Hi, I'm Sally Silverscreen!
As long as I can remember, I have loved movies and the movie-going experience. Talking about movies, something dear to my heart, brings me so much joy. I am a fan of Hallmark and do enjoy watching their movies from time to time. When Calls the Heart is one of my favorite television shows and I am proud to call myself a Heartie! I look forward to sharing my thoughts about movies, When Calls the Heart, and Chesapeake Shores with you. To everyone who visits this blog, I hope you have a great experience when you come to 18 Cinema Lane!
-- Sally Silverscreen
Profile picture created by K from K at the Movies
March’s theme for Buzzwordathon is ‘secret’, meaning this specific word had to be somewhere in a book’s title. Because ‘secret’ was in the title of Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries, I chose this book for the third round of Buzzwordathon. Even though Laurel Holliday’s name is listed on the book’s cover, the book is a collection of diaries written by children who lived during the Holocaust/World War II. This collection provides diverse perspectives of that particular period in history. For example, in Moshe Flinker’s diary, he expresses guilt about living in safety while many Jewish people were experiencing turmoil. Meanwhile, Colin Perry treated his diary as a historical record, going into detail about everything happening around him. Along with each perspective, the way these diaries were written was also diverse. It emphasizes the point Laurel made in the book’s introduction; that there is more than one side to history.
A collection of twenty-three diaries is included in Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries. The children’s ages range from ten to eighteen years old, with the children residing in various locations in Europe. Because of the abundance of diaries and because most of the diaries focus on events happening in a child’s life, the reader doesn’t receive many opportunities to truly get to know a diary’s author. In the book’s introduction, Laurel says “most of the diaries are long enough to comprise full-length books”. But in some author’s cases, such as for Colin Perry, his diary was published into its own book, “available from the author in a self-published paperback edition”. This fact made me wonder why the book’s longer diaries were included in this particular collection?
Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries is a fine, interesting book that serves as a useful piece of literature when it comes to learning about World War II/the Holocaust. The collection of diverse perspectives and writing styles emphasizes how many points of view can shape history. However, this is not a book I plan on re-visiting in the future. That decision is partly due to the book’s heavier subject matter. I am glad I chose to read this book for March’s edition of Buzzwordathon. As I mentioned in this review, the children are from various locations in Europe. Some of these European countries are participating in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. As someone who will take part in the Eurovisionathon readathon, reading Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries was a good segue into that literary event, as Eurovision was created to restore peace in Europe after World War II.
Overall score: 3.6 out of 5 stars
Have fun during Buzzwordathon!
Disclaimer: Because this book revolves around children’s lives during the Holocaust/World War II, some readers may be sensitive to this book.Joan Wyndham’s diary brings up subjects like drugs and sex. Readerdiscretion is encouraged.
It feels like every two years, I talk about an episode of Touched by an Angel. First, I reviewed “The Sky Is Falling” in 2019. Then, in 2021, I wrote about the two-part episode, “The Spirit of Liberty Moon”. Now, for The 9th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon, I’m going to cover another Touched by an Angel episode! This time, I’ll be talking about 1998’s “Perfect Little Angel”. Based on its synopsis on IMDB, the episode’s story doesn’t seem like it revolves around heavier topics, like “The Sky Is Falling” and “The Spirit of Liberty Moon”. However, the inclusion of a pageant in “Perfect Little Angel” is what intrigued me to want to watch this episode. When a pageant is featured in a scripted movie or television show, it is typically depicted in one of two lights; negatively or as a joke. With Touched by an Angel having something important to say every now and then, I was curious to see what themes and messages would arise from this story. So, let’s get into my review of “Perfect Little Angel” to see if it will win the crown!
Episode Name: Perfect Little Angel
Season 4, Episode 23
Premiere Date: April 26th, 1998
What I liked about this episode:
In the introduction of this review, I mentioned how pageants in scripted movies or shows are typically depicted in one of two lights; negatively or as a joke. But in “Perfect Little Angel”, the Miss Colorado State Pageant felt like it was taken seriously within the story! The staging of the pageant itself looked very high budget, appearing as if the event was produced by a professional organization. Every actress portraying a contestant was styled beautifully, mirroring the image of real life contestants of the late ‘90s. Even the way the actresses moved across the stage or performed their talent gave the audience the impression they cared about their outcome in the competition. As I’ll mention more in the segment about the episode’s story, the episode was about more than just the pageant, which actually works in the favor of the Miss Colorado State Pageant!
What I didn’t like about this episode:
I know Tess is a head-strong, motherly figure among the angels on the show. But toward the beginning of “Perfect Little Angel”, she came across as pushy. When she first meets Tracy, Tess insists she seek out guidance from a local women’s shelter. She evens looks down on Tracy’s desire to enter the Miss Colorado State Pageant, in an attempt to steer Tracy toward the shelter. After meeting Tracy for the first time, Tess talks with Monica about Tracy’s decision to join the pageant. Tess says Tracy is making things harder for herself. What she said about Tracy kind of sounded like victim-blaming. Fortunately, as the story progresses, Tess becomes more supportive toward Tracy’s ambitions.
The story itself:
Remember when I said the story of “Perfect Little Angel” was about more than just the pageant? Well, that’s because the script prioritized Tracy’s journey to the pageant. At the beginning of the episode, Tracy is down on her luck. Her self-esteem and personal morale are so low, she’s desperate to find an immediate solution. Through her pageant preparations, Tracy learns about honesty, perfection, and having the courage to reach her potential. Because the script focuses on Tracy’s story and the messages and themes that grew from it, the show’s creative team avoided several cliches and tropes associated with on-screen pageants or competitions. As Tracy’s story progresses, there are some surprises, even though I did suspect a few twists and turns along the way. These surprises added depth to the story, giving Tracy opportunities to apply the episode’s lessons to her life.
The other factors from this episode:
At the beginning of the episode, Tracy tells her co-worker, Don, how she has been accepted into a design school in Rhode Island. Because of this acceptance, Tracy claims she needs $20,000 as soon as possible. I’m honestly surprised Don didn’t suggest Tracy seek out scholarships or financial assistance. In fact, that was my first thought when Tracy mentioned the design school acceptance. From what I know about pageants, some pageant organizations offer scholarships or educational opportunities for their finalists. So, I’m also surprised this detail wasn’t included during the Miss Colorado State Pageant.
As Tracy is preparing for the Miss Colorado State Pageant, Tess, Monica, Raphael, and Andrew are given roles in order to help Tracy. Andrew is tasked with finding Tracy’s talent, while Tess assists Tracy with walking on stage and on-stage posture. I know Andrew needed something to do in this episode, even though his true role on this mission is revealed later in the story. But not having Tess find Tracy’s talent, especially since Della Reese is a real-life singer, is, in my opinion, an unusual creative choice. This is because, on some occasions, the show’s creative team has incorporated Della’s musical talents into the show.
When attempting to apply for the pageant, Tracy is told she will need an official sponsor. When the angels agree to help Tracy, they become her official sponsors by giving her the title, “Unauthorized Property #579”. Because the property itself is still under development, it has the potential to house any business, venue, or living space. The angels use this piece of land to represent Tracy herself, how she has so much potential that hasn’t been reached yet. I thought this was a wonderful analogy that emphasized one of the episode’s key themes. It made me think about the idea of reaching potential in a different way!
My overall thoughts:
Touched by an Angel is a show I’ve talked about so infrequently on 18 Cinema Lane. As I’ve said in the introduction, it feels like I write about an episode every two years. Despite this infrequency, I have lucked out, reviewing two episodes I actually liked. For a third time, I have come across another good episode of Touched by an Angel! The primary focus on Tracy’s story allowed the episode’s messages and themes to organically grow within the script. The story had an intriguing progression, providing surprises every so often. Even the pageant itself felt like it was taken seriously, which is much different from how pageants are typically portrayed in scripted movies and tv shows. If I were introducing someone to Touched by an Angel, “Perfect Little Angel” is an episode that would serve as a good starting point. It isn’t as emotionally heavy as episodes like “The Spirit of Liberty Moon”. But it does contain the strengths I’ve come to expect from this show!
‘Movies featuring beaches or waterfront scenes’ is March’s theme for Genre Grandeur. I could have selected a Hallmark title, but I chose a different film instead. This seems to be a recurring theme on 18 Cinema Lane this year. Back when I published my editorial, Oh, The Places She’ll Go: A Map of Esther Williams’ Travels, Paddy Lee suggested I check out Charlie Chan at Treasure Island. Since then, I’ve been trying to find the right time to watch the film. When I searched through my movie recommendation board on Pinterest, I knew it would be the perfect movie to write about for this month’s Genre Grandeur! Before Paddy Lee’s suggestion, I had never heard of the Charlie Chan series. From what I’ve gathered, this is a mystery series from the 1920s to the 1940s. A made for TV movie, The Return of Charlie Chan, was released in 1972 and the last movie in the series, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen, premiered in 1981. Starting this journey in the middle of the series, it’s time to review Charlie Chan at Treasure Island!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I’ve seen a handful of Cesar Romero’s projects from his filmography. Out of those projects, he has carried his character with charisma. In Charlie Chan at Treasure Island, Cesar portrayed a magician named Rhadini. Not only did Rhadini have the charisma I’ve come to expect from Cesar’s performances, he also contained a strong amount of showmanship you’d expect from a magician! Consistency worked in Cesar’s favor, with his performance appearing effortless. Another acting performance that came across as effortless was Victor Sen Yung’s! Portraying Charlie’s son, Jimmy, Victor gave his character a great on-screen personality. His expressions while interacting with other cast members wove together seamlessly. A great example is when Jimmy is helping Charlie get ready for a dinner party. As he is interacting with his father, Jimmy’s emotions transition from pride to confusion to determination without missing a beat! Despite appearing in the film for a limited amount of time, I liked Billie Seward’s portrayal of Bessie Sibley! She had great control over her character’s emotions, allowing her talents to go toe-to-toe with the talents of the other cast members.
The inclusion of magic: As I just mentioned in this review, Rhadini is a magician. He performs magic tricks on a few occasions within the story. These tricks range from a disappearing bird to a levitating table. There were even times when the secrets behind these tricks were revealed, showing the audience how the illusion was achieved. This was a pleasant surprise for me, as I didn’t expect any magic to be featured in the movie. Its inclusion in the story added a unique aspect to the film’s identity!
The humor: In past reviews, I’ve brought up how some mystery films have incorporated humor into their story, as humor gives the audience a break from the heaviness of the mystery itself. Honestly, I was surprised by the inclusion of humor in Charlie Chan at Treasure Island. This is because I was not expecting this aspect to be as strong as it was in the story. In Charlie Chan at Treasure Island, Jimmy was the comic relief. Some of the things he said were genuinely hilarious. During Rhadini’s magic show, Jimmy is recruited to participate in the levitating table trick. Horrified at the idea of being lifted off the ground, Jimmy tells his father, “Oh, but flying makes me seasick, Pop”.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A misleading title: Charlie’s adventures in Treasure Island are the reason why I chose this movie for March’s Genre Grandeur. Because of the film’s title, I expected Charlie to primarily spend his time at the titular location. But when I watched the movie, I discovered that wasn’t the case. While there was an aerial shot of Treasure Island, not much time was spent there. In fact, the characters talked about Hawaii, specifically Honolulu, more than Treasure Island. With that said, it made me wonder why this movie didn’t take place in Hawaii?
Charlie’s outdated “quirk”: In my editorial, Why ‘Francesca Quinn, PI’ is the Worst Hallmark Movie I’ve Ever Seen, I talked about how fictional detectives have a “quirk”, something that sets a detective apart from other sleuths. Charlie Chan does have his own “quirk”. However, it seems very outdated. Throughout the story, Charlie speaks in proverbs. His speech also sounds like broken English. I know the 1930s was a different time compared to the 2020s. But these factors make Charlie’s “quirk” seem stereotypical.
A limited amount of urgency: The main mystery in Charlie Chan at Treasure Island is a murder mystery, as a guest on a plane mysteriously dies during the trip. Charlie and the San Francisco police department discover a series of deaths that took place around the time of the aforementioned murder. But most of the story focuses on the mystery of who “Dr. Zodiac” is, a physic who is ripping off his clients. This focus caused the overall story to have a limited amount of urgency.
My overall impression:
As someone who actively seeks out programs from the mystery genre, I’m always looking for titles I can recommend to my readers. However, I am aware of how mystery films and shows are not created equally. Charlie Chan at Treasure Island was my introduction to the world of Charlie Chan. Unfortunately, this introduction was not as strong as it could have been. While there were aspects of the movie I liked, such as the acting and the humor, the story itself was weak. The misleading title made me wish the film had taken place in Hawaii. Charlie’s “quirk” also makes the story dated on arrival. I’m not sure if I’ll continue watching this series. Perhaps if a particular title fits a blogathon theme, then maybe I will check another film out.
Overall score: 6.7 out of 10
Have you seen any films from the Charlie Chan series? Are there mystery films you’d like to see reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane? Tell me in the comment section!
As I seek out Hallmark’s “older” content (“older” as in older than ten years old), I find myself gravitating toward Hallmark Hall of Fame’s VHS exclusive titles. For those who are not familiar with the history of Hallmark Hall of Fame, there are several movies from this collection that were only released on VHS. Caroline? from 1990 is one of those films. All I knew about this particular title was how the story revolved around a woman claiming to be a long-lost family member. Since I haven’t reviewed a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie in several months, I thought reviewing Caroline? for my latest Blog Follower Dedication Review would be perfect! Over my five years of movie blogging, I’ve noticed how my Hallmark related content has become some of my most popular content. In fact, one of my Hallmark Hall of Fame reviews, After the Glory, has garnered over a thousand views and counting! But will I like Caroline? as much as I liked 1992’s After the Glory? Keep reading my review in order to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: When portraying a titular character, that movie’s actor or actress needs to use their talents to not only carry the production, but also shine on their own. While I’m not familiar with Stephanie Zimbalist’s filmography, she did succeed in this task! In Caroline?, Stephanie’s portrayal of the titular character was so naturally presented, her interactions with the other characters were fluid. One great example is when Caroline is being questioned about her past whereabouts. In a calm voice, she answers every question given to her. As she sits upright in her chair, Caroline recounts how she survived a plane crash, looking away from Grace and Paul Carmichael as she’s remembering what happened. When Paul confronts Caroline over her selfishness, her face effortlessly turns to sadness. Caroline’s mouth conforms into a frown and her eyes appear to be on the verge of tears.
While watching Caroline?, I was fascinated by the interactions among the characters. This was achieved because of the strength of the cast! But two performances that impressed me the most came from Shawn Phelan and Jenny Jacobs! When a younger character plays a significant role in a story, the likability of that character can depend on an actor or actress’ performance. With Heidi and Winston, their interactions felt so realistic! A perfect example is when Winston is looking through a family photo album. Curious about Caroline’s true identity, Winston sneaks into his father’s office in the middle of the night. Several minutes later, Heidi comes into the office, wanting to look at the photo album as well. Throughout this scene, there is tension between Winston and Heidi. Winston is frustrated by Heidi’s constant questions and comments about the photos. He also does not like the fact he can’t look at the photo album independently. Meanwhile, Heidi is frustrated at the idea of being left out of Winston’s activity. She even looks defeated after Winston doesn’t believe her claims that she can read. With a combination of vocal inflections, facial expressions, and emotions, both Shawn and Jenny were able to present a sibling relationship that felt believable!
The element of mystery: As I mentioned in the introduction, Caroline? is about a woman claiming to be a long-lost family member. Even though I wouldn’t consider this film as a part of the mystery genre, the mystery of Caroline’s identity is spread out throughout the story. This creative decision allowed the audience to witness the interactions between the characters. Through these character interactions, the audience is left guessing if Caroline is who she says she is. All I can about the mystery’s resolution is it ended on a plot twist I didn’t see coming. The combination of these creative decisions presented a movie that was captivating to watch!
The messages and themes: Hallmark films, especially Hallmark Hall of Fame productions, are known for featuring strong messages and themes that most people can support. Caroline? is no different, as this story contains a collection of great themes and messages! While in the Carmichael family’s attic, Winston and Caroline are talking about the past. During their interaction, Winston tells Caroline, “My history teacher tells me that the secret to the future is often found in the past”. This quote resonated with me, as I, more often than not, talk about films from the past on 18 Cinema Lane! Later in the movie, Winston is frustrated with Heidi because she won’t receive academic assistance from Caroline. When Winston comes to Caroline with his frustrations, Caroline tells him, “I can’t force her to. I can’t help her unless she wants me to”. That quote alone highlights the importance of respecting one’s wishes. At the same time, Winston’s desire to see his sister academically succeed shows how necessary it is to support those you care about.
The differentiation of time: The story of Caroline? features two time periods: the “present” (1990, when the film was released) and the past (late 1940s to early 1950s). Because of choices in styling and presentation, these time periods appeared distinct from one another. In one scene, Mr. and Mrs. Carmichael (Winston and Heidi’s parents) are debating the legitimacy of Caroline’s claims. This scene takes place in their bedroom, which contains two separate beds. That specific choice in the movie’s set design is a strong reflection of the ‘40s to ‘50s, as it was more common for married couples to have separate sleeping arrangements. It also boasts the historical accuracy between these aforementioned time periods.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Questions left unanswered: Any story containing a mystery will raise some questions within the script. Usually, these questions are answered as the film progresses. But in Caroline?, there were some questions I wish were addressed. While shopping at a bookstore, Winston purchases a book of poems for Caroline. Yet, at Caroline’s party, he gives the book to Heidi. Speaking of Heidi, she is called “Heidi” by her mother, despite her name being Hilary. These are two examples of questions that weren’t explained.
My overall impression:
The story of a character claiming to be a long-lost family member is nothing new. The ‘90s, the decade when Caroline? was released, saw the premiere of 1997’s Anastasia, which revolves around this same type of story. But Hallmark Hall of Fame’s presentation makes several creative decisions that allow their story to travel down different avenues. It goes beyond simply figuring out if the protagonist is the claimed long-lost family member, as the film discusses reaching one’s full potential and helping those that need help. As I mentioned in my review, I was fascinated by the interactions among the characters because of the strength of the cast. That combined with the intriguing nature of the story is what kept me invested in the film! Caroline? is a movie I was Hallmark had re-released on DVD. In fact, I wish more people knew about this movie. With that, I’d like to thank all of my followers, as you are the reason why this review exists!
Overall score: 9 out of 10
Have you seen or heard of Caroline? Which Hallmark Hall of Fame movie would you like to see reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane? Please tell me in the comment section below!
When I reviewed The Princess and the Pirate last year, that article became my 300th movie review! Then, earlier this year, my review of Sea Change became my 325th movie review! As March is National Reading Month and since I haven’t written a reading related tag in three years, I’m commemorating these milestones with a book tag! While searching for a tag on Booktube (the book/reading community on Youtube), I stumbled upon the Spring Cleaning Book Tag video from the channel, OwlCrate. I realized I had an answer to every question the hosts shared in the video. I also remembered how spring is on the horizon. If any of my readers are interested in participating in the Spring Cleaning Book Tag, they are welcome to write their own tag posts!
1. The Struggle of Getting Started – A book or book series you struggle to begin because of its size
In the past, I’ve read the first book and the short story collection in The Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series. While I have enjoyed reading those books, I’ve struggled to continue past the first novel. This is because I haven’t found the time to read the rest of the series. At one point, I did start the second book, only to not finish it. I do want to read more of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children books. I just need to make a stronger effort to continue.
2. Cleaning Out the Closet – A book or book series you want to unhaul
For last month’s Buzzwordathon, I reviewed The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon. Because of Joan’s creative decisions, I found the book disappointing. The protagonist, Christina, makes several contradictions that could make a reader frustrated. Joan prioritizing Christina’s “coming of age” story caused the novel’s suspense to be far and few between, as well as provide a lack of urgency. So, if I had the opportunity to unhaul a book, I’d select The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore.
3. Opening Windows and Letting Fresh Air In – A book that was refreshing
Since I’ve read some books in the Murder, She Wrote series, I’ll choose these stories for this prompt! What I like about the series is how the books aren’t novelizations of episodes the show’s fans have already seen. Instead, these stories are new, unique tales featuring characters and settings fans of Murder, She Wrote have come to know and adore. Creating a new story takes creativity and effort. So, the fact this series contains different stories from the show is, in my opinion, refreshing!
4. Washing Out the Sheets’ Stains – A book you wish you could re-write a certain scene in
As I mentioned in my tag post, The “Flaming Hot…5 Reasons Why” Tag, Kili is my favorite character from The Hobbit trilogy. With that said, I would re-write the conclusion of The Battle of the Five Armies, so Kili and the rest of The Company could receive a more victorious outcome. If this had happened, that victorious outcome might have been translated to The Hobbit trilogy.
5. Throwing Out Unnecessary Knick-Knacks – A book in a series you didn’t feel was necessary
Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of an unnecessary book in a series. But when I first heard the prompt, I thought of an unnecessary subplot in a book, so I’ll talk about that instead. In Private L.A., by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, I was not a fan of Justine’s subplot, specifically the part where she develops romantic feelings for a man named Paul. Not only did I not sense chemistry between Paul and Justine, this part of the story wasn’t resolved. Personally, I wish James and Mark had solely focused on Justine coming to terms with her PTSD symptoms.
6. Polishing the Door Knobs – A book that had a clean finish
Not every book is meant to start a series or a literary universe. Sometimes, a story only needs to be told in one book. That leads me to bring up Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton! Without spoiling the book or its film adaptation, I will say the story had a definitive ending, with everything wrapping up as nicely as possible. While I wouldn’t oppose a sequel to Adam’s story, I don’t think it’s necessary.
7. Reaching to Dust the Fan – A book that tried too hard to relay a certain message
Definitely California Angel by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. It seems like Nancy tried to capitalize on programs like Touched by an Angel and Miracle on 34th Street without presenting or attempting to present a complete understanding for what made those programs work. Also, it seems like Nancy used faith as an excuse to avoid explaining why certain events were taking place in the story.
8. The Tiring, Yet Satisfying Finish of Spring Cleaning – A book series that was tiring, yet satisfying, to get through
For this last prompt, I’ll be selecting All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr instead. Reading the novel for 2022’s Buzzwordathon, I completed this 500+ page story in less than six month’s time. Though it took me longer to read than I expected, I’m glad I finally read the book! Because I finished All the Light We Cannot See, I can now have an honest opinion about it.
Once upon a time, in 2018, I declared the Hallmark Hall of Fame title, Back When We Were Grownups, as the worst Hallmark movie I had ever seen. Since publishing that list, I honestly didn’t think any movie would dethrone the 2004 film. That all changed when I saw Francesca Quinn, PI. At the end of 2022, when I released my list of the worst movies I watched, the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film was placed at number one. While I explained why the film earned the top spot on my list, I didn’t discuss why Francesca Quinn, PI is now the worst Hallmark movie I’ve ever seen. As a Christmas present, J-Dub, from Dubsism, nominated me for The Pick My Movie Tag. My mission was to write about a movie I couldn’t stand. This gave me the perfect opportunity to explain why I don’t like Francesca Quinn, PI. Since this editorial is solely based on my opinion, I need to make it clear that everything I say is not meant to be mean-spirited or disrespectful. Examples from the movie will be used to support my intended points. I’d also like to thank J-Dub for the nomination! Because of this tag, I’m now publishing my first editorial of 2023! This editorial is written for a tag, so all tag rules will be posted below.
The Tag’s Rules
Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.
Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.
Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog.
Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Maybe both.
All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.
All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.
Exposition is an important storytelling component in any story, whether it’s a stand-alone tale or a chapter in an established franchise. This component provides the audience with necessary information about the characters, setting, and overarching conflict. The best way for the audience to absorb this information is, in my opinion, to spread it out throughout the story. That’s not what happened in Francesca Quinn, PI. Within the first six minutes of the movie, the following characters are introduced:
Francesca (the protagonist)
Jim (Francesca’s dad)
Bill (Jim’s friend)
Wynton (Francesca’s childhood friend and detective partner)
Megan (Francesca’s ex-stepmom)
Carl (Francesca’s high school sweetheart and fiancé)
In just one scene, Francesca, Jim, Bill, and Wynton are rapidly introduced to the audience. Within those same first six minutes, Francesca, through a voice over, discusses the six murders Megan committed over the span of four years. Because the audience is receiving so much information in such a short amount of time, they aren’t given the opportunity to truly get to know the characters. They also aren’t given enough time to decide for themselves if they want to care about a particular character. The first movie in a potential series is intended to serve as a first impression for the audience, an indication of what they could expect from the story. With Francesca Quinn, PI’s creative team choosing to dump exposition onto their audience’s plates, that will cause viewers to feel overwhelmed.
Since coming to fruition in 2001, Hallmark Channel has created several mystery series that would eventually lead to the rebranding of Hallmark’s second network. In these series, the audience follows a central protagonist who comes across as likable. This likability has worked in some series’ favor, expanding a story beyond three films. In the case of Francesca Quinn, PI, there are some factors working against the protagonist. Throughout the movie, Francesca speaks with a monotone voice, using very little emotional inflection. Most of the time, her face carries a blank, serious expression. With the material given, Mallory Jansen tries her best to give her character a wider range of emotion, smiling every once in a while. However, this attempt isn’t enough to make a good first impression on the audience.
Francesca’s limited expressions lead me to my next point; her weaker personality. When beginning a series, a protagonist’s personality could determine that story’s longevity. If the protagonist is presented as friendly, approachable, and even relatable, that could attract more viewers to follow the protagonist’s adventures. Showing a protagonist in various environments is a good way to showcase their personality. In the Aurora Teagarden series, the audience witnesses Aurora in both a professional and nonprofessional setting. Whether she’s trying to get along with her co-worker, Lillian, or interacting with the members of the Real Murders Club, viewers receive a more well-rounded glimpse into Aurora’s personality. Because Francesca’s story primarily revolves around her profession, the audience doesn’t get a strong idea of what her personality is really like. The fact Francesca does not have friends or hobbies outside of her occupation prevents her personality from shining. Another element Francesca’s personality is missing is charisma.
The most well-known detectives in pop culture have a “quirk”, something that sets them apart from other fictional detectives. A great example is Columbo, who is recognized for saying “and one more thing”. With Francesca Quinn, there are no “quirks” that help her stand out among Hallmark’s other detectives. As I previously mentioned, she doesn’t have any interests outside of her profession. She does not have a catchphrase that viewers could easily remember and quote. This missing ingredient is another reason why Francesca is not a likable and memorable protagonist.
An Unprofessional Investigator
In Hallmark’s various mystery series, there is a mix of professional and amateur detectives. This provides mystery fans with diverse perspectives, showing how different characters approach a mystery. For protagonists who are professional detectives, their critical thinking and problem-solving skills should give the impression they know what they’re doing. Yet, in Francesca Quinn, PI, Francesca makes several mistakes an amateur detective would likely make. When visiting a potential suspect, Francesca spots the security guard who happens to work at the prison Megan resides in. She, as well as Ella (the lead detective of the Minneapolis police department), chase after the security guard. As the chase continues, the security guard throws a set of fish at Francesca, in an effort to slow her down. Her disgust distracts her from the pursuit, with the security guard getting away. After the security guard trips and falls to the ground, Francesca pulls her gun on him. When Ella tries to calm Francesca down, Francesca tells her, “He threw a fish at me”, justifying her reason for pulling her weapon on the security guard.
The scene I described is just one example of Francesca’s poor decision-making skills. Yet Francesca Quinn, PI’s creative team wants the audience to believe Francesca is a professional investigator with years of experience. The story also establishes how Francesca has her own private investigation firm. Detectives in mystery stories are human, capable of making mistakes and experiencing obstacles. But Francesca crosses the line between human error and appearing incompetent at her job. Toward the beginning of her investigation to figure out who killed Carl, Wynton and Beatrice (a detective who works alongside Wynton) pays Francesca a visit. As Beatrice shares the alibis of the case’s prime suspects, Francesca believes a hit man murdered her fiancé. She is so convinced in her belief, she becomes defensive and argumentative with Beatrice and Wynton. Instead of looking at every possible avenue for a resolution to the mystery, Francesca chooses to be close-minded in her approach to figuring out “whodunit”.
Mystery stories will typically provide explanations when it comes to specific parts of the story. Whether it’s medical terminology or pieces of historical information, these explanations can help the audience better understand the story they are consuming. But Francesca Quinn, PI includes so many explanations, the protagonist ends up explaining things that don’t need to be explained. In the first minute of the movie, Francesca explains what a “murder board” is, saying “a murder board, we call it. Lots of pieces of evidence that hopefully bring you to a conclusion”. This explanation is presented as a voice over, with a “murder board” shown on screen. Speaking for myself, I’ve seen enough mystery programs, especially from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, to know what the aforementioned board is and how it is used.
While voice overs were a way to provide unnecessary explanations, Francesca Quinn, PI’s creative team used other methods to keep this flaw consistent. When Francesca and Wynton visit Megan in prison, Wynton tells Megan the police “do things by the book”. The inclusion of this pun acknowledged Megan’s English teaching career and her request to receive books in prison. Shortly after Wynton made this pun, Francesca explains to Megan, as well as the audience, that not only is “by the book” a pun, she also explains the meaning behind the pun. In my list of the top ten worst movies I saw in 2022, I said Francesca Quinn, PI gave me the impression the film’s creative team didn’t want me to solve the mystery alongside the protagonist. I also said one of the worst things a film-maker can do is disrespect their audience’s intelligence. With all the unnecessary explanations the creative team gave, the opportunity for the viewers to interact with the story was unavailable.
As of the publication of this editorial, there are no announced plans to grow Francesca Quinn, PI into a series. If I’m being honest, though, I hope that doesn’t happen. This is because I truly believe there are mystery stories that are better than this one. A decade ago, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries housed several mystery series that achieved viewership success. Hallmark’s second network would never have boasted the name, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, had it not been for the popularity of these mystery films. Now, in the 2020s, it seems like Hallmark’s priorities no longer lie with the mystery genre. In early March, 2023, only three of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ movies are mystery titles. Out of the ten newer mystery titles to premiere this decade so far, just two of them have received at least one sequel: Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries and Curious Caterer. Looking back on Francesca Quinn, PI, Hallmark’s lack of care and respect for the mystery genre shined brighter than a typical neon sign.
Flapper Dame from The Flapper Dame
Ari from The Classic Movie Muse
Maddy from Classic Film and TV Corner
Ruth from Silver Screenings
Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy
As I mentioned in the introduction, I wrote this editorial for The Pick My Movie Tag. Because I wrote about the worst Hallmark movie I’d ever seen, I will give my nominees the mission to write about a Hallmark movie featured in my worst movies of the year lists. To make it easier for the nominees, I will list those titles below:
Though it’s only February, it seems like 2023 has become the year where movies that sound “bonkers” end up getting reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. First, it was the Lifetime movie, Sea Change. Most recently, it was Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. Now, for Classic Movie Muse’s Kim Novak Blogathon, it’s The White Buffalo. If it wasn’t for this event, I would have never heard of this film, as I happened to stumble upon it on Kim’s IMDB filmography. Based on the title, synopsis, and poster, The White Buffalo seemed like it would be “bonkers”. But as Sea Change and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter have taught me, just because a movie sounds “bonkers”, doesn’t mean it will be “bonkers”. So, I was curious to see if The White Buffalo met my expectations. I’ve also mentioned in the past how westerns aren’t often reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. So writing about The White Buffalo for the Kim Novak Blogathon has given me an excuse to check out more western films!
Things I liked about the film:
Kim Novak and Charles Bronson’s on-screen chemistry: In The White Buffalo, Kim portrays Poker Jenny, a widow from the town of Cheyenne. When Bill, portrayed by Charles Bronson, arrives in town, he pays Jenny a visit. Though these characters spent only a brief period of time together, I felt Kim and Charles had strong on-screen chemistry! There was camaraderie between Jenny and Bill, a shared history only they knew. Confident personalities complimented one another, highlighting how well they get along. Because of their strong acting performances, both Kim and Charles successfully sold this relationship! I wish their characters shared more screen time together.
Using the buffalo sparingly: The White Buffalo has gained legend status in the world within this movie. This is because of the terror it inflicts on people who have crossed its path. The buffalo itself is only shown in a handful of scenes, while the majority of the film shows the characters either talking about the buffalo or searching for its existence. That creative decision was a good way of building tension and suspense for the audience. Limited presentation of the buffalo highlights how this creature is a threat who can show up unexpectedly. It is also a film-making technique from the horror genre, where the unseen can be scarier than what is seen. This reminds me of films such as Jaws.
Building atmosphere: In any film, the atmosphere can compliment the world the characters and story exist in. It can also elevate the movie’s intended tone. In the opening scene of The White Buffalo, a snowy landscape is presented at night-time. Slow camera movements travel over the landscape, building up to the audience’s first look of the White Buffalo. Suspenseful music is heard on top of the footage, providing a reason for the viewer to be scared of the titular creature. When the buffalo finally appears on screen, it’s an explosive moment where adrenaline and terror collide. The opening scene of this movie lays down the foundation for what this story is about!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Limited sense of urgency: Throughout the film, Bill and Crazy Horse, portrayed by Will Sampson, are seeking the White Buffalo in order to destroy it. This quest serves as the main conflict in The White Buffalo. While there was a sense of urgency in the story, it wasn’t consistently featured in the movie. Along with the film’s main conflict, sub-conflicts share the run-time, such as Bill’s encounter with a criminal from his past. Because of this creative decision, those sub-conflicts took away from the urgency toward finding the White Buffalo.
The under-utilization of Kim Novak: In past blogathons, I have reviewed a movie because of a certain actor’s involvement, only to see that actor’s talents under-utilized. This was the case when watching The White Buffalo, as Kim Novak is one of the reasons why I sought out this film. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Jenny and Bill spent only a brief period of time together. During this hour and thirty seven minute movie, Kim appeared in about three to four scenes. She did a good job with the acting material she was given. However, I was disappointed by her limited on-screen appearances.
The run-time: When talking about Kim’s few appearances in The White Buffalo, I said the movie was an hour and thirty seven minutes. With the story itself being straight-forward, the run-time doesn’t need to be very long. This could have been achieved had the sub-conflicts been eliminated from the script. The run-time could have also been shortened if some scenes were cut down. One example is when Bill meets Charlie for the first time, a scene that lasts about fifteen minutes.
My overall impression:
In the introduction of this review, I said just because a movie sounds “bonkers”, doesn’t mean it will be “bonkers”. That is what happened when I saw The White Buffalo. At best, the movie is ok. The atmosphere was well-built and the acting was strong. The film even does a better job at combining the western and horror genres than Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter! But the film isn’t without its flaws. The story contains a limited sense of urgency and the movie is a bit drawn out. I was also disappointed by the under-utilization of Kim’s talents. However, watching The White Buffalo did give me an opportunity to seek out more projects from Will Sampson’s filmography, as I am familiar with his performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Like I said in this review’s introduction, I was also given an excuse to watch more western movies. Therefore, I’m grateful I was able to expand my cinematic horizons!
Overall score: 6-6.1 out of 10
Have you seen The White Buffalo? Are there any westerns you’ve checked out that also feature the horror genre? Please tell me in the comment section!
My quest to find my “so bad it’s good” movie has, at this point, turned into a saga. During my time participating in the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon from Taking Up Room, I have selected a film I thought would earn the coveted title, only to have that film fall short of my expectations. But I haven’t given up, as I still believe my “so bad it’s good” film is out there somewhere. When I reviewed Sea Change, I said the movie sounded so “bonkers”, I had to check it out for myself. I had a similar experience when I discovered the 1966 film, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. Based on that title alone, the movie sounded “bonkers”, a well-known criminal from the “wild, wild west” crossing paths with someone from the story of Frankenstein. I hadn’t seen a film where the western and horror genres combined, so I was curious to see how this story would turn out. I was also curious to see if Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter would finally be my “so bad it’s good” movie.
Things I liked about the film:
Maria’s house: Within this movie’s dialogue, Maria explains how her house formerly belonged to a missionary. Though the space is more reflective of Maria’s taste in design, I was impressed with the set! Despite only three rooms being shown on screen, my favorite room was the sitting room! The walls and massive fireplace were covered in a light-colored sandstone. A large medallion with carved images sits over the fireplace, boasting a darker metal hue. Red armchairs and curtains nicely complimented the sandstone. These details added elements of elegance and European flair to the desert!
The inclusion of science: In stories from the western genre, science isn’t often found in the script. In fact, the only times I’ve seen science included in western stories are during school lessons or whenever a medical situation takes place. Maria is a scientist from Austria, who just so happens to be related to the same Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s novel. She is driven to make her experiment work, using an artificial brain that was passed down through her family. Despite the film’s science being poorly written, I appreciate this story adopting a more unique identity. I also appreciate the creativity this movie’s creative team attempted.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Poorly written science: As I previously stated in this review, the science in Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter is poorly written. It honestly made the characters sound like they didn’t know what they were talking about. While performing one of her experiments, Maria explains to her brother why they moved to the United States. She says there are more “electrical storms” in the United States than there are in Austria. What Maria failed to remember is how thunderstorms can take place anywhere, as clouds can congregate to create the effects of a typical storm, such as lightening. This made Maria’s trip seem kind of pointless.
A misleading title: I mentioned in this review’s introduction how the title of Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter sparked my curiosity, as it made the movie sound “bonkers”. Personally, I thought the film would feature Jesse James in his younger years interacting with the daughter of Frankenstein’s monster. However, the title turned out to be a lie. Maria is Victor Frankenstein’s granddaughter. When Jesse meets Maria, forty minutes into the movie, nothing happens after their initial meeting. They don’t fall in love or form some sort of alliance. If given an honest title, this film would be called “Jesse James Meets Juanita”.
Delayed reactions: Though not a common flaw, there were a few times where actors presented delayed reactions. When Juanita’s family first meets Jesse and his friend, Hank, both men are running from the law. Hank has a very noticeable injury, which is getting worse by the minute. But it takes Juanita about five to ten seconds to acknowledge Hank’s injury. I’m not faulting the actors, as they tried their best with the material given. I will fault the screenwriting, as there could have been a stronger sense of urgency written into the script.
Lack of horror: In this review’s introduction, I said I was curious to see a movie combine the western and horror genres. But when I watched the film, the western genre was emphasized. To me, it felt like the movie’s creative team wanted to take their western story seriously, instead of finding a balance between the horror and western genres. When the horror elements were utilized, it seemed like they were used to tell a rehashed version of Mary Shelley’s story. Even though I appreciate the creativity attempted, I wish the delivery was stronger.
My overall impression:
For five years, I have been searching for my “so bad it’s good” movie. Throughout this search, I have found films that were either ok or disappointing. With Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, there were a few times I found myself giggling. But I wouldn’t say this movie is “so bad it’s good”. To be honest, this film was built on a gimmick. Though that could work with the right creative talent, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter didn’t have a strong delivery. It felt like the movie’s creative team wanted to take their project seriously. This made the film feel more like a generic western. The inclusion of the horror genre added some creativity to the movie. Unfortunately, the horror elements were not utilized well. With this review for the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, it feels like I took a step in the right direction! Hopefully, those steps will lead me to my “so bad it’s good” movie!
Overall score: 4.9-5 out of 10
Have you seen or heard of Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter? Would you like to see more westerns combine other genres? Please let me know in the comment section!
For three years, I have participated in blogathons hosted by Hamlette, from Hamlette’s Soliloquy. This is because the themes of these events have been, in my opinion, creative. When Hamlette announced the We Love L. M. Montgomery Week Blogathon, I, at first, had no idea what to write about. The only story by L. M. Montgomery I was familiar with was Anne of Green Gables. But I knew that story was not the “end all, be all” when it came to L. M. Montgomery’s work. So, I wanted to select a story I had never read or seen before. In the past, I have reviewed tv shows that were new to me. These reviews have consisted of one to four episodes per article. With everything considered, I chose to review the first season of Emily of New Moon! Since I’m writing about more than a few episodes of this show, my review will be longer than my other posts about television shows. I will discuss three aspects of Emily of New Moon I like and don’t like. Then, I will share some of my thoughts on the show, similar to my “Some thoughts to consider” section of my tv show re-caps. Finally, I will provide my overall impression on the show’s first season. Since I’m talking about a whole season of Emily of New Moon, there will be spoilers in this review.
What I liked about this show:
Emily, Perry, and Cousin Jimmy: As I watched Emily of New Moon, Emily, Perry, and Cousin Jimmy became my favorite characters for different reasons! When it comes to storytelling, creating a younger, precocious character can be hit or miss. This is because writers can run the risk of inventing a character that is greater than who they really are. Even though Emily has a gift for writing, she is never presented as a “genius”. Instead, Emily is simply a child who is passionate about creating stories and poems. While attempting to figure out how to break the curse in “The Disappointed House”, Ilse, Emily’s friend, suggests writing about the deceased couple as a way of immortalizing them. Despite how much Emily likes this idea, she doesn’t feel her writing is good enough to bring this idea to fruition. Within Emily of New Moon, Emily is allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. In the episode, “The Ghost of Whyther Grange”, Emily cuts her hair, as she thinks she needs a new hair-do to impress Great Aunt Nancy and Great Aunt Caroline. The hair-do turns out terrible, leaving Emily with an embarrassing result. Along with a photograph of herself with the hair-cut, she sends a portrait drawn by her friend, Teddy, and a letter explaining the situation to her Great Aunts. Through this experience, Emily learns the importance of being your authentic self as well as honesty.
While watching Emily of New Moon, Perry reminded me of Tom Thornton from When Calls the Heart. What I mean by this is Perry is more willing to work toward his goals and dreams. Perry reveals to Ilse, in “A Child Shall Lead Them”, how his father died and his mother is in prison. When he is first introduced toward the beginning of season one, the audience is given the impression Perry is running away from home. But with his backstory and how determined he is to improve his life, Perry is instead running toward his future. His desire to learn and refusal to give up are admirable qualities. Each little victory, such as choosing to attend school, feel like earned stepping stones in Perry’s journey of success!
In some stories, there is a character who serves as the “voice of reason”. This character can help others make better choices and steer them in the right direction. In Emily of New Moon, the “voice of reason” is Cousin Jimmy. He is not afraid to speak his mind. At the same time, he always has a piece of wisdom to share with those around him. One day, after school, Miss Brownell pays the Murray family a visit. During this visit, she shares with Aunt Elizabeth how Emily “misbehaved” in class. Aunt Elizabeth orders Emily to get on her knees and beg Miss Brownell for forgiveness. Cousin Jimmy, who just so happened to be in the same room, tells Aunt Elizabeth how you should only get on your knees for God. Not only did Cousin Jimmy stand up to Aunt Elizabeth, he also reminded her how there are things in this world that are greater than ourselves.
A smaller cast: I said in my review of A Room with a View how I find myself gravitating toward historical fiction/period drama stories with smaller casts. This creative decision prevents storylines from competing for attention, as there are less characters to keep track of. Emily of New Moon adopts this model of storytelling, with Emily, Aunt Elizabeth, and Aunt Laura as the main characters of the show who consistently appear in each episode. The rest of the characters are secondary, meaning their appearances are rotated in a cycle. Because the episode“The Tale of Duncan McHugh” features a character around Emily’s age, Perry makes more appearances, as he and Emily attend the same school. While Perry does appear in the next episode, “The Wild Rover”, more emphasis is given to Uncle Jimmy, as he is providing guidance to Mr. Carpenter, Blair Water School’s new teacher. Because of the smaller cast, each character’s story is told to a satisfying extent. It gives the audience a chance to truly get to know the characters!
Emily’s monologues: Because Emily is passionate about writing, each episode contains a short monologue from Emily’s perspective. These monologues are eloquently written and spoken, in the imaginative style that is consistent with Emily’s part of the story. They also relate to events that took place within a given episode. A baby is born in “Falling Angels”. This makes Emily contemplate how fragile life can be. After meeting Mr. Carpenter in “The Wild Rover”, Emily realizes how some people can come into our lives at the right place and time. Because these monologues usually take place toward the end of an episode, they add depth to the episode’s story, as well as provide departing pieces of wisdom to the audience.
What I didn’t like about this show:
Aunt Elizabeth: I recognize not every character is meant to be likable. A character’s unlikability can be the result of various factors. While I liked Susan Clark’s performance on Emily of New Moon, I was not a fan of her character, Aunt Elizabeth. The way she treated her family was horrid. In the very first episode, “Eye of Heaven”, Aunt Elizabeth expressed no empathy toward Emily after her father passed away. She dictates what Emily is and isn’t allowed to bring to New Moon. Aunt Elizabeth even throws Emily’s cat, Pandora, out of their carriage and leaves the cat on the side of the road to fend for herself. As the story progresses, Aunt Elizabeth does change some of her rigid ways. However, it seems like she wants to have her cake and eat it too. What I mean by this is, Aunt Elizabeth wants to continue controlling her household in a strict manner, yet is surprised when her family and even people not related to the Murray family turn on her as well as stand up to her. By the end of the first season, Aunt Elizabeth appears to be trying to turn over a new leaf. If I had to be honest, though, I’m not getting my hopes up.
Inclusion of ghosts and the supernatural: In the second episode, “Storms of the Heart”, Uncle Jimmy shares with Emily how her great-great grandmother had “the second sight”. This means she, as well as Emily, are able to see and communicate with spirits from the afterlife. The inclusion of ghosts and the supernatural provided a unique aspect to Emily of New Moon’s story, compared to L. M. Montgomery’s series, Anne of Green Gables. But the way this aspect was incorporated into the show was inconsistent and, as a result, confusing. The episode, “The Disappointed House”, included a curse on the titular location, an abandoned house built for a man and his fiancé. Due to a misunderstanding involving Aunt Laura, Emily’s second aunt, the man and his fiancé separate before ultimately passing away. After Emily finds a letter addressed to Aunt Laura and gives it to her, the couple is reunited in the afterlife, which lifts the curse. Three episodes later, in “Falling Angels”, Emily sees the spirit of a child wearing a red snowsuit. No explanations about who this child is or why Emily sees the child are provided.
Inconsistent storytelling: When I discussed the inclusion of ghosts and the supernatural on Emily of New Moon, I brought up how the delivery of this aspect was inconsistent. That’s not the only inconsistent part of the story, in my opinion. There are times when a secondary character is introduced in an episode, then disappears after that episode and isn’t heard from again. Duncan, a peer of Emily’s, goes to school for the first time in the episode, “The Tale of Duncan McHugh”. The very next episode, “The Wild Rover”, primarily takes place at Blair Water School. Yet, Duncan is nowhere to be found. At the end of “The Tale of Duncan McHugh”, Aunt Elizabeth agrees to make amends with Duncan’s mother, as they were friends in the past. Similar to Duncan, Duncan’s mother is never brought up again.
Some thoughts to consider:
Why did Emily’s dad and Aunt Elizabeth not want Emily to read novels? I feel like the closest thing to an explanation provided in this season was Aunt Elizabeth believing novels were “fantastical”. To me, this wasn’t a satisfying answer. However, I did find the dissuasion of novels from both Emily’s dad and Aunt Elizabeth an interesting coincidence.
Out of all the episodes in season one, “Paradise Lost” was my least favorite. From a creative perspective, I can see what the show’s creative team was trying to accomplish; showcasing how some people are not who they seem. Compared to other stories with a similar concept, “Paradise Lost” was underwhelming. Personally, I didn’t feel like a conflict was resolved, especially in a way that felt satisfying. The inclusion of Lofty John’s mother’s spirit added to the inconsistency of ghosts and the supernatural.
In the 1990s, it seems like almost every scripted television show created at least one Christmas episode. So, I was surprised to discover Emily of New Moon didn’t acknowledge Christmas. Granted, I’ve only seen the first season of this show. Maybe a Christmas episode was created in another season?
My overall impression:
I’d like to take the time to thank Hamlette for hosting the We Love L. M. Montgomery Week Blogathon. Because of this event, I was given the opportunity to check out Emily of New Moon! This is the first time I reviewed a full season of any television show, so this event also allowed me to have a new blogging experience! Looking back on Emily of New Moon, I am impressed with what I saw! Even though the show does have its flaws, I believe the overall production is solid! Each acting performance was strong, bringing to life characters the audience could become acquainted with as each episode carried to the next. The show’s historical accuracy gave viewers the illusion traveling back to a different time was possible. Having a smaller cast worked in the show’s favor, as it allowed each story to be told to a satisfying extent. Since I enjoyed watching season one, I do plan on checking out season two! Who knows? Maybe I’ll read L. M. Montgomery’s Emily trilogy someday?
With 18 Cinema Lane’s 5th anniversary in February, the annual Gold Sally Awards is here to mark this occasion! As I mentioned last month, this year’s awards will be presented differently. Each category was created by me, based on topics I’ve brought up on my blog. The award recipients relate to movies I saw in 2022, with some of those movies covered on 18 Cinema Lane. For each category, I will explain the significance of them and why I chose that recipient. So, without any delay, let the Gold Sally Awards begin!
The Edwin P. Christy Award
(Most Annoying Character in Film)
Grandpa Marcus from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Journey
When I saw I Dream of Jeanie two years ago, I was introduced to the character of Edwin P. Christy. In my review of the 1952 movie, I said I found Edwin annoying. This is because he used every opportunity to put the spotlight on himself. He does this so often, I said in my list of the top ten worst movies of 2021 that I Dream of Jeanie’s honest title would be “The Edwin P. Christy Show”. In 2022, I met another annoying character named Marcus, from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Journey.
Having a hobby can be a good thing. But in Marcus’ case, his hobby for photography turns into an obsession. This obsession causes Marcus’ family to either hide their faces or run away from him whenever he wants to take their picture. Marcus also takes pictures of people without their permission. It even gets to the point where Marcus makes his grandson, who appears to be eight to ten years old, drive a car so Marcus can take photos. His grandchildren jokingly remark how their grandpa will photograph their car accident if something should happen to them, their remark not sitting well with me at all. In Journey, Marcus’ hobby is related to one of the movie’s themes; memories are irreplaceable. The delivery of this theme, though, was an annoying one.
The “She Won’t Give Me My Chocolate” Award
(Best Quote from a Movie)
“Someone who likes their cereal really hot” – Wanda, Point of Origin
The Valley of Light is a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I like. I’ve mentioned in my tier rank list of every Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I saw that “She won’t give me my chocolate” is one of my favorite quotes from this collection of films. When I watched Point of Origin last June, I heard a quote that was so funny, it caught me off guard! In one scene, John’s daughter asks John, the film’s protagonist, what a serial arsonist is, after hearing the term on the news. Without missing a beat, Wanda, John’s wife, answers the young girl’s question by explaining it is “someone who likes their cereal really hot”. I was not expecting Wanda to provide this kind of answer, let alone any answer at all. Its unexpectedness is why I found this quote hilarious!
The Edward Boult Award
(Missed Opportunity in Cinema)
Not Having the Quote, “I have a need, a need for speed”, in Top Gun: Maverick
Back in 2019, I watched Edward, My Son for the first time. In my review of that film, I talked about how Edward’s lack of on-screen appearances was a missed opportunity. Not only did this creative decision prevent the audience from getting to know and connect with Edward as a character, it also denied an actor from receiving the “standing ovation” he deserved. Out of the films I saw in 2022, there were a few times where I felt an opportunity was missed. But not having the quote, “I have a need, a need for speed”, in Top Gun: Maverick was, in my opinion, the biggest missed opportunity of the year. The aforementioned quote is not only the most well-known quote from Top Gun: Maverick’s predecessor, it’s one of the most famous quotes in movie history. Like I said in my review of the 2022 blockbuster, the film did a good job respecting Top Gun. However, I still think “I have a need, a need for speed” should have been referenced somewhere in the movie.
The They Deserve an Award Award
(An Actor or Actress Who Deserves Recognition)
Melissa Joan Hart (for her performance in Dirty Little Secret)
A quote I have always tried to incorporate into 18 Cinema Lane is Auggie’s quote from Wonder: “Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.” This is why I go out of my way to talk about movies, people, or movie related topics that may be overlooked. Dirty Little Secret is a Lifetime movie that premiered last year. In this film, Melissa portrays Joanna, a woman who is secretly a hoarder. As I have said in the past, Lifetime has a history of creating PSA/ “after school special”/cautionary tale type of movies. Unlike the majority of those projects, Dirty Little Secret revolves around a story, which happens to address the serious issue of hoarding. Through her performance, Melissa was able to successfully bring forth the humanity of her character. With a strong sense of emotionality and an array of expressions and body language, Joanna became a character the audience could be empathetic towards. Personally, I think Melissa should have, at least, been nominated for an award, as her performance in Dirty Little Secret was one of the best from 2022!
The “Woman from the City Coming Back to Her Small Hometown” Award
(Most Extreme Use of a Cliché)
Lily from Lake Effects
If you’ve read my list of the top ten worst cliches from Hallmark movies, you’d know the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché is my least favorite. It’s been used so many times, it makes a story more predictable. There are two cliches from Hallmark productions I’ve never talked about on 18 Cinema Lane: the “younger sibling is free-spirited” cliché and the “artist = free-spirit” cliché. While these cliches have made several appearances in Hallmark projects, including When Calls the Heart, their presence hasn’t been as frequent as other cliches. But these two cliches were fully embodied by Lily, one of the characters in the 2012 film, Lake Effects. From her colorful wardrobe to her dream of studying art in Paris, Lilly adopted every component of the two aforementioned cliches you can think of. The combination of these elements created a character I couldn’t take seriously. In fact, you could make a bingo game revolving around the various ways the “younger sibling is free-spirited” cliché and the “artist = free-spirit” cliché are incorporated into Lilly’s story.
The Standing Ovation Award
(Character Most Deserving of Receiving Their Full Potential)
Kili from The Hobbit trilogy
When I talked about The They Deserve an Award Award, I brought up Auggie’s quote from Wonder. Last November, I created a list of characters who didn’t receive their full potential. With both of that said, I decided to create an award category where I recognize a character that I feel should receive the full potential they deserve. In my tag post, My take on The “Flaming Hot…5 Reasons Why” Tag, I brought up Kili from The Hobbit trilogy. Since I saw all three movies for the first time last year, Kili would be eligible for this award. In that aforementioned tag post, I claimed how Kili was, in my opinion, the MVP of Middle-Earth. This is because there are several attributes that make him a likable character, such as his humbleness toward his royal title. Throughout the trilogy, I was rooting for Kili to achieve his full potential, which I feel could have been possible. But, without spoiling this story, his potential was ultimately denied. I do plan on writing at least one editorial about Kili, so stay tuned!
The Honorable and Dishonorable Mention Award
(Best and Worst Movie from the Honorable and Dishonorable Mention Category)
Best – Akeelah and the Bee, Worst – Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Corsican Brothers
Whenever I publish my best and worst movies of the year lists, I receive few opportunities to talk about the movies in my Honorable and Dishonorable Mention categories. In fact, the only times I talk about these movies are when I get the opportunity to review them on my blog. Therefore, I created an award category to recognize these films. Akeelah and the Bee was such a pleasant surprise for me! It was a feel-good story that felt sincere in the messages and delivery. There were even interesting twists that I did not see coming. Without spoiling the movie, the script did a good job at avoiding a cliché when it comes to competitions in movies. I’m glad I checked out Akeelah and the Bee, as the film was time well spent!
Last October, I reviewed Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Corsican Brothers for the Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon. After seeing some adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ stories, I thought I knew what to expect from the 1985 made-for-tv movie. But the longer I watched The Corsican Brothers, the more disappointed I became. This story was not the exciting tale with adventure and intrigue I was hoping for. Instead, it was a confusing film with little to no use of urgency. As of the publication of this award post, I still have not read this movie’s source material. Therefore, I don’t know which parts of the production are creative liberties.
The Nosferatu vs. Dracula Award
(Two Movies That Feel Like You’re Watching the Same One)
Harvey (1950) and Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Harvey (1972)
For a Blog Follower Dedication Review, I wrote about 1931’s Dracula. Because I had seen Nosferatu prior to watching Dracula, the 1931 film felt like a re-tread of its predecessor. I even told my readers if they had seen Nosferatu, they’d already seen Dracula. Last year, I reviewed two versions of Harvey; the 1950 movie and the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation from 1972. Though I liked the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie more than its predecessor, I didn’t like how it was a copy of the 1950 film. The movie’s sets even looked almost exactly like they did in the 1950 production. If you’ve never seen any version of this story, I’d recommend only seeing 1972’s adaptation of Harvey.
The Hallmark Hall of Fame Award
(Movie That Feels Like It Belongs in the Hallmark Hall of Fame Collection)
A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love
I have sometimes found a movie that feels like it should have been included in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection. So, when I find out a story isn’t associated with this series, it surprises me, whether it’s because the movie is based on a true story or the story itself covers a topic found within Hallmark Hall of Fame. That leads me to bring up A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love! Like other films in the Godwink series, the 2021 film is also based on a true story. Subjects related to faith, which usually aren’t found in a typical Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries production, are included within this particular story as well. In my opinion, the overall quality of A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love felt reminiscent of Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I like, such as The Valley of Light and A Dog Named Christmas. I’m honestly surprised SQuire Rushnell’s stories weren’t included in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection back when Hallmark utilized that banner.
The “Based on a Book I Haven’t Read Yet” Award
(Movie Based on Source Material I Have Not Yet Read)
The Pit and the Pendulum
I feel like, more often than not, I find myself saying that a movie I review is based on source material I haven’t read. This prevents me from judging the film as an adaptation. It’s been years since I’ve read anything by Edgar Allan Poe. I even mentioned this fact in my review of the 1961 adaptation. Fortunately, The Pit and the Pendulum is a book I plan on reading for the upcoming Eurovisionathon readathon. Because of that, I selected The Pit and the Pendulum for this specific award!