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

Take 3: Audrey Rose Review

For June’s Genre Grandeur, the chosen theme is “New York Films of the 70’s”. After searching through a list on Wikipedia, I selected Audrey Rose as my submission! This is a film I have heard about in passing, but have never seen. What caught my attention is how the movie was classified as a horror film. I don’t always review movies in this genre, as a portion of them are too dark for my liking. However, I do try to go out of my comfort zone every so often. The synopsis also intrigued me, as I wondered where the story would go. Mysteries are a staple on this blog, so I was looking forward to helping the characters solve the case. Is Audrey Rose worthy of being included in Genre Grandeur? Keep reading my review so you can solve the mystery too!

Audrey Rose poster created by Sterobcar Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Audrey_Rose_movie_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: One of Anthony Hopkins’ most iconic roles is Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. Through his performance, he brought to life a character that was eerie and unsettling. In Audrey Rose, Anthony’s portrayal of Elliot Hoover was also unsettling, but for different reasons. During the events of the film, Elliot seemed to have power over the situation. This is because he had the answers Ivy’s parents were desperately looking for. Unlike Hannibal, Elliot was never meant to come across as scary. Anthony’s facial expressions, body language, and the way his character interacted with others supports this claim. When it comes to stories focusing on young characters, it’s important for a creative team to cast a young actor or actress who can carry a character’s emotional weight. Despite appearing in the film for a limited amount of time, Susan Swift impressed me with her portrayal of Ivy Templeton! It was heartbreaking to watch Ivy experience one of her nightmarish episodes, as Susan’s performance was that believable. However, that level of emotionality added to the captivation of this character.

The Templeton family’s apartment: I’ve seen a variety of apartments in television and film. But the Templeton family’s apartment in Audrey Rose is one of the best! An aspect that immediately caught my eye was the grand, wood staircase. This design feature is usually found in on-screen homes from the suburbs or wealthier neighborhoods. So, seeing this staircase in an apartment was unique. Speaking of woodwork, the fireplace in the living room was adorned with fine detailing. It shows how the apartment’s woodwork can compliment the space’s interior design. The showstopper of this living environment was the paintings on the ceiling! Exquisite is the word I would use to describe the art itself. I would be willing to guess that pictures and videos would not do it justice. Whoever created the apartment’s interior design should be commended for their work!

Elemental consistency: Throughout this movie, there were two elements that had a consistent presence. When Elliot first enters the Templeton family’s lives, the weather is very rainy. This is also the case when Ivy is experiencing nightmarish episodes. The incorporation of rain reminded me of The Crow, as this element served as symbolism in Audrey Rose. Not only did rain highlight sadness, it also showed how some situations should run their course. Fire is the other element that was consistently featured in the story. This was present during a tragic event and it emphasized how ignoring some situations only allows them to manifest. These elements created visual interest as well provide depth to the narrative.

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

Not a horror film: On Wikipedia and IMDB, Audrey Rose is classified as a “horror” film. Even the film’s poster gives the impression that someone is coming back from the dead, which is a classic horror movie concept. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Two traits that have defined the horror genre are stories where characters get away from or get rid of something bad. None of these traits are found in Audrey Rose. The primary focus of this movie surrounded the idea of reincarnation. This idea is presented in a positive way, as a course that needs to run on its own term. While horrifying things happen to Ivy, in the form of nightmarish episodes, it was caused by fearing the unknown. Even though this aspect can be found in horror films, it can also be found in other genres. Audrey Rose is a film that I, personally, did not find scary.

A drawn-out story: Like I already said, the story of Audrey Rose revolves around the idea of reincarnation. While this provides the overall narrative with an interesting debate, the majority of the story focuses on whether reincarnation is legitimate. A solution to the Templeton family’s problem wasn’t found until the last thirty minutes of the film. This drawn-out story was the result of an almost two-hour run-time. Had about twenty or thirty minutes been shaved off of this production, the story would have gotten straight to the point sooner.

Scenes that felt like padding: Because Audrey Rose has a run-time of an hour and fifty-three minutes, there were a few scenes that felt like padding. One example is when Ivy is trying to talk to Audrey Rose through a mirror. This scene didn’t have a strong need to exist within the story. It also didn’t fit the overall flow of the film. If anything, this particular scene felt like a weak attempt at making the movie feel like it belonged in the horror genre.

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

My overall impression:

Horror movies are not often found on 18 Cinema Lane. This is the reason why I chose Audrey Rose for June’s Genre Grandeur, as I try to explore various genres. Unfortunately, this was not the horror film I expected it to be. The project itself was interesting, exploring a topic in the form of a debate. But classifying it in a genre where it doesn’t belong is misleading. I can describe Audrey Rose in two ways. The first is a medical/spiritual mystery, similar to Lorenzo’s Oil. The second is a debate presented in the form of a movie, like Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Sweet Nothing in My Ear. The idea behind this film makes it worth watching. However, don’t go into this movie expecting a story with spooky atmospheres and sinister tones.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen any ’70s films set in New York? Which movies do you think are incorrectly classified? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Great Mouse Detective Review

I will admit that before I signed up for the Suave Swordsman: Basil Rathbone Blogathon, I wasn’t familiar with Basil as an actor. However, I didn’t let this stop me from participating! While looking through his filmography, I discovered Basil had a role in the 1986 film, The Great Mouse Detective. Because I hadn’t seen this movie before and because I knew I’d likely be one of the few people to discuss an animated film, I selected The Great Mouse Detective as my submission! If you’ve visited my blog before, you’d see that mysteries have a consistent presence on the site. I have set aside time to talk about the films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Some episodes of Murder, She Wrote has been reviewed. I even participated in the Murder, She Wrote Cookalong! Despite the abundance of mystery related content on 18 Cinema Lane, The Great Mouse Detective is only the second animated mystery movie to be featured on my blog. However, at least this review will bring something new to the table!

The Great Mouse Detective poster created by Buena Vista Distribution, Silver Screen Partners II, Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Walt Disney Pictures. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://movies.disney.com/the-great-mouse-detective.

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Animated films from Disney’s library usually contain quality visuals and art styles. The Great Mouse Detective continues this pattern of animation excellence! Throughout the film, the backgrounds were presented in softer frames with lighter colors, while close-up images were given sharper lines and brighter colors. One example is when Basil, Olivia, and Dr. David are exploring a toy store. The contrasts within the animation made it easier to focus on the characters and their involvement in the story. This art design reminded me of films such as The Aristocats, 101 Dalmatians, and Lady and the Tramp. Similar to what I said in my From Up on Poppy Hill review, all of the characters were expressive! Their facial expressions and body language were fluid when reacting to different scenarios. A perfect example is when Olivia and Dr. David meet Basil. The Great Mouse Detective’s claim to fame is how it was the first project from Disney to feature computer-generated animation. This creative choice is seen in the climax, when Basil and Ratigan fight in the Big Ben Tower. While it might not seem like a big deal now, this scene was ahead of its time in the mid to late ‘80s. The scene itself has aged well, while also containing gravitas and depth. It reminded me of the bells from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The use of shadows: The Great Mouse Detective has a primarily darker tone. To emphasize this aspect of the story, shadows were used in various scenes. Toward the beginning of the film, Hiram Flaversham, Olivia’s father, and Fidget, Ratigan’s henchman, are fighting at Hiram’s toy store. In this scene, shadows of the fight are projected over Olivia’s hiding place. Because Hiram and Fidget are not shown on screen, their shadows helped bring an element of suspense and mystery. The shadows also left me wondering what would happen next.

The humor: Despite the film’s darker tone, there were some light-hearted moments that prevented the movie from being too dark. Some of these moments even contained humor. One scene involved Basil ruining a group of pillows in an attempt to solve a mystery. What made this scene funny was the reaction of Basil’s maid over the mess. Another funny moment was when Ratigan called his cat “honey bunny”. What I like about these hilarious scenes is how well written they were. It also helps that there weren’t too many of them, as it would have made the overall picture seem too silly.

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.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The musical numbers: A large number of Disney’s animated films are musicals, with their musical numbers feeling like they belong in that production. Because musicals have become a staple in Disney’s animated filmography, it allows their audience to know what to expect. But The Great Mouse Detective was not a musical movie, especially compared to pictures like Oliver & Company or any of the Disney Renaissance films. The Great Mouse Detective also had a primarily darker tone, with some light-hearted moments. These aspects made the musical numbers seem out of place. The two most notable musical scenes were “Let Me Be Good to You” and “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind”, which had entertainment value. While “Let Me Be Good to You” had some reason for its existence, “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” was randomly placed in the film. It was a light-hearted and upbeat song that came right after a darker scene, featuring Basil explaining the wrong-doings of Professor Ratigan. “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” was a combination of “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast and “Mine, Mine, Mine” from Pocahontas. However, what makes “Gaston” and “Mine, Mine, Mine” work is how they fit within their respective productions.

The oversharing of the mystery: When I talked about The Mystery Cruise in my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time, I shared how I didn’t like the film’s mystery being revealed after the mystery was introduced. The Great Mouse Detective makes a similar mistake with their mystery narrative. Within the first half of the movie, the details of Hiram Flaversham’s kidnapping are shown in a series of scenes that share a timeline with the events surrounding Basil. These scenes show the whodunit, howtheydunit, and whytheydunit of the mystery. Because these pieces of information are revealed early in the movie, the audience knows more than the characters in the story. This prevents them from solving or experiencing the mystery alongside the characters.

The subplot of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: One of the subplots in The Great Mouse Detective revolved around the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This wasn’t a bad idea, but it was very under-utilized. In fact, I forgot this event was taking place within the story until the film’s climax arrived. Because the premise of this movie was basic and straight-forward, this subplot felt like it was there for the sake of being there. If the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee had been removed from the film, it wouldn’t make a huge difference.

The Suave Swordsman: Basil Rathbone Blogathon banner created by Pale Writer from Pale Writer. Image found at https://palewriter2.home.blog/2020/02/01/announcing-the-suave-swordsman-basil-rathbone-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

Two years ago, I reviewed Oliver & Company. In that review, I said the movie was the pioneer for what a Disney animated film could and should be at the time of its release. The Great Mouse Detective gave me a similar feeling. Within this film, there were elements that laid the foundation for animated Disney films that came after it. The climax at the Big Ben Tower is one example, with the scenes utilizing computers to bring them to life. Also, in my Oliver & Company review, I said the movie was fine and that there were animated Disney films that are stronger than it. The Great Mouse Detective made me feel this way as well. While watching this film, there were scenes that reminded me of scenes from other Disney projects that were executed better. Some scenes in The Great Mouse Detective felt rushed, making me wonder if Disney was trying to meet a deadline or wanted to take advantage of a busy box office year. Even with everything I just said, this film is worth bringing up in the conversation of animated films. It may get overshadowed, but I think it serves as an important part of animation history.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen The Great Mouse Detective? What are some of your favorite mystery films? 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!

The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/announcing-the-third-broadway-bound-blogathon/.

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.

Birthday cake image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/chocolate-birthday-cakes-collection_765437.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/birthday”>Birthday vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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

A Blogathon to be Thankful For: Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

Within the blogging community, it’s impossible not to bring up the Coronavirus at one point or another. Some plans were forced to change and anticipated events were either cancelled or rescheduled. A situation like this can make it easy to lose sight of what’s really important. I can only speak for myself, but in times like these, I try to think about things that I’m thankful for. Originally, I was going to host this blogathon in 2021. But, due to the global pandemic, I thought this year would be a better time to host it. Hallmark is one area of film I cover on 18 Cinema Lane. Over the years, I’ve noticed the network’s diminishing recognition toward Thanksgiving. It’s not just a Hallmark related issue, as I’ve seen this happen in stores and other retail establishments. So, because of that, I chose to dedicate this year’s blogathon to Thanksgiving! It will take place from November 19th to November 22nd. If you want to participate, you can sign up in one of the following categories:

  • Write about a movie or television show episode that either revolves around Thanksgiving or features, at least, one scene taking place on Thanksgiving
  • Talk about something movie related you’re thankful for (can be about people, places, props, memorabilia, etc.)
  • Write about a movie or television show episode that has premiered in November (any genre and year is acceptable)
  • Talk about someone who has a birthday in November (can be about an actor/actress, director, producer, screenwriter, costume designer, etc. If you have a family member or friend with a November birthday, you are allowed to talk about them in your post.)

The Official Blogathon Rules

  1. Please be respectful toward other bloggers and the subject you are writing about.
  2. If you plan on publishing your post(s) earlier or later than the allotted time-frame (November 19th to the 22nd), please let me know in advance.
  3. New posts are required.
  4. Because this subject is so broad, no duplicates are allowed
  5. Each participant is allowed to publish a maximum of three entries.
  6. All entries must be original work and creativity is encouraged.
  7. If you’re interested in participating, please share your idea(s) in the comment section below.
  8. Pick one of the four banners and spread the word about A Blogathon to be Thankful For!
Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.
Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.
Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.
Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.

Participant List

Category A

Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews — (Review) Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Neil from Neil “The Musical Man” Powell — (Review) The Gold Rush

Ruth from Silver Screenings — (Review) The Thanksgiving Visitor

Rebecca from Taking Up Room — (Review) Episode of ‘Christy’ titled “Sweetest Gift”

Tiffany from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society — (Review) The Plymouth Adventure

Category B

Tiffany from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society — Thankful for The Breen Code

Category C

Sally from 18 Cinema Lane — (Editorial) ‘Phantom of the Megaplex’ at 20: A Reflection on the Movie-Going Experience

Category D

J-Dub from Dubsism — (Editorial) “Sports Analogies Hidden in Classic Movies: Why I’m Thankful For The Comedy of Jonathan Winters.”

Have fun at the Blogathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama Review

After a brief break, I have, once again, decided to participate in MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur! For the month of May, the theme is “Reluctant Hero Movies”. I’m not going to lie, my choice of this review required some thought. After spending some time on the internet, searching through lists about “Reluctant Hero Movies”, I finally selected the 2014 picture, Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama! I had never heard of this film prior to watching it. But I was interested in seeing what other studios had to offer when it comes to pirate movies. I enjoy Disney’s Pirates and the Caribbean trilogy, as the high-quality production value is one of the strongest elements. I have seen the fourth film in this series, but I was not a fan of it. I was also curious to discover who the “reluctant hero” of this story would be. This kind of hero can be reluctant for a variety of reasons, so I wanted to see how this theme would be applied to the story of Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama!

Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama poster created by Dune Films, Norwegian Pirates, Storm Films, Storm Productions, and Ketchup Entertainment. Image found at https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/captain_sabertooth_and_the_treasure_of_lama_rama.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The acting performances in this movie ranged from fine to good. But, while watching Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, I noticed a few stand-out performances! Vinjar Pettersen does a good job presenting Pinky as a “reluctant hero”. In this film, Pinky is a “reluctant hero” because he only aspired to be a cabin boy, not because he didn’t want to be a hero. Despite having this simple desire, Pinky always finds a way to put the ship’s crew before himself. Through a variety of emotions, Vinjar effectively showcases how a pirate’s life can affect someone so young. In one scene, Pinky is excited about having his heroic efforts recognized by Captain Sabertooth. When the praise is given to another crew member instead, Pinky’s face immediately falls and he becomes disappointed. Speaking of Captain Sabertooth, Kyrre Haugen Sydness brought this character to life with the use of exaggerated expressions and sophisticated mannerisms. I’m not familiar with Captain Sabertooth outside of this film. But what I liked about Kyrre’s portrayal is how it presented a different kind of pirate captain than what I’m used to. Sofie Bjerke’s portrayal of Pinky’s friend, Raven, was very endearing! The emotions and behaviors she gave her character realistically showed how a child in Raven’s situation might react in that particular circumstance. A great example is when she locked herself and another character, Rosa, in a storage room on Captain Sabertooth’s ship in order to help Pinky.

The scenery: Pirate movies are usually known for showing picturesque landscapes. The reason for this creative choice is to show the various travels a pirate may take. This film is no exception, as there were some beautiful locations featured! According to IMDB, one of the countries where this movie was filmed was Thailand. From the film’s first scene, where Captain Sabertooth’s crew is walking through a dense jungle, to the moments where the ship is at sea, the natural surroundings of this country are wonderfully highlighted! Aspects of these areas include deep green foliage and clear blue water. Another country where this movie was filmed is Morocco. This location also boasted photogenic scenery, such as a nearby beach. With a sandy shore and bright blue water, this beach appears inviting!

The set design: I was really impressed by the set design that was found in this movie! It appeared to belong in the world this creative team crafted and the style choices made helped the space look visually appealing. One example was the guest room in King Rufus’ palace. An interesting design piece that caught my eye was the two blue marble pillars. They stood out in that room because it was the only pop of color among the palette of white and beige. Captain Sabertooth’s quarters was another interesting space. The dark wood throughout this room was consistent with the wood on the ship. While this would seem like an obvious choice, I noticed how it was coordinated with the color palette of Captain Sabertooth’s wardrobe. In a film like Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, I’ve never seen a character’s clothing choices complement a room’s interior design. This creative choice brought a newer element to a film of this nature.

Tropical island image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/island-background-design_1020626.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Brgfx – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lower stakes: In the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, there was always imminent danger present, causing the stakes to be higher. Beloved characters, like Captain Jack Sparrow, faced harsh weather elements, injury, and even death. The characters in Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, on the other hand, never appeared to be in any sort of danger. I understand this film was meant to be a more family-friendly version of a typical pirate’s tale. However, that knowledge is what prevented me from fearing for the characters’ well-being. This lack of danger also caused the stakes to be lower than they should have been. There was very little risk involved and not enough adrenaline.

Poor ADR: An element that can help the audience get invested in an actor’s performance is the quality of the ADR, or automated dialog replacement. If done well, the actor’s dialog can look and sound like their character is effortlessly speaking. But, if the ADR is bad, it can be very distracting. The latter is, sadly, the case for Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama. Most of the time, the actors’ dialog did not match up with their mouth movements. The characters’ speech was at a faster speed than the actors’ mouths could move. This error, at times, took me out of the film.

Pinky’s subplot: Throughout the film, Pinky was curious about his biological father’s identity and whereabouts. He is even warned about discovering this information, as he is told that hope can be a dangerous thing. While this is a good message, the story itself could have been given more attention. Within this movie, Pinky’s subplot is treated as an afterthought and doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. Sure, Pinky is given some vague details about where his father could be. But this part of the story never reached a resolution, preventing the audience from learning anything new about Pinky’s past. If anything, the vague details that Pinky receives serve as “sequel bait” for another installment that may or may not exist.

Ship steering wheel pattern image created by Jemastock at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by jemastock – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I said in the introduction that the high-quality production value is one of the reasons why I enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Even though Disney has capitalized on the pirate movies, that shouldn’t discourage others studios from creating their own pirate stories. However, if any studio is planning on making a pirate film, they either have to go big or don’t even bother showing up. There were some aspects of Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama that seemed to contain a good amount of effort. Stand-out performances and eye-catching set design were just two of the film’s highlights. But, at the same time, the execution of other aspects was poor. Most of the humor felt forced and there were even some jokes that lasted for a little too long. When thinking about this film, it seems like the creative team put a greater emphasis on the style than the substance. It also feels like Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama tried to copy Pirates of the Caribbean’s math homework without having a strong understanding of how the trilogy solved those problems. Personally, I’d stick with first three Pirates of the Caribbean films for now.

Overall score: 5 out of 10

Have you heard of Captain Sabertooth? Which pirate film do you enjoy watching? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Clown Review

I would like to reminder everyone that the winners of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards have been announced! You can discover who won at this link:

 

The results of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards are finally here!

 

Before I signed up for The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon, I had no idea who Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld Jr. was. But during my two years of blogging, I’ve learned that the most important aspect of blogathon participation is having something interesting to say. For me, my contribution is talking about the 1953 film, The Clown. This was the first film I saw when I looked through Zoe’s list of film recommendations. What caused me to choose this movie was discovering Red Skelton was the lead actor. I am familiar with who Red is as an entertainer. However, this is the first film of his I’ve ever seen. So, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally watch one of Red’s comedic performances!

The Clown poster
The Clown poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Clown_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Over the years, I’ve noticed how comedic actors have had a successful experience transitioning to dramatic acting. This is certainly the case for Red Skelton. Even though this is the first movie of Red Skelton’s I’ve seen, I know he is known for his comedic work. But I think Red did a good job with the dramatic material he was given! His portrayal of Dodo was so effective, there were times where I felt like I could empathize with him. One example was when Dodo was upset by the idea of his son leaving his custody. Speaking of Dodo’s son, I really liked Tim Considine’s portrayal of Dink, as he did such a good job for an actor so young! Because of the quality of Tim’s performance, the audience was able to see how Dodo’s choices affected Dink without completely breaking his spirit. In the scene where Dodo promises another fishing trip, you can see that Dink is disappointed. However, he never stopped loving his father and wanting the best for him. Despite having a limited on-screen presence, Jane Greer’s performance was memorable! She effectively portrayed the mannerisms and behaviors you’d expect from a mother. A great example is whenever Jane’s character, Paula, tried to give Dink a hug. Even though she barely knew Dink, she still put his best interests before her own.

 

The messages and themes: An overarching theme in The Clown is how everyone is prone to experience troubles in their life. While some people’s issues are greater than others, an individual’s personal situation has the ability to affect the people around them. In this movie, Dodo struggles with alcoholism and a gambling addiction. These struggles not only affect Dodo’s ability to hold a job, but it also affects Dink’s life. No matter how hard he tried to turn his life around and despite all the chances he was given, Dodo had difficulty escaping his demons. Dodo’s story shows viewers how we still have to deal with the darkness in our lives, even when we finally find a light. His story also shows viewers how important it is to put family first. In one scene, Dink visits the office of Dodo’s agent, Goldie. Dink makes this choice because he cares about his father’s well-being and wants to see him succeed.

 

The ballet lesson: In a flashback, Dodo is shown attending a ballet lesson because he lost a bet. Out of all the comedic scenes, I found this one to be the funniest! It wonderfully showcases Red’s comedic talents, which fall in line with the slap-stick style. What’s also great about this scene is how the dancers at the studio contributed to the comedy. During the lesson, various dancers pass along a sticky candy wrapper in an attempt to get rid of it. As someone who appreciates dance, I liked how Red’s comedy was paired with something that I’m interested in.

12 size
Masks of comedy and tragedy images created by freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

An emphasis on drama: Prior to watching this film, I knew it would contain some dramatic elements. However, because this film is called The Clown and because Red Skelton is the film’s lead, I expected the picture to have more comedy than it did. The movie put more emphasis on drama, with some comedic elements added to the script. This means that moments with comedy were used sparingly. While this creative choice prevented the story from becoming too light-hearted, it did a disservice to Red’s comedic talents. He wasn’t given as much creative freedom to do the kind of performances he is known for.

 

The “tell, don’t show” approach: Throughout the movie, various characters praised Dodo for being a Ziegfeld performer. Goldie, Dodo’s agent, recalls what caused Dodo’s down-fall. A local store-owner treats Dodo’s watch, that he received from Ziegfeld, better than any military medal. But we, the audience, never get to see Dodo during his hey-day. No flashbacks are dedicated to this time period and we never truly get to witness the start of Dodo’s downward spiral. Everything that was said about Dodo’s time in Ziegfeld’s performing company feels like hear-say.

 

A misleading title: As I’ve said before, this film is called The Clown. The film’s poster also features Red Skelton wearing clown makeup. While Red’s character, Dodo, performs comedy sketches, he doesn’t really adopt a clown persona or dress up as a clown. Yes, Dodo portrayed a clownish character in the movie’s first scene. But that was the only scene where this was the case. It causes the title to seem kind of misleading.

The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon banner
The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon banner created by Zoe from Hollywood Genes. Image found at https://zestyz.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/announcing-the-great-ziegfeld-blogathon-2020/.

My overall impression:

During this film, Dodo says that fame can go up and down faster than an elevator. There is truth to what he said, especially in an age where social media exists. Movie reviewing can also go up or down. Sometimes, you find a winner. Other times, the film just misses the mark. When it comes to The Clown, I thought it was fine. There were elements within the film that I liked. However, the overall project was more dramatic and sadder than I expected it to be. Because of Red Skelton’s involvement, I thought there would be more comedy in the story. I feel the limited use of comedy held Red back from pulling off the types of performances that made him well-known in the first place. He did a good job with the film’s dramatic material, but Red is not a dramatic actor. If you are a fan of Red Skelton’s comedy, don’t go into this movie expecting Red’s comedic work to be heavily emphasized.

 

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Red Skelton’s acting work? If so, which piece is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Crow Review

Because this review is for the “Love Goes On” Blogathon, I decided to write an open letter to The Crow. I know this isn’t my usual style of writing reviews and I know I don’t usually post articles on a Saturday, but I thought of trying something new for this post. So, without further ado, let me start this letter to The Crow.

The Crow poster
The Crow poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crow_ver2.jpg

An Open Letter to The Crow,

If you would have asked me years ago what The Crow was, I would have answered you back with this question; “You mean that animated show with the cavepeople”? Back then, all I knew was a cave boy named Cro ruling my television screen, wooly mammoths being saved from eternal freezing, and every episode receiving a ‘happily ever after’. While I knew you, this other Crow, existed, I didn’t know a lot about you. From a distance, you looked like you based your existence on seeking attention, shocking people, and causing controversary. I know it’s not right to judge a book by its cover, but I let myself judge a movie by its outward appearance. This is not something I’m proud of. However, I won’t be the first or last person to do this for a film. As time went on, I learned more about your truths and secrets that were hidden from me before. From Brandon’s untimely passing to the source material itself, this is information that came to me long after you had made your temporary, but successful, stay at the box office. During this 20+ year time period, I had heard people singing your praises. They said things like how you were their favorite movie to how you’ve earned your status as a “cult classic”. It wasn’t until I read the reviews about you from Pale Writer (from the blog, Pale Writer) and Terence (from the blog, A Shroud of Thoughts) that I finally decided to give you a chance. Originally, I had planned on watching you around Halloween. Because your story takes place around this holiday, I thought it would be an appropriate choice. Since you perfectly fit the criteria for the “Love Goes On” Blogathon, I chose to watch you sooner than I expected.

The Love Goes On Blogathon banner
The Love Goes On Blogathon banner created by Steve from Movie Movie Blog Blog II. Image found at https://moviemovieblogblogii.wordpress.com/2020/03/19/announcing-the-love-goes-on-blogathon/.

To show you how much I like you, I’ll talk about the things I liked about you as a film. I have to say the acting was one of the strongest parts of this project! A lot of people have said good things about Brandon’s performance. After seeing The Crow, I can wholeheartedly agree with them! Besides being able to pull off the action sequences, Brandon brought the emotional intensity required for a role like this. His performance was consistent and never faltered. To me, some of the film’s best moments were shared between Eric and Sarah. These moments almost made me cry as they felt so real, containing emotional depth and expressing the relatable ideas of grief and losing a loved one. Speaking of Sarah, I thought Rochelle Davis did a good job providing a balance between adorable innocence and cynical realism. In movies that deal with serious, real world issues, such as death, crime, and loss, it can be easy for a younger actor or actress to be told or directed to act so adorably innocent, that the performance comes off as too sicky sweet. These kinds of performances may be found in programs such as “after school specials” or a Hallmark commercial. The great thing about Rochelle’s portrayal of Sarah is how it felt authentic and genuine, like a young person in that particular environment would react. I was also impressed with Michael Wincott’s portrayal of Top Dollar! Michael not only brought a cool and nonchalant persona to his character, but he also showed how manipulative Top Dollar can be. One moment, he’s tearing up over a snow-globe his father gave him. Several moments later, he’s ignoring the warnings of his henchmen by belittling or killing them. Through Michael’s performance and the screen-writing, Top Dollar was presented as a chameleon with a sinister under-tone.

crow-1376188-640x480
Image of crow at sunset created by Rayudu NVS at freeimages.com. Photo by <a href=”/photographer/rayudu238-57835″>rayudu NVS</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt;. Image found at freeimages.com.

Before watching you, I had done research as to what you were about and other aspects of your existence. But, when I watched you, I was surprised by the story’s presentation. It was presented as a mystery, with the pieces falling in place as the film went on. The details of the crime were incorporated in very subtle ways. One example is the portrait of Eric’s band hanging on a wall in Top Dollar’s club. This showed and told a connection between the victim and the perpetrator. As someone who enjoys mystery movies, this creative decision made me feel like my intelligence was respected. A concern I had before watching you was the setting being so dark, I wouldn’t be able to see what was happening on screen. I knew the darker setting was meant to match your tone. But my concerns come after watching The Dark Knight, where most of the action sequences took place at night and used very little lighting. I want to thank you for including an appropriate amount of light in your scenes! There was enough to see what was on screen, but also complement the overall tone and atmosphere. One really good example is after Eric had infiltrated Top Dollar’s lair. While looking for the last surviving gang member, the room is mostly dark except for a flashing light. The light itself helped me see the events unfolding, while the systematic pattern of the light’s inclusion added tension to that scene.

20200502_201520[1]
Here is a screenshot of the Cro title card, the show I referenced in this review’s introduction. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Just because I like you, doesn’t mean I think you’re perfect. Throughout the story, questions emerged that I wish were answered or elaborated upon. How did Eric and Shelly come to know Sarah? Why was Top Dollar continually mentioning his father? How did Eric’s band-mates deal with the loss of Eric and Shelly? I understand there’s only so much story you can tell in 102 minutes. However, I felt myself wanting to know more when it came to these questions. When I was researching you, I learned the story took place in Detroit. Seeing Michigan/Detroit related “Easter Eggs” was something I was looking forward to. But, in this story, there were barely any references to this specific location. Sure, one of Funboy’s gang members mentioned “the Motor City”. However, this story could have taken place in any state’s major city and it honestly wouldn’t make a difference. I’ve also heard good things about Eric and Shelly’s relationship, from being labeled as “adorable” to being named the perfect definition of “relationship goals”. I think Eric and Shelly’s relationship is nice, but I didn’t really develop an emotional attachment with it. The majority of this relationship was shown through a series of short flashbacks. Because of this, I wasn’t able to witness Brandon and Sofia’s (the actress who portrayed Shelly) on-screen chemistry. The culmination of these two factors prevented me from becoming emotionally invested in their relationship.

173549-OW976O-997
Cute Halloween border created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/halloween-background-with-fun-style_1310632.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

So, now you’ve reached the end of this letter. I think you already know that I like you. When I look beyond your surface, the one that appears violent and darker in atmosphere, I realize you have something important to say. You used the themes of grief and loss during quieter, less action-packed moments. This gave me a break from the intensity of the action sequences. Even though I like you, I haven’t fallen head over heels for you or chosen you as one of my new favorite films. You have flaws that held you back from reaching more of your full potential. But, don’t beat yourself up over this, because every film can’t be a 10 out of 10. Now that I’ve given you a chance, I’ve developed a greater appreciation and understanding of you. I also get why so many people like you so much. You are one of those films that has the power to stick with people long after they’ve seen you. Maybe that’s what makes you so special.

 

Sincerely,

Sally Silverscreen

 

P.S. I’ll give you a score of 7.8 out of 10.

 

Here are the links to Pale Writer’s and Terence’s reviews if you want to check them out:

Rain and Revenge: The Crow (1994)

https://mercurie.blogspot.com/2019/10/the-crow-1994-putting-wrong-things-right.html

Take 3: House of the Long Shadows Review

Vincent Price is an actor who has become as much of a household name as the Michael Jackson song he provided the voice-over for, Thriller. Prior to my involvement in the Vincent Price Blogathon, the only film of Vincent’s I have seen is one that is very different from what he is known for: The Whales of August. Last August (me reviewing The Whales of August in August was not intentional), I reviewed that film for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon. Even though I liked Vincent’s performance in that movie, I found the movie itself to be mundane. So, for this current blogathon, I wanted to watch one of Vincent’s films that contained more horror. When I discovered House of the Long Shadows, I was intrigued by the movie’s synopsis. For those of you who have visited my blog before, you would know I enjoy a good mystery from time to time. Because of this film’s mysterious nature, I had hopes to get, at least, some enjoyment out of this project!

House of the Long Shadows poster
House of the Long Shadows poster created by London-Cannon Films and Cannon. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LongShadows.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Prior to watching House of the Long Shadows, I haven’t seen many of the projects from Desi Arnaz Jr.’s filmography. In fact, I’ve only watched his guest appearances on I Love Lucy and his special appearance on The Brady Bunch. Despite this, I was impressed with his lead performance in the film! His casual yet effortless acting style worked with how the character was written. Desi’s acting abilities fit the role of the protagonist, Kenneth Magee! I also liked Julie Peasgood’s portrayal of Mary Norton! Her expressions and emotions really highlighted the sense of urgency her character was experiencing. A scene where Julie sold me on what Mary was going through is when Mary first comes to the Manor to warn Kenneth of the unseen dangers he will face. Because this blogathon is dedicated to Vincent Price, his performance should not be overlooked. As I said in the introduction, the only other film of his that I’ve seen is The Whales of August. The great thing about House of the Long Shadows is how Vincent is given more material to work with as an actor. This allowed him and his character to have a more commanding presence!

 

The use of music: The music that can be heard in the film’s background does a really good job at keeping the movie’s tone consistent. Throughout Kenneth’s stay at the Manor, scores that sound mysterious, sinister, and even sad are played at various moments of the movie. At times when the tone changes, the music never skips a beat and adapts with the events of the story. A great example is when Kenneth is driving to the train station. When the weather is fair and the sky is sunny, light-hearted music can be heard during Kenneth’s drive. As soon as the skies turn dark and stormy, ominous music takes the place of the previous tune.

 

The element of mystery: For those who haven’t yet seen House of the Long Shadows, I won’t spoil the story. What I will say is the mystery element of the film was well-written! The narrative is presented in a way that allows the audience to solve the mystery alongside Kenneth and Mary. This creates an interactive and shared experience between the characters and the viewers. It also maintains a sense of intrigue throughout the movie. As the story unfolds, it makes the audience wonder what will happen next.

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited use of horror: Vincent Price is an actor who is known for starring in horror-esque films. This detail made me believe House of the Long Shadows would be a horror movie. While there are elements of horror to be found, they primarily existed in the film’s second half. The story as a whole placed more emphasis on the element of mystery. This made the movie not as scary as I expected.

 

Diane and Andrew’s subplot: In House of the Long Shadows, there is a subplot involving a young couple named Diane and Andrew. They are in the area of the Manor due to a vacation gone wrong. While watching this movie, I found their subplot to not be integrated in the overall story as well as the other characters’ stories. If anything, it felt like it was there for the sake of being there.

 

The limited use of lighting: I understand the limited use of lighting was adopted to emphasis the atmosphere of the Manor. Where this succeeds on that regard, it also hides the beauty of the Manor itself. One of the most striking features of this location is the grand staircase. It had visually appealing details, such as the gold ornamentations along the iron bars of the stairs. Unfortunately, it was difficult to see this part of the Manor clearly because there was little to no lighting in this space.

Vincent Price Blogathon banner
The Vincent Price Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry from Cinematic Catharsis. Image found at https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2020/02/20/vincent-price-blogathon/

My overall impression:

Vincent Price: a name that is, more often than not, associated with projects featuring ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. While this has become a part of Vincent’s legacy, it’s important to remember what he offered to the horror genre, as well as the world of film, as an actor. When I watched his performance in House of the Long Shadows, Vincent’s performance reminded me of Bela Lugosi’s performance in the 1931 film, Dracula! Even though both actors are on screen for a certain amount of time, they use their acting abilities to control the camera’s focus and command its undivided attention. As for the film itself, House of the Long Shadows is truly a hidden gem! Despite being different from what I expected, it’s a movie I think fans of mystery, horror and Vincent himself will enjoy! Maybe the final words of this review are nowhere near as memorable as Vincent’s closing monologue in Thriller. But they do have a special place in this post.

 

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Vincent Price’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: To Kill a Mockingbird Review

Before I start this review, I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, April 9th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Supporting Actor of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The next poll will be posted on the April 10th! Here is the link to the poll:

 

Now it’s time to choose the Best Supporting Actor of 2020’s Gold Sally Awards!

 

Originally, I had planned on reviewing To Kill a Mockingbird for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s A Month Without the Code Blogathon. Since The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon was given an April participation date and because I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird at the time of the event’s announcement, I decided to review the film adaptation a lot sooner than I expected. For years, I had heard great things about the novel. The now famous quotes have been plastered all over the internet, sounding deep and thought-provoking against backgrounds of characters’ pictures from the film. No literary list would be complete without To Kill a Mockingbird’s inclusion. What caused me to pick up a copy, and eventually see the movie, was the trial where Atticus defends Tom Robinson. This situation taking place in a time that is very different from today brought up a lot of questions. How would Atticus approach the case? Was Tom innocent? How different was the court system back then? For a while, this book was sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for the day when it would be read. Because of this blogathon, the day to read the book and see the movie has finally come!

To Kill a Mockingbird poster
To Kill a Mockingbird poster created by Brentwood Productions, Pakula-Mulligan, and Universal Pictures. Image found at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:To_Kill_a_Mockingbird_(1963_US_theatrical_poster).jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In my review of Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, I talked about how the characters in that movie appeared as if they came from real-life. This is partly the result of the quality of the actors’ performances. The aforementioned strengths are shared by both films. While watching To Kill a Mockingbird, I noticed how all the performances felt realistic. The actors brought enough emotion and animation to their roles, in order to bring their characters to life. I enjoyed watching the performances in this film. However, the two standouts came from Collin Wilcox Paxton (who portrayed Mayella Ewell) and Brock Peters (who portrayed Tom Robinson). Even though they appeared on screen for a limited amount of time, they were able to bring so much emotion and power to their roles. These elements allowed Collin and Brock to elevate their characters as well as the source material.

 

How the source material was presented: Looking back on the book, the story itself was 20% about the trial and 80% about the “slice of life” perspective Scout offers to the readers. This imbalance is what caused me to not enjoy the book as much as I had expected. The film’s creative team makes an effort to create a balance between these two ideas by removing scenes that would have felt like padding. In the book, the majority of a chapter is devoted to the Halloween carnival/play and what caused that event to take place. The movie, however, only shows Jem and Scout arriving and leaving the school. The way some scenes were presented in the movie highlighted Atticus’ abilities as a lawyer more effectively than in the book. When Atticus to talking to Scout about compromises and trying to see things from another person’s perspective, the scene places more emphasis on Atticus himself delivering the message, showing the values he follows as a lawyer. In the book, it feels like these lessons are rehashing information most readers already know.

 

Moments of suspense: There were some scenes containing suspenseful moments that were periodically placed in the film. One of these moments takes place in the scene when Atticus visits Helen Robinson for the first time. While Jem is sitting in Atticus’ car, Bob Ewell drunkenly approaches the vehicle. Because this is the first time Bob is introduced on screen and because he is presented in a disorderly state, Bob’s decisions and actions are very unpredictable. Scenes like this one maintained the overall story’s intrigue. It maintained my investment in the film as well. These scenes featuring suspenseful moments also allowed the creative team to adopt story-telling elements like the use of shadows and dramatic music.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

The trial taking place at a later time: As I said in the introduction, the trial where Atticus defends Tom Robinson is what made me want to read the book. When I did read it, I was disappointed to discover the trial itself took place sixteen out of thirty-one chapters into the story. In the movie, the trial appears at the halfway point. In this case, I fault the source material more than the film’s creative team. Even though I had to wait an hour for the trial to be presented on screen, the creative team did try their best to get to that point as soon as possible.

 

Some unclear details: Some details in this movie were unclear, especially if someone didn’t read the book before they saw the movie. In the book, Jem and Scout are introduced to Reverend Sykes when they attend Mass at Calpurnia’s church. When the trial takes place, they agree to sit with Reverend Sykes in the balcony section of the courthouse. Because the church service was omitted from the movie, there’s no clear explanation provided for how Jem and Scout know Reverend Sykes. It might have helped if details like this one were given some context.

 

The voice-over: The book is told from the perspective of an adult reflecting on their childhood. However, the movie presented the events as if they are taking place in “present-time”. Because of this decision, it allows the events to speak for themselves. This makes the voice-over seem like an unnecessary component. The voice-over was also not consistently included in the movie, causing its presence to not feel justified.

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Courtroom image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/isometric”>Isometric vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

There are very few times when I feel a film adaptation is better than its literary source material. In fact, the two previous instances that I can think of are Hallmark’s Hall of Fame’s The Beach House and Hallmark Channel’s Rome in Love. After watching To Kill a Mockingbird, I have now found a third adaptation to add to that list. I’m not a fan of “slice of life” stories, hence why I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I had expected. While these aspects of the “slice of life” story were incorporated in the movie, the creative team’s main focus was about getting straight to the point a lot sooner. The visual nature of film worked in the favor of certain elements from the source material. Suspenseful moments in certain scenes are one great example. Reading about those moments in a book does cause a level of uncertainty. Watching them take place on screen makes those moments seem real and intensifies that uncertainty. If I known my feelings about this movie before reading the book, I honestly would have skipped the book and gone straight to the movie.

 

Overall score: 8.1 out of 10

 

Have you read any classic literature? If so, did you see its film adaptation, if it has one? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen