The Travel Gone Wrong Blogathon is Ready to Set Sail!

All aboard the blogathon train! Spring is a time when vacations are either in the planning stage or just beginning. This is one of the inspirations for my Travel Gone Wrong Blogathon! As was mentioned in the official announcement post, plans can either go hilariously or horrifyingly wrong. So, for this year’s event, entries are classified accordingly. All the participant’s posts will be found on this one communal post, in order to locate them easier. With that said, grab your suitcase and fasten your seatbelts! We’re off on a blogathon adventure!

Created by Sally Silverscreen at Adobe Creative Cloud Express

Sally from 18 Cinema Lane — Travel Lessons I Learned from Movies and TV

Hilariously Wrong

Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews — FILMS… Our Ladies (2019)

Ruth from Silver Screenings — How to Have a Miserable Vacation

Rebecca from Taking Up Room — The Hardys Take Manhattan

J-Dub from Dubsism — Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 131: “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy — “French Kiss” (1995)

Classic Movie Muse from The Classic Movie Muse — 5 Reasons Why You Should Watch The Great Race (1965)

Horrifyingly Wrong

Debbie from Moon In Gemini — The Travel Gone Wrong Blogathon: Train to Busan (2016)

geelw from “DESTROY ALL FANBOYS”! — The Passenger, Or: Boarding? Pass!, The Gift Or: “Where’s Waldo?” Or: “Really Dead Letter Office”

J-Dub from Dubsism — Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 130: “Airport”

Eric from Diary of A Movie Maniac — THE LOST WEEKEND (1945)

Evaschon98 from Classics and Craziness — movie review: flightplan (2005).

Take 3: Brian’s Song (1971) Review

When MovieRob announced ‘Sports Themed Films’ as April’s Genre Grandeur theme, I knew right away which movie I would review: the 1971 tv movie, Brian’s Song! One reason for this decision was the fact I had this film on my DVR. But when I recently checked my DVR, Brian’s Song was nowhere to be found. This is not the first time this has happened to me, where a recorded program on my DVR has suddenly disappeared. But it did not deter me from reviewing Brian’s Song. On a recent trip to the library, I found a DVD copy of the film. It was perfect timing, as I was soon going to watch and write about the movie! In the world of made-for-tv film productions, there are those that are well-known, for better or worse. Brian’s Song is one of the more respected titles, garnering praise since its 1971 release. But will I join the choir and sing this movie’s praises? Or will I skip a trip on the bandwagon? You won’t know if Brian’s Song scored a touchdown unless you read this review!

Before I begin this review, I would like to point out there will be a few spoilers within this article.

This is a screenshot of the DVD copy of Brian’s Song I mentioned in my review. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I really liked the cast of Brian’s Song! But because this story primarily revolves around Brian and Gale’s friendship, this review will focus on the performances of James Caan and Billy Dee Williams. When I think of Billy Dee Williams, I think of Lando from Star Wars! It has been years since I’ve seen the original trilogy in the Star Wars franchise. But from what I remember, Billy’s on-screen personality was charismatic and larger-than-life. His portrayal of Gale Sayers was very different from his portrayal of Lando, as it was more reserved. However, it was packed with emotion! When Gale first meets Brian, he is taken aback by Brian’s outgoing personality. Gale’s eyes contain the awkwardness of the situation and his body language appeared tenser than Brian’s. Gale also spoke with few words, carefully choosing what to say next. Meanwhile, as I’ve just said, Brian was outgoing and confident. In this first meeting, Brian walks up to Gale, immediately recalling a conversation they had prior to training. At the first team dinner, Brian sings his alma mater’s fight song, not afraid to look silly in front of his team members. This on-screen personality was different from James’ westerns I’ve seen, where his character has typically been rugged and serious.

One of the best scenes in Brian’s Song is when Brian is building exercise equipment for Gale. Before this gesture, Gale injured his leg during a game. Angry about the situation, he is bitter toward Brian. Gale angrily objects to Brian’s plan, with this objection meeting Brian’s reason for the gesture. Brian recalls how, in high school, he was demoted on his football team due to a more talented team member. He also shares how he was demoted again, as Gale is the stronger player among the two of them. Now that Brian has a top position on the Chicago Bears, he would rather help Gale heal from his injury, as Brian claims his recent top position was given to him “for the wrong reasons”. This is one of those scenes where the audience can understand both characters’ reasoning. Through Billy’s expressions, Gale is less reserved, gaining some of Brian’s confidence to angrily explain his objections. James shows a side of gentle humbleness, as Brian recounts moments of self-doubt. It is a good example of how the differences in acting performances can complement both of them!

The football game footage: Brian’s Song featured game footage whenever the Chicago Bears made a game appearance. I’m not sure if this footage was taken from actual games or if it was filmed for the sake of the movie. Either way, its inclusion added a sense of realism to the overall narrative. In one scene, Gale and Brian are talking to each other on the sidelines. This scene was filmed as if it was part of a television broadcast, captured in a grainier image. This cinematography felt consistent to the game footage I talked about. It also presented a different way to include football games in a story, as most football themed movies place, at least, one football game during their story’s climax.

The voice-overs: During the aforementioned game footage, voice-overs of Brian and Gale could be heard. These voice-overs consisted of conversations between the two, with different topics being discussed. I like how the voice-overs were added over the footage. It reminded me of sports commentators, except the game itself was never brought up in these conversations. The voice-overs provided insight into Brian and Gale’s friendship. Their humor and perspectives could be picked up in these voice-overs, allowing the audience to learn more about them.

Image of football essentials created by bamdewanto at freepik.com. American football vector created by bamdewanto – www.freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

Glossed over racism: After football training for the Chicago Bears begins, Gale is told by the team’s head coach that he and Brian will be the first interracial roommates in professional football history. Because of this, Chicago Bears’ staff prepare Gale for the racism he will likely experience. I know there is only so much to cover in a made-for-tv movie, especially one that is about an hour and thirteen minutes. But when it comes to the racism Gale encounters, there was more telling than showing. Besides the staff’s preparations, the only racism present in the story is when Brian reads Gale a mean letter through a voice-over. The glossing over of racism surprised me, since the story takes place in 1965, a year within a decade known for the Civil Rights Movement.

Confusing aspects of the football training process: The story of Brian’s Song starts at the beginning of Chicago Bears’ training. When this process began, I found myself confused by what was happening on screen. I wondered why a professional football team was gathering on a college campus? Why was the coach and his staff talking about cutting team members? Was a draft supposed to take place before training began? I know a certain amount of information about professional football. However, the training process isn’t one of those subjects. It also doesn’t help how the script was written as if expecting the audience to know that kind of information from that specific period in time. I wish explanations were provided in the dialogue.

Omitted grief of the team: Remember when I said there were a few spoilers in this review? Well, this is where I will bring those up. At one point in the story, Brian is diagnosed with cancer. After learning of Brian’s diagnosis, Gale makes an emotional pep talk to the Bears, vowing to dedicate their upcoming game to Brian. At the end of the movie, Gale reveals through a voice-over Brian passed away. In the aforementioned scene featuring Gale’s pep talk, the sadness of the news could be seen on the faces of the team members. While they all carried long, heartbroken faces, some of them even held tears in their eyes. With that said, I would guess Brian’s passing would leave everyone involved with the team devastated. As I said before in this review, there is only so much to cover in a made-for-tv movie. But I think a final scene/epilogue showing how the Bears dealt with Brian’s passing should have been included. Was Brian’s jersey honorably retired? Did he receive a posthumous MVP award? I’m not familiar with Chicago Bears’ history, so I’m not sure how the team responded to Brian’s passing in real life. However, omitting it from the script seems like a disservice to the team members who knew him.

Heartbeat image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/medical-logo_763775.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/logo”>Logo vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before Billy Dee Williams entered a galaxy far, far away and before James visited the wild, wild west, there was a little made-for-tv film called Brian’s Song. Fifty-one years after this movie debuted, it has still held a favorable reputation, regarded as one of the most beloved television films of all time. Brian’s Song is a fine production with its heart in the right place. But I wasn’t as emotionally affected by it as I expected. Yes, this movie’s story is a sad one. However, I was familiar with Brian and Gale’s story before I saw the film. This knowledge prevented me from being emotionally caught off guard when a sadder, more dramatic moment happened. Like I just said, this movie had its heart in the right place. One way this statement is put into action is how the cast appears to truly care about the respective material. The film also features interesting creative decisions, such as football game footage and voice-overs over that footage. Before I end this review, I would like to point out how accessible Brian’s Song is, as I happened to chance upon a copy of it on DVD. Not every made-for-tv movie is lucky, as some of them are either harder to find or lost to time.

Overall score: 7.1 out of 10

Have you seen Brian’s Song? Which made-for-tv movie would you consider a “classic”? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The New Adventures of Heidi Review

First, it was All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. Then, it was The Cabin, followed by Scarlett. Now, for the fourth So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, I am continuing my saga to find the one movie that can rightfully claim this coveted title! As you can see by the aforementioned films, my track record has been two ‘90s projects that were just ok and one 2011 Hallmark movie that was so bad, it was unenjoyable. This time around, I traveled further back in time to choose my fourth attempt at finding my “so bad it’s good” movie. In my review of The Lion, I mentioned Leonard Maltin’s TV Movies & Video Guide 1989 Edition. This is because that book introduced me to the 1962 title. Through this publication, Leonard introduced me to another movie. That film is 1978’s The New Adventures of Heidi! According to Leonard’s review of this picture, the movie contains the following:

A) A “modern” retelling of a well-known story

B) Musical numbers

C) New York City

D) Christmas

To me, these facts sounded like the ingredients of a “so bad it’s good” project. But has The New Adventures of Heidi finally claimed this sought-after title? Keep reading to see what’s on the other side of the mountain!

The New Adventures of Heidi poster created by Pierre Cossette Enterprises and NBC.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: When it comes to acting performances in made-for-tv movies, it can be hit or miss. But in The New Adventures of Heidi, the acting was stronger than initially expected!  Portraying the titular character, Katy Kurtzman gave a performance that appeared genuine, like the character’s goodness was true all along. Whenever Heidi is with her friend, Elizabeth, you can see they truly enjoy spending time together. Elizabeth meets Heidi after running away from school. Despite knowing each other for a short amount of time, they display a strong camaraderie. This camaraderie was displayed through a down-to-earth personality, pleasant facial expressions, and a kind demeanor from Katy. Executed with consistency, Katy also displayed authentic emotion. When Heidi first learns about her grandfather’s plans to send her away, her emotions effortlessly change over the course of the scene. Happiness turns to thoughtful concern, her eyes intently set on her grandfather. As the conversation continues, Heidi’s eyes grow sadder, eventually leading to shed tears. Because of Katy’s acting strength, her overall performance was enjoyable to watch!

Since I mentioned Elizabeth, I’ll talk about Sherrie Wills’ performance! On the surface, Elizabeth seems like a spoiled child who is rough around the edges. But beyond the surface, she doesn’t seem like a stereotype. Because of Sherrie’s acting abilities, Elizabeth is a character that gives the audience a reason to be sympathetic toward her. A great example is when she and Heidi go Christmas shopping. When they arrive to a toy store, they are overcome with happiness and wonder at the sights of the season. But as soon as Elizabeth sees a carousel music box, she immediately bursts into tears. This is because Elizabeth’s mother, who passed away before the film’s events, used to give her father a music box every Christmas. It is scenes like this one that show how there is more than meets the eye.

Back in 2019, I reviewed Summer Magic, a Disney production from 1963. One of the reasons why I wanted to see that particular film was Burl Ives’ involvement in the project. When I discovered he was cast in The New Adventures of Heidi, I was curious to see how his performance differed from Osh Popham of Summer Magic. Like his previous performance, I liked his portrayal of Heidi’s grandfather! While his acting abilities were expressive, there was a lot of heart in his performance. This heart can be seen during the musical number, “Heidi”. In that number, Heidi’s grandfather is singing about how thankful he is to have Heidi in his life. Throughout this scene, he appears genuinely happy, reminiscing over all the joy Heidi brought so far. A warm smile appears on his face and a pleasant demeanor is heard in his voice. Heidi’s grandfather seems approachable, showing him as a friendly man and lovable parental figure. Even though he was in a handful of scenes, Burl Ives did a good job with his role!

The messages and themes: The original Heidi is known for containing messages and themes of family, friendship, and finding a silver lining. Like the original, The New Adventures of Heidi also features themes and messages that are timeless and relatable! Before Christmas, Elizabeth’s father, Dan, tells his secretary how he’ll be too busy to celebrate the holiday with his daughter. His secretary, Mady, tells him “But no two are the same. And you’ll never have this one back again”. This simple statement reminds the audience how unpredictable time is. Therefore, it is wise to spend that time with those you love. When Heidi comes home, she is upset because her grandfather hasn’t returned. Dan shares with Heidi how even though it’s important to hold on to the memory of lost loved ones, time needs to be made to open hearts for those still living. This message is just as meaningful today as it was in 1978. That could also be said about all the messages and themes in The New Adventures of Heidi!

The scenery: This movie was filmed in California and Colorado, according to IMDB. For the scenes taking place in the Alps, my guess is they were filmed in Snowmass, Colorado. Despite this, the setting looked like a pretty convincing Switzerland! In some establishing shots, large mountains and dark green hills are captured in long to medium shots. A color palette of greens, browns, and white illustrated a natural landscape whose justice likely can’t be done through filmography. Red poppies are sprinkled around Heidi and her grandfather’s home. They can also be seen in expansive green fields. The vibrant hue of the flowers provide a striking component to this landscape. When all this is added together and paired with a bright blue sky, a welcoming and picturesque environment is presented to the audience!

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

Glaring cases of discontinuity: What makes or breaks any story is its continuity. This component is like a thread, tightly holding each piece of the story together, if strong enough. But when it comes to The New Adventures of Heidi, there were a few aspects that caused this thread to be looser. In the introduction, I mentioned the movie was a “modern” retelling of Heidi. While this statement is true, it looks like Heidi, her grandfather, and Peter didn’t get the memo. That’s because their attire reflects the time period of the original story, which is set in the 1880s. Even Heidi and her grandfather’s home is reflective of an era gone by. During the movie, Heidi’s grandfather begins to lose his eyesight. Because of this, he decides to send Heidi to live with her cousins. But while singing the song, “Let Me Stay/Let Her Stay”, Heidi’s grandfather prays to God to have Heidi stay in the Alps, even going so far as to sacrifice his eyesight just to make his prayer a reality. It seems like he has forgotten that this decision was in his control since the very beginning. This example shows how discontinuity can muddy the waters of character development.

The musical numbers: As I mentioned in the introduction, there are musical numbers in The New Adventures of Heidi. I can tell the film’s creative team wanted to include musical numbers in an effort to give their project its own unique identity. In all honesty, though, I don’t think this movie needed musical numbers. My reason is how weak these numbers were. Some of these musical numbers were performed by Katy and Sherrie. I’m not going to give these actresses too much criticism, as they were children at the time of the movie’s production. But I will say they are better actresses than singers. Sherrie’s voice was flat, unable to reach higher notes. Meanwhile, Katy’s voice was stronger, but she couldn’t reach some higher notes either. This highlighted the actresses’ weaknesses, giving the audience the impression of how Katy and Sherrie were likely not professionally trained singers. Even professional singers couldn’t catch a break either. Burl Ives is a talent who can do no wrong, singing wise. But he was caught up in one major weakness in these numbers: talking throughout the song instead of singing. This happened during the song, “Let Me Stay/Let Her Stay”, where Heidi’s grandfather is speaking his prayer when he’s meant to be singing it. Marlyn Mason also fell into this trap with the song, “That Man”. Because she tried to sing and talk through her lyrics at the same time, she performed the song faster than the music. To me, this felt so jarring, as the music and execution of the lyrics seemed like they belonged to two separate pieces.

A regurgitated story: This film is titled The New Adventures of Heidi. If you take the time to watch it, you’d see how the movie rehashes most of the story points from Johanna Spyri’s original. Take for instance, the character of Elizabeth. In The New Adventures of Heidi, she’s meant to be a Clara representative; a wealthy young girl dealing with her own conflict that Heidi helps to resolve. But instead of dealing with a serious medical situation, Elizabeth wants to spend more time with her workaholic father, especially after the death of her mother. Similar to the original story, there is a medical situation present in The New Adventures of Heidi. But this time, Heidi’s grandfather is losing his eyesight, as I explained in my paragraph about the film’s discontinuity. The longer I watched this movie, the more I questioned what it’s intended point was.

A screenshot of my copy of Leonard Maltin’s TV Movies & Video Guide 1989 Edition. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! The answer to whether The New Adventures of Heidi will claim the title of “so bad it’s good” is…an unfortunate no. The longer I think about this film, the more I see how spectacularly average it is. As I mentioned throughout my review, there were musical numbers included in this production. I also noted how Christmas makes an appearance in the story. But when you look past all the silver and gold decorations (that Burl Ives reference was definitely intentional), the movie is the same story as the original wrapped in pretty Christmas paper. Despite the title boasting “new adventures” with the world’s favorite Swiss mountain girl, the script spends more time repeating history. At the same time, parts of the movie are treated as if the project were a sequel, the creative team expecting the audience to know exactly what is happening on screen. Reflecting on my fourth attempt at finding my “so bad it’s good” movie, I realize a script’s strength can determine a film’s overall quality. In the case of The New Adventures of Heidi, the acting was strong and the film itself did have other merits. But not even Burl Ives himself could save this picture. Bottom line is if a cinematic project chooses to use bells and whistles, that may mean the creative team is trying to make up for a loss in another department.

Overall score: 5.1 out of 10

Do you have a “so bad it’s good” film in your life? If so, what is it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Fiddler on the Roof Review

As I write this review, Rebecca, from Taking Up Room, is hosting the John Williams Blogathon! When signing up for this event, I knew John’s high-profile projects were going to be some of the most popular selections among fellow participants. Therefore, I decided to go off the beaten path by choosing a title that wasn’t associated with a franchise. As I scrolled through John’s filmography on IMDB, I discovered he conducted the music in the 1971 musical, Fiddler on the Roof. With this newfound knowledge, I chose that film to review for Rebecca’s blogathon! Prior to this event, I had seen about half of this film. I have also reviewed very few films revolving around Jewish stories. In fact, the only movies including Jewish stories and/or characters I have written about so far is Holiday Date and The Lost Child. But will I enjoy Fiddler on the Roof like I enjoyed the 2019 Hallmark Channel film or will I think it is just fine like the 2000 Hallmark Hall of Fame production? As a composer starts his or her cue for their orchestra, it’s time for this review to begin!

Fiddler on the Roof poster created by
The Mirisch Production Company and United Artists

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Fiddler on the Roof is a film with an ensemble cast. Despite its large size, the film’s cast was, as a whole, solid! But within this ensemble, there were some performances that really stood out to me. The most notable one came from Topol! Throughout the movie, Topol presented a versatile portrayal of his character, Tevye. This versatility allowed Tevye to be seen as a realistic individual who is trying to make sense of the changes taking place in his world. At several points in the story, Tevye speaks with God and contemplates his faith. Tevye’s emotions matched whatever dilemma he faced. When one of his daughters comes to him with serious news, Tevye is angry and frustrated. As he receives the aforementioned news, Tevye questions how far he’s willing to go for his faith, talking through the situation while genuine emotion finds a place in his voice, facial expressions, and body language. Moments like the one I described show a sincerity that gave Tevye the opportunity to be Fiddler on the Roof’s “every man”!

Motel is a tailor from Tevye’s village. Portrayed by Leonard Frey, Motel wants to marry Tevye’s oldest daughter, but lacks the confidence to approach Tevye with this proposal. Through a consistent performance, the audience can watch Motel grow from a timid tailor to a man who genuinely believes in himself and his abilities. Having Tzeitel as Motel’s inspiration certainly helped his case. Tzeitel is Tevye’s oldest daughter, who is portrayed by Rosalind Harris. She worries about who she will end up marrying in the near future. Despite this, Rosalind gave a performance that was well-rounded and enjoyable to watch! When Motel tells Tevye about his marriage plans, the confidence he once lacked steadily grows within his voice. His facial expressions become stronger with each statement toward Tevye, finding the words Motel had suppressed for too long. Meanwhile, Tzeitel appropriately reacts to this discussion, expressions of worry and joy being displayed on her face. This scene shows how the acting abilities of both Leonard and Rosalind work well together!

The musical numbers: When thinking about music composed by John Williams, pieces of music that make any scene feel grand and larger-than-life come to mind. The music in Fiddler on the Roof certainly accomplished this, as John’s contributions to the film elaborate on a scene’s large scale! One of these songs is “Tradition”, which can be heard at the beginning of the movie. This song highlights how the traditions of the Jewish community of Anatevka affected every member, with each role and its significance explained through the song’s lyrics. Bold, orchestral melodies accompany these lyrics, as an excited greeting to the film’s incoming audience. Looking beyond the music, the musical numbers themselves were well-choreographed and fit within the context of the story! A musical number I really enjoyed seeing was “Tevye’s Dream”! In this scene, Tevye is recounting a dream he had regarding Tzeitel’s marriage prospects. Tevye and his wife, Golde, find themselves in a graveyard that boasts a gray hue. Headstones of decreased villagers surround the graveyard, with these decreased villagers appearing as the scene progresses. Though the musical number itself is very fantastical compared to the film’s other numbers, its uniqueness in presentation allows “Tevye’s Dream” to stand out and be memorable!

The incorporation of Jewish faith/culture: As I previously mentioned, Anatevka is a small village that hosts a Jewish community. Throughout Fiddler on the Roof, aspects of the Jewish faith/culture are incorporated not only into the film’s story, but into the songs and musical numbers as well. When talking about these musical numbers in the previous paragraph, I brought up the song, “Tradition”, and how it highlights some of the traditions among the villagers in Anatevka. At the beginning of the film, Tevye explains directly to the audience how he and other members of the community wear a special garment related to prayer. During a wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are lifted on chairs by wedding guests. This action is part of a dance called the Horah, which is typically performed at Jewish special occasions, such as weddings. The Horah was seamlessly woven into a larger musical number called “Wedding Celebration”, which also featured a group of bottle dancers. The incorporation of Jewish faith/culture gave the movie its own unique identity. It also provides an introduction to Jewish customs and traditions.

The John Williams Blogathon banner created by Rebecca, from Taking Up Room

What I didn’t like about the film:

No answers about The Fiddler: I have mentioned before how a film’s title can serve as a promise to its respective audience. The title can also let the audience know what to expect. This 1971 film is called Fiddler on the Roof. Yet the audience never learns more about the titular character, as he only appears in a handful of scenes. While watching this movie, I noticed how the Fiddler wore bright clothes compared to the villagers and even those from imperial Russia. Because of this, it caused me to speculate what role the Fiddler had within the overall story. Was he a spirit meant to guide Tevye through life or simply a peculiar individual? These are just two of the questions I’ll probably never get answers to.

An inconsistent conflict: When I learned this movie took place during imperial Russia, I expected the overarching conflict to revolve around the fall of the Romanov family. However, the overarching conflict was about how the government wanted the villagers to evacuate from Anatevka, for reasons the script never shared. This conflict complimented the film’s theme of change. But the story focused on this conflict in the film’s second half, with the conflict having a limited presence in its first half. I know this creative decision was meant to emphasize the tonal change within the story. I just wish it had a more consistent presence in the movie.

A limited inclusion of a broken fourth wall: At the beginning of Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye talks directly to the audience about his village, the people who live there, and the titular Fiddler. Because broken fourth walls are not common in musicals, I was looking forward to seeing the story told from Tevye’s perspective and watching the movie presented in a creative way. But for the rest of the film, Tevye didn’t break the fourth wall. I found this as such a missed opportunity, because, as I already said, broken fourth walls are not often found in musicals. While Fiddler on the Roof is a unique musical, Tevye consistently breaking the fourth wall could have added more uniqueness.

Hanukkah mehorah image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mehorah-with-flaming-candles_3299423.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Fiddler on the Roof is a little over three hours. Therefore, you need to set aside time if you’re interested in watching this film. Despite the longer run-time, Fiddler on the Roof is a good movie! Almost every year, I come across that one musical that pleasantly stood out and captivated me. While it’s way too early to say whether this 1971 title will end up as one of the best movies I saw this year, it definitely captivated me, as I found it enjoyable! John Williams’ musical contributions provided some of the fabric of the story’s cinematic quilt, accompanied by well-choreographed and entertaining numbers. The ensemble cast binds these pieces of fabric with a strong thread, holding each scene together with solid acting performances. Incorporations of the Jewish faith/culture help the overall production gain a unique identity, asking questions and discussing topics that wouldn’t typically be found in a musical. Combining all these elements together, Fiddler on the Roof is a special project not just in the world of cinema, but also among musicals! With that, I’d say John Williams is a special composer. To those who don’t pay attention to the musical aspect of a given film, one might wonder how John is different from any other composer. But when you look at his body of cinematic work and the scores associated with those works, maybe that is more than enough to set him apart.

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

Have you seen Fiddler on the Roof? Which John Williams composed film do you enjoy watching? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Sherlock Holmes in New York Review

As of late 2021, there have been six actors who have portrayed one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. Despite the fact I’m reviewing a Sherlock Holmes movie, the role I’m referring to is James Bond. Now, you’re probably wondering, “what does James Bond have to do with Sherlock Holmes”? Besides being British, both characters were portrayed by Roger Moore. When I was invited by Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, to join the You Knew My Name: The Bond Not Bond Blogathon, I had to think about what film I wanted to write about. When I discovered Roger Moore starred in a Sherlock Holmes movie back in 1976, I thought it’d be an interesting title to cover. While I have reviewed my fair share of mystery films, including those that were made for television, I haven’t seen a lot of Sherlock Holmes related movies. Therefore, talking about Sherlock Holmes in New York will certainly make up for that!

Sherlock Holmes in New York created by 20th Century Fox Televison, NBC, and Ascot Elite Home Entertainment

Things I liked about the film:

Roger’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes: While I haven’t seen any of Roger Moore’s films from the James Bond franchise, I have seen his performance in the 2011 Hallmark Channel movie, A Princess for Christmas. From what I remember, Roger carried his character, Edward Duke of Castlebury, with class and dignity. These same qualities were present in his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. During Sherlock Holmes in New York, I could see some James Bond-esque qualities in the titular character. Roger’s ability to be suave as well as calm under pressure are just two examples. At certain moments in the story, Sherlock interacts with a woman named Irene Adler. Because there is history between these characters, Sherlock and Irene’s interactions contain a romantic flair. This is where the suaveness comes in, as Roger uses this to emphasize his on-screen chemistry with Charlotte Rampling. At the very beginning of the film, Sherlock faces off against Professor Moriarty. In this scene, Moriarty tries to hurt Sherlock at every chance he gets. But Sherlock never cracks under pressure. Instead, he consistently keeps his composure.

The historical accuracy: Recently, I reviewed the movie, Let Him Go. In that review, I talked about how the set design appeared to come from the ‘50s, despite the story taking place in the ‘60s. This caused the film’s time period to be unclear. Sherlock Holmes in New York takes place in March of 1901. Unlike Let Him Go, everything in the 1976 movie looked and felt like the 1900s! The costume design appeared historically accurate, with Sherlock Holmes’ outdoor wear serving as one example. Toward the beginning and end of the film, Sherlock sported the iconic plaid short cape and cap. But in New York, he wore a longer black cape and top hat. The historical accuracy was so on point, even the posters in The Empire State looked like it came from 1901. The font and basic design of these posters were just one detail that helped this movie’s creative team achieve the aesthetic they wanted for their project!

The presentation of New York City: When a movie or television show takes place in a beloved location, that place can be presented in two ways: an over-glamourized empire or a disgusting landscape covered by a glittering mask. With Sherlock Holmes in New York, the titular city was given to the audience “as is”. Even though the more polished areas of this destination could be seen, that was not the “end all, be all” in the story. In a handful of scenes, Sherlock Holmes explores the performance community of New York. He even goes undercover as a stage performer. The Big Apple is known for being one of the world’s entertainment hot-spots. While that part of this location was not emphasized, it did show some of the different components of one of America’s largest cities.

The You Knew My Name: The Bond Not Bond Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews

What I didn’t like about the film:

A pointless change of scenery: When a movie or television series chooses to change the location of their story, there needs to be a strong reason for that change. These reasons can range from expanding upon the overarching story to giving the protagonist(s) something interesting to do. With Sherlock Holmes in New York, though, none of these things happened. As a matter of fact, having Sherlock Holmes go to New York at all seemed unnecessary. If the mysteries in this film took place in England, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. That’s because none of the mysteries have any exclusive connection to New York itself. Having Sherlock solve the disappearances of immigrants from Ellis Island would have given him a stronger reason to be in New York, as Ellis Island is a part of New York and United States history. A child being kidnapped or a bank robbery can take place anytime and anywhere.

Not interactive enough: An appealing aspect of the mystery genre is the opportunity to solve the mystery alongside the protagonist. This allows the story to be interactive and engaging. I know one of Sherlock Holmes’ traits is his ability to figure out clues and possible scenarios in a short amount of time. But in Sherlock Holmes in New York, Sherlock figures things out so quickly, the audience doesn’t get a chance to engage with the mystery themselves. Instead, they’re forced to sit on the sidelines and watch the protagonist do everything, giving the audience a weak reason to stay invested in the story. Because of this, I found myself zoning out of the movie on a few occasions.

Lack of urgency: When a mystery takes place in current time, it gives that story a sense of urgency. The audience watches as the protagonist(s) races against the clock to solve a given mystery. While I won’t spoil Sherlock Holmes in New York, I will say a kidnapping takes place in the story. However, shortly after this crime takes place, Sherlock plays his violin in his hotel room. He then smokes his pipe all night. As I mentioned earlier, Sherlock Holmes is known for figuring out clues and scenarios in a short amount of time. That doesn’t give the story an excuse not to have urgency.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

There was a time when having a movie take place in New York was the film’s selling point. From Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan to A Troll in Central Park, movie studios wanted to take a bite out of The Big Apple for one reason or another. While I don’t know where or why this trend started, Sherlock Holmes in New York may have been one of the movies that caused this interesting ripple effect. Too bad the titular character didn’t have a stronger reason to visit The Empire State. The idea of Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery outside of England is not a bad one. But with the 1976 movie, the idea was better in theory than in practice. Add weak interactivity and a lack of urgency, this movie is not as strong as The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, a Sherlock Holmes film I reviewed back in 2018. However, I did like Roger Moore’s portrayal of the famous detective. In fact, it’s a shame he didn’t receive more opportunities to appear in Sherlock Holmes stories. With this review completed, I need to make the time to see Roger’s films from the James Bond franchise. I just have to find the perfect opportunity to talk about them.

Overall score: 6-6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any Sherlock Holmes or James Bond films? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Vampire Circus Review

Blogathons are a great opportunity to be introduced to new genres, films, and talents. For me, that has certainly been the case for The Third Hammer-Amicus Blogathon. Because this was my first time watching any Hammer-Amicus production, I had to research which title I would write about for the event. On Wikipedia, I stumbled across the 1972 film, Vampire Circus. The film’s title immediately caught my attention, as I’ve never seen a vampire led circus before. Movies revolving around vampires are no stranger to 18 Cinema Lane. As of October 2021, I have reviewed five vampire films, with Vampire Circus now being the sixth title. These projects have received favorable reviews, with each one being enjoyable to varying degrees. How will Vampire Circus fare among the other vampire films I’ve seen? Keep reading, as the show is about to begin!

Vampire Circus poster created by Rank Film Distributors and 20th Century Fox.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, this was my first time watching any Hammer-Amicus production. But during my experience viewing Vampire Circus, I could tell the actors and actresses involved were invested in their roles! Whenever a circus is incorporated into a story, the ringleader is usually a man. So, it was interesting to see a woman leading a circus in Vampire Circus. Confidence and a no-nonsense attitude are the traits I associate with a circus ringleader. While portraying the Gypsy Woman, Adrienne Corri effectively brought those traits to her character! Adrienne also had the ability to command attention from the audience. This is due to the strong on-screen personality she presented.

While watching Vampire Circus, I was impressed by the performances of the younger actors and actresses. Two of these stand-out performances came from John Moulder-Brown and Lynne Frederick! Portraying Anton Kersh and Dora Müller, these actors had surprisingly good on-screen chemistry. They also performed well together and individually. John and Lynne’s interactions felt believable, like their characters truly cared about each other. It made me wish they had starred in a production of Romeo and Juliet!

The historical accuracy: Vampire Circus takes place in the 19th century, which contains the years 1801 to 1900. As soon as the movie started, I noticed the creative team’s focus on making their production look historically accurate! Two of the characters, Anna Müller and Jenny Schilt, wear dresses that appear like they came directly from that time period, reminding me of stories like Pride and Prejudice and American Girl’s Caroline series. The costumes for the male characters are also reminiscent of these stories. The props and set designs were historically accurate as well! A good example were the circus wagons. Their structural build reflected the classic circus images seen on antique posters and art work. The signs for “Circus of Night” and the “Hall of Mirrors” presented an art style that was present during that time. With all these elements coming together, I felt transported to the 19th century!

Introducing the “photogenic vampire”: I have heard people give Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series credit to creating the concept of “photogenic vampires”. But personally, I think Vampire Circus deserves that credit, as the movie was released before Interview with the Vampire was published. The vampires in Vampire Circus appeared beautiful, looking like potential supermodels. A perfect example is Emil, who was also a circus performer. One of the young women in the town of Stetl, Rosa, develops a crush on Emil after the circus’ first performance. When you take one look at Emil, it is easy to see why Rosa would be interested in him. This simple creative decision allowed Vampire Circus to make a significant contribution to the world of vampire stories!

The Third Hammer-Amicus Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry from Cinematic Catharsis

What I didn’t like about the film:

Confusing parts of the story: The Bürgermeister’s daughter, Rosa, is attracted to Emil, one of the circus performers. In one scene, she is telling her mother how Emil is not like other guys, as he has traveled the world and is more cultured because of it. But in earlier scenes, we don’t get to see these characters converse with one another. All that is provided to the audience is Emil and Rosa meeting at the circus for the first time and seeing them have intercourse shortly after they met. How would Rosa know all that information about Emil if she barely spoke with him? Did she and Emil talk with each other off-screen? This is just one part of the story that I feel needed context.

The underutilization of animals: When the circus comes to the town of Stetl, they bring three animals: a panther, a tiger, and a chimpanzee. Throughout the film, the chimpanzee and tiger stayed in their cages. Meanwhile, the panther was seen out of its cage about two or three times. In the world of film, animals are a part of a production to either be showcased as naturally as possible or to be shown doing something cool. In Vampire Circus, when there was an opportunity to prominently feature the tiger, a dancing woman painted as a tiger took its place. With all that said, it makes me wonder why there were animals in the movie at all?

Inconsistent traits among the vampires: In fiction, there are many different vampires who carry a variety of skills and traits. Within Vampire Circus, however, the traits of the vampires felt inconsistent. Two of the vampires in the story, Heinrich and Helga, are sensitive toward crucifixes. But when a crucifix is presented to the Strongman, he ends up crushing it with no sensitivities. Does this mean the Strongman wasn’t a vampire or was he simply not bothered by crucifixes? Over the course of the story, Emil is revealed to be a shapeshifter. At various moments in the film, he transforms into a panther, the same panther the circus brings to town. Meanwhile, as I mentioned before, the tiger and chimpanzee stayed in their cages. Was Emil the only shapeshifter in the circus? Were the animals simply animals?

Happy vampire image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/several-vampires-ready-for-halloween_1317599.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/party”>Party vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Vampire Circus introduced the concept of “photogenic vampires”. For this, I will give the film credit where it is due. But when I think about this 1972 production, I’m confused of what its intention was. On the one hand, all the actors and actresses seemed invested in the roles they were given. But, on the other hand, a stuffed animal could be plainly seen during a scene where a group of characters were attacked in a forest. Was this movie supposed to be “so bad it’s good” or a horror movie with a pinch of humor? There were also parts of the story that I found confusing. However, the film was interesting enough to keep me invested in what was happening on screen. Therefore, I found Vampire Circus to be just ok.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen any Hammer-Amicus films? Are there any vampire films you enjoy watching? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Abominable Dr. Phibes Review

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

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

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

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

Overall score: 7-7.1 out of 10

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Another Man, Another Chance Review

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

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

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

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

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

Have fun on Valentine’s Day!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove Review

While hosting A Blogathon to be Thankful For, I was invited by Crystal to join her Agnes Moorehead blogathon. After accepting the invitation and making a quick search through Agnes’ IMDB filmography, I chose the 1971 Disney film, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove! According to the synopsis, this is about a small group of children who make a monster so their teacher wouldn’t be ridiculed by others in their town. Recently, Crystal’s brother, Jarrahn, shared the news that Crystal was in a coma. This meant that Jarrahn and Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, would be co-hosting the event. Hearing the news about Crystal was saddening. However, I was glad to see Jarrahn and Gill step up to the plate to help a fellow blogger and sister in need.

The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove created by The Walt Disney Company. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. 

Things I liked about the film:

Genuine portrayals: Since I chose to review this movie because of Agnes Moorehead’s involvement, I’ll talk about her performance first. She portrays Mrs. Pringle, a local bird watcher who is also a well-known gossip. Throughout the film, this character took everything she did seriously. It got to the point where she seemed to care too much. However, Agnes’ portrayal was so genuine, I actually liked seeing Mrs. Pringle show up. Other genuine portrayals came from Annie McEveety, Jimmy Bracken, and Patrick Creamer. As Tippy, Scott, and Catfish, these actors appeared to work well together. The friendship between the children felt realistic and it was nice to see their camaraderie over the course of the film!

The messages and themes: Within the story of The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, messages related to standing up for those you care about, teamwork, and listening to what someone has to say are found. A good example is when Annie, Jimmy, and Catfish work together to build the monster for their teacher. Because Henry Meade, the teacher, is important to the children, they stand up for him and help in any way they realistically can. Annie, Jimmy, and Catfish spend days building the monster by gathering material and putting the pieces together on their own. This part of the story also emphasizes putting others before yourself.

The mystery of the smugglers’ “boss”: A group of smugglers inhabit a run-down house near the protagonist’s small town. Throughout the film, these criminals briefly talk about their “boss”. However, this particular character isn’t revealed until about the last twenty minutes of the movie. The mystery of the “boss’s” identity kept me invested in the film, giving me an opportunity to figure out who this person was. Even though I had an idea of who the “boss” could be, I was surprised by the final outcome.

The Second Agnes Moorehead Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is an hour and thirty-minute film. While this is the typical length of time for a made-for-tv presentation, it was too long for this particular title. That’s because the story was simple and straight forward, needing only about thirty minutes to be told. The run-time of The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove made the overall project too drawn out.

The smuggling subplot: In The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, there was a subplot involving smugglers importing valuables into the protagonist’s small town. The subplot itself wasn’t bad, but it felt like it was included in the film just to satisfy the run-time and push the plot forward. As I previously stated, the story is simple and straight forward. The inclusion of the smuggling subplot unnecessarily complicated a narrative that was easier to understand.

The main plot being overshadowed: As I mentioned in the introduction, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is about a small group of children who create a monster in order to defend their teacher from being ridiculed. However, when the smuggling subplot is introduced, the children change their focus to finding the smugglers’ hidden treasure. This causes the main plot to be pushed to the side for the sake of highlighting the subplot. With a movie titled The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, a viewer would expect the film to primarily revolve around the monster the children create. Unfortunately, it doesn’t receive as much attention as the title suggests.

<a href="http://<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background'>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type="URL" data-id="<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background'>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.comStrawberry background image created by Bluelela from freepik.com.

My overall impression:

To me, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove was ok. However, I feel this specific story would have been better served as an episode from a children’s/family-friendly show. The straight-forward plot could be resolved in a short amount of time. In the movie, it was drawn out to over an hour. It also doesn’t help that the smuggling subplot pushed the main plot out of the way. The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is not the worst film I’ve seen this year. In fact, I could tell the creative team behind this movie had their hearts in the right place. But when it comes to films of this nature, I have seen better. Younger children might enjoy this title, as it features young characters saving the day. But older audience members might find themselves more bored than entertained.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove? Which made-for-tv movie would you like to see me review next? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: A Matter of Time Review (A Month Without the Code #4)

Because I’m participating in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s A Month Without the Code and the 5th Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon, I wanted to review one of Ingrid’s films from outside the Breen Code era. On her IMDB filmography, the 1976 movie, A Matter of Time caught my eye. After reading the synopsis, I chose this film as my submission for the blogathon! I was able to watch the movie through a series of videos from the Youtube channel, BroadwaytoRio. The film was broken down into ten parts, each video about ten minutes long. Prior to these blogathons, the only movies of Ingrid Bergman’s I have seen are Casablanca and Gaslight. Both of these films were not only released in the ‘40s, they were also released in the Breen Code era. As this is the first time I’m reviewing a post-1954 movie of Ingrid’s, it’ll be interesting to see how A Matter of Time differs from her two previously mentioned films!

A Mater of Time poster created by American International Pictures. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074878/mediaviewer/rm3625653248.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Since I chose to review this movie for the Ingrid Bergman Blogathon, I’m going to talk about her performance first. Ingrid’s role in A Matter of Time is different from her other roles I’ve seen so far. In this film, she carried herself with a sense of power and authority, demanding the audience to focus their attention on her. At the same time, she held mystery and sorrow close to her character’s heart. In the scene where Ingrid’s character, the Contessa, is talking to her ex-husband, she brings so much emotion during the conversation, that the scene itself feels earth-shaking. Even toward the end of her acting career, Ingrid still had what it took, acting wise, to carry a film! Last October, I reviewed the 1991 film, Stepping Out. While watching A Matter of Time, I immediately noticed how Liza’s character was different from the one she portrayed in the aforementioned ‘90s film. Nina, the protagonist of this story, grew as a person over time. She transformed from a timid young woman to someone who knew what she wanted in life. One scene shows Nina having a disagreement about the Contessa with a screenwriter. During this scene, she breaks out of her timid shell to defend her friend. It causes a fire to break forth from Nina, something the audience hadn’t seen up until that point. Similar to Ingrid’s performance, Liza’s portrayal of Nina in that scene was so powerful, it made this character a force to be reckoned with. The emotionality was very strong in Liza’s performance!

The scenery: Even though most of this movie takes place indoors, it did feature some nice scenery! A scene where Nina travels to the city showcases some of the sights of Rome and Venice, where A Matter of Time was filmed. Through her bus window, monuments and mammoth sized buildings are set against a clear, blue sky. Earth tone limestone covered some of the facilities, contrasting the black concrete roads leading to them. More sights from Rome and Venice could be seen in a montage where Nina goes sightseeing. Shots of the city’s landscape emphasis the large scope of this particular location. Statues served as everlasting art that patrons could enjoy in any season. Even some foliage was included in this montage, with red-ish trees located near a ledge and around a town center. These shots highlighted some of the most photogenic parts of these cities, potentially encouraging some viewers to plan their next vacation!

The messages and themes: While I wasn’t expecting A Matter of Time to contain relatable messages and themes, I appreciate their inclusion in this story. They were timeless and felt just as relevant now as they did in the mid to late ‘70s. One message revolved around being yourself. Even though this particular message has been shared on numerous occasions, it was nice to hear it coming from the Contessa. It was given as wisdom to Nina, in an effort to help her create her own path in life. An unexpected theme in A Matter of Time was mortality. Throughout the movie, the Contessa refuses to share her life story, saying, “My life belongs to me alone. I tell it only to myself”. She also says, “No one is dead. No one dies unless we wish them to”. These quotes speak volumes about the importance of a life story and the effort of keeping a person’s memory alive. It also reminds viewers how long life can feel, even when time seems so short.

The 5th Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon banner created by Virginie from The Wonderful World of Cinema. Image found at https://thewonderfulworldofcinema.wordpress.com/2020/06/12/announcing-the-5th-wonderful-ingrid-bergman-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of magic: There was a crawling text at the beginning of the film. In this text, it says “What you are about to see may appear like a fairy tale…as we all know some fairy tales come true”. The text also says that Nina experienced a “magic moment”. This gave me the impression that A Matter of Time would be a modern fairy tale, similar to a film like the Hallmark production, Midnight Masquerade. If that was the creative team’s intention for the 1976 movie, they forgot one important ingredient: magic. In a modern fairy tale story, there needs to be a sense of whimsy or magic included in the narrative. The Halloween party in Midnight Masquerade showcases how a feeling of magic can be incorporated into a modern setting. A Matter of Time does not contain that feeling. If anything, it feels more like a drama than a fantasy. The movie makes it seem like Nina was conveniently at the right place and time instead of stumbling across a bit of magic.

The dream sequences:  Dream sequences appeared at certain points in the movie. These sequences were elaborate in nature, showing Nina living a life of glamour and luxury. While the dream sequences looked nice, I found them confusing. There was no distinction if they were dreams or future events from Nina’s life. Smooth transitions were not given to these scenes, making it feel like they were plunked into the story. I understand the dream sequences were meant to add some pizzazz to the overall picture. But their randomness prevented them from making a significant impression.

Grainy film quality: I know the quality of film from the 1970s is going to be different by today’s standards. Since that time period, technology and film-making have progressed tremendously. The presentation of A Matter of Time was grainy, making the production look like it hasn’t aged as well as other movies from the ‘70s. Because of the overall film quality, there were times when I had difficulty seeing characters’ facial expressions. I’m not sure if the videos I watched were recorded from a VHS tape or if that was the movie’s original presentation. But it’s not a good sign if I have trouble seeing what’s on screen.

A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode2020/.

My overall impression:

To me, A Matter of Time is an ok film. It has components of value; which are strong acting performances, nice scenery, and relatable messages and themes. However, the story is one that audiences have heard before and after the film’s 1976 release. Stories are inevitably going to get repeated over the course of time. When this happens, it’s important for a film’s creative team to find something that sets their project apart. With A Matter of Time, nothing new or unique is offered to the table. It feels like the overall production is ignoring their own message of being yourself. Even though this was a theatrically released project, it came across like a made-for-TV movie with a slightly higher budget. This statement is not made to disrespect television films, as there have been some good ones created over the years. What I mean is the presentation of this movie didn’t justify a theater release. Even though A Matter of Time has a PG rating, there are some pieces that would not appear in a Breen Code era film. These pieces are the following:

  • Some of the language in this script would be objectionable by Breen Code standards. There were times when the characters either swore or used God’s name in vain.
  • Some sexual references were made throughout the story, from Nina referring to a specific body part to a screenwriter wanting to create a violent scene for his upcoming movie.
  • A screenwriter named Mario attacks Nina while she is cleaning his room. Though he is acting out a scene from his script, the act itself would never appear in a Breen Code era movie.
  • Nina wears three dresses that have a low neckline. Even though one of these dresses is paired with a sweater, the sweater is never buttoned up.
  • There are two scenes where it is implied that Nina is not wearing any clothes. One of these scenes is briefly shown during a montage, showing a profile of Nina from her shoulders upward. The second scene shows Nina changing from one outfit to another. Only her back and her shoulders are visible.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen any movie from Ingrid Bergman’s filmography? Which actress would you like to see receive their own blogathon? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen