Take 3: The Death of Poor Joe (1901) Review (A Month Without the Code #5)

As Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s A Month Without the Code comes to a close, I wanted to review a movie that served as the grand finale. Since I found every movie I reviewed so far to be just ok, I knew whichever film I chose had to be memorable in some way. The more I think about my choice, the more confident I feel it will leave an impression. The Death of Poor Joe is not only the oldest film I have written about, it is the shortest film featured on 18 Cinema Lane! This movie is a minute long, revolving around the death of Joe from Bleak House. I read this book several years ago, with Joe being my favorite character. I’m not going to lie; I was not a fan of Charles Dickens’ decision to have Joe die in the story. But after reading Oliver Twist, I gained an understanding for why that decision was made. The Death of Poor Joe also serves as an important piece of film history. It is the oldest existing adaptation of any work from Charles Dickens. It is a former lost film as well, with a curator from the British Film Institute, Bryony Dixon, finding the film in 2012.

This is a screenshot from my phone of the film’s image. It is the closest thing to a film poster I was able to find on the internet. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in my Wild Oranges review, the actors in a silent film have to rely on body language, facial expressions, and actions/behaviors to portray what their characters are saying and feeling. Laura Bayley, the actress who is cast as the titular character, does a great job using these acting techniques to show what her character is experiencing. Right before Joe dies, the audience sees him looking toward the sky and holding his hands in a praying position. This tells them that Joe is begging God for mercy. The only other actor in this film is Tom Green, who portrays a police officer. Similar to Laura’s performance, Tom also utilized body language, facial expressions, and actions/behaviors in his favor. When the police officer first encounters Joe, he is seen pointing at the protagonist and waving his hand. These gestures indicate the police officer telling the young boy to move off the sidewalk.

The costume design: Another important piece of a silent film is costume design, as this specific component can help express character development. Though the movie’s costume designer is unknown, I was impressed with the costume design I saw! Both outfits, Joe’s and the police officer’s, appeared historically accurate and fit each characterization. They were also distinct, allowing the characters to contrast one another. The police officer can be seen wearing a dark suit and a top hat. This ensemble signifies the police officer’s importance and social standing within that time period. Meanwhile, Joe is shown wearing a shirt and pants that are torn and ragged. Joe’s outfit reminds the audience of how he lacks a parental figure who will look out for his best interests.

The use of snow: I don’t remember if it was snowing when Joe died, as it has been several years since I last read Bleak House. In this short film, however, I like how snow was incorporated into the characters’ surroundings! Snow has a consistent presence in this story, as it covers the ground and top of the wall behind Joe and the police officer. It can also be seen falling from the sky. Because of the black-and-white presentation of the movie, the snow helps create an image that is haunting. The presence of snow instills a feeling sadness as well, warning the audience that an uncontrollable fate is about to take place in the story.

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of title cards: Most silent films feature title cards, which help give context to what is happening on screen. This staple of silent movies was absent from The Death of Poor Joe. Audience members who are not familiar with the source material might wonder why they should care about the characters. There is no preparation leading up to Joe’s death, as the event itself happens in mere seconds. If title cards had been included in this film, it may have resolved some of these issues.

No music: Music can strength a movie’s tone and set the mood for the story. But music was excluded from The Death of Poor Joe, causing the film to be very silent. While the narrative itself is sad, music could have enhanced the movie-viewing experience. Dramatic sounds from a violin or a somber piano tune could accompany the visuals well. Certain beats might match up with specific events, promoting a sense of musicality. I know live music would play during a silent film if it were presented in a movie theater. But I wish music was added to The Death of Poor Joe.

A shorter run-time: In this review’s introduction, I mentioned how The Death of Poor Joe was a minute long. Even though I knew this was a short film, I still feel it should have received a longer run-time. Pieces of Joe’s and the police officer’s backstory could have been included in the movie. The audience might be able to spend more time with Joe as a character, which would have made his death more heartbreaking. Seeing how the police officer deals with Joe’s death is an interesting concept to think about. Because The Death of Poor Joe’s run-time was only a minute long, it limits how much story was allowed to be told.

Sketch of London image created by Archjoe at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-houses-of-parliament_1133950.htm’>Designed by Archjoe</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Archjoe – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

The history of The Death of Poor Joe might be more interesting than the film itself. In its 119-year lifespan, the film gained the mysterious title of “lost film”. This status has been placed on the project for about 66 years. Eight years ago, the movie received a new title: found. As someone who has taken an interest in lost media, I am grateful for Bryony Dixon’s and the British Film Institute’s efforts to preserve The Death of Poor Joe! As for the film itself, I thought it was fine. The story was straight-to-the-point and the production quality was impressive. However, I wish the film was longer. As someone who has chosen Joe as their favorite character from Bleak House, it would have been nice to see his story fleshed out more. Music and title cards also would have added to the movie-viewing experience as well. Joe’s on-screen death is the only thing that would need to change if this was a Breen Code era film. While this event is an important part of the story, it would need to meet Breen Code standards.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen any adaptations of Charles Dickens’ work? Are there any found films you’d like to see? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

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

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

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

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

Overall score: 6 out of 10

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The House of God Review (A Month Without the Code #2)

The theme for August’s Genre Grandeur is “Medical Dramas”. I’m not going to lie, I had to do some research in order to find my entry. This is due to how specific the theme itself is. At first, I was going to review Article 99. But while reading some reviews on IMDB, I saw someone bring up the 1984 film, The House of God. Having never heard of this movie until this week, I read its synopsis on IMDB. After that, I was fortunate to find the movie on Youtube. According to IMDB’s description of The House of God, the film shares similarities with shows like M*A*S*H and St. Elsewhere. In fact, St. Elsewhere is referenced by a character named “The Fatman” in the 1984 title. While I’ve only seen pieces of M*A*S*H, I’ve never seen St. Elsewhere. However, I am familiar with each show’s premise.

The House of God poster created by United Artists. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087429/mediaviewer/rm2187241473.

Things I liked about the film:

The camaraderie between the characters: For a story like The House of God, the camaraderie between the characters is the heart and soul of that project. In the 1984 film, there was camaraderie to be found among the interns! The scene where they go to Dr. Watson’s Pub serves as a perfect example. Within this scene, the audience gets to learn about some of the characters. What the scene also does is showcase each of the characters’ distinct personalities. Because of the actors’ performances and their on-screen chemistry, it gave the impression that these characters got along well with each other. It also provided an interesting component to the movie!

A sense of honesty: In the synopsis for The House of God, it says “this film is closer to the truth than the public wants to know”. While watching the movie, I could tell the creative team wanted to present their story as truthful as possible. The character of “The Fatman” is one example of this honesty. He tells one of the interns that the reason why the doctors approve so many procedures is for the hospital to make money. Later in the film, Roy, one of the interns, questions the practices of Jo, one of the residents. He accuses her of caring more about autopsies than the needs of her patients. I know The House of God is based on a book written a real-life doctor. But I’m glad the film’s creative team chose not to sugar coat or glamorize their version of the medical world.

The informational inclusion of the medical world: Whenever a particular industry is showcased in a piece of media, there is sometimes an opportunity for the audience to learn something new. This is certainly the case for The House of God! One of the topics that “The Fatman” constantly brings up is “gomers”. He tells the interns this is an acronym standing for “get out of my emergency room”. “The Fatman” also explains that “gomers” are older patients who are dealing with a variety of medical situations, but are not high-risk. Dialogue like this is effectively used to educate the audience about the world of medicine. It helps them broaden their horizons and educate themselves in a cinematic way.

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

The House of God’s limited scope: At the beginning of the film, the interns are shown a light-up map of the entire hospital. They are also instructed to follow colorful lines on the floor in order to reach a specific ward. Throughout the movie, however, the only areas of the hospital that are highlighted involve older patients and patients that are dealing with high-risk medical situations. I know there’s only so much story that can be told in an hour and forty-eight minutes. I’m also aware of how people in the medical field have to make rotations among different wards during their training period. But because the hospital’s scope was limited, it felt like a disservice was committed.

Limited amount of character development: While I liked the camaraderie among the characters, I never felt like I truly got to know them. That’s because the character development was limited. During the movie, the audience learns a little bit about some of the interns and the people working alongside them. But, in my opinion, more was desired in this department. In The House of God, there was a doctor named Dr. Alfred Pinkus. The only information about this character that the movie provides is he’s from New Zealand and he’s the resident heart consultant of the hospital. Because he is only in the film for a few scenes, the audience isn’t given the opportunity to learn more about him.

No overarching conflict: When I read the synopsis for The House of God, I thought the story was about a group of interns who oppose a lead doctor at the hospital they work at. This caused me to expect a narrative that features underdogs fighting against the leaders in their medical world. Instead, I got a story that didn’t have an overarching conflict. Sure, there were smaller scenarios within the movie that did get resolved. But this made the overall story feel more mundane than interesting. It also makes the synopsis on IMDB sound misleading.

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

My overall impression:

When I was searching the internet for medical dramas, suggestions for television shows were included as results. One of the most well-known is St. Elsewhere, which was referenced in The House of God. When I look back on this film, I honestly think the story would have benefited as a TV show rather than a movie. There was so much going on The House of God, but not enough time to explore it to the fullest extent. One of these areas is the character development, where some of the characters received a small amount. But the stronger components should not be ignored. The camaraderie among the interns was one of the most interesting parts of this story. It was brought to the audience through the acting performances and on-screen chemistry. This is not one of the worst films I’ve seen this year, but I can think of medical dramas that are better than this one. Despite The House of God being rated R, it could be “breenable”. However, these are the things that would need to be changed:

  • Throughout the film, there was language used that is not Breen Code friendly. This ranges from swearing to sexual references. More appropriate word choices would need to be chosen before production starts.
  • In one scene, Roy, one of the interns, and a nurse passionately kiss. This scene also heavily implies that they are about to have sex. During the screen-writing process, that particular scene would need to be rewritten to fit Breen Code standards.
  • Another scene in this film heavily implied a male and female intern was about to have sex during an autopsy check. These characters took their shirts/smocks off right before passionately kissing. This is another scene that would need to be rewritten to fit Breen Code standards.
  • One scene shows one of the interns using the bathroom. Because this scene doesn’t serve the plot and is not Breen code appropriate, this scene would be removed.
  • One of the interns ends up committing suicide. Instead of showing the act, it could be implied through Breen Code appropriate dialogue.
  • One of the patients at the hospital is shown bleeding. The amount of blood shown on screen would have to be reduced.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen The House of God? Do you like watching medical dramas on television? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Locket Review + 225 & 230 Follower Thank You

At the end of last month, 18 Cinema Lane received 225 followers! Because of my participation in the Esther Williams Blogathon and the 4th Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon, I postponed this blog follower dedication review to this week. In that time, my blog also received 230 followers! Originally, this review was going to serve as an entry for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon. But because of everything I just said, I decided this post was only going to be a blog follower dedication review. I haven’t talked about a Hallmark movie in two months, with Nature of Love being the latest one. So, I chose Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Locket for this review. This is a movie I’ve wanted to watch for a few years. One of the reasons was Marguerite Moreau’s involvement in the film. After watching Queen of the Damned, I discovered she had starred in this Hallmark project from 2002. When Hallmark Drama aired it recently, I knew I had to record it on my DVR!

Because I watched this movie through a television recording, I took a screenshot of the poster with my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because Marguerite Moreau is one of the reasons why I watched this film, I’ll talk about her performance first. Even though I haven’t watched many of her movies, I’ve noticed how her portrayals feel believable with what her character is experiencing. This is certainly the case for her performance in The Locket! Faye, Marguerite’s character, always appeared natural in her responses to various situations. It allowed me to stay invested in her part of the story. Another aspect to Marguerite’s performance is how her transitions between emotions were flawless! One good example takes place after Faye and Michael deliver Christmas gifts. Toward the beginning of this interaction, Faye is happy to spend time with her boyfriend. As she notices his demeanor, Faye’s face changes to showing an expression of concern. Speaking of Michael, I need to talk about Chad Willett’s performance. Throughout The Locket, Chad used a wide range of emotions. In a scene where Michael visits someone from his past, he appears angry and can be seen crying. Another scene, when Michael is telling Faye about his scholarship, shows him displaying happiness on his face. This part of Chad’s performance made the overall portrayal seem dynamic! I can’t review this movie without discussing Vanessa Redgrave’s performance. What I liked about it was how honest it came across. This component added depth to Vanessa’s portrayal. A good example is her character’s, Esther’s, first encounter with Michael. When he’s changing her bedsheets, Esther compliments Michael for not telling her she’s still beautiful. This is because she thinks that statement is silly.

Whitewood Nursing Home: A significant part of this story takes place at a nursing home called Whitewood. Despite this location serving a medical purpose, it didn’t feel like a medical facility. In fact, it looked and felt like a bed and breakfast! The interior design consistently ran throughout the home. Furniture helped make the rooms seem cozy, with armchairs in the bedrooms and main living room adding to this aesthetic. Detailed and flowery wallpaper displayed soft, pastel colors. This caused the overall location to have a calming effect. Fireplaces made of brick and wood completed the interior design of the rooms, making the home feel inviting. The exterior design of Whitewood is a large white wood structure, hence the name of the facility. These factors gave the impression of the home carrying a sense of importance. Because it is important to take care of the older members of a community, this appearance of the nursing home is fitting.

The on-screen chemistry: As I mentioned earlier in this review, Michael and Faye are in a dating relationship. Anytime they interacted with each other, I could tell Chad and Marguerite had strong on-screen chemistry! This caused their characters to feel like they truly cared about one another. Faye’s first visit to Whitewood is a good example of this. When Faye meets up with Michael, I could see her investment in what is happening in Michael’s life. This investment can also be seen when Michael learns about Faye’s acceptance into medical school. Non-romantic relationships also had good on-screen chemistry! Michael’s friendship with Esther came across like they got along well. It also effectively showed how they tried to understand each other. The scene where Esther explains the locket’s importance to Michael serves as one example.

I couldn’t review this film without featuring a picture of a locket. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The under-utilization of Marguerite Moreau: Marguerite is not only the third billed actor in this movie, she is also the main supporting actress. Despite this, she was kind of under-utilized in The Locket. While she was given enough material to make her performance memorable, her on-screen presence was not as consistent as I expected. Most of her appearances can be found in the film’s first half, with her character barely appearing in the second half of the movie. This makes me wonder if Marguerite was working on Queen of the Damned around the same time she was working on The Locket?

The locket is an afterthought: Before watching this film, I had expected the locket itself to affect the lives of the people surrounding it. Because the movie is called The Locket, I thought this artifact would have a large influence over the story. Sadly, this piece of jewelry ends up being an afterthought. Most of the film revolves around Michael and his hardships. When an explanation of the locket’s importance is finally given, happening about forty-five minutes into the movie, it takes place during one dialogue and video heavy scene. What would have made this artifact emotionally affective is if flashbacks from Esther’s life or from around the time Esther received the locket would have been sprinkled throughout the story.

Scenes that feel rushed: There were some scenes in The Locket that, to me, felt rushed. In one scene, Michael is at the VA Hospital, picking up a prescription for a patient at Whitewood. The very next scene shows Michael sharing some good news to Esther. Scenes like the one at the VA Hospital made it seem like the film’s creative team wanted to get certain parts of the story done and over with just to get to the next point. What also doesn’t help is how these scenes didn’t have effective transitions. It caused scenes like the one with Michael and Esther to feel too sudden.

Hand-written letter image created by Veraholera at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Veraholera – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/love-letter-pattern_1292902.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I talk about my overall impression, I’d like to thank all of my followers who helped my blog reach this milestone! Your investment in 18 Cinema Lane plays a role in its overall success! Now, time to discuss my final thoughts on The Locket! As glad as I am to have finally seen this movie, I recognize there are Hallmark Hall of Fame titles with similar ideas that are stronger than this one. Two examples are the 1998 film, Grace & Glorie,and 2011’s The Lost Valentine. One thing that The Locket was missing was an emphasis on the locket itself. Instead of having a story where this piece of jewelry impacts the lives surrounding it, the audience received a narrative where the locket is treated as an afterthought. I know there were three Hallmark Hall of Fame movies released in 2002. But, for whatever reason, there were times when The Locket felt rushed. Despite these flaws, the movie did have its strengths. The acting was definitely a high-light of this project, especially Marguerite Moreau’s performance! For me, she stole the show and even outshined the other actors involved! I just wish her on-screen presence would have been more consistent.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Is there a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that you enjoying? Would you like to recommend a Hallmark Hall of Fame film for me to review? Please let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

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

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

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

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

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

Code Classics Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/06/06/announcing-the-code-classics-blogathon/

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) Review (Clean Movie Month #1)

1939; a year that many people have considered the “Golden Year of Film”. As I mentioned in my editorial, What the Code Means to Me: Breen, Hallmark, and Me, it seems like there was something for everyone at the cinema. Several films that are well known today were able to find success in the box office in 1939. One of those films was Goodbye, Mr. Chips. I had planned on reviewing this film exclusively for The Robert Donat Blogathon. But because July is Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month, I decided to review Goodbye, Mr. Chips for that event as well. Like last year, I will be writing about films that were released during the Breen Code Era. Some of my other submissions for upcoming blogathons will also double as entries for Clean Movie Month. Now, it’s time to read this review of the 1939 movie, Goodbye, Mr. Chips!

Goodbye, Mr. Chips poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Denham Studios. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/76737/Goodbye-Mr–Chips/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This was my first time watching any of Robert Donat’s performances, so I didn’t know what to expect. However, I was impressed with what I saw! Robert did a good job using a multitude of emotions at various moments in the film. Even when he wasn’t speaking, his performance still carried emotional weight. A great example is anytime something bad happened to Mr. Chips, as his facial expressions alone show how emotionally exhausted he can become. Despite appearing in the film for a limited amount of time, Greer Garson gave a pleasant performance as Katherine Ellis! Not only did she have a good on-screen personality, but she also had good on-screen chemistry with Robert Donat. One of their best interactions took place on a mountain in Austria. As they exchange witty banter, it is obvious to see that both actors enjoy each other’s company. Because most of the story takes place at the Brookfield school, many young actors are present in various scenes. Even though the movie doesn’t favor one child or a small group of children, the acting from the young actors was very on-point for what those scenes called for. On April Fool’s Day, the students are excited at the idea of pranking their teacher. As soon as one of their fellow classmates shares some unfortunate news about Mr. Chips, their happy expressions quickly turn somber. This collective acting quality shows what these young actors are capable of talent-wise!

The set design: A visually appealing aspect of this film was definitely the set design! The Brookfield school alone boasted several eye-catching design choices. One of those was the ornate detailing found on wood surfaces, such as doors and walls. In the Headmaster’s office, you can even see these details over the marble fireplace. Exposed stone walls are a consistent feature at the school, bearing the old-world charm found in structures with a long life-span. These design elements reminded me of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series. Brookfield is not the only place that highlights fine details. The ballroom in Vienna was a showstopper! Like the Headmaster’s office, there was ornate wood detailing found on the walls. It also showcased sparkling chandeliers and a spacious layout. All of the combined elements gave this room a grand and larger-than-life personality!

The dialogue: Throughout the movie, I was very impressed by the characters’ dialogue! As I mentioned before, the banter between Mr. Chips and Katherine was witty. But it’s also important to point out how the dialogue was written with care and thought. During a private gathering, one of the fellow teachers of Brookfield states that he read a book by H.G. Wells. Another teacher comments about H.G. Wells’ short-term success, saying that his works are too “fantastical” for a lasting career. Earlier in the film, Mr. Chips falls ill. When his housekeeper tells him to address his medical concerns to the doctor, Mr. Chips says he’ll give the doctor “a piece of his mind”. The film is based on a pre-existing novel, so I’m not sure if some of the dialogue can also be found in the book. However, the lines in the movie were memorable and, at times, thought provoking because they were crafted so well!

The Robert Donat Blogathon banner created by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Image found at https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2020/02/29/announcing-the-robert-donat-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Little to no impact on the students: In stories about teachers playing a role in the lives of their students, the audience comes to know the students as characters while witnessing their growth as young scholars and individuals. Since there were so many students at Brookfield, there was no possibility for this to happen. Even when this opportunity arose in the story, it was not taken advantage of. When Mr. Chips reflects on his past, he remembers meeting a new student that was so upset, he ends up crying on the train. Several scenes and years later, this same student visits Mr. Chips to thank him for changing his life. This exchange would have been emotionally affective had we seen this character evolve from a scared child to an independent young man.

Some parts feeling rushed: I know there is only so much a movie can accomplish in an hour and fifty-four minutes. But this should not be an excuse to rush through important parts of a story. When Mr. Chips starts looking back on his past, he recalls his time as a new teacher at Brookfield. After a montage featuring students during various sporting activities, the story progresses by several years, making Mr. Chips a seasoned teacher. Personally, I don’t feel this was a smooth transition between the two points in time, as it made the story feel like it was in a hurry to reach its destination. What would have helped instead was showing a title card with the year before a new part of the story started.

A weaker plot: Before watching Goodbye, Mr. Chips, I knew the story would be about Mr. Chips’ life. While this was the case, it made the story straight-forward. The straight-forwardness of the narrative left little to no room for intrigue. Like I mentioned earlier in this review, the evolution of the students was not shown. This means that the ways Mr. Chips impacted his students or how his lessons affected the people around him wasn’t put on display. There was never an opportunity to wonder how Mr. Chips would accomplish his goals or what would happen to the students. Instead, the story put more emphasis on his private life than his career as a teacher.

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

My overall impression:

This is the first movie of Robert Donat’s I’ve ever seen. As I said in my review, I didn’t know what to expect, so I approached this film with an open mind. Now that I have seen Goodbye, Mr. Chips, I can honestly say that it was a fine film. There are definitely elements that help make the project a likeable picture. These are the strengths of the movie, from acting performances that come across as believable to dialogue that is clever and witty. But it does contain flaws that hold Goodbye, Mr. Chips back from being better than it was. Parts of the story were rushed and the plot was on the weaker side. This film is mostly Breen Code friendly. However, I was surprised by some of the language used in the movie. One example is when some of the students say the word “ass” as a swear word. I’m aware of how Gone with the Wind was able to include the word “damn” in their script. But I guess I was naïve to think that was the only exception in the Breen Code Era.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen either version of Goodbye, Mr. Chips? Are you looking forward to my Clean Movie Month reviews? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: ‘Words on Bathroom Walls’ Finally Getting a Release Date + Possible Hallmark Projects About to Film

In 2020, it seems like the world of film has been plagued with bad news because of the Coronavirus. Multiple movies saw their premiere dates pushed back as far as a year. Productions all across the world were temporarily placed on hold. Several events were cancelled or postponed, as well as businesses closing their doors for the time being. Recently, however, it seems like things are looking up. Film crews are slowly going back to work. Several occupational operations have picked up where they left off. Even some theaters have opened their doors again. In this Word on the Street story, I will be talking about films that are about to go into production, as of June 2020. Also, I have news about a film that I have mentioned on 18 Cinema Lane before. As I usually do, I will share my thoughts on these stories. Now, let’s talk about some good news in the world of cinema!

My copy of Julia Walton’s novel. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Last year, in my post called “A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2019”, I said I wanted to see Words on Bathroom Walls receive a distributor. I’m happy to report my Christmas wish came true! In an article from Deadline, Dino-Ray Ramos writes how Roadside Attractions agreed to be the film’s distributor. The article also states Words on Bathroom Walls “is set to debut nationwide August 7”. This movie “marks the first theatrical release for both companies [Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment] since the coronavirus pandemic”. Even though the film now has a release date, there remains the possibility for it to be pushed back. For months, Tenet was scheduled for a premiere in July. However, Pamela McClintock, from The Hollywood Reporter, shares that August 12th is the new date for the film’s release. I think this news about Words on Bathroom Walls is the best movie news I’ve talked about this year! I read the book and it’s become the best one I read in 2020! We don’t know how things will be in August, in relation to the Coronavirus. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to see Words on Bathroom Walls and review it or my blog.

Sources for this story:

Christmas card image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-card-with-watercolor-mistletoe-decoration_965555.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

As I said in the introduction, film crews are slowly going back to work. With some popular filming locations lifting lock-down regulations, studios and movie companies are either finishing or starting projects. One website, called Hollywood North Buzz, has recently listed several titles that are either currently in production or will soon be in production. These titles are the following:

  • For Better or Worse (Ended filming on June 23rd)
  • Christmas Forgiveness
  • Kite Festival of Love
  • Wedding Every Weekend
  • Beverly Hills Wedding
  • My One True Love
  • Destination Wedding

Another website called JC Films announced an upcoming Christmas film titled “Light Up Night”. The film will star Dean Cain and will begin filming this July. According to the article, the film “is about all the community Christmas events wrapped around a modern-day Biblical story of Ruth”. More movie titles are listed on the website Creative BC, with production dates coming in the near future. These films are:

  • Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and It Feels So Deadly
  • Chateau Christmas
  • Deliver By Christmas

When reading these titles, one will note that they all sound like they belong to Hallmark. However, as of June 2020, the only films that are confirmed to be a Hallmark production are “Wedding Every Weekend”, which was confirmed by star Paul Campbell, according to the Twitter account Hotline to Hallmark, and ‘Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and It Feels So Deadly’. While looking at the list, I noticed how most of the titles reference Christmas or weddings. If these movies are Hallmark projects, my guess is the wedding themed movies are created in preparation for next year’s “June Weddings” line-up. As for the Christmas movies, it’ll be interesting to see how many of them will be included in the “Countdown to Christmas” or “Miracles of Christmas” line-up.

Sources for this story:

https://www.creativebc.com/crbc-services/provincial-film-commission-services/in-production

https://www.jcfilms.org/post/another-dean-cain-christmas-film-coming-to-the-area

http://www.yvrshoots.com/ (the article is called ‘REOPENING: Hallmark & Other TV Movies First To Resume Production in Hollywood North After 3-Month Shutdowm?’)

Hotline to Hallmark’s official Twitter account (@HotlineHallmark)

What are your thoughts on these movie news stories? Are there any films mentioned in this article you’re excited to see? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Follow Me, Boys! Review + 205 Follower Thank You

Two days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 205 followers! I want to thank all of my followers for making this accomplishment a reality! Currently, there are several movies on my DVR. In fact, some of these films were recorded over a year ago. So, I decided to choose one of these movies for this review. As the title reads, this movie is Follow Me, Boys!, which had sat on my DVR since early 2018. Every film studio has their hidden gems. While it’s impossible to watch every one of these projects, I try my best to talk about them on this blog. Follow Me, Boys! is a movie I had never heard of prior to recording it. However, there have been some enjoyable live-action Disney films from around the release of Follow Me, Boys!, such as The Moon-Spinners and Mary Poppins. Did I enjoy this film as much as the two aforementioned pictures? Follow me through this review as we’re about to find out!

In case you’re wondering, this is a screenshot of the film’s poster I took from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching this film, there were some performances that I was pleasantly surprised to see. One of them came from Lillian Gish. Last year, I reviewed one of her movies, which was The Whales of August. A similarity between Lillian’s role in that movie and Follow Me, Boys! is how pleasant it was to watch! Even though she was only in the film for a limited amount of time, I liked the moments when her character, Hetty Seibert, showed up on screen! What helped Lillian’s performance was her on-screen personality and the on-screen chemistry she had with her co-stars. I was also surprised to see Kurt Russell’s performance in this film, even though, prior to watching Follow Me, Boys!, I was aware that Kurt had starred in several Disney productions. The one aspect that stood out to me was the emotional strength Kurt carried through his portrayal of Whitey. This especially helped during the more dramatic moments of the story, such as when Whitey was dealing with his father. Kurt’s performance worked in his favor for not only this film, but also for his career long time.

The historical accuracy: The story of Follow Me, Boys! spans a total of twenty years, from 1930 to 1950. During the movie, I noted how good the historical accuracy looked! One aspect of this that serves as proof is the vehicles that are used. Toward to the beginning of the film, Hetty can be seen driving a car that looks like a Ford Model T. Because it’s 1930 at this point in the story, it would make sense for this kind of vehicle to be shown. At the end of the movie, when the story takes place in 1950, Lem and Vida are riding in a Plymouth automobile. These vehicles also helped show the transition between these time periods. It’s details like this one that show how much the creative team cared about the delivery of their project.

The camaraderie among the Boy Scout troop: Because this story spans a long period of time, the members of the film’s Boy Scout troop come and go. However, a consistent element was the troop’s camaraderie. While watching the troop’s evolution, the boys appeared to get along with one another and enjoy each other’s company. More often than not, the troop’s members work together during activities. They also promote the ideas of friendship, teamwork, and respect. The actors delivered the believability through their performances, which helped increase this group’s likeability.

Illustrated image of Boy Scout troop created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Banner vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: A film’s run-time can make or break that production. If a movie feels too long or short, it could affect the movie-viewing experience. This element definitely impacted my perspective of this film. I watched Follow Me, Boys! on television and the run-time was listed at 2 hours and 33 minutes. On IMDB, the movie has a run-time of 2 hours and 11 minutes. This story did not warrant a run-time this long, with situations being placed in the film for the sake of satisfying this run-time. The movie would have been more enjoyable if it was an hour and thirty or forty minutes long. That way, the overall story wouldn’t feel drawn out.

Little to no adversity: One of the over-arching narratives of Follow Me, Boys! is the formation and existence of a local Boy Scout troop. Despite how much of the story revolves around this group, they don’t experience many obstacles. When the troop does experience a conflict, it becomes quickly and easily resolved. This is different from a story like Troop Beverly Hills, where the troop faced several obstacles that last longer than a few minutes. Because of this choice, it seemed like situations in Follow Me, Boys! happened way too conveniently in the Boy Scout troop’s favor.

Situations happening too quickly: Despite the film being over two hours, some situations in this movie happened too quickly. A perfect example is Lem and Vida’s relationship, with no smooth transitions during each stage. In one scene, Lem and Vida are having their first major argument. A few minutes later, they are seen getting married. I know the film was supposed to show time progressing. However, the poor transitions caused some parts of the story to feel rushed.

Law school textbooks image created by Peter Skadberg at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Peter Skadberg.”

My overall impression:

The way I feel about Follow Me, Boys! is the same way I feel about Summer Magic: it’s just ok. This film did have its merits and it felt like the creative team had their hearts in the right place. But the project does have a big flaw that I cannot overlook. The run-time of Follow Me, Boys! is too long, making the movie feel like it’s dragging its feet through the mud. This was the root of other flaws within the movie, like situations happening too quickly and scenario placements that only serve to satisfy the run-time. I had to, occasionally, pause the film just to check how much time was left. While I can’t fully recommend this movie, I’m not going to dissuade anyone from watching it either.

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

Have you seen Follow Me, Boys! Are there any Disney films from the ‘60s you’d like me to review? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) Review

When I published my Hallmark Hall of Fame Reading Challenge last March, one of the literary works I listed was Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. While I’ve never read the play, I was interested in seeing how Hallmark Hall of Fame would adapt this particular story. Sadly, I couldn’t find this specific version on DVD, VHS, or digital, as a lot of the collection’s movies from the ‘50s to about the early ‘80s appear to be lost. When I discovered Vincent Perez starred in the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, I thought seeing this version would be the next best thing. It was also a perfect choice for The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon, as it was listed under the “Movies Made From Broadway Shows” section in the very first announcement for the event. This blogathon also happens to take place days before Vincent’s birthday, so this became another reason to review Cyrano de Bergerac! I was able to obtain a copy of this film, but I had to purchase two DVDs and a Blu-Ray just to find one that worked with my home entertainment system. Read my review to find out if this film was worth the search!

After weeks of searching, I finally found a DVD copy of Cyrano de Bergerac I could watch! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscren.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Since I chose this film because of Vincent’s involvement, I’ll talk about his performance first. One aspect that stood out to me was how his voice was always soft-spoken. This fit his character, Christian de Neuvillette, well because he wasn’t as confident with his words, like Cyrano. I also noticed how sincere Vincent’s performance came across. No matter what situation Christian is in, he always has his heart in the right place. The goodness of this character showed through in Vincent’s portrayal, which helped Christian be as likable as possible! Since I just mentioned Cyrano, I will now talk about Gérard Depardieu’s performance. The word I’d use to describe his portrayal of the titular character is expressive. Every feeling Cyrano was experiencing felt genuine, emotions appearing in his facial expressions, body language, and poetry. Toward the beginning of the film, Cyrano performs at a local theater and participates in a dual shortly after. Gérard was able to adapt to every situation given to his character. Besides Vincent and Gérard, the cast is filled with talented actors and actresses. Anne Brochet is one of those cast members, bringing a gentle nature to her character, Roxane. Through emotionality, Anne brings her character to life in a way that feels believable. One example is when Christian and Cyrano visit her at her balcony.

The historical accuracy: As I’ve said before on this blog, the quality of a film’s historical accuracy can show how much a creative team cares about their project. The historical accuracy of Cyrano de Bergerac is proof of this statement! The world in this movie felt immersive, presenting the locations with a sense of realism. The set designs reflected the financial situation/social status of the characters, with the local bakery and Roxane’s room being perfect examples. While the bakery featured a simpler interior design, Roxane’s room appeared elegant. Costumes looked appropriate for that specific time period, with the color palette for the cast’s wardrobe ranging from lighter shades of beige and blue to darker tones of gray and black. Tools and utensils from yesteryear were used by the characters, such as Cyrano and Christian applying a wax seal on letters to Roxane. This movie shows that no detail was ignored.

The humor: One of the strongest elements of this film was the humor! Not only was it well-written, but the humor itself seemed to fit that world. The funny moments within Cyrano de Bergerac were also given good executions by the actors. My favorite scene is when Christian continuously interrupts Cyrano’s story by making references to Cyrano’s nose. During this exchange, Christian would sometimes only say “nose” to get a reaction from Cyrano. While Christian appears unfazed by Cyrano’s reactions, Cyrano becomes more irritated as the scene continues. This scene made me repeatedly laugh, as I found it hilarious!

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What I didn’t like about the film:

The under-utilization of Vincent Perez: Vincent Perez is one of the reasons why I sought out the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, as I’ve enjoyed his acting performances so far. Before watching this movie, I knew his involvement in the project was a break-out role and likely the biggest role he received at that time. However, because Vincent is billed as the main supporting actor, I was disappointed to found out he was in the film for a limited amount of time. The majority of the story revolves around Cyrano, which means that Vincent was only given a reduced amount of material to work with. There were even large intervals when Vincent was not featured on screen. Usually, main supporting actors receive about half the screen-time the film’s protagonist does. In the case of Cyrano de Bergerac, however, the antagonist, Comte Antoine de Guiche, is given more prominence in the production than Vincent’s character.

The war storyline: Prior to seeing Cyrano de Bergerac, I had a general knowledge of what the story was about. The movie is even classified as a “comedy-drama”, with the assumption that the romantic aspects of the story would fall under the “drama” part. While the comedy and romance within Cyrano de Bergerac dominated the first half of the film, a storyline involving a war took over the film’s second half. The build-up toward the event and the reasoning behind it felt too “inside baseball”. It also caused the entire story to pull a “bait and switch” with its overall tone. Based on the knowledge I had about this film and even based on the DVD cover, I expected the light-hearted tone within the first half to have a consistent presence throughout the film. Even though there were romantic and light-hearted moments within the second half, some of them didn’t feel like they fit in the context of the war.

The poetic monologues: I’m aware that Cyrano is known for being “a man of many words”. I also know the original play was written only in verse. The poems themselves weren’t the issue, as the poetic monologues within this film were performed and written well. However, some of them lasted too long. Toward the end of the movie, Cyrano recited one of his signature monologues. Because it was long in time length, the monologue made the scene drawn out. I realize that the reason for the long monologues was to satisfy the film’s run-time. Personally, I think, at least, a few of the them should have been a bit shorter in length.

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My overall impression:

I’ve heard that the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergeracis “the definitive film version of the Edmond Rostand play from 1897.” This is the only film version of the story I have seen. As I also said in the introduction, I have never read the play. So, I can only judge this film simply as a film. Cyrano de Bergerac is a good, solid movie! I found myself invested as the story was unfolding and I can definitely see how this could be presented on Broadway. The poetic dialogue was an interesting choice that helped this project achieve a unique identity. However, there were aspects that prevented the production from being better than it was. Some of the poetic monologues were too long, causing scenes to feel drawn out. Despite flaws like that one, I’m glad I was given an opportunity to see this film! If you do choose to watch this version of Cyrano de Bergerac, keep in mind it is a rarer title to find on physical media. While this movie did receive a Blu-Ray release, prices can get expensive.

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

Do you enjoy movies based on Broadway shows? Are there any literary adaptations that you like? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun on Broadway!

Sally Silverscreen