For the past four weeks, I’ve been participating in the Eurovisionathon readathon! Hosted by Helen, from the Youtube channel, Helen’s Book Haven, this event encourages participants to read books associated with Eurovision’s competing countries in a month-long time-frame. This was my first year taking part in the readathon and, like other readathons, I was curious to see how well I’d perform. In the months leading up to the event, I cultivated a TBR (to be read) list of diverse literary works, in an attempt to make my reading experience as enriching as possible. My goal was to read twenty-six books in a month, as there were twenty-six countries competing in Eurovision’s Grand Final. But was I able to obtain this goal or was this goal too lofty? Let’s find out in this break-down of my Eurovisionathon results!
In this year’s Eurovision, thirty-seven countries competed in the contest. There were six countries that automatically qualified for the Grand Final. These countries were the “Big Five” (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy) and Ukraine (the winner of the previous year’s song contest). Two Semi-Finals determined the rest of the countries partaking in the Grand Final alongside the six aforementioned countries, with fifteen countries competing in the first Semi-Final and sixteen countries competing in the second Semi-Final. Out of the six automatic qualifiers, I read five books, as I knew I would receive guaranteed points no matter how those countries performed.
From the first Semi-Final, I read six books. These books represented Portugal, Croatia, Israel, Moldova, Sweden, and Finland. All six countries advanced to the Grand Final.
From the second Semi-Final, I read four books. These books represented Romania, Iceland, Australia, and Slovenia. Only Australia and Slovenia advanced to the Grand Final.
Eurovisionathon ended on the day of Eurovision’s Grand Final. A country’s combined jury and televote score determined how many points a readathon participant received. The more books a participant read, the more points they were given. Thirteen out of the fifteen books I read represented countries that competed in the Grand Final. Three of these books represented countries that missed the top twenty; Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia. Three books I read represented Moldova, Spain, and France, countries that made the top twenty. Croatia is the only country whose book I read that placed in the top fifteen. The rest of the books I read represented countries who were given top ten placements, with Israel, Finland, and Sweden among Eurovision’s top three countries.
With all of that said, my total score was two thousand, seven hundred, and ninety-three points! For my first time participating in Eurovisionathon, I’d say I did a pretty good job! With 2024’s contest on the horizon, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s readathon. Thank you, Helen, for hosting this event. The next Eurovision Song Contest can’t come soon enough!
When I reviewed The Princess and the Pirate last year, that article became my 300th movie review! Then, earlier this year, my review of Sea Change became my 325th movie review! As March is National Reading Month and since I haven’t written a reading related tag in three years, I’m commemorating these milestones with a book tag! While searching for a tag on Booktube (the book/reading community on Youtube), I stumbled upon the Spring Cleaning Book Tag video from the channel, OwlCrate. I realized I had an answer to every question the hosts shared in the video. I also remembered how spring is on the horizon. If any of my readers are interested in participating in the Spring Cleaning Book Tag, they are welcome to write their own tag posts!
1. The Struggle of Getting Started – A book or book series you struggle to begin because of its size
In the past, I’ve read the first book and the short story collection in The Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series. While I have enjoyed reading those books, I’ve struggled to continue past the first novel. This is because I haven’t found the time to read the rest of the series. At one point, I did start the second book, only to not finish it. I do want to read more of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children books. I just need to make a stronger effort to continue.
2. Cleaning Out the Closet – A book or book series you want to unhaul
For last month’s Buzzwordathon, I reviewed The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon. Because of Joan’s creative decisions, I found the book disappointing. The protagonist, Christina, makes several contradictions that could make a reader frustrated. Joan prioritizing Christina’s “coming of age” story caused the novel’s suspense to be far and few between, as well as provide a lack of urgency. So, if I had the opportunity to unhaul a book, I’d select The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore.
3. Opening Windows and Letting Fresh Air In – A book that was refreshing
Since I’ve read some books in the Murder, She Wrote series, I’ll choose these stories for this prompt! What I like about the series is how the books aren’t novelizations of episodes the show’s fans have already seen. Instead, these stories are new, unique tales featuring characters and settings fans of Murder, She Wrote have come to know and adore. Creating a new story takes creativity and effort. So, the fact this series contains different stories from the show is, in my opinion, refreshing!
4. Washing Out the Sheets’ Stains – A book you wish you could re-write a certain scene in
As I mentioned in my tag post, The “Flaming Hot…5 Reasons Why” Tag, Kili is my favorite character from The Hobbit trilogy. With that said, I would re-write the conclusion of The Battle of the Five Armies, so Kili and the rest of The Company could receive a more victorious outcome. If this had happened, that victorious outcome might have been translated to The Hobbit trilogy.
5. Throwing Out Unnecessary Knick-Knacks – A book in a series you didn’t feel was necessary
Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of an unnecessary book in a series. But when I first heard the prompt, I thought of an unnecessary subplot in a book, so I’ll talk about that instead. In Private L.A., by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, I was not a fan of Justine’s subplot, specifically the part where she develops romantic feelings for a man named Paul. Not only did I not sense chemistry between Paul and Justine, this part of the story wasn’t resolved. Personally, I wish James and Mark had solely focused on Justine coming to terms with her PTSD symptoms.
6. Polishing the Door Knobs – A book that had a clean finish
Not every book is meant to start a series or a literary universe. Sometimes, a story only needs to be told in one book. That leads me to bring up Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton! Without spoiling the book or its film adaptation, I will say the story had a definitive ending, with everything wrapping up as nicely as possible. While I wouldn’t oppose a sequel to Adam’s story, I don’t think it’s necessary.
7. Reaching to Dust the Fan – A book that tried too hard to relay a certain message
Definitely California Angel by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. It seems like Nancy tried to capitalize on programs like Touched by an Angel and Miracle on 34th Street without presenting or attempting to present a complete understanding for what made those programs work. Also, it seems like Nancy used faith as an excuse to avoid explaining why certain events were taking place in the story.
8. The Tiring, Yet Satisfying Finish of Spring Cleaning – A book series that was tiring, yet satisfying, to get through
For this last prompt, I’ll be selecting All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr instead. Reading the novel for 2022’s Buzzwordathon, I completed this 500+ page story in less than six month’s time. Though it took me longer to read than I expected, I’m glad I finally read the book! Because I finished All the Light We Cannot See, I can now have an honest opinion about it.
Last December, when I published my review of the 1981 made-for-TV movie, When the Circus Came to Town, it was my 700th post! For those who are not familiar with my annual double features, I commemorate the accomplishment of publishing 100 articles by hosting a special double feature, written in an interview style. In the past, my double features sought to answer a pre-selected question or see whether a prediction was correct. This time around, I will not include a pre-determined prediction or question. That’s because this double feature will correlate with The Great Muppet Guest Star Caper Blogathon! When I was invited by Gill (from Realweegiemidget Reviews) to join the event, I was told duplicates were not allowed. Keeping this in mind, I was surprised none of the Muppet movies had been chosen. I was also surprised to discover Big Bird (of Sesame Street fame) had been a guest star on The Muppet Show. With all of that said, I will be reviewing The Great Muppet Caper and Follow That Bird for the 700th double feature!
A few days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received its 450th follower! With that achievement comes a Blog Follower Dedication Review! A few of my recent movie reviews were for films released in the 2020s. I recently saw Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to Top Gun. Therefore, I will continue this momentum by writing about the 2022 blockbuster! While I’ve only seen pieces of Top Gun, I am familiar with its general premise. I’m also aware of how Top Gun: Maverickis the second film about the United States Navy I’ve reviewed this month. About a week ago, I wrote about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Christmas film, USS Christmas. In that review, I said the 2020 title was a nice, pleasant film. Even though USS Christmas was fine, it wasn’t an instant classic for me or a new favorite movie. How will Top Gun: Maverick compare to the aforementioned Hallmark project? Keep reading this review if you have a need, a need to find out the answer!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Jennifer Connelly portrayed Penny, a character who was not in Top Gun. Despite being a sequel exclusive character, it felt like Penny was always meant to be in the story. The on-screen chemistry between Jennifer and Tom Cruise is an example of this statement. When Maverick visits Penny’s bar for the first time in years, he reconnects with Penny. Their interactions are friendly, a camaraderie that appears natural between them. This on-screen chemistry was consistent, which allowed Maverick and Penny’s interactions to be pleasant to watch! Speaking of Maverick, let’s talk about Tom’s performance! Since the story of Top Gun: Maverick takes place over thirty years after its predecessor, Maverick’s personality has matured in that time. However, it still contained that “prove ‘em wrong” spirit that makes him such a beloved character. In a scene where Maverick is seeking advice from Iceman, he reflects on the loss of his friend, Goose. As the past collides with the present, Maverick becomes emotional, tears quickly filling his eyes and his bottom lip quivering. This scene shows how, even though Maverick carries himself with a sense of professionalism, emotion still shines through, thanks to Tom’s strong acting abilities!
I’m not familiar with Miles Teller’s filmography or acting talents. However, I really liked his performance in Top Gun: Maverick! Miles portrayed Rooster, Goose’s son. Rooster’s involvement with the Top Gun program causes tension between Rooster and Maverick. During a disagreement between these two characters, Rooster has a lot to get off his chest. He starts yelling at Maverick, the anger felt, seen, and heard in Rooster’s voice and face. Even though Rooster’s anger is explosive in this scene, Miles displays control over his character’s emotions. He also has potential to be the lead actor in a future film!
The cinematography: Sometimes, action films can be plagued with “shaky cam”. This causes the events on screen to be indistinguishable, which can impact an audience member’s enjoyment of a movie. Fortunately, this is not the case for Top Gun: Maverick! During the scenes where characters are flying, there are many shots of them within their respective planes. There are also shots of the planes in various positions, directions, and angles. These shots are captured with a steady camera, delivered with crisp precision and clarity. One of my favorite scenes was when Maverick is racing his motorcycle alongside a plane. Showcased in a medium shot, this race contains the spirit Maverick has exuded since the first film. With a steady camera, the shot is presented from Maverick’s right side, with Maverick in the fore-ground and the plane in the background.
Including a mission: From the pieces of Top Gun I’ve seen, I recall the story heavily revolving around the training within the Top Gun program. While there is training in Top Gun: Maverick, the story prioritized an overarching mission instead. Each step of the mission is presented with the use of modern technology, such as computerized images on a television monitor. The inclusion of this mission gave the characters something to work towards. It also gave them a conflict to resolve. From an audience perspective, the mission keeps them invested in the story as it unfolds.
What I didn’t like about the film:
No inclusion of the quote, “I have a need, a need for speed”: One of the most iconic parts of Top Gun is the quote; “I have a need, a need for speed”. That quote is not only the most recognizable one from the 1986 movie, it’s one of the most famous quotes of all time. With the amount of respect given toward the predecessor in Top Gun: Maverick, I expected the aforementioned quote to be included somewhere in the 2022 film. Unfortunately, this quote was never spoken or referenced. I know this seems like a trivial flaw. But I think not including the quote is a missed opportunity.
Iceman’s fate: For this part of my review, I will spoil Top Gun: Maverick. If you have not seen this movie and plan on watching it, skip this portion and go straight to where it says “A limited distribution of character development”.
Iceman makes an appearance in Top Gun: Maverick. Even though he has become an Admiral and the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Iceman is dealing with medical related issues. These issues lead to his death around the film’s half-way point. I am aware the story needed a conflict. But having one of the “legacy” characters die felt, to me, like the film was giving mixed messages. As I already mentioned, Top Gun: Maverick was respectful toward its predecessor, emphasizing the idea of honoring the past and respecting what came before you. If this sentiment is true, then why would the movie’s creative team allow Iceman to be written out the way he was? Couldn’t Iceman be allowed to live his life as peacefully as possible? I know the Top Gun story wasn’t intended to become a franchise. However, I don’t believe Iceman should have died, especially since Goose already died in the first film.
A limited distribution of character development: When a story involves a group of people, it can, sometimes, be difficult to evenly distribute character development to every character in that group. In Top Gun: Maverick’s case, this flaw wasn’t avoided. Among the group of young lieutenants, the two that receive the most character development are Hangman and Rooster. Some of the lieutenants get a little bit of character development, while the rest don’t receive any. Besides Rooster and Hangman, I felt like I truly didn’t get to know the lieutenants, just simply became familiar with them. Like I’ve mentioned before in this review, I have only seen pieces of Top Gun. Therefore, I don’t know if this flaw was in that film. But since a part of Top Gun: Maverick’s story focuses on a team working together, I wish I had gotten to know more than just two lieutenants.
My overall impression:
During the overarching mission in Top Gun: Maverick, there are two miracles that are discussed. While I won’t be revealing these miracles, as I don’t want to spoil the film, I will be talking about the two miracles this movie produced. The first miracle is the amount of reverence and respect Top Gun: Maverick displayed for its predecessor. Creating a sequel to a beloved movie, especially after a thirty plus year time frame, is a challenging feat. I can only speak for myself, but I think Top Gun: Maverick’s creative team pulled off this feat better than expected! The second miracle is how successful Top Gun: Maverick has become since its release. In a post-pandemic cinematic landscape, having a film garner over a billion dollars has become rarer than it was a decade ago. Even if a movie does acquire that much money, it may not receive critical praise. Top Gun: Maverick not only acquired a large profit, but also achieved critical acclaim. With all that said, this movie truly pulled off the impossible. Before I end this review, I’d like to point out how this review represents a miracle. That miracle is the success of 18 Cinema Lane, which would not be possible without my blog’s followers. Therefore, I would like to thank each and every one of them!
Overall score: 8.3 out of 10
Have you seen Top Gun and/or Top Gun: Maverick? Which movie do you think deserves a sequel? Please tell me in the comment section below!
Since 2019, I created the Gold Sally Awards. What was once a way to recognize the best Hallmark had to offer, it evolved into a series of polls highlighting the films covered or discussed on 18 Cinema Lane. In the beginning, voter turn-out was strong. The polls served their purpose of allowing readers to interact with my blog’s content. But as time went on, voter turn-out dwindled. There were times when I’ve had to select the winners because a particular poll didn’t receive any votes. With all that said, I will continue the Gold Sally Awards. But starting next year, there will no longer be voting polls. Instead, I am going to create separate, individual awards that are more unique/creative/fun. Now that this update is out of the way, it’s time to announce the winners of this year’s Gold Sally Awards!
Best Movie: The King and I
Best Story: The Three Musketeers
Best Ensemble: The Karate Kid
Best On-Screen Couple: Marshall Williams and Natalie Hall — Sincerely, Yours, Truly
Best Actress: Janel Parrish – Holly & Ivy
Best Actor: Marshall Williams – Sincerely, Yours, Truly
Best Supporting Actress: Jean Porter – Bathing Beauty
Originally, I was going to review The Princess and the Pirate for The Metzinger Sisters’ MGM Blogathon. This is because my DVD copy of the film features the MGM logo on the cover and the film was released in 1944. However, The Metzinger Sisters informed me that the movie was not an MGM picture. Even Wikipedia claimed it was an RKO Radio Pictures production. Confused by this, I chose to review The Princess and the Pirate as my next Blog Follower Dedication Review instead. Bob Hope is a comedian I have heard of over the years. But, up until this point, I had never seen any of his films. Meanwhile, pirate themed movies are no stranger to 18 Cinema Lane. As of late June 2022, I have reviewed Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama and China Seas. While I found China Seas to be just ok, I wasdisappointed by Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama. What do I think of The Princess and the Pirate? Get ready to set sail as we start this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: As I said in the introduction, Bob Hope is a comedian I have heard of before. But because I had never seen his movies, I didn’t know what to expect. While watching The Princess and the Pirate, I found Bob’s portrayal of Sylvester pleasant to watch! His expressions, emotions, and body language were fluid, allowing Bob to adapt to any on-screen situation. Bob’s impersonations were also a memorable component to his performance. Among the silliness and humor, Bob also showed a romantic side. In a scene where Sylvester and Margaret are sailing in a boat, he learns more about Margaret’s identity. During their conversation, Sylvester’s demeanor is softer, lowering his guard. This sweetness in Bob’s character was nice to see, as it showed how multi-layered Sylvester was!
Virginia Mayo portrayed Princess Margaret. As I watched this movie, her performance reminded me of Elizabeth Swann from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. This is because she wasn’t afraid to stand her ground and help save the day. Margaret encouraging Sylvester to be brave during an on-deck battle is one example. What made Margaret different from Elizabeth is how, like Bob, Virginia showed a romantic side. Her performance of ‘Kiss Me in the Moonlight’ showcases this well. Even though the singing was performed by Louanne Hogan, Margaret’s facial expressions and body movements embodied the feminine songstress that appeared in musicals of the time of the movie’s release. Virginia’s portrayal prevented her character from becoming one dimensional!
One aspect of The Princess and the Pirate I liked was how the film made fun of status quos in the world of pirate films. The character of Featherhead is one example of this. Portrayed by Walter Brennan, this pirate is seen by his peers as being “dumb”. However, Featherhead’s interactions with Sylvester goes against that aforementioned claim. Walter’s performance was consistent and went toe-to-toe with Bob’s talents. While Featherhead is a more comedic character, he was more than being the film’s “comic relief”. Walter’s talents allowed his character to be memorable. Featherhead also helped progress the plot forward.
The humor: At the beginning of the movie, on-screen text explains who a pirate named The Hook is and what his mission will be. During this collection of text, Bob Hope breaks the fourth wall by explaining how he’s not portraying the character of The Hook. I found this part of the movie hilarious because of its unexpected nature! At one point in the story, Sylvester swims in a bathing pool with a character named La Roche. During this scene, Sylvester is hiding a secret he doesn’t want La Roche to discover. So, while in the pool, Sylvester quickly pops in and out of the water so La Roche doesn’t see him. Because of the scene’s consistency and because of the scene’s length, it was, in my opinion, funny!
The costume design: In the pirate films I’ve seen, costume design seems to have been a top priority. The combination of historical accuracy and design detail have created costumes that were exquisite and aesthetically pleasing. Throughout The Princess and the Pirate, I loved Virginia’s wardrobe! Each dress boasted a pastel palette, from a coral and teal gown Margaret wore on the Mary Ann to a pink and purple dress she was seen wearing toward the end of the film. This pastel palette also complimented Virginia’s hair color and skin tone. While at La Roche’s house, Sylvester wore a fancy suit. The suit jacket’s primary colors were white and fuchsia, a costume piece boasting a bright, fun palette. Embroidered flowers covered the jacket, which added beauty to the piece. Like the other pirate films I’ve watched, it looks like the costume design in The Princess and the Pirate was a top priority as well!
What I didn’t like about the film:
The island of Casarouge: In The Princess and the Pirate, Sylvester and Margaret go to the island of Casarouge, which is inhabited by pirates. Personally, this location didn’t sit well with me. Throughout Margaret and Sylvester’s time on Casarouge, the pirates’ actions and behavior are unsavory. Acts like murder, thief, and even drunkenness are on full display. I know not every fictional pirate is as friendly as Captain Jack Sparrow. I’m also aware The Princess and the Pirate was released during the Breen Code era, a time where the inhabitants’ choices would not be celebrated or glorified on film. In fact, while on Casarouge, Sylvester questions everything taking place around him. But The Princess and the Pirate has a, mostly, light-hearted tone, with some situations being played up for laughs. Because of these factors, the actions and behaviors of Casarouge should have been toned down.
The Hook’s buried treasure: When The Hook is first introduced in The Princess and the Pirate, he and his crew were seen burying a chest full of treasure. Throughout the film, a subplot involved searching for a treasure map. Without spoiling the movie, I will say the aforementioned treasure was never physically brought up again in the story. More emphasis was placed on finding the map than reclaiming the treasure chest. This made me wonder why the film’s creative team would include this in their story if they had no intention to follow through on it?
A confusing time period: While watching The Princess and the Pirate, the costume and set designs felt reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. This led me to believe the story was taking place in the 1700s. Yet Bob Hope’s dialog mentioned things that came to be after the presented time period. When crossing paths with The Hook, Sylvester claims the pirate’s hook would make a great beer can opener. However, I know beer cans did not exist until the 18th century had concluded. I’m not sure if these references were the result of Bob Hope’s comedy or the screenwriters wanting the dialog to be more reflective of the time of the movie’s release. No matter the reason, I found it confusing.
My overall impression:
The Princess and the Pirate is a movie I’ve been meaning to review. Ever since I acquired my DVD copy of the film, I have been trying to find the perfect opportunity to write about it. Thanks to you, my followers, that time has come! Thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say and for paying 18 Cinema Lane a visit! Your interest in my blog means a lot to me. Now, on to my overall impression of The Princess and the Pirate. There are pirate stories that are stronger than this one. But, for it was, I enjoyed the 1944 movie! While I won’t give anything away, I want to mention there is a “bait and switch” ending. But because The Princess and the Pirate made fun of status quos in pirate films, this type of ending worked. What also worked was the acting and the humor. Since this was my first time watching any of Bob Hope’s films, I found this to be a good introduction to his filmography. In the future, I’d like to check out more of his movies.
Overall score: 7.6 out of 10
Have you seen any of Bob Hope’s movies? If so, which ones would you recommend? Let me know in the comment section below!
Last year, when I reviewed Let Him Go, it became my 275th movie review! But that wasn’t the only movie review that achieved a milestone. My recent review, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, was my 650th post! With these achievements, I decided to write a top ten list, as I haven’t published one yet. Whenever I wanted to review a particular title, I have, for the most part, been able to seek that title out. While most of them have been accessible, some of those films were harder to find. The idea of film accessibility caused me to reflect on which movies I would love to review someday. Therefore, my list of the Top 10 Movies I’d Love to Review was born! The films featured in this list are underrated/lesser known. They were also released over ten years ago. This was a conscious choice, as it keeps each entry on an equal playing field. The entries are listed based on how accessible they are. In this case, “accessibility” means whether I can legally and realistically rent, purchase, or view a film.
10. A Little Romance
I first saw the trailer for A Little Romance years ago on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The movie looked so sweet and charming based on what my television screen presented. Looking back on the trailer, the story seems like a light-hearted version of Rich Kids; where two young characters go off on an adventure. This is ironic, as both Rich Kids and A Little Romance were released in 1979. I have not only found several DVD copies of A Little Romance, but I am able to rent the film. So, a review of this movie will have to be in order in the foreseeable future!
9. The Lost Empire/The Monkey King
Some of Bai Ling’s projects have been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. In fact, one of my most recent movie reviews was of her 2002 HBO film, Point of Origin. So, when I discovered Bai starred in a Hallmark movie, I knew I had to, eventually, check it out. Based on what I know about the 2001 project, the story is based on Chinese folklore. This is a very different and unique film concept from the types of movies Hallmark creates today. Similar to A Little Romance, I have found several DVD copies of The Lost Empire/The Monkey King. The full movie is available on Youtube as well.
8. Alex: The Life of a Child
Long before 18 Cinema Lane came along, I had learned of Alexandra Deford’s story. After reading Alex: The Life of a Child, I wanted to see its respective adaptation. For the longest time, a twelve-dollar donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was the only way to receive a VHS copy of the movie. But if you visit the non-profit’s website, there is no mention of the film or how to acquire a copy of it. Fortunately, the full movie has been posted on Youtube. So, expect a review of Alex: The Life of a Child in the near future!
7. A Circle of Children and Lovey: A Circle of Children Part II
One of Judy Garland’s movies I like is A Child Is Waiting. For those who aren’t familiar with the 1963 title, Judy portrays a music teacher who works at a school for students with special needs. A decade after the release of A Child Is Waiting, two made-for-tv films, A Circle of Children and Lovey: A Circle of Children Part II, aired. Unlike Judy’s movie, the aforementioned productions are based on the true story of a teacher named Mary MacCracken. Her books were not only the source material for these movies, Mary was also one of the screenwriters for both films. While I haven’t found a physical copy of either movie, A Circle of Children and Lovey: A Circle of Children Part II have been uploaded on Youtube. With everything said, these titles could serve a future double feature!
6. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Redwood Curtain and The Flamingo Rising
I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane how some Hallmark Hall of Fame titles were only sold on VHS. This exclusivity has encouraged me to seek them out. Even though I’d like to see as many of those films as realistically possible, Redwood Curtain and The Flamingo Rising are at the top of my wish list! Each synopsis sounds interesting and Asian/Asian American stories are far and few between in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection. As of late June 2022, both Redwood Curtain and The Flamingo Rising are available on Hallmark’s streaming service, Hallmark Movies Now. I have also found some copies on VHS.
5. An Old Fashioned Christmas
I have gone on record to state An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving as one of my favorite Hallmark films. Two years after that movie’s release, Hallmark aired a sequel titled An Old Fashioned Christmas. This is one of Hallmark’s unique Christmas offerings, as it is a period drama. The story also takes place in and was filmed in Ireland. I have come across a few DVD copies of An Old Fashioned Christmas. However, these copies were included in Christmas movie box sets, which have been, more often than not, expensive. The 2010 film has an official page on Hallmark Drama’s website. But the movie isn’t scheduled for any upcoming presentations. Hopefully, when Christmas time rolls around, An Old Fashioned Christmas will appear among the network’s selection of seasonal titles.
4. She Couldn’t Say No
This 1953 comedy starring Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum was originally recommended to me by one of my readers. Since then, I have been trying to find a way to, legally and realistically, watch the movie. No VHS tapes or DVDs of this title have been attainable, as of late June 2022. She Couldn’t Say No has also not been posted on Youtube. Similar to An Old Fashioned Christmas, the 1953 movie does have an official page on Turner Classic Movies’ website. But it doesn’t look like the movie will air on the channel anytime soon. The only option I have left is to wait for the Youtube channel, Cult Cinema Classics, to upload the movie.
3. Oliver 2: Let’s Twist Again
While looking for a title to review for the upcoming Other Than A Bond Girl Blogathon, I came across this project on Diana Rigg’s IMDB filmography. As soon as I read the title, it gave off Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo vibes. Because of that, I thought I had finally found my “so bad, it’s good” movie. But I discovered Oliver 2: Let’s Twist Again is a “Dickens spoof broadcast as part of the BBC’s 1995 “Comic Relief” telethon”. As someone who enjoyed the 1968 musical, Oliver!, I am curious to see what an Oliver Twist sequel would look like. But as of the publication of this list, there have been no uploads on Youtube of Oliver 2: Let’s Twist Again. For now, it would be considered “lost media”.
2. The Tim Pope Cut of The Crow: City of Angels
I won’t talk about this entry too much, as I’ve already talked about it in depth in my editorial, Why Now is the Perfect Time to Release the Tim Pope Cut of ‘The Crow: City of Angels’. Personally, I’d consider the Tim Pope Cut a “partial lost film”. The film itself isn’t lost, but this version of it is. Since publishing my aforementioned editorial, it has garnered over a thousand views and counting! This tells me there’s a desire to find and restore the Tim Pope Cut. But, as of late June 2022, this version of the movie hasn’t been restored. For now, all there is to do is wait and “trust the timing”.
1. Four Devils
For those not familiar with this title, Four Devils is a 1928 project that is considered one of the most infamous lost films. The movie revolves around four siblings who form a circus act called the “four devils”. I don’t always receive an opportunity to review films from the 1920s. Therefore, writing about Four Devils would provide unique and intriguing content for my readers. Like I said about the Tim Pope Cut of The Crow: City of Angels, there has been no recent development in the retrieval of Four Devils. In the meantime, I guess I’ll find the book this movie is based on and read that.
To all 395 followers, thank you for helping make 18 Cinema Lane the success it is today! With a new blog follower milestone comes a new blog follower dedication review! I recently read Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O’Dell. After reading that book, I realized how rarely I review films revolving around Native American stories. The last one I reviewed was Luna: Spirit of the Whale, with that review published two years ago. To make up for that, I decided to select Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Lost Child to write about and discuss! It also has been several months since I reviewed a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, with my review of Saint Maybe published last September. Within Hallmark’s library of films, those containing Native American stories are far and few between. These handful of movies have ranged in quality, with Dear Prudence being the best one, in my opinion. So, where does The Lost Child rank? The only way to find out is to keep reading!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Mercedes Ruehl and Jamey Sheridan are no strangers to the world of Hallmark entertainment, as both actors have appeared in at least one Hallmark film besides The Lost Child. Back in 2013, Mercedes starred in Banner 4th of July, a film I haven’t seen. A movie I have seen is 2008’s Dear Prudence, which starred Jamey Sheridan. I don’t believe Mercedes and Jamey appeared in a movie together prior to The Lost Child. Despite this, they had really nice on-screen chemistry! Their characters, Rebecca and Jack, seemed like kindred spirits. The acting abilities of Jamey and Mercedes are part of the reason why this is the case! When Rebecca first meets Jack at a bar, the audience can tell how in sync these two characters are. Jack and Rebecca appear to enjoy each other’s company, with the body language and facial expressions of each actor showing how their characters feel. Mercedes and Jamey not only had good chemistry with each other, they had good chemistry with the other cast members as well! Even though they weren’t on screen together, the scene where Grace, portrayed by Irene Bedard, calls Rebecca is one of the strongest scenes in The Lost Child. Throughout their phone conversation, genuine emotions were shared between both women. The strength of Mercedes’ and Irene’s acting abilities elevated the scene itself, as their conversation revolves around a very emotional subject. A combination of facial expressions, tone of voice, and use of emotionality worked in the favor of each actress, as the scene felt believable!
The scenery: The Lost Child was filmed in Superior, Arizona, according to IMDB. This is because the majority of the story takes place on a Navajo reservation. At several moments in the movie, the film’s creative team took advantage of The Grand Canyon State’s beauty by incorporating the natural landscape within establishing shots or weaving them into the story. A woman named Aunt Mary gives Rebecca a tour of the reservation. During this tour, Aunt Mary takes Rebecca to the spot where Rebecca’s biological parents got married. It’s easy to see why they chose to get married in that spot, as a piece of canyon rock dominates the space. Set against a clear, blue sky, this rock contrasts beautifully with the sky’s hue, as well as the green of nearby cactus. Before Rebecca meets Aunt Mary, she watches the sun rise. The sky gives off hues of orange and yellow, which help the audience focus on this part of natural majesty. Scenes like the two I mentioned are examples of the creative team taking initiative to show how beautiful Arizona can be!
An introduction to Native American culture: As I previously stated, the majority of The Lost Child takes place on a Navajo reservation. Because of this, Rebecca and her family spend time interacting with other members of the Navajo community. Through these interactions, Rebecca’s family, as well as the audience, learn about some aspects of the Navajo culture. When she’s trying to learn how to weave, Aunt Mary tells Rebecca to make a break in her blanket design, in order to prevent losing her spirit in her work. This simple piece of advice teaches Rebecca and the viewers how blankets created by Navajo members carry a special meaning with each design. One evening, Rebecca’s biological family gather around a fire and dance around that fire together. When Rebecca arrives, she asks what her family is celebrating. Her cousin shares how there doesn’t need to be a celebration to have a good time. The Lost Child is not the “end all, be all” when it comes to Navajo culture. However, if one is interested in learning more, this movie provides a good starting point!
What I didn’t like about the film:
A not so compelling conflict: In The Lost Child, Rebecca not only learns she is a Navajo woman, her biological family having been looking for her as well. However, this conflict is resolved within the first thirty minutes of the movie. To make up for the short resolution, the rest of the story focuses on Rebecca and her family acclimating to reservation life. Without spoiling the movie, I can see why Rebecca would make the choices she did. But I didn’t find this overarching conflict to be as compelling as Rebecca’s search for her family. Part of this has to do with how I’m not a fan of “slice of life” stories. The Lost Child is based on a book I haven’t read. Therefore, I’m not sure which parts are straight from the source material and which are creative liberties.
A missing twin brother: When Rebecca is around the age of thirteen, she accidently finds out she has a twin brother. Years later, she posts notices on the internet, in an attempt to find him. These posts are what lead Rebecca to Grace, one of her sisters. But when Rebecca meets her biological family, she abandons the search for her brother. Throughout the story, this twin is brought up in passing. His whereabouts or his name are never mentioned. Like I previously stated, this movie is based on a pre-existing book. Despite that fact, I was frustrated by this huge loose end.
Too many story ideas: I know there is only so much story you can tell in two hours, the run-time for The Lost Child. Therefore, you need enough story material to not only satisfy that run-time, but also hold the audience’s attention. In the case of this movie, there are too many ideas found within the story. Some of these ideas could have warranted its own film. One of them revolves around Rebecca’s daughter, Caroline, being bullied at her new school. Because of how many story ideas were in this film, some of those ideas get lost in the shuffle. A good example is Rebecca’s youngest daughter being diagnosed with a food sensitivity. Looking back on The Lost Child, it felt like the creative team tried to tackle so much in a short amount of time.
My overall impression:
The Lost Child is the forty-seventh Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I’ve seen in my life. At this point, I know what I like and expect to see in a film of this nature. Personally, I thought the 2000 production was just fine. But it didn’t leave a strong impression on me like other Hall of Fame titles have. I wish the story had focused more on Rebecca’s search for her family, as I found that more interesting than her reservation life. However, I recognize that the film is based on pre-existing material. As I said in the introduction, Hallmark movies revolving around Native American stories are far and few between. This can also be said for the coverage of these films on 18 Cinema Lane. When I do chance upon a movie containing Native American stories, I approach them in the hope they are good. For The Lost Child, it was about as enjoyable as Luna: Spirit of the Whale was, a movie I reviewed back in 2020. A good thing I can say about the Hallmark Hall of Fame project is how it does introduce the audience to the Navajo culture. Having beautiful scenery and containing strong acting performances also help its case. I happen to have other Hall of Fame titles on my DVR. The question is, which one will I review next?
Overall score: 7 out of 10
Do you watch Hallmark Hall of Fame movies? Are there any you’d like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section!
Earlier this month, 18 Cinema Lane received 340 and 345 followers! Before I continue, I’d just like to say thank you to each and every person who has chosen to follow my blog. I appreciate you taking the time to read my articles and listen to what I have to say. Speaking of articles, let’s back to the review! For April’s Genre Grandeur, the theme is “travel films”. Because this topic is so broad, it took me a while to figure out which film I would write about. Then I remembered I had the 1966 movie, Born Free, on my DVR. While Joy and George Adamson, the story’s protagonists, do travel within the movie, it is not the central component of the story. I also have participated in Thoughts From The Music(al) Man’s Star/Genre Of The Month Blogathon, with my review of China Seas being my first contribution. April doesn’t have a theme, so I thought Born Free would be the perfect choice for the blogathon! Prior to writing this review, I had heard of, but not seen, the 1966 picture. This is because I was familiar with the movie’s theme when it was featured on the soundtrack for the film, Madagascar. Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for; the start of this review!
Things I liked about the film:
How the animals were showcased: While I liked the acting in Born Free, it’s the animals that steal the show! Animals were showcased in a natural way, allowing them to be shown in situations that are more realistic. None of the animals were given voice-overs, giving the audience a chance to witness their authentic expressions. A great example is when Elsa, the lion Joy and George take care of, interacts with a male lion. Throughout the scene, Elsa and the male lion take turns roaring. They also can be seen fighting over food. The way these lions were presented made it look like they were having a conversation. The human characters’ conversations about these animals also gave them a humanistic quality. After Joy and George leave Elsa alone with the aforementioned lion, Joy compares the experience to waiting for a daughter to come home from a date. The cinematography and script gave the animals just as much importance as the human characters!
The scenery: The majority of Born Free takes place outdoors, as the African landscapes serve as the principal scenery for the story. Toward the beginning of the movie, Joy is painting in her front yard. A clear blue sky enveloped a large space of plains. This specific location appeared peaceful as long shots were used to capture it on film. Another impressive location was the beach that Elsa, Joy, and George visit. Once again, a blue sky is visible, soaring over the blue of the ocean and bright beige of the sand. The beach was very photogenic, with long and medium shots helping to showcase that location!
The music: I liked the use of music in Born Free! The pieces of instrumental tunes provided the tone for each scene it was included in. When a suspenseful and tense moment took place, the sound of beating drums could be heard. This sound elaborated on the seriousness of what was happening in that particular scene. One example is when, toward the end of the film, Elsa is fighting with another female lion. For more light-hearted, joyful moments, the movie’s theme played in the background. Some scenes that featured this piece of music revolved around Elsa and her sisters as lion cubs.
What I didn’t like about the film:
An inconsistent narrative: When a close friend named John suggests Elsa should be placed in a zoo, Joy is completely against the idea. This decision has even resulted in a heated argument between Joy and George. Joy’s decision for wanting Elsa to remain wild is understandable. However, earlier in the film, she doesn’t object to sending Elsa’s two sisters to a zoo. Joy also takes in a baby elephant that Elsa happened to be chasing one day. This specific narrative was inconsistent, which prevented me from getting fully invested in Joy’s side of the story.
The run-time: According to IMDB, Born Free is an hour and thirty-five minutes. But because the story is a simpler one, I don’t think this movie needed that run-time. While watching the film, I noticed how some scenes contained montages. For example, when Joy, George, and Elsa go to the beach, a montage lasting several minutes featured these characters playing on the beach and in the ocean. I feel these montages were placed in the film to satisfy its run-time. Had these montages been shortened, the movie could have had a run-time of an hour or less.
Unnecessary voice-overs: Throughout the film, Joy provides voice-overs to explain what is happening in the story. These voice-overs were beneficial in understanding Elsa’s journey. But there were some scenes where Joy’s voice-overs were not necessary. At the beginning of a scene where Joy, George, and Elsa are at a camp, Joy explains how, one night, she heard the roar of a lion who was eating the livestock of a nearby African village. If the voice-over had not been included in this scene, the on-screen event could have spoken for itself. Having the voice-over only reminded the audience of what they already knew.
My overall impression:
When you think of “travel films”, a movie where the protagonist takes an extravagant and adventurous trip will likely come to mind. However, traveling can mean different things for various people. In the case of Born Free, Joy and George Adamson travel from England to Africa. Throughout the film, they also travel to town and several African villages. As I mentioned in the introduction, Born Free does not focus on the travels of Joy and George. Instead, it prioritizes the relationship these characters share with Elsa. While I liked the natural portrayals of the animals, these depictions are more suited for an older audience. This is also a simpler story, calling for a shorter run-time than the one it received. Not only were some of Joy’s voice-overs unnecessary, but her stance on keeping Elsa out of a zoo was inconsistent. Despite these flaws, I thought Born Free was a fine film! If you are interested in the subject of animals, I feel this is the movie for you!
Overall score: 7.1-7.2 out of 10
Have you seen any “travel films” lately? Do you have any films to recommend for the next blog follower dedication review? Let me know in the comment section!
For this blog follower dedication review, I was originally going to write about the PixL movie, The Cookie Mobster. However, that film became the worst one I’ve seen this year, so far. Because I feel my readers and followers deserve a better movie and because I just reviewed a bad movie two weeks ago (Chasing Leprechauns), I chose a different film for this post. Recently, I watched the 1987 TV movie, Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love, as it happened to be on my DVR. Mystery related media are some of my most popular content, so this review will be a treat for my readers! Even though some films are stronger than others, I have enjoyed the Perry Mason movie series. Three of these films have been covered on my blog, with all of them receiving good scores. Will Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love receive a similar score? Keep reading my review if you want to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Jean Simmons is an actress who I have talked about before, when I reviewed Howl’s Moving Castle two years ago. While that movie was the first of Jean’s I saw, she had a voice-acting role in that film. Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love contains the first live-action role of Jean’s I have seen! What I liked about her portrayal of Laura Robertson is how Jean carried a certain amount of grace throughout the movie. She also gave a different persona to a character of this nature. In films where a woman is involved with politics, the female politicians are usually portrayed with a “no nonsense” personality. Laura Robertson is different because she had a gentler personality, despite running for the United States Senate. Even though he appeared in the movie for a short amount of time, I liked Jonathan Banks’ portrayal of Luke Dickson! He was so expressive; he was like a chameleon. The meeting at the restaurant between Laura’s husband, Glenn, and Luke showcases a perfect example. Jonathan’s face displayed a variety of expressions. Toward the beginning of the meeting, Luke appears serious, as his face is set and he is glaring at Glenn. As he brings up some compromising information, Luke’s face brightens up and he becomes a bit animated.
The Robertson’s house: Despite appearing in the film for less than five scenes, I liked seeing the Robertson’s house in Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love! The house’s exterior was presented in the dark. But from what the audience can see, the house was covered in a gray stone brick. On the left side of the house, a stone cylinder was connected, making the house look like a castle. The most prominently featured part of the house’s interior is the staircase. Notable details are wrought-iron stair rails and a stained-glass window. These design details give subtle clues of how well off the Robertsons are.
The open discussion of mental health treatment: Because of Laura’s history with mental health, the subject of mental health treatment was briefly discussed in this film. While she is afraid this part of her life will prevent her from becoming a Senator, she still willingly brings it up. There is no shame detected in the voices and faces of the characters who address Laura’s mental health treatment. A debate about which kind of treatment is appropriate is even included in the script. This openness toward mental health treatment seems ahead of its time, as society is more aware of mental health now than four decades ago. It also highlights the importance of this particular subject.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Ignored story points: A few story points within Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love’s script were ignored throughout the movie. One example is mentioned toward the beginning of the film. When Luke first called Glenn, he mentions a long-lost son who lives in Arizona. But when Glenn meets up with Luke at a local restaurant, this son was never brought up. In fact, this son is never referenced again. I was disappointed because I was not only curious to see who would portray this mysterious character, but also discover what role this long-lost son would play in the overall mystery. It makes me wonder why this “scandal” was included in the first place?
A late start time for the mystery: As I have said before, I am not a fan of mystery films that start their mysteries at later times. Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love is a movie that does this. The murder victim wasn’t discovered until about twenty minutes into the film. While this timespan featured build-up to this discovery, I think the mystery could have started sooner. In my opinion, introduction of characters and their connections should have been taken care of in the movie’s first ten minutes. The discovery of the murder victim could have taken place at the movie’s fifteen-minute mark.
The closeness of Perry and Laura’s relationship: Within this story, Perry reveals how he and Laura used to be a romantic couple. When Laura’s husband, Glenn, asks Perry if he still has feelings for Laura, Perry says no. However, his and Laura’s actions say otherwise. When Laura and Perry have drinks at a local hotel, they hold hands at one point, with Laura kissing Perry on the cheek. Later that night, Perry brings Laura to her house. Before Perry leaves, he and Laura share a kiss. I found these romantic displays of affection unnecessary. With Laura married and Perry going his own separate way, it felt like the actions among the characters were chosen just to get a reaction from the audience.
My overall impression:
Like I mentioned in the introduction, I have enjoyed the Perry Mason movie series. The films within this series I have reviewed received good scores, as I liked what I saw. However, Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love was weaker than those three movies. It definitely wasn’t bad, but I feel it could have been stronger. A long-lost son being briefly brought up, but never mentioned again took away some intrigue from this story. Similar to what I said in my review of Edward, My Son, the opportunity for an actor to achieve his “standing ovation” through this role was not available because this part of the story was abandoned. The film contained other flaws, like a later start time for the mystery and the unnecessary closeness of Perry and Laura’s relationship. But there are things about the movie I can appreciate. The openness of mental health treatment was a topic I never expected to hear addressed in a Perry Mason film. While there were advancements and progress made within the field of mental health in the ‘80s, society’s perceptions of this topic were not the same in 1987 as they are now. This reminded me of The Boy Who Could Fly, where the use of therapy was normalized. It was a pleasant surprise to see a Perry Mason film address this subject! Before I finish this review, I’d like to thank all of 18 Cinema Lane’s followers! My blog would have never reached this amount of success without you!
Overall score: 7.1 out of 10
Have you seen any of the Perry Mason films? Do you enjoy my mystery related content? Please tell me in the comment section!