I haven’t seen many films from Ginger Rogers’ and Fred Astaire’s filmography. Despite this, I joined the third Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Blogathon, in the hopes of expanding my cinematic horizons! Because I figured other participants would cover Ginger’s musicals, I chose one of her movies that wasn’t a part of the musical genre. As the title says, I’ll be reviewing Teenage Rebel! The aftermath of a divorce/custody battle is rarely explored in film. This is what made me take notice of this particular title. What I also thought was interesting was how this story discussed the subject of divorce during a time when the concept was not as talked about as it is today. While I have reviewed the 1939 movie, In Name Only, that film revolved around the divorce itself and what led up to it. Now, let us begin part one of my Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Double Feature!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Ginger Rogers is an actress from what would be considered the “Golden Era” of Hollywood. This particular period in time is often depicted with a sense of glamour. Because of this, Ginger carried herself in Teenage Rebel with that same sense of glamour I just brought up. Not only that, her emotionality really shined through in her role as Nancy Fallon! Some of her best scenes featured her interacting with Dorothy/Dodie. Both actresses go toe-to-toe with each other, acting-wise, and make their characters feel believable and genuine. Out of context, Dorothy/Dodie could be written off as a spoiled brat. But Betty Lou Keim’s performance, plus the aftermath of the divorce, makes the audience feel bad for Dorothy/Dodie. While Betty’s portrayal is consistent, she is given enough flexibility to add emotion. This highlights the idea that Dorothy/Dodie is simply human, with thoughts and feelings that need to be expressed. Warren Berlinger portrays Dick, one of the Fallon’s next-door neighbors. What I liked about his performance is how animated it is. This animation livened Warren’s portrayal without coming across as over-the-top. Instead, it gave him a wide range of emotions to work with. His conversation with his family about his long distance girlfriend is a perfect example of this.
The use of symbolism: One night, as a literal storm is brewing in the neighborhood, Nancy finds Dorothy/Dodie sitting outside by herself. The wind outside is strong and doesn’t have any plans to calm down. During their conversation, the sound of cracking lightening can be heard in the background. When Dorothy/Dodie and Nancy return to the house, rain starts to fall. These elements represented the personal turmoil taking place between mother and daughter.
The messages and themes: In films where younger characters are the center of the story, there is always a place for meaningful messages and themes. This is certainly the case for Teenage Rebel. One of the notable themes of this movie is having compassion for others. No matter how closed-off Dorothy/Dodie was, Nancy never gave up on her daughter. Even though Nancy does express feelings of frustration and stress, she always tried her best to make Dorothy/Dodie feel welcome and loved. Even Dick and his sister, Jane, show compassion for Dorothy/Dodie. They invite her to teenage functions like dances and a local car race. Because of the time they spend with her, Dorothy/Dodie allows herself to open her heart to others. The reason why Dorothy/Dodie distances herself from people is because she has lost her trust in them due to the divorce. As the story progresses, Dorothy/Dodie changes her life around. In one scene, Nancy gives her daughter a lecture about how she needs to stop living in isolation. That speech and the overall message of opening your heart comes across in this story as genuine.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A very misleading title: This film is called Teenage Rebel. Paired with the quotes on the movie’s quote, the film is advertised as a cautionary tale about teenagers going “over the edge”. However, none of the teens in this story rebel or misbehave. Even when there is a car race, the event itself appears to be well organized and legal. While Dorothy/Dodie has a bad attitude and runs away from home, she does these things to 1.) put on a brave face to protect her true feelings and 2.) find some alone time to get away from the tension between her and her mother. The title and marketing built this movie up to be something it wasn’t.
The character of Larry: Larry Fallon, portrayed by Rusty Swope, is Nancy and Jay’s son. He had some funny lines in this movie, such as when he said “a man” after Dorothy/Dodie asks him what he wants to be when he grows up. However, after a while, Larry kind of overstays his welcome. I don’t fault Rusty for this, as there was only so much he could do for an actor of his age. This specific flaw is the result of the screenwriting. Larry doesn’t have much to do in the overall story. In fact, he has little to no significance within the main plot. Prior to watching Teenage Rebel, I was expecting to see an interesting dynamic between half-siblings who didn’t grow up together. But, in reality, Dorothy/Dodie and Larry only interacted once. Either Rusty needed more material to work with or the character should have been written out of the movie completely.
An abrupt transformation: When Dorothy/Dodie is introduced in the film, she carries herself with a chip on her shoulder. It gets to the point where she and her mother have an emotionally fueled, tension filled conversation. As I mentioned earlier, Dorothy/Dodie’s attitude was caused by an ugly divorce with an even uglier custody battle. After the aforementioned conversation between Dorothy/Dodie and Nancy, Dorothy/Dodie runs away, where Dick finds her and takes her to a local soda shop. When she returns home, she acts nice toward her mother, like their previous conversation never happened. Similar to what I said about Larry, this flaw was the result of the screenwriting. This change in character should have been a consistent progression throughout the film as a whole.
My overall impression:
Teenage Rebel is an ok film. However, its dishonest title and poster doesn’t help its case. In a time when teen centered films were on the rise, the studio wanted to capitalize on that. While a significant part of this story focused on a teenage perspective, it was marketed as something different than what it honestly was. Instead of selling the movie as a meaningful drama exploring the aftermath of divorce, they decided to make the film sound like it was about misbehaving youngsters, despite never being found in the story. Even though it seems like the creative team had their hearts in the right place, I was not a fan of how the story was more “slice of life” than I had wanted. I don’t find these types of stories intriguing, but I appreciate Teenage Rebel’s incorporation of its messages and themes. If you want to watch a teen movie with similar ideas, I’d recommend The Boy Who Could Fly. Not only does it emphasize showing compassion to others, but it’s a much stronger film.
Overall score: 6.3 out of 10
Have you seen Ginger Rogers’ movies? Which film about divorce would you recommend? Tell me in the comment section!
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!
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!
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.
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?
Yes, it’s been four months since I last posted a Word on the Street story. While looking through my Word on the Street posts from this year, I noticed that all of them were about Hallmark related projects. I don’t want to be a movie blogger that just talks about one thing. So, I took a short break to find interesting pieces of movie news that had nothing to do with Hallmark. Yesterday, I found a story that was quite fascinating. In a video from the Youtube channel, Clownfish TV, Kneon and Geeky Sparkles, the hosts of the video, talk about the various films from 20th Century Fox that Disney was planning on not greenlighting. Because Disney purchased the aforementioned studio, they inherited a lot of movie titles. Some of them hadn’t even gone into production yet. In this post, I will discuss these titles as well as my thoughts about them. Now, as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”!
In a video titled “Disney CANCELS Fox Films! Blue Sky Studios Gets Disney ‘DISCIPLINE!’”, Kneon and Geeky Sparkles, two of the creators of the Youtube channel, Clownfish TV, discuss some of the Fox titles that Disney will not be developing, as well as the articles that reported them. The first title that Disney eliminated, according to Collider, is an animated film called “Mouse Guard”. I’m not familiar with this particular project or its source material. Kneon and Geeky, however, were more knowledgeable about the subject, even going so far as to share the film’s production status. Geeky states that “you cannot have a competing mouse”, indicating that the only mouse that’s worth Disney’s attention is their one and only, Mickey. If this were true, that would make the company look a little bit hypocritical, especially since they’ve created beloved characters that were also mice. Some examples are Gus and Jaq from Cinderella, Roquefort from The Aristocats, Bernard and Miss Bianca from The Rescuers, Jake from The Rescuers Down Under, and the cast of characters from The Great Mouse Detective. In another article that was featured in the video, this time from Screen Geek, Kneon and Geeky examine the short list of films that will, probably, never see the light of day. These titles are Flash Gordon, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Chronicle 2, McClane, The Sims Movie, Assassin’s Creed 2, Mega Man, and Magic: The Gathering. I’m, honestly, not heartbroken that these films got cancelled. Most of the projects on the list sound like unnecessary sequels or reboots/remakes. Even Geeky and Kneon weren’t that upset about these films being cancelled. This particular article featured a link to a Reddit page that listed even more movie titles, which Kneon and Geeky also talked about. The first section of the article listed films that had a chance of not getting scrapped. While looking through these titles, Geeky expressed interest in seeing the Zorro reboot, currently titled Z. In my opinion, none of the movies on this list sound intriguing enough to make me want to pay theater admission for them. The next section listed movie titles that were not getting eliminated. When Geeky and Kneon were looking through the list, Kneon had a feeling that a film titled Nimona would either get scrapped or be placed on Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+. His reasoning was because the movie is, apparently, going to be animated by Blue Sky Animation, a division of Fox that Disney is disciplining (which, according to Kneon, means “budget cuts”). This is the first time I had heard about this project, so it’s not a title that I’m emotionally attached to.
While searching through the extensive list of film titles on Reddit, there was one movie that I didn’t see in the article. Back in March, I participated in the Book Adaptation Tag. In that post, I said that one of the “book movies” I was looking forward to was Words on Bathroom Walls. According to IMDB, this film is in post-production. Based on the limited amount of information I was able to find, it doesn’t seem like this movie has a distributor yet. Despite this, the fact that Words on Bathroom Walls wasn’t even a part of the conversation was something I found surprising. If this specific movie were included on the list, I’m guessing that it would have been saved from cancellation due to its production status. Hopefully, Words on Bathroom Walls will get a distributor sooner rather than later.
What are your thoughts on this piece of movie news? Which movie would you want to save from being scrapped? Tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
If you want to check out the sources that I referenced in this article, you can watch the video by visiting Clownfish TV’s Youtube channel or typing “Disney CANCELS Fox Films! Blue Sky Studios Gets Disney ‘DISCIPLINE!’” into Youtube’s search bar. The link to the Reddit article is in the video’s description. You can also visit these links:
In my review of Sister of the Bride, I mentioned that I would be reviewing Moulin Rouge! for my 110 follower dedication review. Since I did promise that this review would come soon, I made this post one of my top priorities for this week. As I said in my Jurassic World review, I have a new system for choosing movies for these specific reviews. If you want to learn more about this system, you can read the introduction of my Jurassic World review. Because I received 110 followers on 18 Cinema Lane last month, I chose a movie that was released in the month of June. But the year of its release was 2001. My last movie review about a musical was Little Nellie Kelly back in June. So, I decided to pick Moulin Rouge! for this particular review! This is a movie that I’d heard of, but had never seen. Now that I’ve seen this film, it’s time to share my thoughts on it with the help of this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I was very impressed with the cast in Moulin Rouge! Every actor and actress in this film surpassed my expectations when it came to their performance! Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman did a great job bringing their characters to life, providing a sense of depth and authentic emotion to their roles. The on-screen chemistry between Ewan and Nicole felt real, helping me to stay invested in Christian and Satine’s relationship. Richard Roxburgh also gave a good performance as The Duke of Monroth! The emotions and reactions that were brought to this character were truly unsettling. However, this made The Duke of Monroth be the unlikable character that he was meant to be. What helped was Richard giving everything he had, talent wise, into his portrayal of this character. His dedication to his performance is what made The Duke of Monroth so memorable!
The set-pieces: For musicals featured on film, one of the most important aspects of the production are the set-pieces. This part can make or break a musical. The set-pieces in Moulin Rouge! were exquisite, especially those within the Moulin Rouge nightclub! The colors were very vibrant and paired really well with the metals of silver and gold. A key ingredient to set-pieces is how immersive they make the world within the musical/movie feel. Set-pieces found in Moulin Rouge! made the world in the movie look and feel like it actually exists. The level of detail in these set-pieces added to the magnificent nature of them. It shows that the creative team behind this film put a lot of effort into making the set-pieces the best that they can be!
The transitioning animation: When scenes were transitioning from one part of the story to the next, the animation that was used in these transitions was unique. The best examples I can give to what this animation looked like are the television show, Angela Anaconda, and the “moving newspapers” in the Harry Potter film series. What I mean by this is most of the animation was in a black-and-white/gray tone, with a few hints of color to keep the images looking interesting. This type of animation is rarely seen in entertainment, so I like that the creative team behind Moulin Rouge! was thinking outside the box.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The editing: One of the most distracting aspects about this film was the editing. Quick-cuts were commonly used in the movie, especially within the first half. As I mentioned, Moulin Rouge! had gorgeous set-pieces. But because of these quick-cuts, it was sometimes difficult to see these set-pieces on screen. In at least two scenes, there was “shaky cam” that didn’t need to be there. This aspect of the editing felt very out of place.
Some of the songs: I wasn’t a fan of some of the songs that were featured in Moulin Rouge! It’s not that the songs themselves were bad, they just didn’t fit within the world that the film created. For example, toward the beginning of the film, Christian sings “The Sound of Music”. If you know musicals, you would know that this song is from the movie and stage play, The Sound of Music. Because of this and the story of the aforementioned production, the context of this song feels out of place in Moulin Rouge! Another thing I noticed was that a large portion of the songs came from other movies or artists, music that was created prior to the film’s release. If this musical was advertised as or had a reputation of being a “jukebox musical”, having pre-existing songs incorporated into the narrative would make sense. But since Moulin Rouge! is not known for being this kind of musical, it just felt like the characters took a break from the story to sing karaoke.
Some of the humor: There was some humor in this movie that I did not like. That is because it was too crude and over-the-top for my liking. I understand that this humor was meant to represent the values and beliefs of the patrons associated with the Moulin Rouge nightclub. But that doesn’t mean I found this type of humor to be entertaining. In fact, some scenes that featured this kind of humor made me feel uncomfortable. One example is when Christian and Satine meet for the first time.
My overall impression:
I’m glad I gave myself a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to movie musicals! On 18 Cinema Lane, this genre doesn’t get talked about often. So, choosing Moulin Rouge! for this review was worth it! As for the movie itself, I thought it was just ok. There are things about it that I can appreciate, such as the quality of the acting performances. What held this movie back from making it greater than it was are the editing and some of the songs. Because some of these songs came from other movies and artists, they kind of took me out of the film. As for the editing, this part could have been better executed. Moulin Rouge! is definitely not one of the worst musicals I’ve ever seen, but I’ve also seen better. Before I finish this review, I want to thank all of my 110 followers! Also, thank you for your patience when it came to the release of this review. It means a lot to me that I have followers that are supportive and understanding.
Overall score: 6.1 out of 10
What did you think of my review? Which movie musical is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!
Unlike the Jean Simmons and Rosalind Russell Blogathon, I was familiar with who Olivia de Havilland was, as an actress, before I signed up for The Fourth Annual Olivia de Havilland Blogathon. Gone with the Wind and The Snake Pit are the only two films of Olivia’s that I’d seen prior to my blogathon participation. I wanted to watch a film within this actress’s filmography that I haven’t seen before. When I found out that Olivia had starred in the film, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, I decided to choose this movie for this review. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a film that I had heard of before. It’s usually put in the same category as a film like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, where mystery and suspicion are the common themes within the narrative. I was fortunate to have seen this movie knowing very little about the story. The lack of spoilers helped my movie-viewing experience be as entertaining as possible. Now, let’s figure out what my thoughts are on Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I was a fan of the acting performances in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte! The only other film of Bette Davis’ that I’ve seen is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. But even after watching that film and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, I think that Bette excels at portraying characters that are unsettling and over-the-top. Olivia de Havilland’s portrayal of Miriam Deering was very cool and collected. This helped balance out the differences between Bette and Olivia’s performances! I was also pleasantly surprised by Agnes Moorehead’s performance as Velma Cruther! She made her character so memorable, that her performance still stands out in my mind long after I saw the film.
The cinematography: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte had some really good cinematography! The way some of these scenes are presented made the movie look visually appealing. How the lighting was used in this film was something that caught my attention. For example, during an evening meal, when Charlotte was talking about her father, a portrait of him is shown with the use of a bright light. Certain camera angles made some scenes have a unique look to them. One example is when Charlotte is walking up the stairs. This scene was presented as if the audience was looking down on the set of stairs.
Some unexpected surprises: As I mentioned in the introduction, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a story that has a good amount of mystery and suspicion. With this comes some unexpected surprises. I will not be spoiling any of these surprises in this review, especially since some of my readers and followers may not have seen this film yet. But what I will say is that these surprises were very shocking, leaving me completely caught off guard! The surprises kept this story interesting, helping me to stay invested in the overall narrative.
What I didn’t like about the film:
An unnecessary amount of violence: When I was watching this film, I noticed some violence that, in my opinion, didn’t need to be there. For example, early on in the movie, John Mayhew, Charlotte’s love interest, gets his hand chopped off. This act is explicitly featured in the movie. While this was a shocking moment, I don’t think this needed to be shown in the film. If a shadow of the knife falling were seen or if John’s scream were heard in the distance, it would have created the same effect of shocking the audience.
The run-time: Two hours and 13 minutes is the official run-time for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Because of this, there were moments that were drawn out a little longer than they should have. One example is this is when Charlotte and Harry Willis meet for the first time. Personally, I think that the film’s run time is a bit too long. Having the movie run at under two hours would have worked better for the narrative. This way, the audience could stay invested in the story without having to feel bored at any moment of the film.
The amount of shocking/surprising moments: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte does have some shocking/surprising moments. However, most of these moments take place within the film’s climax, toward the end of the film. I understand that the narrative is building up to that climatic moment. But, prior to the climax, these shocking/surprising moments are used sparingly. This creative choice caused me to feel that this story was not as mysterious or suspenseful as I had thought it would be. The ratio between shocking/surprising moments and scenes without them were uneven.
My overall impression:
Though this movie had its flaws, I still found Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte to be a good film! It’s one of those movies that gets better as you keep watching, developing into a story that is truly shocking and intriguing. The only movie I can compare this to is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as the structure of each narrative is very similar. After comparing these two films, I would choose Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as the better of the two. It had more interesting components and I found myself being more invested in this particular story. I would definitely recommend giving this film a watch! But, if you choose to watch this film, please avoid spoilers, as it will make your movie-viewing experience that much better.
Overall score: 7.7 out of 10
Have you seen any of Olivia de Havilland’s film? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
When I came across the Made in 1938 blogathon last November, it sounded like something I would want to participate in. As I was searching the internet for films with 1938 release dates, I discovered that Shirley Temple starred in three movies within that year: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway,and Just Around the Corner. Because a goal of mine is to watch every single Shirley Temple film ever made, I figured that talking about these three films for this blogathon would be a good way to take one step closer to my goal. Prior to seeing Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway,and Just Around the Corner, I had seen some of Shirley’s other films. This means that I had an idea of the components that would make up these three films. So, in this post, I will be exploring and analyzing these six components that are usually found in a “Shirley Temple movie”. Now, when I say “Shirley Temple movie”, I mean the films where Shirley starred in the movie as a child actress. However, when it comes to Shirley’s movies, I will only be discussing the three films that were released in 1938. So, now that I’ve finished these necessary introductions, let’s answer this question of what makes these films a “Shirley Temple movie”.
Shirley Temple’s involvement in the film
When I watched Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway,and Just Around the Corner, I wanted to see whether Shirley was given legitimate roles to portray or if the film was treated as a way to, simply, include Shirley in the movie just for the sake of having Shirley star in the film. In these three films, Shirley’s roles seemed like they were well-written characters, each given their own characteristics. There are some similarities that these characters had, such as being, to a certain extent, independent. Each character; Rebecca, Penny, and Betsy, were either an orphan or had at least one parental figure in her life. Because of the specific conflict each of these characters face, they all find a way to solve their particular problem. One example of this is in Little Miss Broadway. When her family’s hotel is in danger of closing for good, Betsy becomes friends with the nephew of the hotel’s landlord and helps him put on a show in order to save the hotel and help the residents keep their home. These characters also have their differences as well, such as how they solve their problems. In Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Rebecca is forced to perform in a radio commercial for her greedy and selfish step-father. In order to get out of her living and working situation, Rebecca pretends to lose her voice, tricking her step-father into thinking that she is no longer employable for radio entertainment. Rebecca came up with this plan all by herself compared to how Betsy from Little Miss Broadway and Penny from Just Around the Corner resolve their conflicts.
After watching these films, I think the best role that Shirley portrayed was Betsy in Little Miss Broadway. Because the film centered around performers living in a hotel, this role highlighted both the acting and performing talents that Shirley had to offer within the movie. It made it feel like this role was created just for Shirley, while also complimenting the talents of the other actors and performers in the film. While I liked Shirley’s portrayal of Rebecca in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, I felt like the creative team behind this movie put a little too much emphasis that Shirley was cast in their film. At one point in the film, Shirley says that she used to have curls all over her head, possibly referencing her earlier roles, such as her role in Curly Top. Shirley also mentions the songs “Animals Crackers in My Soup” and “On the Good Ship Lollipop”, not only referencing Shirley’s previous movies, but making it feel like the movie’s creative team assumed that the audience had seen Shirley’s other movies prior to watching Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I also liked Shirley’s portrayal of Penny from Just Around the Corner. But, as I’ll explain later in this post, she wasn’t given many opportunities to perform as a singer and dancer within the context of the film.
The Cast Surrounding Shirley
For this component, I wanted to see if the cast surrounding Shirley were also given legitimate roles to portray or if these actors’ involvement in the film were just seen as everyone being Shirley Temple’s extras. When I reflect on Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway,and Just Around the Corner, I can honestly say that the cast surrounding Shirley were also given characters that were well-written. What I liked about these three movies is that the characters seemed so unique and interesting from one another. One of these characters is Samuel Henshaw from Just Around the Corner. While Samuel, at times, comes across as a grumpy individual, it seems like he has a sense of goodness to him, caring equally about his career and his family. This character is very different from Pop Shea from Little Miss Broadway, for example. While both characters appear to be around the same age, their personalities are very different, helping to give a sense of variety among the characters within these three films. Another thing I liked seeing was the variety of talents that was shown within each film. Bill Robinson’s involvement in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Just Around the Corner is a good example of this. Not only is Bill a good actor, but he’s also a good dancer. When it comes to the acting within each film, I think that everyone did a good job with the acting material they were given.
While looking at each story from each film, I wanted to find out how much they relied on Shirley’s involvement in the film. Before I reveal my assessment, let me share a brief synopsis for each film. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is about a radio executive and his assistant searching for the perfect candidate to perform in their radio commercial. Just Around the Corner is about a young girl who tries to help her father find employment and Little Miss Broadway is about a hotel owner trying to save his hotel as well as the home of several performers. While all of these stories do, to a certain extent, depend on Shirley’s involvement, these stories can stand on their own. If you take away the fact that this is a “Shirley Temple movie”, these stories could work with other actors and different characters. An example of this is Just Around the Corner. If this movie were not a musical, I could see almost any child actor being cast in the role of Penny. Other than the musical numbers, it doesn’t really seem like Shirley’s involvement is essential to the story overall. This is the same for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. You could either have almost any child actor or any singer in the lead role and it really wouldn’t make much of a difference.
Out of these three stories, I liked the plot from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm the most. Not only was the conflict within the plot interesting, but the “behind-the-scenes” aspect of radio entertainment was, to me, fascinating. This part of the film reminded me of two Hallmark movies that I really like: This Magic Moment and Cooking with Love. Because of this, it made me enjoy Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm even more. I liked the story from Little Miss Broadway. But, after the primary conflict is resolved, it feels like other conflicts were invented in the story just to keep the movie going. This made the movie feel a little bit tedious. The story for Just Around the Corner was fine. But, because of the limited amount of musical numbers, it made the story feel drawn out and a little bit longer than intended. Despite the flaws that these stories may have, all of these stories were well-written.
The Messages and Themes
Like most family-friendly films, Shirley Temple’s movies have no shortage of messages and themes that can be found within the film’s narrative. For the most part, these messages and themes are relatable and can be shared with audiences of all ages. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway,and Just Around the Corner contain more than one message/theme. In Just Around the Corner, the story is very reflective of the time period that the film was released in. Because the movie premiered in 1938, messages and themes relating to The Great Depression can be found within the film’s plot. Financial prejudice, social class, and maintaining a positive attitude no matter what the circumstance is are themes that I found within the movie. Even though Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Little Miss Broadway were also released in 1938, the messages and themes in these movies are relevant for both the late ‘30s and the late 2010s, focusing less on direct references to The Great Depression. In Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, the two biggest messages that I could find was how success can be found almost anywhere and how important it is to surround yourself with people that truly have your best interests in mind. As a movie blogger, I can relate to the first aforementioned message. Movie bloggers come from all over the world, with several movie bloggers finding huge success. This particular message has definitely stood the test of time. Little Miss Broadway’s two biggest themes in its story were how far kindness can go and getting to know someone before you judge them.
When I watched Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway,and Just Around the Corner, I also noticed that some of the songs within these movies contained important messages and themes. The song, “I Love to Walk in the Rain” from Just Around the Corner re-emphasizes the theme of having a positive attitude in almost any situation. Other examples include “How Can I Thank You?” from Little Miss Broadway promoting the idea of taking time to express gratitude to those around you and “Come and Get Your Happiness” from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm stressing the idea of trying to find happiness wherever you are. Sometimes, these songs were sung more than once, as if the creative team behind these movies wanted to remind their audience of the importance of these messages and themes. For example, in Little Miss Broadway, the song “How Can I Thank You” is sung by Shirley more than once. As I’ve already mentioned, this song focused on promoting sharing gratitude with the people around you. Overall, the messages and themes that are found within these three films add a layer of depth to each story and make the movies feel like time was well spent.
The Musical Numbers
No Shirley Temple movie would be complete without at least one musical number. All three of these movies had their fair share of singing and dancing. However, it’s important to compare the big musical number from each film to see if they effectively represent their respective film. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner each had a large musical number that was featured toward the end of their film. These musical numbers equally incorporated singing and dancing into the production. Since I’ve already talked about the song “I Love to Walk in the Rain”, I’ll talk about the musical number from Just Around the Corner first. Toward the end of Just Around the Corner, Penny performs a musical number that reminds the movie’s audience about keeping a positive attitude in almost any situation. The way this theme is presented in this musical number is by showing how happy Penny is to be outside while it is raining. Out of these three films, “I Love to Walk in the Rain” is my favorite musical number. Not only does it stress a major theme from the movie in a creative and memorable way, but the actual musical number itself is very entertaining. All of the dancing is choreographed in such a way that it gives the audience the illusion that Shirley and Bill are actually talking a walk. The special effects that are showcased within this musical number are also very impressive. From the rain effect through the number to the props of moving birds, all of it came together to create a musical number that, I think, represents the film as a whole.
The other two musical numbers I will be talking about are “Little Miss Broadway” from Little Miss Broadway and “The Toy Trumpet” from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. In Little Miss Broadway, Betsy and Roger, the nephew of the hotel’s landlord, perform “Little Miss Broadway” in an attempt to prove to the judge that all of the performers residing in the hotel are worthy of hosting their own show on a regular basis. I liked this musical number quite of bit. The choreography was really good and the special effects of the New York City skyline made this musical number such a spectacle to watch. However, I felt that this musical number was only representative of its respective film to a certain extent. Yes, the musical number is reflective of how far optimism and kindness can go, as well as how happy and exciting Betsy’s new environment is to her. But, Broadway itself is never mentioned in the movie until that very musical number. Plus, the majority of the story takes place either in the hotel or in the landlord’s apartment. I also liked “The Toy Trumpet” from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The choreography and the number itself reminded me of the toy soldier dance that the Rockettes perform during Christmas-time. But, when it comes to representing the movie as a whole, this musical number doesn’t really do that. If anything, “The Toy Trumpet” feels random when it’s placed within the context of the story. Toy soldiers are never mentioned in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and the musical number does not incorporate any of the film’s themes or messages into the performance. Because Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm focuses a lot on radio entertainment, there is a greater number of performances that only involve singing. However, I just think that the big musical number within this film should have either been farm themed or showcased at least one of the film’s themes or messages.
The Overall Film
For this final category, I was curious as to how well these films held up 81 years later. Did any of these movies stand the test of time or are they just products of their time? I can only speak for myself, but I think Just Around the Corner, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Little Miss Broadway stood the test of time just fine. Because each film has a certain amount of simplicity to them and are relatable to a certain extent, these three movies can be enjoyed by many people. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is the film that I liked the most because of its interesting plot and creativity. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, the “behind-the-scenes” look at radio entertainment was something that added interest to the story for me. Also, I was glad to see the creativity that can be found within this film. A perfect example of this was the scene where Rebecca sings “An Old Straw Hat” on the farm. During this scene, Rebecca and Aloysius, the family’s farm hand, not only perform a short dance on the pathway, but they also pick berries to the tune of the song. I thought Little Miss Broadway was a decent film. However, as I’ve also mentioned, the story felt, at times, tedious because the conflict was resolved a little too early. To me, Just Around the Corner was just ok. The biggest issue that I had with this film was that it wasn’t as much of a musical as I had expected. Just Around the Corner only had three musical scenes, one toward the beginning of the film and two toward the end of the film. For the rest of the movie, this limited number of musical scenes/numbers causes the story to feel drawn out and longer than intended. If these movies had received a traditional review on my blog, the scores they would receive are a 7.7 (for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm), a 7.1 (for Little Miss Broadway), and a 6.2 (for Just Around the Corner).
In my review of Return from Witch Mountain, I mentioned that I would publish my 45 follower thank you review very soon. Because I, recently, watched a film that was released in 1973, now is the time for me to talk about that film. For this post, I have chosen The Paper Chase. Before seeing this movie, the only film about law school I had ever seen was Legally Blonde. So, I was interested in seeing this particular concept from a different perspective. I am aware that this movie was based on a pre-existing novel. However, because I have never read this book, I’m only reviewing The Paper Chase as a film, not a book-to-film adaptation. How good or bad is the ninth film for this specific review series? Check out my review of The Paper Chase to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: All of the character portrayals in this movie were very good! Everyone appeared so believable, it seemed like I was watching real-life people dealing with real-life situations. Willis Bell, to me, was a very unlikable character. However, Craig Richard Nelson did a good job portraying that sense of unlikability which came across very effectively on-screen. Before watching The Paper Chase, I had seen Lindsay Wagner’s performances in Eat, Play, Love and Mingle All the Way. But, this was my first time watching Lindsay’s performance in a project not affiliated with Hallmark. I think she did a really good job portraying Susan Fields in this movie, giving an acting performance that appeared very natural and versatile.
The cinematography: While watching The Paper Chase, I noticed some really creative cinematography. One example of this was the reflection of the textbook in James T. Hart’s glasses. This stressed the importance of academics and how far James was willing to go to succeed. Another really cool use of cinematography in The Paper Chase was whenever someone was walking on the glass library floor. The way the camera focused on the floor, as if looking upward, was really interesting. Seeing the unique ways that cinematography was used in this film was such a pleasant surprise!
The music: Even though music was only found at certain moments in the film, I really enjoyed the music that was featured within the movie. To me, the best song was during the scene where James and Susan are on the frozen pond. This instrumental music was such a pretty score that beautifully complemented the wintery beauty in that scene. I was surprised when I found out John Williams created the music for The Paper Chase because I’ve been used to hearing his iconic scores from well-known blockbuster films. The music that was incorporated into this film was a great thing to find!
What I didn’t like about the film:
A slow pace: The pace in The Paper Chase was slow. It was slow enough to the point of making the movie feel drawn out and longer than it might have been intended.
Lack of plot: Before watching The Paper Chase, I had expected the movie to have a substantial plot, with a conflict, climax, and some rising action. Unfortunately, the movie did not have any of those things. The Paper Chase is a story that’s very “slice of life”, showing a year in the life of the characters. While this story wasn’t bad, I, personally, was expecting more from the plot.
Too dialogue heavy: The Paper Chase is very dialogue heavy. The majority of the film consists of the characters talking, either to or at each other. Dialogue is a necessary component to any film. However, there has to be more to a movie than simply dialogue.
My overall impression:
Overall, I thought The Paper Chase was ok. There were things within the film that I liked, but I was expecting more from the movie. If given the choice, I would pick Legally Blonde over The Paper Chase because, in my opinion, Legally Blonde has a stronger plot. But, I’m glad I chose The Paper Chase for my 45 follower thank you review, as I might not have watched it if it weren’t for my 45 followers! A very special thanks to all of my readers and followers, as you are the reason why these special movie reviews are even possible! When I started my blog back in February, I never imagined I would receive almost 50 followers by the end of the year. Seeing 18 Cinema Lane prosper really does show how important and special movie blogs are in the world of blogging.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Which movie from my blog follower thank you series is your favorite? Are you looking forward to which movie I’ll review for my 50 follower thank you post? Let me know in the comment section!