Take 3: Shock (1946) Review (Clean Movie Month #5)

It’s now the end of Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month. For my second year participating, I’d say I did a pretty good job staying consistent with my content! Throughout July, I have reviewed five films; two from the ‘30s and three from the ‘40s. The film I will talk about in this review, Shock, is a part of those aforementioned five, boasting a release date from early 1946. This film was included in The Blog Complainer’s Random Movie Roulette series, which ended up being the best movie out of that collection. Because of Cameron’s review, I chose to include Shock in my Clean Movie Month line-up! While I usually watch movies from my DVR, cable, or through physical media, the only way I could watch this film is from Youtube, where it was posted on the Cult Cinema Classics channel. I’m glad I was able to watch it so I could bring you this review of Shock!

Shock poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shock_movie_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: So far, I have seen The Whales of August and House of the Long Shadows. Despite seeing a small amount of films from Vincent Price’s filmography, I noticed something different about his performance in Shock. In this film, the character of Dr. Richard Cross was terrifying because of his influence and choices. Vincent also expressed emotions in subtle ways. Good examples came from when Richard expressed fear anytime someone brought up his wife’s murder. This cast was so strong, even secondary characters were memorable! Even though his character, Mr. Edwards, was in the movie for a short amount of time, John Davidson did a good job with the acting material he was given! His performance was emotionally driven, as he didn’t rely on dialogue. It added intensity to one of the film’s suspenseful scenes. The one actor who stole the show was Anabel Shaw, who portrayed Janet Stewart. Her emotionality was on point in this film! One beautiful example is when Janet witnesses the murder.

The music: The music in Shock did a good job setting the tone throughout the story! Whenever a suspenseful scene played out, ominous or dramatic music was heard. In a scene featuring Richard and Elaine, a sweeping tune that would usually be heard in romance films served as background music. Musicality also boosted these scenes, with the strong percussion of that scene’s tune landing right on an intense moment. This helped the musical element of the project maintain a sense of consistency.

Moments of suspense: In Shock, suspense was included in a few scenes. Within these parts of the story, the suspense’s execution was well done! One example is when Mr. Edwards has a fight with Elaine. The build-up toward the moment itself was steady, like someone walking to their destination. The surroundings of the characters were dark and mysterious, which worked in the favor of that scene. Mr. Edwards’ lack of speech makes the audience question his motives. All of these elements effectively came together to create one of the best scenes in this film!

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/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Limited amount of suspense: As I previously mentioned, I liked the suspenseful scenes in this film. However, these scenes were very limited. When I read Cameron’s review of Shock, I believed the film would be similar to a story like Rear Window. In the Alfred Hitchcock picture, there was a consistent use of suspense, as the audience receives the mystery in pieces. Because the whodunit, howtheydunit, and whytheydunit of the mystery was revealed early on in Shock, it caused the story to not be as suspenseful as I thought it would be.

Under-utilized characters: A few under-utilized characters could be found in Shock. One of them was Mr. Edwards, who was featured in about three inter-connected scenes. Before these particular scenes appeared in the movie, Richard talks about Mr. Edwards’ mental regression, saying how the patient may need to be moved to a new facility. Because of these story-telling details, I was hoping Mr. Edwards would play a larger role in this story. Sadly, it just felt like he was in the film for the sake of being there.

A slower pace: Because Shock is classified as a film noir, the pace is going to be on the slower side. But most films in this specific genre have an under-lying suspense that consistently weaves through the overall narrative. Since the suspense in this film was limited, it caused the pace to be slower than it should have been, as the majority of the movie revolved around Janet’s prognosis. I’ve mentioned before that mysteries, more often than not, have faster paces. As I already said in this review, the mystery was revealed early in the story. This also prevented the pace from picking up speed.

Love of mental health image created by freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

All of the movies I chose for Clean Movie Month were enjoyable in their own respective ways. If I were to rank them, however, Shock and Goodbye, Mr. Chips would be tied toward the bottom of the list. Shock was a fine film, with memorable aspects that made me like the picture for what it was. Anabel Shaw’s performance was one of the best parts of this project, outshining bigger stars like Vincent Price. But some things in this movie held it back from being stronger. One of the movie’s biggest flaws was the limited amount of suspense. Because of this creative choice, the majority of the story felt like a drama than a film noir. Shock is a Breen Code friendly film. But I was surprised by the references of excessive alcohol use that were included in the script.  When Janet’s husband is asking about Richard’s medical credentials, one of the hotel’s employees says that Richard can cure a hangover. When an investigator working on Richard’s wife’s case is talking to Richard about a potential suspect, he tells Richard that the suspect is a “drunkard”. An excessive amount of alcohol use is never glorified or promoted in a typical Breen Code film. This is why I was shocked (yes, that word choice was intentional) to find these statements in a movie from 1946.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

What are your thoughts on this year’s Clean Movie Month? Are you excited for A Month Without the Code? Tell me in the comment section?

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: The Wife of Monte Cristo Review (Clean Movie Month #2)

Last November, in my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List, I talked about how I wanted to see The Wife of Monte Cristo. My plan was to review the film for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month, as the movie was released in 1946. Based on the title of this post, it means my Christmas wish came true! Several months ago, I purchased a DVD copy of this film. I waited until July to watch it, so I could contribute to Clean Movie Month. Now that this blogathon has finally arrived, I can write about The Wife of Monte Cristo! In my aforementioned post, I shared how the movie’s story made me want to see it, as it seemed to focus on Monte and Haydée’s relationship, as well as allowing Haydée to become a more prominent character. Monte Cristo and Haydée are one of my favorite couples from pop culture. Unfortunately, their relationship is barely addressed in any film adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. These film adaptations also give Haydée a small amount or no amount of screen time. The Wife of Monte Cristo allows these two voids to be filled.

Here is a picture of the DVD I purchased for this review. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: All of the acting performances in The Wife of Monte Cristo shared one common factor: they made every cast member appear natural in their role! Because of this and the believability that came from these performances, each interaction felt like it was taken directly from real-life. Haydée has a greater appearance in this film than Edmund/Count of Monte Cristo, so I’d like to mention Lenore Aubert’s portrayal of Haydée. Her on-screen personality was pleasant, making Haydée a character worth rooting for. Through body language and facial expressions, Lenore showed how Haydée can be intelligent, resourceful, and just a good person overall! I also liked watching John Loder’s performance! In The Wife of Monte Cristo, he portrayed De Villefort, the head of Paris’ police force. What impressed me was how he could adopt two different personas for the same character. Whenever he was socializing or interacting with Haydée, De Villefort was charismatic and had a certain amount of charm to him. But when he is with comrades, planning on catching “The Avenger”, De Villefort is cunning and sinister.

The historical accuracy: The Wife of Monte Cristo takes place in Paris of 1832. The story’s time period and the location within this time period can be seen in every aspect of the film. Characters’ wardrobes are a good example of this. Male characters wore solid colors, with wealthier men in society sporting some embellishment on their outfit. In one scene, De Villefort wore a dark jacket that featured white embroidery. The female characters, Haydée and Lucille, wore elegant dresses that boasted a simple pattern. During a meeting with one of De Villefort’s comrades, Haydée wore a black dress with consistent sparkly detailing. This outfit was eye-catching, but not over-the-top. Another indicator of this historical accuracy were the choices in the set design. In De Villefort’s office space, chandeliers with candles can be seen. Because light bulbs did not exist in 1832, this design choice fits the story’s time period.

The on-screen chemistry: As I already mentioned, Haydée has a greater presence in the film than Edmund/Count of Monte Cristo. This causes Haydée and Edmund to spend a limited amount of time together on screen. In the scenes where they are together, Lenore Aubert and Martin Kosleck displayed strong on-screen chemistry! The on-screen chemistry between Lenore and Martin allowed the audience to see how much Haydée and Edmond truly loved and cared about each other. Even when they were apart, the love between these two characters could still be felt. In one scene, Edmund visits the daughter of a supporter of “The Avenger”. During their conversation, Edmund explains how Haydée saved his life and helped him see the good in humanity after he escaped from prison. What Edmund tells this character is very telling of the love he feels for his wife.

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/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The audio: In my review of The Boy Who Could Fly, I mentioned how the audio of the actors was on the quieter side. I noticed the same flaw when watching The Wife of Monte Cristo. The actors were so quiet, I had difficulty understanding what they were saying. I needed to turn up my television’s volume just to hear them. I’m not sure if this was an issue with the movie itself or with the audio on my entertainment system.

A somewhat misleading title: I said in the introduction that Haydée’s prominence in the story is what caused me to see the film. While she did have an important role in the overall narrative, she wasn’t the central focus. The majority of The Wife of Monte Cristo revolved around “The Avenger” and the villains’ attempts to foil his plans. Because of the title, I was led to believe the film would be a sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo, but from Haydée’s perspective. However, it was simply a sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo.

Edmond and Haydée’s limited interactions: Earlier in this review, I briefly mentioned how Edmond and Haydée spend a limited amount of time together on screen. This disappointed me, as I was hoping to witness the continual growth of their relationship. I was also hoping to see more adorable moments between them, especially since their relationship is barely shown in any film version of The Count of Monte Cristo. While I appreciate the times I did get to see these characters together, there was more to be desired in this department.

Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Seeing and reviewing this movie is a Christmas wish come true! As someone who is a fan of Monte Cristo and Haydée’s relationship, I am thankful to have discovered this film! It was enjoyable and interesting, as it gives Haydée an opportunity to save the day. Through clever problem solving, teamwork, and wits, we see Haydée making a difference in her world and lending a hand when possible. Despite the film being titled The Wife of Monte Cristo, she is not the star of the film. She does serve an important role though, as she receives a bigger part in this story than she has in other versions of The Count of Monte Cristo. As a film released in the Breen Code Era, it is, for the most part, Breen Code friendly. However, there were two aspects of this movie that I was surprised to see in a Breen Code film. In some scenes, both Haydée and Lucille wear dresses with low necklines. While this style of dress was likely common in the 1830s, its presence would not be frequent in a Breen Code film. There is one scene where the deceased body of one of De Villefort’s comrades is briefly shown on screen. In Breen Code films, a death would usually be implied, not seen.

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

What are your thoughts on my Clean Movie Month reviews so far? Are you looking forward to my next review? 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

Take 3: Vampyr Review + 145 Follower Thank You

For this blog follower dedication review, I decided to take a different approach when choosing the next film. Instead of the usual system that I apply to these posts, I chose a film that felt like an appropriate choice for ‘31 Spooks of October’, the event I’ve been participating in. Since K, the creator of this event and K at the Movies, wrote about vampire related short stories recently, I thought that reviewing Vampyr would be very fitting. Last week, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society! In their article, they offered an invitation to their Third Annual Great Breening Blogathon. Because the purpose of this event is to promote the preservation of the Breen Code, I felt that I had an understanding of the kind of entry that the Brannan sisters were looking for, especially since I participated in “Clean Movie Month” and “A Month Without the Code”. Vampyr was released in 1932, so through this review, I will try to determine how the Breen Code could be applied to this film!

Vampyr poster
Vampyr poster created by Carl Theodor Dreyer-Filmproduktion, Tobis-Filmkunst, and Vereinigte Star-FilmGmbH. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/343956/Vampyr/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The cinematography: While watching Vampyr, I was very impressed by the cinematography! Because this movie was created in the early ‘30s, some of the visual tricks that the film’s creative team incorporated into their project felt like they were ahead of their time. Throughout the movie, there were shadows that were presented inside an abandoned warehouse and around the grounds of a hotel and a mansion. When the protagonist, Allan Gray, first sees these shadows, one of them is seen digging in reverse. This is something that audiences probably take for granted today, but was revolutionary back then.

 

The music: All of the music in this movie was orchestral, similar to silent films. It was used to effectively convey the mood of each scene. Whenever there was a part of the film that was suspenseful, eerie music could be heard. There was even sad music that was playing when a sad moment was presented on screen. This film’s music helped explain what was happening even when no dialogue was spoken. It became an integral part of this project.

 

Audio that could be heard: This film was styled and constructed like a silent film. But what’s different about Vampyr is that the orchestral music wasn’t the only audio that could be heard. Audible dialogue from the actors replaced title cards. Things like knocks on doors and ringing bells could be heard by the audience. At one part of the film, the sounds of a parrot were included with the visual presentation of the bird. In a film that was created in this specific way, hearing all these sounds was a pleasant surprise!

Third Annual Great Breening Blogathon banner
The Third Annual Great Breening Blogathon banner created by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/announcing-the-third-annual-great-breening-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited presence of vampires: When a movie’s creative team assigns a particular title to their project, they make a promise to their audience about what they can expect from the movie. With Vampyr, the subject of vampires wasn’t brought up until thirty-four minutes into the film. The very first vampire was revealed in the second half of the movie. In this project, vampires don’t play as big of a role as I expected. This shows that the creative team didn’t exactly fulfill the promise that they had made.

 

A simplistic story: For a movie like Vampyr, a sense of mystery in the story is to be expected. However, this plot felt too straight-forward. While there was a little bit of mystery, it wasn’t enough to maintain a consistent level of intrigue. It felt like the script put more emphasis on explaining through visuals what was going on instead of letting the visuals present things as they are. One perfect example is when a book about vampires is given to Allan Gray, in an effort to tell him what’s about to happen. It caused the narrative to be more simplified than it needed to be.

 

Some confusion: During this film, there were times when it felt like some of the mystery was kept at an arm’s length from the audience. Even though these mysteries were solved, it took awhile for the answers to be presented. Throughout the film, there was one character that kept reappearing. The audience didn’t learn who this person was until after thirty minutes. This extended explanation caused some confusion to happen in the narrative.

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

My overall impression:

Before I share my overall impression of Vampyr, I want to thank all of my followers for helping 18 Cinema Lane reach this milestone! Every success that happens here is because you gave this blog a chance! Speaking of chances, I’m glad I gave this film a chance! While it had its errors, I ended up liking it more than I expected. The creative team behind this project adopted story-telling elements that were creative and interesting. Before watching this film, I learned that Vampyr was restored through the incorporation of two different versions of the movie. In the opening credits, there were a lot of names listed, indicating who was involved in the restoration process. This raises a good point of how many people it takes to restore a film. It makes me appreciate the work that’s involved in a cinematic procedure like this. Because this movie was released in 1932, it means that it wasn’t approved by the Breen Code. If it had been created two years later, these are the things that would need to change in order to meet Breen Code standards:

 

  • During the film’s introduction, it was said that the main character, Allan Gray, studies the subjects of “devil worship and vampires”. While the story does contain vampires, the first part of that statement would need to be rewritten.

 

  • When the subject of vampires is being explained, there were several references to “The Dark One”. Even though vampires are meant to be villainous in this film, any mentions of “The Dark One”, would need to be rewritten or omitted.

 

  • There were two times when God’s name was said in vain and one swear word was included in the script. New word choices would have to be made before production started.

 

  • In one scene, a pool of blood was shown on screen. This scene would have to be removed.

 

  • A few dead bodies can be seen on screen. These scenes should be rewritten, in order for the deaths to be implied.

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Have you seen Vampyr? Is there a film from the 1930s that you want me to see? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: All About Eve Review (Clean Movie Month — #5)

Well, this is it. The final review for Clean Movie Month. As I look back on my entries for this particular blogathon, I notice that most of these movies were decent, according to my opinion. Only Madeleine was just ok. Again, this is based on my opinion. This observation was very interesting, something that I hadn’t expected. As All About Eve is the last movie I’m reviewing for Clean Movie Month, I wanted to see if I liked this movie any more or less than the other movies I’ve previously talked about. This specific film was released in 1950, within the final years of the Breen Code era. Several days ago, I had reviewed two other films from this same year: Madeleine and Les Enfants Terribles. Among these two films, Madeleine was the one that seemed to follow the Breen Code more closely. Les Enfants Terribles, on the other hand, only partially incorporated the Breen Code. Would All About Eve follow the footsteps of the crime drama from the United Kingdom or be influenced by the character-driven French film? Hold your applause and get right for the curtain call, as we’re about to review 1950’s All About Eve!

All About Eve poster
All About Eve poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/all-about-eve.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I mentioned in my review of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Bette Davis excels that portraying characters that are unsettling and over-the-top. Her portrayal of Margo Channing, however, is very different from her performances in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. This is because the character is more grounded and subtle in presentation and personality. Despite this, Bette successfully brought versatility to her role! Watching Anne Baxter’s portrayal of Eve Harrington was entertaining! She was able to capture that sense of awe and wonder that most people would display when entering the theater world. As her character grew, she allowed her performance to evolve. The other cast members had good on-screen chemistry, keeping their interactions interesting and engaging. They effectively brought their characters to life and gave great performances!

 

The voice-overs: At various points in the film, voice-overs could be heard from some of the characters. They were narrating how Eve came into their lives and how she impacted their relationships. Eve, however, never gets to narrate her own story. But, through these voice-overs and interactions, the audience gets to see her develop as an individual. This type of story-telling is very reminiscent of Citizen Kane. The difference between this film and All About Eve is that in All About Eve, the audience has the chance to connect with each of the characters. The characters who are narrating the story are still given a chance to tell their stories. Their narrations also provide a sense of depth to the overall plot.

 

The behind-the-scenes look at the theater world: All About Eve is about a group of people who work in the theater industry. While this film showed the “glitzy” and “glamourous” side of things, it also showed the not-so-glamourous side. Seeing both of these perspectives was not only refreshing, but also insightful! I also liked how these characters were portrayed in a realistic and relatable way. When it comes to cinematic stories about the theater or movie industry, the characters are, sometimes, portrayed as being something greater than what they really are. All About Eve, instead, shows the characters dealing with situations and issues that other people could experience. Margo wanting to help Eve enter the theater world is a good example of this.

All About Eve photo card
All About Eve lobby card created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/67044/All-About-Eve/#tcmarcp-373822.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Drawn-out scenes: There were some scenes in All About Eve that felt more drawn-out. One example is the scene where Margo is hosting a dinner party. It introduced characters that only appear on-screen for minutes at a time, but furthered certain story-lines forward. While this part of the movie provided character development, I think it lasted a little too long. Had this scene been cut in half, the narrative would have gotten straight to the point. This would also shorten the film’s run-time.

 

A predictable plot twist: All About Eve contains a plot twist that changes the overall perception of one of the characters. I won’t share what this plot twist is, in case you haven’t seen this movie. But, when I learned more about this particular character, I knew that something wasn’t right. When the plot twist happened, I was not surprised. Because of how predictable this plot twist was, it took away the mystery and surprise that could have been incorporated into the story. What I got instead was a story element that I was aware of all along.

 

A misleading title: As this movie is titled All About Eve, it gives the impression that the film focuses on the character of Eve Harrington. While this is true to a certain extent, the movie is also about Bette Davis’ character, Margo Channing. When looking at the cast of characters, Margo is the one who is leading this story. Even on the movie’s poster, Margo is the only character that is featured in the image. It makes the title appear misleading, as if the creative team behind this film is not holding up their end of the bargain. If the film were given an honest title, it would be called “Mostly About Margo” or “Sometimes About Eve”.

Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

My overall impression:

All About Eve will close this year’s Clean Movie Month as being a decent film. There were elements to this movie that I thought were interesting. The insightful look into the world of theater is just one example. However, certain aspects prevented the film from being a better project. As I already mentioned, the predictable plot twist is one of the reasons. It was nice to see a different side to Bette Davis’ acting abilities, as I’ve previously only seen her portray characters that are unsettling and over-the-top. It shows just how talented Bette Davis is. Even though All About Eve was approved by the Breen Code, I was surprised by some of the language that was featured in the script. During the aforementioned dinner party, Margo tells an ill guest that they’ll “burp” if they take a particular solution. This reminded me of something that Tiffany and Rebekah said in their Breening Thursday review of “The Trouble with Angels”. According to this article, references to bodily functions were looked down on. Because All About Eve was released in the Breen Code era, this mention of “burping” shouldn’t have been featured in the film. Another thing that I noticed was how one character got slapped in the face, which wasn’t done in self-defense. In the films that I reviewed during Clean Movie Month, the violence was either frowned upon or done in self-defense. Like I said about the “burping”, this action should not have been featured.

 

Overall score: 7 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on Clean Movie Month? Would you like to see me participate in next year’s blogathon? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Les Enfants Terribles Review (Clean Movie Month — #4)

Several months ago, I recorded the French film, Les Enfants Terribles, on my DVR. Since I don’t watch many foreign films, I wanted to see this film as a way to expand my cinematic horizons. When I found out that this particular movie was released during the Breen Code era, in 1950, I was curious to see if any traces of the Breen Code could be found in the film. So, that is why I chose Les Enfants Terribles for one of my Clean Movie Month reviews! If you read my review of Madeleine, you would know that Les Enfants Terribles is not the first foreign film I reviewed for this blogathon. In fact, I was quite surprised that Madeleine was approved by the Breen Code. An interesting coincidence is both Madeleine and Les Enfants Terribles were released in the same year. So, it’ll be interesting to see how this French film from 1950 compares to the British film, also from 1950!

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I’ve seen other posters for this movie, but I like this one the best! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The acting in Les Enfants Terribles was one of the finer points of the movie! The two main characters, Paul and Elisabeth, were very interesting to watch because of the lead stars’ acting performances! Nicole Stephane brought the character of Elisabeth to life with a sense of fierceness and strength. These two elements helped her carry the film. She was also able to stand on her own merits when it came to acting among the other actors and actresses! Edouard Dermit portrayed Elisabeth’s brother, Paul. The well-roundedness of his acting talents was very clear to see in this film. Paul goes through a lot in Les Enfants Terribles. In every scene, Edouard brought his A game and even made his character seem like he was a real person. Over the course of this story, Edouard not only incorporates a sense of realism to his character, but also pulls off an acting performance that was mesmerizing to watch!

 

The music: At certain points in the film, orchestral music could be heard. This type of music would normally come into the movie anytime a new location was introduced. I thought this was an interesting choice because it fit the film’s overall tone. The orchestral music was grand yet sinister, highlighting Paul and Elisabeth’s journey through wealth and growing up. In one scene, Elisabeth’s husband, Michael, sings a song while playing the piano. Not only did the piano music sound good, but the song was also sung well. The music’s role in Les Enfants Terribles brought a special significance to the project!

 

The dynamics of the characters: Les Enfants Terribles puts more focus on the characters than the story itself. Despite this, it was fascinating to see how the characters interacted with one another. Throughout the film, lives are transformed and relationships are built among Paul, Elisabeth, and the people around them. What makes this part of the movie work is the screen-writing as well as the acting. These two elements provide the perfect combination for making the characters as interesting as they were.

Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of explanation for Paul and Elisabeth’s “game”: During the movie, Paul and Elisabeth play a game that only the two of them know about. However, no explanation to what this game is or how it’s played was ever given in the story. While watching the film, I tried to figure out more about the game. But, without an explanation, it was very difficult to understand the importance of it. I also noticed that this game was featured in the story when it was convenient for the plot. This is because the game itself was mentioned on very few occasions.

 

A misleading premise: According to Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website, Les Enfants Terribles is about “a brother and sister close themselves off from the world by playing an increasingly intense series of mind games with the people who dare enter their lair”. As I’ve already mentioned, Paul and Elisabeth’s “game” wasn’t well explained or featured in the movie for very long. The sibling relationship of Paul and Elisabeth seemed very toxic, from calling each other names to treating each other horribly. If anything, this movie was about two things: siblings who grow apart and a young woman who slowly becomes obsessed with power and control. Since the movie was different than its synopsis, I found TCM’s description to be misleading.

 

An unclear time-line: Les Enfants Terribles takes place over the course of several years. But, to me, this movie felt like all the events happened within a year. This was because there were no clear explanations about when certain situations were taking place. Time-cards and any mentions of the year were not found in this movie. Even the narrator didn’t talk about how much time had passed. The film’s time-line became very confusing, leaving me wondering how many years were included in the story. Because of the unclear time-line, the characters appeared as if they were frozen in time.

3 paris
Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I ended up liking Les Enfants Terribles more than I thought I would! It was an interesting film that had a few surprises in store. The movie itself is a character study/character driven story, showing how they evolve as time goes on. The acting was really good and the characters were well developed, helping this narrative become engaging. As I was watching Les Enfants Terribles, I could see some of the Breen Code’s influence. One example was anytime the doctor came to examine Paul. Either the examination itself was not shown on-screen or the doctor would only be shown listening to Paul’s heartbeat. However, when it came to this film, the Breen Code could have been enforced more. There were several times where characters were swearing, either at each other or just for the sake of it. This shocked me because not only was Les Enfants Terribles released in 1950, but it was also released during the Breen Code era. I was surprised that this movie got away with having this much language in the early ‘50s. Was this particular film the beginning of the end for the Breen Code? That’s definitely a question for another day.

 

Overall score: 7 out of 10

 

Have you ever watched a French film? Which foreign film have you always wanted to see? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Madeleine Review (Clean Movie Month — #3)

When I discovered the film, Madeleine, on Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website, the movie’s premise is what caught my attention. I recorded the film on my DVR and saved it for a special occasion. Since Madeleine was released in 1950, during the Breen Code era, I finally found that special occasion. While learning more about the movie, I made some surprising discoveries. The first was who the director is. David Lean not only directed Madeleine, but he also directed Lawrence of Arabia, which I reviewed last November. Another discovery I made was where the film was made. Madeleine was created in the United Kingdom, meaning that it’s considered a foreign film. The fact that this movie was approved by the Breen Code, as the logo can be seen during the opening credits, surprised me. This is because I was given the impression, after reading the article, “The Production Code of 1930’s Impact on America” from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, that foreign films weren’t directly impacted by the Breen Code. On IMDB, Madeleine is labeled as a crime drama. This detail made me curious as to how the Breen Code would influence this story. Well, the wait is over, as it’s now time to review 1950’s Madeleine!

Madeleine poster
Madeleine poster created by The Rank Organization. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Madeleine_1950.jpg.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I liked watching the various acting performances in this film! Everyone did a good job with the acting material they were given! This is especially the case for the star of the movie. Throughout Madeleine, Ann Todd carried the movie with versatility. This helped her portrayal of the titular character be as believable as possible. Another performance that I enjoyed seeing was Ivan Desny’s! The way he portrayed Emile L’Angelier came across very believably. One such example is anytime Emile appeared ill. Like Ann, Ivan brought versatility to his performance. It worked in his favor, as his character was captivating to watch on-screen!

 

The setting: Like I said about Jersey Boys, the world in Madeleine was well crafted! All of the locations, as well as other aspects of the film, looked and felt like the movie’s respective time period. Even the artwork on the walls of the Smith family home reflected the Victorian era. This showed me that the creative team behind this movie were very detail oriented, caring about what was presented on-screen. Also, like Jersey Boys, the world in Madeleine was very immersive! It made the audience feel like visiting this created world was possible.

 

The on-screen chemistry: I was pleasantly surprised by the on-screen chemistry of Ann Todd and Ivan Desny! Anytime they were on-screen together, they made the relationship of Madeleine and Emile appear believable. Because of this, it was interesting to watch their relationship evolve as the film went on. Ann and Ivan’s on-screen chemistry kept me invested in their on-screen interactions. Even though I knew the fate of Madeleine and Emile’s relationship, I was curious about which directions they would go in. This aspect of the characters definitely added something interesting to the story!

265038-P4TIN9-926
Envelope with hearts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/hearts-and-pink-envelope-for-mothers-day_1950691.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/love”>Love image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The accents: As I said in my Jersey Boys review, accents in movies can be hit or miss. The characters in Madeleine had accents, but they didn’t reflect where they were from. This story takes place in Glasgow, Scotland. However, every member of the Smith family speaks with a British accent. Emile L’Angelier is known as a Frenchmen. While Ivan tried his best to speak with a French accent, it wasn’t consistent enough to sound believable. More often than not, Ivan could be heard speaking with a British accent. I understand that the film was created in the United Kingdom. But it never felt like an effort was made from the film’s creative team to encourage the appropriate accents for their characters.

 

A drawn-out plot: Madeleine is about a woman who is accused of murdering her lover. However, the crime itself isn’t featured in the story until the film’s half-way point. The first half of the movie is dedicated to showing the build-up to the crime. Personally, I think this part of the story didn’t need to last that long. At most, the build-up could have been fifteen or twenty minutes. If this was done, the narrative would get straight to the point, expressing the script’s idea sooner. This also could have helped shorten the film’s run-time.

 

A lack of mystery: When I found out that this film was considered a crime drama, I was looking forward to seeing a mysterious and intriguing story unfold on-screen. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of mystery in this movie. The creative team behind Madeleine tried to incorporate a mystery in the second half of the film. But because the build-up to the crime was featured in the first half of the story, the second half wasn’t as effective as the creative team had hoped. Madeleine should have taken place during Madeleine’s trial, with flashbacks coming into the story during people’s testimonies. With this approach to the story-telling, the audience could have been left wondering throughout the film if Madeleine was, indeed, guilty.

Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

My overall impression:

Madeleine made me feel the same way that Jersey Boys did. Both films are just ok. There are things about them that I can appreciate. Yet, they were held back from being better than they were. I expected more from Madeleine, thinking I would get an intriguing mystery story. Instead, the narrative was drawn-out and the mystery aspect was poorly executed. But, throughout the movie, I could tell that the creative team behind Madeleine had put in an effort to make the best film they could. Similar to Citizen Kane, I could see the Breen Code’s influence within Madeleine. Anytime Madeleine and Emile kissed, they turned their heads to hide the kiss from the audience. All of their kisses only lasted a few seconds. Madeleine and Emile engaged in an affair throughout the film. But because of how the script was written, their relationship was never labeled as an affair. Also, the word “affair” was never said by any of the characters. After watching this film, I’m now curious to find out what other foreign films were approved by the Breen Code.

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of David Lean’s films? Which foreign film released during the Breen Code era is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Citizen Kane Review (Clean Movie Month — #2)

For my second review for Clean Movie Month, I decided to talk about Citizen Kane! Yes, the same movie that received a lot of critical acclaim and was placed in the number one spot on AFI’s list of the Top 100 Movies of All Time. This was the first time I had ever seen this film. Since I happened to have this movie on my DVR, I finally had an excuse to watch it. It’s interesting to see how many films from the Breen Code era have become beloved classics. On AFI’s list, twenty-nine films are from the Breen Code era. This tells me that the beliefs of Joseph I. Breen and the way he saw film are not only important to film history, but also to cinema in general. So, without further ado, let’s give this review of 1941’s Citizen Kane a grand welcome!

Citizen Kane poster
Citizen Kane poster created by Mercury Productions and RKO Radio Pictures. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/89/Citizen-Kane/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I was pleasantly surprised by the acting performances in Citizen Kane! Before watching this movie, I had never known that Orson Welles was an actor. His portrayal of Charles Kane impressed me more than I expected! Orson’s ability to convey emotions at the right moments enhanced his performance, making his character appear more realistically. Another performance that I was impressed with was Dorothy Comingore’s! She made her character, Susan, interesting by the way she interacted with the other cast members/characters. Her reactions to different situations made Susan feel like she was more than just a character. From performing at the opera to meeting Charles for the first time, Susan came across as a real-life person on-screen.

 

The evolution of Charles Kane: The majority of this story is about the life of Charles Kane. Throughout the film, the audience gets to witness how he evolves as a person. This evolution is shown in a very believable way! The screen-writing and the acting performance of Orson Welles helped make this part of the story effective. Besides portraying the lead character, Orson co-wrote the film’s script. Because of this, it shows that he appeared to have an understanding of not only the character he was portraying, but also the character he was writing.

 

The cinematography: Citizen Kane had some interesting cinematography! Toward the beginning of the film, the camera appeared to use a special lens that made the audience feel like they were looking through Charles’ fallen snow-globe. This gave that scene a unique visual perspective. In some scenes, a person was in the foreground and another person was in the background. One example is when Charles is finishing Jedediah’s article about Susan’s opera performance. This was an interesting way of showing who the focus of the scene was. The cinematography in this film made the overall project have a compelling visual aesthetic!

Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • No connection to the characters: When characters are introduced in a film, there is always a chance for the audience to connect with, at least, one of them. An experience that a character has or a character’s unique talent can help make this connection happen. In Citizen Kane, however, I never felt like I was able to connect with any of the characters. Yes, I got to know them over the course of the story. But, getting to know a character and connecting with them are two different things. What didn’t help was having other people share Charles Kane’s life-story. This reminded me of the movie, Edward, My Son, where the audience never gets to connect with the character of Edward, but get to know him through the dialogue of the other characters. The only thing that the audience could do was observe Charles’ story. Charles himself, as well as the other characters, always felt like they kept their distance from anyone watching the film.

 

  • Drawn-out scenes: There were several scenes in Citizen Kane that lasted longer than they should have. One example is when Emily and Charles’ marriage is deteriorating. I understand that the purpose of this scene was to show how Emily and Charles’ relationship evolved as time went on. However, this idea could have been expressed in a shorter amount of time. Another example is when Susan is putting her puzzles together. Similar to my previous statement, I understand that this scene was meant to show how trapped and isolated Susan felt in her new home. But, again, the visual explanation of this concept could have been shortened.

 

  • The run-time: The more I review movies on 18 Cinema Lane, the more I notice that a film’s run-time can make or break that film. This goes for Citizen Kane, whose run-time was one hour and fifty-nine minutes. Personally, I think this run-time made the movie feel longer than it was intended. This is probably why some scenes felt drawn-out, as I previously mentioned. I think Citizen Kane could have benefited from having a run-time set at one hour and about twenty minutes. That way, drawn-out scenes are shortened and their ideas would be straight to the point.

OYHKOT0
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My overall impression:

So, now that I’ve finally seen Citizen Kane, it’s time for me to share my overall impression of the movie. Personally, I thought it was just decent. It’s not as good or great as other people have claimed it to be. The way I feel about this movie is similar to how I felt about The Christmas Card. There are so many Hallmark fans who like or love that film, yet I think it’s just ok. In my opinion, Citizen Kane has been over-hyped as the years have gone on. But I’m glad I gave this movie a chance because I can now form my own honest opinion about it! The effect of the Breen Code was more obvious in Citizen Kane than in Stowaway. One example is when Charles says “Gosh only knows”. Also, in this story, there’s a subplot about Charles having an affair with Susan. Because of the way the script was written, the idea of an affair or the word itself is never explicitly stated. Even though I didn’t like Citizen Kane as much as other people did, it’s nice to see a Breen Code era film receive a good amount of recognition.

 

Overall score: 7.1 out of 10

 

Have you enjoyed my Clean Movie Month reviews so far? Is your favorite Breen Code era film on AFI’s list of movies? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen