Twentieth Century vs. Queen of the Damned at the Against the Crowd Blogathon

I’ve been participating in blogathons for three years. For most of those events, a variety of content was welcome, highlighting the broad nature of a chosen theme. The Against the Crowd Blogathon is a different type of event for me, as editorial style articles are preferred. I discovered this blogathon on the blog, Realweegiemidget Reviews, as Gill included it in a list of upcoming events. When I looked at past entries, I knew I could bring something new to the table. This blogathon asks their participants to share two movies; a movie you love that everyone hates and a movie everyone loves that you hate. For my entry, I chose to talk about two films I have reviewed before. While I will bring up points I brought up in my reviews, the purpose of this post is to explain why I like or don’t like a movie. This article is not meant to be disrespectful or mean-spirited. Everything I say will be solely based on my opinion.

Against the Crowd Blogathon 2021 banner created by Dell from Dell on Movies

A Film Everyone Loves, But You Hate

Twentieth Century poster created by Columbia Pictures.
Twentieth Century Rotten Tomatos score created by Rotten Tomatos

Remember on Seinfeld, when Elaine was the odd one out for not liking The English Patient? Well, the way she feels about that movie is the way I feel about Twentieth Century. Receiving a “fresh” critic score of 86% and a 7.4 out of 10 on IMDB, this film is considered beloved among cinephiles. Even legendary critic Leonard Maltin likes Twentieth Century. In his 1989 edition of TV Movies & Video Guide, Leonard not only gave the movie four out of four stars, but also called it a “super screwball comedy”. But the genre classification of this particular title is one of the reasons why I found this movie so bad, it was appalling.

When I reviewed Twentieth Century last November, I pointed out how the movie was labeled a “romantic comedy”. As someone who has watched my fair share of Hallmark Channel productions, I know the typical components of the “rom-com” genre. With the 1934 title, it doesn’t feel like a “rom-com”. That is because it is missing one key ingredient: likable characters. All of the characters are horrible to varying degrees. But the worst one is Oscar. He is so selfish, from “firing” his friends on multiple occasions to trying to break up an established relationship. Oscar is also abusive toward his girlfriend, Lilly. Throughout their relationship, Oscar is possessive and controlling. He goes so far as to physically hurt Lilly, even using his mortality as a manipulation tactic to keep her with him. To me, none of that screams “romantic” or “funny”. It is actually downright despicable. By placing Twentieth Century in the “rom-com” genre, the awfulness of the characters and their situations are completely undermined.

Take 3: Twentieth Century Review

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2020

A Film You Love, But Everyone Hates

Queen of the Damned poster created by Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/queen-damned

Isn’t it ironic how, for this blogathon, I chose two movies that feature a predominant abusive relationship? While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love Queen of the Damned, I do enjoy it for what it is. In fact, I wrote two editorials related to the film, with one of them becoming my most popular editorial I’ve ever written. That article is about how unhealthy Lestat and Akasha’s relationship is. Unlike Twentieth Century, the characters surrounding this relationship realize how terrible it is. Akasha, who I explained in my editorial as the reason for the relationship’s problematic nature, also faces accountability for her behaviors and choices.

In my review of The Karate Kid Part II, I talked about how the sequel didn’t feel like a carbon copy of the first film. Despite having only seen the Interview with the Vampire trailer, I can tell Queen of the Damned’s creative team tried to give their project its own identity. As I said in my review, the 2002 project focuses on the new-school/modern gothic style. It also presents Lestat as a more likable protagonist. I did like how voice-overs from both Jesse and Lestat could be heard throughout the story. Like I said in my review, they provided depth to the script. To me, this movie is better than its soundtrack, an opinion that I’m sure is very unpopular. I also like Lestat and Jesse’s relationship.

Take 3: Queen of the Damned Review (Halloween Double Feature Part 2)

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

What is the Net Worth of the Characters from the ‘Queen of the Damned’ film?

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: A Star Is Born (1937) Review

Prior to Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Fredric March Blogathon, I had never heard of Fredric March himself. But, as with any blogathon, it gave me a good opportunity to introduce myself to new films and talents! While exploring Fredric’s IMDB filmography, I discovered he starred in the 1937 version of A Star Is Born. This is a title I am familiar with because of its multiple remakes. However, this is my first time watching any version of the story. Based on what I’ve heard, A Star Is Born covers some heavier topics. Since the version I’m reviewing was released during The Breen Code era, it will be interesting to see how these topics are presented in the script. But this will never get discovered unless we read my article about A Star Is Born!

A Star Is Born (1937) poster created by Selznick International Pictures and United Artists

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’ll talk about Fredric March’s performance first, as is customary for a blogathon revolving around an actor or actress. Like I mentioned in the introduction, I had never heard of him prior to the event. However, I was really impressed with Fredric’s portrayal of Norman Maine! He did a good job of showing the delicate balance his character was walking; a public figure dealing with an addiction. His acting abilities were also expansive, ranging from dramatic to comedic. At a dinner party, Norman made funny faces when asking the bar-tender for a second drink. Moments later, he angrily threw plates on the floor, upset that Esther/Vicki was disappointed in meeting him. This is a good example of how Fredric can pull off a performance in both styles of acting!

Speaking of Esther/Vicki, I liked Janet Gaynor’s performance! Similar to Fredric March, she was very versatile while portraying the film’s leading lady. Her performance allowed the audience to witness Esther’s/Vicki’s growth as a character. At the beginning of the movie, Esther/Vicki started as a bright-eyed, hopeful young woman who wanted to jump into the world of show-business. As the story progresses, Esther/Vicki gains experience and wisdom, growing up along the way. Since Esther/Vicki and Norman spend most of the movie together, the audience is treated to the banter between Janet and Fredric! A perfect example is during a boxing match, when Norman asks Esther/Vicki to marry him. Both actors never missed a beat and complimented each other so well.

It was nice to see Esther’s/Vicki’s friendship with Danny McGuire. Portrayed by Andy Devine, Danny and Esther’s/Vicki’s friendship provided a bright spot among the film’s heavier moments. Despite being surrounded by the unpredictability of Hollywood, Danny had such a kind heart and was always in Esther’s/Vicki’s corner. This friendship was one of my favorite parts of A Star Is Born and I wish it had featured in the story more.

Showing how tough industry entry is: When Hollywood/show business is featured in a film’s script, the more serious or honest parts of the industry are sometimes glossed over, sugar-coated, or omitted. With A Star Is Born, the creative team wasn’t afraid to show how difficult it is to find success in entertainment. While waiting to apply for a casting agency, Esther/Vicki sees a poster on a wall. This poster stated the number of extras represented by that casting agency. Even though it was a simple moment, it illustrated how so many people shared the same dream as Esther/Vicki. While working a waitress job, Esther/Vicki uses that opportunity to impress the guests with her acting skills. Despite her best efforts, the majority of the guests don’t pay her much attention. Networking is important when it comes to finding employment. But Esther’s/Vicki’s experience shows how it’s not the “end all, be all” in any job search.

The use of mixed-media: Throughout A Star Is Born, different forms of media were shown on-screen. For a movie released in 1937, this was not only ahead of its time, but also a pleasant surprise! At the beginning and end of the movie, pieces of a script were featured. These pieces bookended the story, presenting the film as if it were a potential biographic movie. I thought this was a creative way to visually deliver this narrative. When Esther/Vicki finally gets a studio acting job, a close-up of her contract signature can be seen. Even though it was on-screen for a few seconds, it highlighted the reality of Esther’s/Vicki’s next step in her career. The film’s use of mixed-media provided additional context to the story, as well as emphasized important events within the plot.

The Fredric March Blogathon banner created by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society

What I didn’t like about the film:

Limited use of lighting: A Star Is Born featured some scenes that took place at night. But because of the limited lighting in these scenes, it was difficult to see characters’ faces. A great example is when Esther’s/Vicki’s grandmother is giving her granddaughter necessary advice. Throughout this scene, I was only able to see the side of Grandmother Lettie’s face or her face was completely hidden by the darkness. This ended up being a somewhat distracting part of the film. I know the aforementioned scene was supposed to take place while Esther’s/Vicki’s other family members were asleep. However, I think at least one lamp should have been kept on in the room.

Some rushed parts of the story: I understand there’s only so much story one can tell in an hour and fifty minutes. However, there were parts of A Star Is Born that, to me, felt rushed. After Esther’s/Vicki’s studio acceptance, she receives her first job: a small, walk-on role. While practicing her lines for this job, Norman recruits her for the lead role in one of his movies. This part of the story skipped over Esther/Vicki building her resume and earning that lead role. Instead of showing themes of hard work and perseverance, the rushed nature of this plot-point simply showed Esther/Vicki being lucky. Because of how rushed some parts of the story were, it, sometimes, felt like things were moving too fast. Norman and Esther’s/Vicki’s relationship serves as one example, with them getting married after knowing each other for a short period of time.

Omitted components: At the beginning of A Star Is Born, one of Esther’s/Vicki’s biggest doubters is Aunt Mattie. She feels that Esther/Vicki is wasting her time dreaming about something that, she feels, will likely not come true. But Esther/Vicki ends up proving her wrong, becoming a star in Hollywood. Unfortunately, we never see Aunt Mattie realize she was wrong or apologize for not supporting Esther’s/Vicki’s dream. If this had been included in the script, it would have provided an important component. I was surprised that The Great Depression was not mentioned during this story. Considering A Star Is Born took place during 1935 to 1937, I think it should have been brought up in context to the box office. In a newspaper article, it was mentioned how movie theaters were relieved of showing Norman Maine’s pictures due to a cancelled contract. But because The Great Depression could have directly impacted ticket sales, this should have also been considered by the characters.

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My overall impression:

If you had asked me a month ago who Fredric March was, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer. Now that I have seen at least one of his films, I want to actively seek out more of his projects! Fredric’s performance in A Star Is Born was so strong, I was blown away by its versatility. I also liked seeing him perform alongside Janet Gaynor, as they not only worked well together, but they also had really good banter. While this movie does contain heavier subjects, they were handled in a reverent and mature way. At the same time, these subjects, like Norman’s alcohol addiction, were only brought up enough for the audience to get the point. In my three years of movie blogging, I’ve seen a number of Breen Code era titles. However, this version of A Star Is Born is definitely one of the better ones! As I mentioned in my review, it does have its flaws. Despite that, there’s a lot this movie gets right, making it worthy of a recommendation!

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

Have you seen A Star Is Born? If so, which version is your favorite? Please let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Man in the Iron Mask (1939) Review

For the 2021 Swashbucklathon, I decided to review a movie that one of my readers recommended to me. It just so happens that one of my recent reccomendations, given to me by Patricia from Caftan Woman, was the 1939 version of The Man in the Iron Mask! Years ago, I had seen the 1998 adaptation of this specific title. However, I only have vague recollections of it, so I can’t give an honest opinion on that film. The aforementioned recommendation came after I had reviewed the 1948 version of The Three Musketeers. If you had read this article, you would know how much I enjoyed that film. But how does The Man in the Iron Mask compare to The Three Musketeers? Keep reading to find out!

The Man in the Iron Mask (1939) poster created by United Artists and Edward Small Productions.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I am not familiar with Louis Hayward as an actor. Despite this, I really enjoyed his dual performance as both King Louis XIV and Philippe of Gascony! Whenever Louis Hayward portrayed King Louis, he had a crazed look in his eyes, especially when King Louis was near something or someone he wanted. This can be seen when he meets Princess Maria Theresa for the first time. King Louis displayed a short temper as well. Meanwhile, Philippe had a gentler persona. He even got along with the people around him. When Philippe was apologizing to Maria about his inability to see her earlier in the day, the way he talked to her, as well as his body language, showed how he truly cared about her. Toward the beginning of the film, Philippe is sharing a meal with the Musketeers. He had a jovial disposition during this part of the scene, appearing to be enjoying the company. The Man in the Iron Mask is the first film of Joan Bennett’s I am reviewing. While I don’t have any other performance of Joan’s to compare to her portrayal of Princess Maria Theresa, I did like her performance in the 1939 film! What made it memorable was how well-rounded it was. Whenever Maria interacted with King Louis, she was headstrong, not afraid to stand up to him. But when she is with Philippe, she has a pleasant, more kind-hearted personality. Even though the Musketeers were on screen for a limited amount of time, I enjoyed seeing their camaraderie amongst them! It helps that the actors portraying the Musketeers had good on-screen chemistry!

The costume design: Back in April, I reviewed the 1948 adaptation of The Three Musketeers. A strength that movie and The Man in the Iron Mask share is the costume design! Exquisite is the word I would use to describe the costumes shown. One beautiful example is a coat Fouquet wore to a wedding. The black coat was adorned with black sparkly cuffs and edges. It was also covered with gold embroidery. Maria had an impressive wardrobe! One of my favorite outfits is a silk gown she wore when Philippe apologized to her. The gown itself complimented Joan’s dark hair. What adds to the look are the sparkling accessories! Diamond star hairpins could be found in Joan’s hair and a jeweled necklace was around her neck. A little bit of sparkle definitely helped elevate this outfit!

The set design: Another area of this film where the word, exquisite, could apply is the set design! In King Louis’ palace, the walls were covered with detailed wallpaper. Intricate wood carvings covered the chair in his office, showing off the affluence in his life. Carvings could also be seen in other palace spaces, such as over a fireplace in a sitting room. Fine details came in all shapes and sizes, as well as in various materials. In Maria’s room, two angel shaped lamps were located above a desk. These lamps looked like they were made of metal. The little things within these sets showcased the elegance this cinematic world had to offer!

The 2021 Swashbucklathon banner created by Paul from Silver Screen Classics.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Unclear details: There were a few details within the overall story that weren’t made clear. At the beginning of the movie, the Musketeers were named enemies of the King. They were also taken in as prisoners. But I didn’t hear why they were declared enemies. In fact, I don’t remember this reason ever being spoken. Had details like this been clarified, certain parts of the story would be less confusing.

A limited amount of action scenes: After watching the 1948 adaptation of The Three Musketeers, I expected to see exceptional fight choreography in the 1939 film. While I did get to see some interesting fight sequences, there was less action in The Man in the Iron Mask than in The Three Musketeers. Looking back on the movie, I can think of only a handful of action scenes in this particular story. What this film emphasized was drama and romance. While having drama and romance can work in a film, this direction in The Man in the Iron Mask was much different than I had anticipated.

A somewhat misleading title: As I said in the introduction, I have seen the 1998 adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask. From what I remember, the audience knew early on there was a literal man in an iron mask. Even though this titular character was in the 1939 film, the mask itself didn’t come in until an hour into the movie. I understand that moment needed build-up. However, I think that part of the story should have taken place much sooner.

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My overall impression:

So far, the best film I’ve seen this year is the 1948 adaptation of The Three Musketeers. There was so much within that film I liked. When watching The Man in the Iron Mask, I wondered if this movie could compare to the 1948 film. While there were things about the project I did enjoy, I still like The Three Musketeers more. The 1939 picture was a likeable one. However, some flaws ended up holding this film back. One of them was how action was used sparingly. Other flaws, such as a somewhat misleading title and some unclear details, brought its score down. But I would recommend this film, especially if you’re looking for a title for Clean Movie Month. The Man in the Iron Mask makes me want to revisit the 1998 version in the future. For now, I need to focus on publishing my next blog follower dedication review!

Overall score: 7.4-7.5 out of 10

Have you seen any versions of The Man in the Iron Mask? If so, which one is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2020

While I saw more good movies than bad this year, I wasn’t able to avoid some stinkers. Now that I’ve published my best movies of the year list, I can now discuss which movies were the worst ones I saw in 2020! I watch movies in the hopes of them being good. However, some stories turn out better than others. As I have stated before on my blog, my worst films of the year lists are not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. These lists are just ways for me express my opinion in an honest and informed way. Similar to my best movies of 2020 list, I will start this post with my dishonorable mentions and then move on to the official list!

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Dishonorable Mentions

Working Miracles, Her Deadly Reflections, The Cabin, Thicker Than Water, Touched by Romance, The Wrong Wedding Planner, Murder in the Vineyard, Jane Doe: Yes, I Remember It Well, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift, Is There a Killer on my Street?, and Stolen in Plain Sight

10. Angel on My Shoulder

When choosing which movie would end up in the tenth spot, it was between The Cabin and Angel on My Shoulder. Because I had higher expectations for the 1946 movie, that’s the one that was placed on this list. The overall film is painfully average, as I said in my review. Even though there is a clear conflict, it takes quite some time for that to be resolved. The personal journey of the protagonist, Eddie, is stunted. This is due to the character spending most of the story as an unchanged man. After watching Angel on My Shoulder, it makes me thankful that a story about a dog going to heaven was executed so well.

Take 3: Angel on My Shoulder Review

9. Jane Doe: Vanishing Act

In 2020, I watched most of the movies from Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. Within the nine-film collection, the first chapter is certainly the worst. What makes a good mystery movie is a strong sense of excitement. This is a quality that Jane Doe: Vanishing Act was, sadly, devoid of. Everyone involved with this project looked like their hearts were not fully invested in what they doing. It was as if they wanted to get the film done and over with just to move on to something else. While I continued on with the series, it was in the hopes that the next film would be better than the introduction. If you plan on creating a series, this is not the way you get an audience invested in it.

8. My Husband’s Deadly Past

There are two kinds of Lifetime movies; those that are surprisingly good and those that are predictably unenjoyable. My Husband’s Deadly Past perfectly fits into the latter category. Even though I found the inclusion of psychology/hypnosis to be interesting, the story’s focus on ripping off the 1993 movie, The Fugitive, overshadows any of the film’s strengths. The protagonist in My Husband’s Deadly Past is the type of character that makes one poor decision after another. It also doesn’t help that the movie contains a few romantic moments that feel out of place within the overall tone. Two other films on this list make the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did. But, to avoid spoilers, I’ll talk about them more later.

7. Out of the Woods

I can honestly say Out of the Woods is one of the most meandering films I’ve ever seen. It takes so long for the story to get to its intended point, that story points are either completely ignored or are not fully developed. One example is how a white wolf continuously crosses paths with the protagonist. No explanation is given as to what the purpose of this wolf was or whether it was real. Another disappointment is how Native American culture is glossed over. Native American stories are rarely found in Hallmark’s library, so it is a letdown when a film containing Native American culture doesn’t work out. If you want to watch an Ed Asner led Hallmark movie with similar ideas and themes, I’d recommend the 2008 movie, Generation Gap. It does a better job at telling a story of two people trying to understand each other.

6. Mystery Woman: At First Sight

Before there was Hailey Dean, there was Samantha Kinsey from Hallmark’s Mystery Woman series. This early collection from the network is one where I’ve seen most of its installments. Out of the movies I have watched, Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the one I disliked the most. Both of the overarching mysteries in this story are poorly written. They are also overshadowed by the drama within the plot. Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the seventh movie in this series, which is a shame because its previous chapters created an enjoyable cinematic run. I’m not sure how much directorial experience Kellie Martin had prior to working on this project. Even though I think it would be interesting to see her direct a Hailey Dean Mysteries movie, her effort on Mystery Woman: At First Sight was not her strongest.

Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama poster created by Dune Films, Norwegian Pirates, Storm Films, Storm Productions, and Ketchup Entertainment. Image found at https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/captain_sabertooth_and_the_treasure_of_lama_rama.
5. Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama

It breaks my heart how this movie disappointed me so much. In fact, Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama is the most disappointing movie I saw in 2020. It copied Pirates of the Caribbean’s homework without trying to understand what made that trilogy of films work. Also, for a movie called Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, Captain Sabertooth himself sat on the sidelines of his own story. Pinky was a likable character, but making him the protagonist made the title seem misleading. I just hope this film doesn’t dissuade other studios from creating their own pirate narratives.

Take 3: Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama Review

4. Anniversary Nightmare

Remember when I said there were two films that made the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did? Well, Anniversary Nightmare is one of them. Like My Husband’s Deadly Past, Anniversary Nightmare rips off The Fugitive. But this Lifetime title is so bad, it is, at times, laughable. Both the acting and writing are poor. All of the movie’s flashback scenes are terribly filmed, captured through heavy “shaky cam” and covered in a red film. These two factors made it difficult to see what was happening on screen when a flashback arrived. I haven’t seen a Lifetime movie this bad in quite some time. If you’re interested in participating in Taking Up Room’s So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, Anniversary Nightmare might be an option.

3. I’m Not Ready for Christmas

I didn’t see as many Christmas movies this year as I did in 2019. But I can confidently say that 2015’s I’m Not Ready for Christmas is the worst Christmas film I saw in 2020. While it doesn’t rip off The Fugitive, the movie does place more emphasis on being a pointless, Christmas remake of Liar Liar, a well-known title from the ‘90s. Therefore, I’m Not Ready for Christmas also makes the same mistake A Cheerful Christmas did last year. There were parts of this story that didn’t make sense. Even the title, I’m Not Ready for Christmas, had nothing to do with the events in the plot. When you look past the typical Christmas aesthetic Hallmark can’t get enough of, you realize the story itself isn’t Christmas-y. If the creative team behind this project knew their script wasn’t exclusive to the Christmas season, they should have focused on the messages and themes of the holiday, like If You Believe did sixteen years prior. For their New Year’s Resolution, maybe Hallmark and Lifetime should move away from famous ‘90s films as their source of inspiration.

Take 3: I’m Not Ready for Christmas Review

2. Marriage on the Rocks

This movie was so bad, it honestly made me feel uncomfortable. That was because the film’s overarching view on marriage and divorce was so one-sided and skewed. I’ve been told Marriage on the Rocks was originally intended to be a satire. Sadly, that’s not the movie I ended up seeing. What I got instead was a comedy that I didn’t find very funny. The “comedy of errors” direction the screenwriter took just made the character’s situations more complicated, as most of the errors do not receive a satisfying resolution. It’s also a film that feels longer than its designated run-time. If you have never seen any of Frank Sinatra’s, Dean Martin’s, or Deborah Kerr’s movies before, please don’t let Marriage on the Rocks be your starting point.

Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

1. Twentieth Century

For most of 2020, I thought Marriage on the Rocks would be the worst movie I saw this year. That was until Twentieth Century came along and proved me wrong. Where Marriage on the Rocks made me uncomfortable, Twentieth Century made me appalled. The fact Lily and Oscar’s relationship was so abusive in a movie classified as a “romantic comedy” serves as one example. Last time I checked, unhealthy relationships were not funny or romantic. To Marriage on the Rocks’ credit, the story featured characters that didn’t support the film’s narrative. Even though, more often than not, they were looked down upon, they always stood up for what they believed in and tried to help the main characters see the fault in their ways. With Twentieth Century, however, there were no “voices of reason”. None of the characters faced accountability whenever they did something wrong or made any attempt to change their ways. When I reflect on this movie, I question what the creative team was trying to tell its audience. But based on my reaction to the final product, maybe I don’t want to know.

Take 3: Twentieth Century Review

Twentieth Century poster created by Columbia Pictures.

Have fun in 2021!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) Review (Clean Movie Month #3)

When I signed up for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Code Classics Blogathon in June, I hadn’t publicly submitted the film I wanted to review. That’s because I planned on reading the source material before watching the movie. Originally, I was going to read Black Beauty and then see the 1946 adaptation of this story. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to set aside time to read the book. Also, the 1946 version of Black Beauty was unavailable for rent. I then decided to watch a version of The Count of Monte Cristo that was released during the Breen Code Era. However, the only adaptations that were available for rent were the 2002 and the 1975 version. Then I remembered how I’ve always wanted to read Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was happy to discover I was able to rent the 1936 adaptation! In my life, I have read A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Having enjoyed both books, I was interested in hearing a similar story from a male perspective. How different would Ceddie be from Sara and Mary? Would his story contain any similarities with the two aforementioned novels? While I haven’t read Little Lord Fauntleroy yet, I wasn’t going to miss out on seeing this story come to life on screen!

Little Lord Fauntleroy poster created by Selznick International Pictures, United Artists, and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Little-Lord-Fauntleroy-Poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane that performances from young actors and actresses can be hit or miss. However, Freddie Bartholomew’s portrayal of Ceddie was a hit! The way this character carried himself was mature for his age without being too precocious. At the same time, Ceddie had the type of kind-heartedness you’d expect from a young character. The mannerisms and facial expressions Freddie adopted reminded me of Sara from A Little Princess, making me believe that Ceddie and Sara probably would have been good friends! Even though her presence in the film was limited, Dolores Costello Barrymore gave a memorable performance as Ceddie’s mom, Dearest! Her emotions gave the audience a glimpse of how her heart is always in the right place when it comes to looking out for her son. In one scene, Dearest is telling Ceddie that he’ll have to stay with his grandfather. This moment showcases how she continually shields her child from the animosity between her and the grandfather. Also, this scene highlights her ability to put Ceddie’s needs before her own, telling him she’ll place a candle in the window so the light will always guide his path.

The music: While watching Little Lord Fauntleroy, I noticed how the background music always fit the tone of its respective scene. One great example is when Ceddie receives a bicycle for his birthday. A tune from a music box could be heard, indicating how this is a happy occasion. Whenever Ceddie’s grandfather is mentioned, the audience can hear orchestral music. The music itself sounded regal, highlighting how important this character is. Somber music was found in sadder scenes, like when Mr. Hobbs and Dick are missing their friend, Ceddie. This consistent detail shows how the film’s creative team cared about what their audience saw and heard.

The messages and themes: The famous works of Frances Hodgson Burnett are known for having good messages and themes that audiences of all ages can appreciate. Little Lord Fauntleroy is no different. Throughout the movie, Ceddie always put others before himself. When his grandfather’s lawyer asked him how he’d use his newfound wealth, Ceddie tells him that he would purchase gifts for his friends, as a way to improve their lives. At a party, when one of his grandfather’s friends offers Ceddie a puppy, Ceddie turns the offer down by saying that he doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of his new K-9 friend, Duke. These examples display the messages of selflessness and staying true to yourself in any circumstance. Prejudice is an overarching theme that is found in this story. Ceddie’s grandfather does not like Americans, which created animosity between him and Dearest. The more time the grandfather spends with Ceddie, his negative beliefs begin to change. The grandfather’s part of the story shows how prejudice can hurt people, especially families.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

A thirty-minute set up: Setting up a story is a crucial component to any film. However, when the set-up process takes too long, it may be difficult to get invested in the story. In Little Lord Fauntleroy, it took thirty minutes to set up the plot. While this part of the narrative was meant to showcase character development and motives for future events, I don’t think it needed to last this long. Because of this creative choice, it took a while for Ceddie and Dearest to get to England.

Giving Ceddie almost nothing to do: Before watching Little Lord Fauntleroy, I had expected Ceddie to learn the ropes of being an Earl from his grandfather. Sadly, that’s not what happened. I understand that Ceddie is a child. But despite this, he wasn’t given much to do as an Earl-in-training. Sure, Ceddie helped his grandfather write a letter to a struggling farmer. However, it made me wonder why Ceddie was given this Earl title so young if he couldn’t utilize it.

The conflict between Dearest and the Earl of Dorincourt: As I mentioned earlier in this review, Ceddie’s grandfather does not like Americans. Because Dearest is American, there is tension between her and the grandfather. While the conflict itself explored the subject of prejudice, I feel it was resolved too quickly. There is only so much story that can be told in an hour and forty-two minutes. But the way Dearest and the Earl of Dorincourt dealt with their conflict felt rushed, as years of animosity was taken care of after one event.

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My overall impression:

I have not read Little Lord Fauntleroy, as I mentioned in my introduction. Therefore, I don’t know what aspects of the book were translated to the screen. Despite this, I liked the 1936 adaptation of this story! It was a good and sweet picture that contained timeless messages and themes. The character of Ceddie reminded me a lot of Sara from A Little Princess. This didn’t surprise me, as both books were written by the same author. Yes, the movie did have flaws. However, I enjoyed the story and thought this was a well-made production. Because of how much I liked this film, it makes me want to read the book! Out of the three Breen Code Era films I’ve reviewed so far, Little Lord Fauntleroy is the most Code compliant! I didn’t find any offensive material in this project, which makes it a perfect movie for family viewing!

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

Are you enjoying Clean Movie Month? What is your favorite literary adaptation from the Breen Code Era? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen