 and I wish more people knew about it. Here’s the link to my review:

Take 3: Swept from the Sea Review (A Month Without the Code — #8)

3. A favorite couple that wouldn’t be included in answer #1 (cause I’m figuring those are already top favorites ;)) and/or a favorite secondary character romance? 

I really like both couples from Anchors Aweigh! Even though the movie is a musical, there are romantic elements that work well in the overall story. Without giving much away, it shows how subverting expectations can be a good thing.

4. What do you consider foundational qualities for a healthy romance?

Consent and communication. Two years ago, I wrote an editorial about how Lestat and Akasha’s relationship in Queen of the Damned was not healthy. Their lack or consent and communication serve as two reasons why. I’ll leave a link to the article if you want to read it:

Toxic Valentine: Why Lestat and Akasha’s relationship is very problematic in Queen of the Damned (2002)

5. Worst villain/antagonist?

I’d say Nicholas’ uncle, Ralph, from Nicholas Nickleby. Like my answer for question number three, I won’t give the story away. But I will say that Ralph is one of the reasons why Nicholas and his family experience hardship in that movie.

6. A favorite proposal scene?

I’m not sure if this would count, but I liked Nicholas and Madeline’s conversation, from Nicholas Nickleby, where they reflect on their pasts. It has a good message of strength that came across as genuine. Nicholas and Madeline also look like they truly care about one another.

Heart image created by Dashu83 at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundimage created by Dashu83 – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/happy-valentines-day-and-heart-card-with-happy-valentines-day-and-heart_1747001.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

7. Favorite period drama characters based on a real life couple?

I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I’ll choose The Young Victoria. From what I remember, I liked Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s relationship. Similar to Nicholas and Madeline’s relationship in Nicholas Nickleby,Victoria and Albert looked like they truly loved each other. In a film about royals in the 19th century, I found that part of the story refreshing!

8. Any classic b/w period dramas you like? and 9. Most mature romance in a period drama? (mature as in age and/or characters who are consciously and wisely ripened by life experience, etc.)

For this answer, I combined questions eight and nine. This is because I think The Enchanted Cottage fits both of them. Not only is this movie presented in black and white, but there is maturity within the protagonists’ relationship. Because Robert Young’s character, Oliver Bradford, is a World War II veteran, there are discussions of trauma and self-worth. Inner beauty and self-perception are also explored between Oliver and Laura, portrayed by Dorothy McGuire.

10. Most excruciatingly long, slow burn romance in a period drama?

The first one that comes to mind is Elizabeth and Jack’s relationship from When Calls the Heart. For five seasons, fans were waiting for these two characters to get married. While they eventually tied the knot, Jack was sent away on a Mountie mission, only for him to die at the end of the fifth season. This means that the fans barely got to see Elizabeth and Jack as a married couple.

11. A story that has multiple film adaptations where you love more than one of them?

After thinking about a double feature I wrote, I’ll pick The Secret Garden. Out of the three adaptations I’ve seen, I like the 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation and the 1993 film. If you’re interested, I’ve posted the links to the aforementioned double feature and its conclusion.

My Bonus Double Feature Has Arrived!

The Conclusion to My Bonus Double Feature

12. A book you think needs to be made into a film (or a new adaptation)?

Last year, in my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List, I talked about how I’d like to see To Stand On My Own: The Polio Epidemic Diary of Noreen Robertson and Zlata’s Diary receive film adaptations. Instead of repeating myself, I’m sharing the link to that list, so you can read why I feel this way.

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2020

Because this tag is about period dramas, I thought this photo would be fitting. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What are your thoughts on this tag? Do you like watching period dramas? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Love Letter Review

I’m not going to lie; I love a good blog party! So, when I discovered Heidi, from Along the Brandywine, was hosting the Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party, I couldn’t wait to sign up! Period dramas are not regularly covered on 18 Cinema Lane. While I do have a re-cap series for When Calls the Heart, I choose what films to watch based on how interesting their stories sound. There have been period dramas I loved, such as Swept from the Sea. But, for this blogathon, I wanted to review a film I hadn’t seen before. For about a year, I’ve had the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Love Letter, on my DVR. Because parts of the movie take place in the 19th century, I felt it fit Heidi’s time period requirement of the 1600’s to World War II. I try to watch as many Hallmark Hall of Fame titles as I realistically can. Prior to reviewing The Love Letter, the only Hallmark Hall of Fame movie from 1998 I’ve seen is Grace & Glorie, which was one of the best movies I saw last year! While not all movies from this collection are created equally, I do watch these movies with an open mind.

Since an image of The Love Letter‘s poster was featured on my television, I took a screenshot of it with my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because The Love Letter heavily relies on the performances of its lead actor and actress, this part of the review will focus on Campbell Scott’s and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s portrayal of Scott Corrigan and Elizabeth Whitcomb. With Campbell’s performance, there was always a sense of focus in his character. This focus could be seen in Scott’s eyes. When he was inspecting the desk at the antique store or restoring that same desk, Scott’s focus showed how much he cared. This was a consistent part of the character and helped whenever he wrote to Elizabeth. In historical fiction/period films, it would be easy for the screenwriter to give their lead female character one distinct type of personality. Elizabeth Whitcomb, on the other hand, held a balance of two that brought something unique to the character. She had a youthful radiance about her, being a “romantic dreamer” at heart. However, Elizabeth carried herself with a graceful maturity that prevented her from becoming childish or immature. Jennifer brought both aspects to Elizabeth equally and beautifully, allowing her character to be multi-dimensional.

The historical accuracy: I am not an expert on the 1860s and its historical significance. But based on what I do know about this particular period in time, Elizabeth’s part of the story looked and felt historically accurate! The Whitcomb family home was furnished with pieces that appeared antique, from the couch in the sitting room to the desk Elizabeth and Scott share. Dark wood held these structures together, with green cushions and intricate carvings finishing the couch and desk. The costumes were very detailed and also reflective of the 1860s. Embroidery on Elizabeth’s jacket and the overall design of her lacy parasol serve as two examples. Even the dialogue spoken by the characters sounded like it came directly from an era gone by. Pieces of the story like the ones I mentioned tell me, as an audience member, the creative team behind this film cared about the presentation of this part of their project!

A fantastical element: Most of the stories from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection are grounded in reality, which means that fantastical elements are rarely found in these scripts. With The Love Letter, the story revolves around two people from different time periods who communicate to each other through letter writing. The idea of time manipulation is a concept that would likely be found in either a fantasy or science fiction film. While stories like Somewhere in Time and Portrait of Jennie have been dramas paired with this specific concept, I don’t recall Hallmark Hall of Fame creating their own film like that before or after 1998. Because The Love Letter’s creative team chose to include a fantastical element into their overall project, it gave the movie an opportunity to stand out from other titles. This was a creative risk that worked in the film’s favor!

The Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Scott being engaged: A trope that has appeared in several Hallmark films is the male or female protagonist being engaged at the beginning of the story, only to fall in love with someone else by the end of that story. This trope has found its way into The Love Letter. For most of the movie, Scott is engaged to a woman named Debra. As he finds himself falling in love with Elizabeth, he strings Debra along and keeps the letter writing a secret. Scott does tell Debra the truth about his feelings, but this doesn’t happen until the movie is almost over. Personally, I think this trope is pointless, as the audience is spending time with a relationship that will end up leading nowhere. Scott should have remained single so the script could give its undivided attention to his and Elizabeth’s exchanges.

A rushed explanation: When fantastical or science fiction elements are included in a script, it helps to provide clear explanations to the audience so they can understand what is happening on screen. In The Love Letter, Scott’s mother tells Scott that an imbalance in the time-space continuum is the reason why he and Elizabeth are able to write to one another. However, this explanation was rushed, with Scott’s mother briefly bringing it up on only two occasions throughout the whole movie. She gives Scott stamps from the 1860s and had a special kind of writing ink made for him. Scott’s mother even found a post office that has existed since the Civil War era. These objects and the post office felt more like they conveniently benefited the plot instead of serving as ‘macguffins’ to move the story forward. As I already mentioned, this kind of story is rarely found in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection. Despite this, a little more time should have been devoted to providing a clearer explanation.

Lack of physical interactions between Scott and Elizabeth: Because Scott and Elizabeth are from different time periods, it is not possible for them to physically interact with one another. Even though this is the nature of the story, it prevented the audience from seeing the on-screen chemistry between Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh. One of the staples of a romance film is the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Since that element was missing from The Love Letter, I was only invested in Scott and Elizabeth’s relationship to a certain extent. While their words were romantic, verbal communication only plays a part among any given couple.

Hand-written letter image created by Veraholera at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Veraholera – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/love-letter-pattern_1292902.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As I said in my review, most Hallmark Hall of Fame stories are grounded in reality. These stories are also on the simple side, with messages and themes that audience members can relate to. Even though The Love Letter has a fantastical element that is rarely found in films from this collection, it has a simpler story that works! Romance through words and thoughts is what carries the overall story, with important advice woven into the script. Forming a relationship with someone you truly love and never giving up on yourself are nice sentiments that can make audience members feel good about what they are watching. The movie also has the ingredients of a good Hallmark Hall of Fame title, like the level of detail when it comes to the film’s historical accuracy. It is true the movie has its flaws. However, the execution of a creative risk like this makes up for The Love Letter’s weaknesses. Films such as this one make me wish Hallmark would be more creative with their stories and think outside the box more. With the ball in their court, I don’t know what their next creative step will be.

Overall score: 8 out of 10

Have you seen The Love Letter? What Hallmark Hall of Fame movies would you like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen