Take 3: Shock (1946) Review (Clean Movie Month #5)

It’s now the end of Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month. For my second year participating, I’d say I did a pretty good job staying consistent with my content! Throughout July, I have reviewed five films; two from the ‘30s and three from the ‘40s. The film I will talk about in this review, Shock, is a part of those aforementioned five, boasting a release date from early 1946. This film was included in The Blog Complainer’s Random Movie Roulette series, which ended up being the best movie out of that collection. Because of Cameron’s review, I chose to include Shock in my Clean Movie Month line-up! While I usually watch movies from my DVR, cable, or through physical media, the only way I could watch this film is from Youtube, where it was posted on the Cult Cinema Classics channel. I’m glad I was able to watch it so I could bring you this review of Shock!

Shock poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shock_movie_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: So far, I have seen The Whales of August and House of the Long Shadows. Despite seeing a small amount of films from Vincent Price’s filmography, I noticed something different about his performance in Shock. In this film, the character of Dr. Richard Cross was terrifying because of his influence and choices. Vincent also expressed emotions in subtle ways. Good examples came from when Richard expressed fear anytime someone brought up his wife’s murder. This cast was so strong, even secondary characters were memorable! Even though his character, Mr. Edwards, was in the movie for a short amount of time, John Davidson did a good job with the acting material he was given! His performance was emotionally driven, as he didn’t rely on dialogue. It added intensity to one of the film’s suspenseful scenes. The one actor who stole the show was Anabel Shaw, who portrayed Janet Stewart. Her emotionality was on point in this film! One beautiful example is when Janet witnesses the murder.

The music: The music in Shock did a good job setting the tone throughout the story! Whenever a suspenseful scene played out, ominous or dramatic music was heard. In a scene featuring Richard and Elaine, a sweeping tune that would usually be heard in romance films served as background music. Musicality also boosted these scenes, with the strong percussion of that scene’s tune landing right on an intense moment. This helped the musical element of the project maintain a sense of consistency.

Moments of suspense: In Shock, suspense was included in a few scenes. Within these parts of the story, the suspense’s execution was well done! One example is when Mr. Edwards has a fight with Elaine. The build-up toward the moment itself was steady, like someone walking to their destination. The surroundings of the characters were dark and mysterious, which worked in the favor of that scene. Mr. Edwards’ lack of speech makes the audience question his motives. All of these elements effectively came together to create one of the best scenes in this film!

Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/cleanmoviemonth2020-is-here/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Limited amount of suspense: As I previously mentioned, I liked the suspenseful scenes in this film. However, these scenes were very limited. When I read Cameron’s review of Shock, I believed the film would be similar to a story like Rear Window. In the Alfred Hitchcock picture, there was a consistent use of suspense, as the audience receives the mystery in pieces. Because the whodunit, howtheydunit, and whytheydunit of the mystery was revealed early on in Shock, it caused the story to not be as suspenseful as I thought it would be.

Under-utilized characters: A few under-utilized characters could be found in Shock. One of them was Mr. Edwards, who was featured in about three inter-connected scenes. Before these particular scenes appeared in the movie, Richard talks about Mr. Edwards’ mental regression, saying how the patient may need to be moved to a new facility. Because of these story-telling details, I was hoping Mr. Edwards would play a larger role in this story. Sadly, it just felt like he was in the film for the sake of being there.

A slower pace: Because Shock is classified as a film noir, the pace is going to be on the slower side. But most films in this specific genre have an under-lying suspense that consistently weaves through the overall narrative. Since the suspense in this film was limited, it caused the pace to be slower than it should have been, as the majority of the movie revolved around Janet’s prognosis. I’ve mentioned before that mysteries, more often than not, have faster paces. As I already said in this review, the mystery was revealed early in the story. This also prevented the pace from picking up speed.

Love of mental health image created by freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

All of the movies I chose for Clean Movie Month were enjoyable in their own respective ways. If I were to rank them, however, Shock and Goodbye, Mr. Chips would be tied toward the bottom of the list. Shock was a fine film, with memorable aspects that made me like the picture for what it was. Anabel Shaw’s performance was one of the best parts of this project, outshining bigger stars like Vincent Price. But some things in this movie held it back from being stronger. One of the movie’s biggest flaws was the limited amount of suspense. Because of this creative choice, the majority of the story felt like a drama than a film noir. Shock is a Breen Code friendly film. But I was surprised by the references of excessive alcohol use that were included in the script.  When Janet’s husband is asking about Richard’s medical credentials, one of the hotel’s employees says that Richard can cure a hangover. When an investigator working on Richard’s wife’s case is talking to Richard about a potential suspect, he tells Richard that the suspect is a “drunkard”. An excessive amount of alcohol use is never glorified or promoted in a typical Breen Code film. This is why I was shocked (yes, that word choice was intentional) to find these statements in a movie from 1946.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

What are your thoughts on this year’s Clean Movie Month? Are you excited for A Month Without the Code? Tell me in the comment section?

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Cry Wolf Review (Clean Movie Month #4)

When I joined Pale Writer’s Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon, I had never seen any of Barbara’s movies. Despite this, I had heard good things about her as an actress. For my submission, I knew I wanted to review one of Barbara’s films from the Breen Code Era. Because I signed up for this blogathon and the Clean Movie Month Blogathon, which both take place in July, I figured it’d be the best of both worlds! After searching through her filmography and seeing the choices of the other participants, I chose the 1947 picture Cry Wolf! It’s no secret that mysteries are a staple on 18 Cinema Lane. In fact, the most popular review on my blog is for Hailey Dean Mysteries: A Will to Kill, which has over a thousand views! When I read the synopsis for Cry Wolf, I knew I had to select it for the blogathons. It sounded like a mysterious retelling of Frankenstein, which would be an interesting concept to explore during the Breen Code Era. What did I think of this film? That mystery will be solved when you read this review!

Cry Wolf poster created by Warner Bros. and Thomson Production. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crywolf1947.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, I had never seen any of Barbara’s films prior to Pale Writer’s blogathon. Therefore, I didn’t really know what to expect from her performance in Cry Wolf. What stood out in Barbara’s portrayal of Sandra was how confident she appeared! In every scene, she seemed sure of herself, never letting doubt stand in her way. When Sandra interacted with Julie, she took charge of the situation and displayed a sense of leadership. Speaking of Julie, I enjoyed seeing Geraldine Brooks’ portrayal of this character! It reminded me of the performances of Judy Garland, where she is presented as acting like her age with a dose of innocence. This can be seen when Julie meets Sandra for the first time. Errol Flynn’s performance was consistent throughout the film! His portrayal of Mark always had a sinister undertone, giving away the impression he was always enveloped in a cloud of suspicion. This character fit within the nature of the project because of what Errol brought, talent-wise, to the role.

The atmosphere: Because Cry Wolf is classified as a mystery film, the overall atmosphere is going to be darker in tone. It should also be noted that the atmosphere was consistent throughout the project. This was accomplished through a collection of film-making techniques. One of them is the use of shadows. In scenes that were more mysterious, shadows could be seen on the walls. The scene where Sandra and Julie make their initial trek to the lab is a great example of this, as the audience can see Sandra’s shadow on the wall in the hallway. Another technique involves music. Scenes with sinister undertones featured orchestral tunes that sounded ominous. It really matched the tone the movie’s creative team was striving for!

The interior design: The majority of this story takes place inside the Caldwell-Demarest family home, with the interior design effectively matching the wealth of the family. A noticeable design choice was the wrap around balcony overlooking the foyer. Some homes feature one balcony section that looks down on a particular room. The fact that the balcony in Cry Wolf was larger than one section showcases how expansive this space is. Wood was a prominent material found in the interior design. It not only served as wall paneling; it was also used as detailed crown molding in the library. Even though the kitchen was only in one scene, the detailed art on the walls made it a memorable space. The overall design within this location enhanced the visual appeal of the house!

The Queen of Sass: Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon banner created by Pale Writer from Pale Writer. https://palewriter2.home.blog/2020/06/20/announcing-the-queen-of-sass-barbara-stanwyck-blogathon/

What I didn’t like about the film:

Julie’s relationship with Ronnie: One of the components of Julie’s subplot involved a secret relationship with a young man named Ronnie. This part of her story was meant to correlate with her feelings of isolation and entrapment. However, it seemed like it was there for the sake of being there. The relationship didn’t lead anywhere and Ronnie was never mentioned again after Julie’s interaction with him while horse-riding. It makes wonder why it was included in the story at all?

Mark’s attempts to charm Sandra: There were a few moments in Cry Wolf where Mark attempts to charm Sandra. To me, these attempts felt out of character for him. Throughout the film, Mark uses influence and control to gain power. When it comes to Sandra, however, he ends up overstepping boundaries. During one conversation, Mark kisses Sandra. She responds appropriately by expressing displeasure and slapping him in the face. It’s as if he completely forgot that Sandra was still mourning her husband.

An unclear resolution: I’m not going to spoil Cry Wolf if you haven’t seen it. But I will say I found the mystery’s resolution to be unclear. The film presents one idea of what happened. Several scenes later, an unreliable source shares another idea of the mystery’s outcome. As the film wraps up, the resolution is not given any explanations. However, I’m not sure if this creative decision was intentional.

Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/cleanmoviemonth2020-is-here/.

My overall impression:

I’m glad I chose Cry Wolf as my introduction to Barbara Stanwyck’s filmography! It was a good film that allowed me to stay invested from start to finish! This was helped by the inclusion of solid acting performances, a consistent atmosphere, and great interior design. While these are components that strengthened the project, the movie also had flaws that held it back from being better. One of these flaws is an unclear resolution, which was unexplained by the end of the film. But, as I said in my review, this choice might have been intentional. Like I said about Goodbye, Mr. Chips and The Wife of Monte Cristo, Cry Wolf is a Breen Code friendly film. However, there was one aspect I was surprised to see. In one scene, a deceased body was shown on screen. As I said in my review of The Wife of Monte Cristo, a death would usually be implied.

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

Have you seen any of Barbara Stanwyck’s movies? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Wife of Monte Cristo Review (Clean Movie Month #2)

Last November, in my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List, I talked about how I wanted to see The Wife of Monte Cristo. My plan was to review the film for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month, as the movie was released in 1946. Based on the title of this post, it means my Christmas wish came true! Several months ago, I purchased a DVD copy of this film. I waited until July to watch it, so I could contribute to Clean Movie Month. Now that this blogathon has finally arrived, I can write about The Wife of Monte Cristo! In my aforementioned post, I shared how the movie’s story made me want to see it, as it seemed to focus on Monte and Haydée’s relationship, as well as allowing Haydée to become a more prominent character. Monte Cristo and Haydée are one of my favorite couples from pop culture. Unfortunately, their relationship is barely addressed in any film adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. These film adaptations also give Haydée a small amount or no amount of screen time. The Wife of Monte Cristo allows these two voids to be filled.

Here is a picture of the DVD I purchased for this review. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: All of the acting performances in The Wife of Monte Cristo shared one common factor: they made every cast member appear natural in their role! Because of this and the believability that came from these performances, each interaction felt like it was taken directly from real-life. Haydée has a greater appearance in this film than Edmund/Count of Monte Cristo, so I’d like to mention Lenore Aubert’s portrayal of Haydée. Her on-screen personality was pleasant, making Haydée a character worth rooting for. Through body language and facial expressions, Lenore showed how Haydée can be intelligent, resourceful, and just a good person overall! I also liked watching John Loder’s performance! In The Wife of Monte Cristo, he portrayed De Villefort, the head of Paris’ police force. What impressed me was how he could adopt two different personas for the same character. Whenever he was socializing or interacting with Haydée, De Villefort was charismatic and had a certain amount of charm to him. But when he is with comrades, planning on catching “The Avenger”, De Villefort is cunning and sinister.

The historical accuracy: The Wife of Monte Cristo takes place in Paris of 1832. The story’s time period and the location within this time period can be seen in every aspect of the film. Characters’ wardrobes are a good example of this. Male characters wore solid colors, with wealthier men in society sporting some embellishment on their outfit. In one scene, De Villefort wore a dark jacket that featured white embroidery. The female characters, Haydée and Lucille, wore elegant dresses that boasted a simple pattern. During a meeting with one of De Villefort’s comrades, Haydée wore a black dress with consistent sparkly detailing. This outfit was eye-catching, but not over-the-top. Another indicator of this historical accuracy were the choices in the set design. In De Villefort’s office space, chandeliers with candles can be seen. Because light bulbs did not exist in 1832, this design choice fits the story’s time period.

The on-screen chemistry: As I already mentioned, Haydée has a greater presence in the film than Edmund/Count of Monte Cristo. This causes Haydée and Edmund to spend a limited amount of time together on screen. In the scenes where they are together, Lenore Aubert and Martin Kosleck displayed strong on-screen chemistry! The on-screen chemistry between Lenore and Martin allowed the audience to see how much Haydée and Edmond truly loved and cared about each other. Even when they were apart, the love between these two characters could still be felt. In one scene, Edmund visits the daughter of a supporter of “The Avenger”. During their conversation, Edmund explains how Haydée saved his life and helped him see the good in humanity after he escaped from prison. What Edmund tells this character is very telling of the love he feels for his wife.

Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/cleanmoviemonth2020-is-here/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The audio: In my review of The Boy Who Could Fly, I mentioned how the audio of the actors was on the quieter side. I noticed the same flaw when watching The Wife of Monte Cristo. The actors were so quiet, I had difficulty understanding what they were saying. I needed to turn up my television’s volume just to hear them. I’m not sure if this was an issue with the movie itself or with the audio on my entertainment system.

A somewhat misleading title: I said in the introduction that Haydée’s prominence in the story is what caused me to see the film. While she did have an important role in the overall narrative, she wasn’t the central focus. The majority of The Wife of Monte Cristo revolved around “The Avenger” and the villains’ attempts to foil his plans. Because of the title, I was led to believe the film would be a sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo, but from Haydée’s perspective. However, it was simply a sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo.

Edmond and Haydée’s limited interactions: Earlier in this review, I briefly mentioned how Edmond and Haydée spend a limited amount of time together on screen. This disappointed me, as I was hoping to witness the continual growth of their relationship. I was also hoping to see more adorable moments between them, especially since their relationship is barely shown in any film version of The Count of Monte Cristo. While I appreciate the times I did get to see these characters together, there was more to be desired in this department.

Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Seeing and reviewing this movie is a Christmas wish come true! As someone who is a fan of Monte Cristo and Haydée’s relationship, I am thankful to have discovered this film! It was enjoyable and interesting, as it gives Haydée an opportunity to save the day. Through clever problem solving, teamwork, and wits, we see Haydée making a difference in her world and lending a hand when possible. Despite the film being titled The Wife of Monte Cristo, she is not the star of the film. She does serve an important role though, as she receives a bigger part in this story than she has in other versions of The Count of Monte Cristo. As a film released in the Breen Code Era, it is, for the most part, Breen Code friendly. However, there were two aspects of this movie that I was surprised to see in a Breen Code film. In some scenes, both Haydée and Lucille wear dresses with low necklines. While this style of dress was likely common in the 1830s, its presence would not be frequent in a Breen Code film. There is one scene where the deceased body of one of De Villefort’s comrades is briefly shown on screen. In Breen Code films, a death would usually be implied, not seen.

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

What are your thoughts on my Clean Movie Month reviews so far? Are you looking forward to my next review? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen