Take 3: A Star Is Born (1937) Review

Prior to Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Fredric March Blogathon, I had never heard of Fredric March himself. But, as with any blogathon, it gave me a good opportunity to introduce myself to new films and talents! While exploring Fredric’s IMDB filmography, I discovered he starred in the 1937 version of A Star Is Born. This is a title I am familiar with because of its multiple remakes. However, this is my first time watching any version of the story. Based on what I’ve heard, A Star Is Born covers some heavier topics. Since the version I’m reviewing was released during The Breen Code era, it will be interesting to see how these topics are presented in the script. But this will never get discovered unless we read my article about A Star Is Born!

A Star Is Born (1937) poster created by Selznick International Pictures and United Artists

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’ll talk about Fredric March’s performance first, as is customary for a blogathon revolving around an actor or actress. Like I mentioned in the introduction, I had never heard of him prior to the event. However, I was really impressed with Fredric’s portrayal of Norman Maine! He did a good job of showing the delicate balance his character was walking; a public figure dealing with an addiction. His acting abilities were also expansive, ranging from dramatic to comedic. At a dinner party, Norman made funny faces when asking the bar-tender for a second drink. Moments later, he angrily threw plates on the floor, upset that Esther/Vicki was disappointed in meeting him. This is a good example of how Fredric can pull off a performance in both styles of acting!

Speaking of Esther/Vicki, I liked Janet Gaynor’s performance! Similar to Fredric March, she was very versatile while portraying the film’s leading lady. Her performance allowed the audience to witness Esther’s/Vicki’s growth as a character. At the beginning of the movie, Esther/Vicki started as a bright-eyed, hopeful young woman who wanted to jump into the world of show-business. As the story progresses, Esther/Vicki gains experience and wisdom, growing up along the way. Since Esther/Vicki and Norman spend most of the movie together, the audience is treated to the banter between Janet and Fredric! A perfect example is during a boxing match, when Norman asks Esther/Vicki to marry him. Both actors never missed a beat and complimented each other so well.

It was nice to see Esther’s/Vicki’s friendship with Danny McGuire. Portrayed by Andy Devine, Danny and Esther’s/Vicki’s friendship provided a bright spot among the film’s heavier moments. Despite being surrounded by the unpredictability of Hollywood, Danny had such a kind heart and was always in Esther’s/Vicki’s corner. This friendship was one of my favorite parts of A Star Is Born and I wish it had featured in the story more.

Showing how tough industry entry is: When Hollywood/show business is featured in a film’s script, the more serious or honest parts of the industry are sometimes glossed over, sugar-coated, or omitted. With A Star Is Born, the creative team wasn’t afraid to show how difficult it is to find success in entertainment. While waiting to apply for a casting agency, Esther/Vicki sees a poster on a wall. This poster stated the number of extras represented by that casting agency. Even though it was a simple moment, it illustrated how so many people shared the same dream as Esther/Vicki. While working a waitress job, Esther/Vicki uses that opportunity to impress the guests with her acting skills. Despite her best efforts, the majority of the guests don’t pay her much attention. Networking is important when it comes to finding employment. But Esther’s/Vicki’s experience shows how it’s not the “end all, be all” in any job search.

The use of mixed-media: Throughout A Star Is Born, different forms of media were shown on-screen. For a movie released in 1937, this was not only ahead of its time, but also a pleasant surprise! At the beginning and end of the movie, pieces of a script were featured. These pieces bookended the story, presenting the film as if it were a potential biographic movie. I thought this was a creative way to visually deliver this narrative. When Esther/Vicki finally gets a studio acting job, a close-up of her contract signature can be seen. Even though it was on-screen for a few seconds, it highlighted the reality of Esther’s/Vicki’s next step in her career. The film’s use of mixed-media provided additional context to the story, as well as emphasized important events within the plot.

The Fredric March Blogathon banner created by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society

What I didn’t like about the film:

Limited use of lighting: A Star Is Born featured some scenes that took place at night. But because of the limited lighting in these scenes, it was difficult to see characters’ faces. A great example is when Esther’s/Vicki’s grandmother is giving her granddaughter necessary advice. Throughout this scene, I was only able to see the side of Grandmother Lettie’s face or her face was completely hidden by the darkness. This ended up being a somewhat distracting part of the film. I know the aforementioned scene was supposed to take place while Esther’s/Vicki’s other family members were asleep. However, I think at least one lamp should have been kept on in the room.

Some rushed parts of the story: I understand there’s only so much story one can tell in an hour and fifty minutes. However, there were parts of A Star Is Born that, to me, felt rushed. After Esther’s/Vicki’s studio acceptance, she receives her first job: a small, walk-on role. While practicing her lines for this job, Norman recruits her for the lead role in one of his movies. This part of the story skipped over Esther/Vicki building her resume and earning that lead role. Instead of showing themes of hard work and perseverance, the rushed nature of this plot-point simply showed Esther/Vicki being lucky. Because of how rushed some parts of the story were, it, sometimes, felt like things were moving too fast. Norman and Esther’s/Vicki’s relationship serves as one example, with them getting married after knowing each other for a short period of time.

Omitted components: At the beginning of A Star Is Born, one of Esther’s/Vicki’s biggest doubters is Aunt Mattie. She feels that Esther/Vicki is wasting her time dreaming about something that, she feels, will likely not come true. But Esther/Vicki ends up proving her wrong, becoming a star in Hollywood. Unfortunately, we never see Aunt Mattie realize she was wrong or apologize for not supporting Esther’s/Vicki’s dream. If this had been included in the script, it would have provided an important component. I was surprised that The Great Depression was not mentioned during this story. Considering A Star Is Born took place during 1935 to 1937, I think it should have been brought up in context to the box office. In a newspaper article, it was mentioned how movie theaters were relieved of showing Norman Maine’s pictures due to a cancelled contract. But because The Great Depression could have directly impacted ticket sales, this should have also been considered by the characters.

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

My overall impression:

If you had asked me a month ago who Fredric March was, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer. Now that I have seen at least one of his films, I want to actively seek out more of his projects! Fredric’s performance in A Star Is Born was so strong, I was blown away by its versatility. I also liked seeing him perform alongside Janet Gaynor, as they not only worked well together, but they also had really good banter. While this movie does contain heavier subjects, they were handled in a reverent and mature way. At the same time, these subjects, like Norman’s alcohol addiction, were only brought up enough for the audience to get the point. In my three years of movie blogging, I’ve seen a number of Breen Code era titles. However, this version of A Star Is Born is definitely one of the better ones! As I mentioned in my review, it does have its flaws. Despite that, there’s a lot this movie gets right, making it worthy of a recommendation!

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

Have you seen A Star Is Born? If so, which version is your favorite? Please let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Bathing Beauty Review

Since I participated in last year’s Esther Williams Blogathon, it made sense for me to join the 100 Years of Esther Williams Blogathon. Hosted again by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood, I wanted to review one of Esther’s films this time. I try to watch and write about as many movie recommendations as I can. Because Rebecca from Taking Up Room suggested I check out Bathing Beauty, that’s the film I chose to review! In 2020, for a different blogathon, I saw my first film of Esther’s; 1949’s Take Me Out to the Ball Game. That film gave Esther only one swimming scene, with the majority of her scenes taking place on land. With a movie titled Bathing Beauty, I was excited to see more of Esther’s swimming routines! Also, in 2020, I saw my first movie of Red Skelton’s; 1953’s The Clown. So, I was looking forward to talking about one of his earlier films! Now, let’s dive into this review of Bathing Beauty!

Bathing Beauty poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Things I liked about the film:

The costume designs: One thing I noticed while watching Bathing Beauty was the use of vibrant colors. This can definitely be seen within the film’s costume designs! At the very beginning of the film, Esther wore a hot pink swimsuit with a matching bow. The show-stopping piece, however, was her over-the-shoulder cape! This cream-colored piece was adorned in colorful flower appliques, adding touches of bright green, yellow, and pink. Besides pink, red was a common color found among the costumes. The students at Victoria College wore a uniform that consisted of a khaki dress. Red berets and neck ties provided a pop of color, not only pairing nicely with the khaki material, but also complimenting light and dark hair colors. During the performance of “I Cried for You”, Helen Forrest wore a rusty red colored dress. While the shape and style of the dress itself was simple, there was a sparkly belt and neckline. This small detail helped Helen’s dress appear elegant and appealing to the eye.

Red Skelton’s comedy: As I mentioned in my review of The Clown, I am familiar with Red Skelton as an entertainer. This knowledge caused me to be disappointed by the limited use of comedy in that film. Because Bathing Beauty is a romantic comedy, the material gave Red Skelton more opportunities to showcase his comedic talents. The ballet lesson from The Clown also appeared in Bathing Beauty. This time, Red’s character, Steve, took the lesson because it was a part of the college curriculum. Even after a year of first seeing it, this scene is still hilarious! The slapstick nature of Red’s comedy and the graceful reputation of ballet creates a funny oxymoron. Sometimes, Red’s comedy could be heard within the script. While at a local bar, Steve and a fellow patron explain their problems using nearby fruit. When Steve chooses to represent himself through a pineapple, he makes a comment about how he needs a haircut. Little comments like that one help include comedy into conversations among the characters!

The cinematography: An element within Bathing Beauty that stood out was the cinematography! It surprised me how good it was, especially for a film released in 1944! Anytime Esther swam underwater, those scenes were captured very well, presenting a clear view of what was happening under the surface. This added to the appeal of the swimming/water related scenes within the movie. In one scene, Esther’s character, Caroline, kisses Steve by the poolside. As she slowly dips under the water, Steve’s face follows her, with a close-up shot of his face shown under the water as well. Keeping in mind the limited technology of the ‘40s, these scenes were, to an extent, ahead of their time. A few scenes featured Harry James and His Music Makers. During these scenes, Harry was captured in close-up and medium shots. The camera also moved with him, presenting the illusion that Harry was floating among the orchestra. Because he was the star of those performances, this was a interesting way of highlighting Harry’s importance in those scenes!

100 Years of Esther Williams blogathon banner created by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A somewhat misleading title: This movie is not only called Bathing Beauty, but it also stars Esther Williams. Therefore, certain expectations are placed on the film for those reasons. While we do see Esther in the pool, this was shown for two scenes: toward the beginning and end of the movie. The rest of the film shows Esther spending more time on land. Even when Basil Rathbone’s character, George, mentions a water pageant on several occasions, this was not the main focus of the overall story. After having Take Me Out to the Ball Game as my introduction to Esther’s filmography, I was left a little disappointed.

Red and Esther’s on-screen chemistry: While I have seen at least one film of Esther’s and Red’s, this was my first time seeing a movie starring both of them. Throughout the movie, they had nice on-chemistry. However, I thought Red had stronger on-screen chemistry with Jean Porter. Portraying one of the students at Victoria College, Jean displayed an on-screen personality that was similar to Red’s, coming across as easy-going and spunky. During the musical number, “I’ll Take the High Note”, Red and Jean performed so well together. I wanted Steve and Caroline to work out their relationship issues. But because of “I’ll Take the High Note”, I wish Jean and Red had led a film together.

A weak connection between the story and musical numbers: Musicals can be an enjoyable experience. Songs and instrumentals can progress a story forward, as well as help the audience get to know the story’s characters. With Bathing Beauty, there were several musical numbers sprinkled throughout the film. But anytime a musical number took place, it caused the story to pause. Even though these musical numbers were entertaining, the only one that directly connected to the film’s narrative was “I’ll Take the High Note”. This is because the number was a part of an assignment Steve had to complete in order to pass his music class. As I mentioned earlier, a water pageant is brought up on multiple occasions. However, this was the only water related spectacle in the movie. Because Esther was one of the stars of the film and because the story takes place in two states surrounding water (California and New Jersey), this feels, to an extent, like a missed opportunity for more water related numbers.

String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

The end of any Olympics is an exciting time. A closing ceremony filled with spectacle and awe give athletes, fans, and people from that host country something to look forward to. As this year’s Tokyo Olympics come to a close, I can’t but think of blogathons being similar to the Olympics. Think of it like this: the athletes that represent a particular country share one common goal. That goal is to bring home as many medals as realistically possible. The Olympics themselves have a start and end date, taking place in a different location. While there are typically no prizes involved in blogathons, participants share a common goal: talk about and celebrate the chosen subject. In this case, that subject is Esther Williams. Like the Olympics, Michaela’s event is an annual one that has a clear start and end date. Yes, it is known that Esther never went to the Olympics as planned. But I’d like to think she became a champion in her own right. An Olympic podium turned into an aqua-musical stage. Gold medals became a thirty-three project filmography. Instead of hearing the National Anthem after an Olympic win, show tunes are the chosen sound within Esther’s performances. I’d also like to think Esther paved the way for swimmers that came after her. Maybe aquamusicals haven’t made a comeback, but swimmers have been able to find own their success, almost like Esther did.

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

Have you seen any of Esther Williams’ films? If so, which one would you want me to review next? Tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Karate Kid (1984) Review (Olympic Dreams Double Feature Part 1)

For my first two blogathons, I wrote editorials as my contribution for the event. These articles were ‘Phantom of the Megaplex’ at 20: A Reflection on the Movie-Going Experience and Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbooks: How Relevant are They Anyway? This time around, I wanted to do something different. Therefore, I chose to write a double feature review! Because this year’s blogathon is Olympic themed, I selected The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part II. In 1984, the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles. The Karate Kid not only takes place in California, but it was also released in 1984. Years ago, I had seen about half of this movie. As I said in my review for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, I am willing to give films a second chance if I haven’t finished them or haven’t watched them in several years. It’s been a long while since I have seen The Karate Kid, so I thought my blogathon would provide a good excuse to revisit it.

The Karate Kid (1984) poster created by Delphi II Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions, and Columbia Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The interactions among the characters: In stories that heavily rely on the relationships between various characters, how well-acted those characters are and the quality of their interactions will make or break that story. With The Karate Kid, these interactions served as one of the strongest parts of the film! That is because all of them felt natural and believable. When Daniel and Ali go to Gold N’ Stuff for the first time, you can see these characters are genuinely having a good time. They acted the way you’d expect a typical teenager would; smiling while racing each other at the go-kart track, laughing as their bumper boat crashed into another boat, and critiquing their pictures from the photobooth. Because of Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue’s performance, as well as the script, their relationship came across as realistic. When it comes to Daniel’s relationship with Mr. Miyagi, we are given the opportunity to witness healthy mentor/student interactions. If one were given instructions, but not the reason behind those instructions, it can be easy to get frustrated. This happens after Daniel receives a series of instructions from Mr. Miyagi. But when Daniel discovers the reason why he has been following these instructions, you start to see him gain an understanding and appreciation for what Mr. Miyagi has taught him. Similar to what I said before about Daniel and Ali’s relationship, this period of learning and discovery contains a lot of realism. It shows that, with the right support and guidance, we can learn things such as how to think for ourselves.

The cinematography: The Karate Kid is a movie that has better cinematography than most of the film fan community gives it credit for. To prove my point, I will bring up one of the film’s earliest scenes as an example. At the beginning of the movie, Daniel and his mom are driving through Arizona. This particular scene starts with a medium shot, placing primary emphasis on Daniel’s mom’s car. As their journey down this road plays out, the camera pulls away from the car and delivers a long shot of a section of the Grand Canyon. Characters’ interactions are also captured well on film! At a Halloween party, Daniel is dressed up as a shower. When Ali wants to talk to Daniel, she goes behind the costume’s curtain. Their conversation is shown in a close-up shot, which allows the audience to feel like they are that small space with Ali and Daniel. I really liked how the karate tournament was filmed! It involved a combination of medium and close-up shots, allowing the audience to witness the action. The camera was also steady, which made the scenes appear clear.

The music: Music is an important component of any movie. A song or instrumental piece can elevate the mood within a scene or highlight a scene’s intended point. The scene where Daniel attends his first day of school serves as a great example. In the background, “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama can be heard. Having this song play during this scene makes sense for several reasons. Daniel’s story starts in September, which is technically summer until September 21st or as late as September 24th. Daniel is also having a difficult time adjusting to his new home, believing the move to be a “cruel” gesture on his mother’s part. The music itself is light with a higher tempo, as the sunny California environment pairs nicely with the tune. The struggles Daniel is experiencing are heavily emphasized, with the help of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer”.

Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The on again/off again nature of Daniel and Ali’s relationship: I liked seeing Daniel and Ali together and I thought Ralph and Elisabeth had good on-screen chemistry. However, I didn’t like the on again/off again nature of their relationship. I know that every relationship, whether platonic or romantic, has their issues to deal with. I also understand that a relationship where both parties are younger are going to handle those issues differently than a relationship where both parties are older. With Ali and Daniel, they became frustrated over their issues too easily. This causes them to enter and exit their relationship too quickly. While I was glad to see Daniel and Ali work things out, I wish they were less hasty about their relationship by talking things through.

A limited presence of karate fight sequences: The Karate Kid is not an action movie, but a coming-of-age story where one develops a better understanding of karate. Even though I knew that before watching this film, I feel the presence of karate fight sequences was limited. We see about three fight sequences toward the beginning of the film, with the majority of them taking place during the tournament. The rest of the story focuses on Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel the foundations of karate. In the middle of the movie, I think there should have been one or two fight sequences. For example, instead of simply showing Mr. Miyagi breaking the loiters’ glass bottles at the beach, a karate fight sequence had taken place. That way, the excitement that comes from these sequences would be consistent throughout the movie.

Small details that don’t make sense: While watching The Karate Kid, I noticed some small details that, to me, didn’t make sense. In one scene, Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel that karate is about what is in your mind and heart, not about what belt you have. If that is the case, why do belt ranks exist in the first place? Why work toward earning another belt when what’s in your mind and heart are more important? At the tournament, the people running the event acted like they weren’t familiar with Mr. Miyagi’s “dojo”. Yet, on the scoreboard, there is a pre-made logo next to Daniel’s name. How was this logo able to be made if no one organizing the tournament had heard of Mr. Miyagi’s “dojo”?

Martial arts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/red”>Red vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

My overall impression:

The Karate Kid is a film that is considered a “classic” for good reason. It not only features exciting karate fight sequences, but it also uses one-liners well and has a strong script. But, in my opinion, the reason why the 1984 picture has earned this title is because it’s the type of movie that sticks with you. “Wax on, Wax off” is one of the most quotable lines in film history. Whenever I hear that line, I think about how there’s a reason for everything. I also remember how Daniel had to learn the meaning of “Wax on, Wax off” for himself instead of Mr. Miyagi telling him what it means. The Karate Kid is also a movie that has the ability to make you think. Whether or not this was intentional, you can’t help but reflect on the things that Mr. Miyagi says. You also can’t help but think about how those things can apply to real life. It’s been amazing exploring the world of ‘80s cinema. I’ve found some hidden gems, revisited some classics, and stumbled upon some stinkers. With The Karate Kid, I’d say it is definitely a keeper! I hope you stick around, because I’ll be reviewing this story’s second chapter!

Overall score: 8.2 out of 10

Have you seen The Karate Kid? Are you looking forward to my review of The Karate Kid Part II? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Crow: City of Angels Review

Because I received positive responses for the way I wrote my review of The Crow, I decided to write another open letter. This time, I’ve addressed it to The Crow: City of Angels. As I mentioned before, this isn’t the typical writing style I adopt for my reviews. But it’d only be fair to present this article in a similar fashion. Now, let me start this letter to The Crow: City of Angels.

The Crow: City of Angels poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Crow_2.jpg.

An Open Letter to The Crow: City of Angels,

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of my editorial that I wrote back in May. You know the one; about how the Tim Pope cut should be released. A question you’re probably asking is “How can you advocate for a cut of a movie you’ve never seen”? Well, I’m glad you asked! I first learned about your experience with “studio intervention” from the Youtube video, “Exploring The Crow City of Angels”. I was not happy to hear what you had to go through, thinking it a circumstance that should have never happened. While scrolling through the video’s comment section, I read responses from people who expressed interest in seeing the Tim Pope cut. But despite this interest, it seemed like nothing was being done about the situation. From how I saw it, wishful thinking overshadowed any plans or ideas. After Justice League’s Snyder Cut was announced for a 2021 release, I knew it was the perfect time to bring up the Tim Pope cut and explain why it’s important. When other films were brought up in the discussion of special cuts, you weren’t really added to the conversation. So, I’m actually doing you a favor by advocating on your behalf. By the way, my original plan was to watch you and your predecessor, The Crow, around Halloween. But I’m guessing they told you about my change of plans.

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.

Because of a grammatical error I stumbled across on the internet, where your title was written as The Crow, City of Angels, I honestly thought Vincent Perez had starred in your predecessor. However, when I discovered The Crow Wiki, I learned he was the lead actor in the second chapter. Like I’ve said about movies like Swept from the Sea and Cyrano Bergerac, Vincent’s involvement is what made me want to check you out. In the previous films of Vincent’s I’ve seen, he always steals the show for the right reasons. He certainly did that this time around! Similar to Brandon’s portrayal of Eric, Vincent brought an emotional intensity that made his performance captivating to watch! However, he went out of his way to set his character, Ashe, apart by adding a sense of showmanship to his role. In a scene where some of the villains are shooting at Ashe in a club, Ashe acts performative about the situation, using the violence against him in his one-man show. He even bows after the villains have finished shooting. This acting decision ended up working in Vincent’s favor! I’m not sure how much acting experience Iggy Pop had prior to his casting. However, I feel he did a fairly good job with the material he was given! While portraying Curve, one of the villains, Iggy effectively showcased the anger and frustration a person in that situation or environment might feel. This can be seen when Curve goes to Noah’s tattoo parlor and fights with Sarah. As Curve’s hostility grew, I quickly became concerned for Sarah and Noah’s safety. This scene showed me that Iggy’s performance was convincing. Speaking of Sarah, I liked seeing Mia Kirshner portray this character! Through her performance, she brought a calmness that the world surrounding Sarah was missing. Sarah’s gentle demeanor was a physical representation that hope wasn’t completely lost. This definitely worked in Mia’s favor, as it helped her performance stand out!

Paint palette image created by Freepik at freepik.com <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-artsy-tools_836777.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/hand”>Hand vector created by Freepik</a> Image found at freepik.com

Over the twenty-four years you have existed, I’m guessing you’re tired of being compared to your predecessor. You so desperately wanted to be your own individual, but “studio intervention” prevented you from doing so. However, I made sure to notice how you were different from the first chapter. Eric and Ashe’s face disguise are just one example. In The Crow, Eric painted his face to resemble a mask he and Shelly owned when they were still alive. Ashe, in The Crow: City of Angels, uses some paints his son, Danny, owned before he died. This contrast shows the personal, semimetal touches each character’s appearance was given. Throughout the second chapter, Ashe moves around Los Angeles by primarily riding on a motorcycle. Because he was a mechanic before he became the Crow, this distinction makes sense. While we’re on the subject of Los Angeles, I really liked your set design! It’s griminess and unruliness showed a different way a city can express chaos. The sets were also colorful, which is the opposite of your predecessor’s black-and-white color palette. Day of the Dead festivities certainly made a contribution, as various masks, flowers and other items related to the holiday helped scenes visually pop. I’m glad you decided to use more light when presenting the story! This decision allowed me to clearly see what was happening on screen. It certainly sets you apart from the first chapter, as they only used a certain amount of light throughout the story.

City of Los Angeles at night image created by Wirestock at freepik.com. City photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

Now it’s time for me to point out your flaws and mishaps. I’m not doing this to be mean, but only to be honest, as I do recognize your horrible experience with “studio intervention”. All of the villains were weak imitations of those who came before them. One perfect example is Sybil, who was the mystical figure Myca was in your predecessor. In a scene where she is explaining the connection between the crow and Ashe to Judah, Sybil sounded like she was quoting Myca word for word. Because of everything I just said, these villains were not allowed to have their own stories and be their own characters. It also made it easier for me to root for Ashe, as the villains didn’t have anything interesting or unique to offer. While I don’t have anything against Grace herself, I found her to be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. She didn’t add anything to the story or have a strong reason for being in that world. I’m guessing this was a “studio intervention” related decision, where the studio wanted Los Angeles to have their own “Sarah”. The difference between Sarah in The Crow and Grace in The Crow: City of Angels is Sarah receiving a vital role in the first chapter, serving as a reminder for Eric to keep his moral compass. In the second chapter, Grace could have been written out of the story and not much would change.

Breaking heart image created by Kjpargeter at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/broken-heart-valentine-background_1041991.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Now that I mention Sarah, I was not a fan of her and Ashe’s attraction for one another. This has nothing to do with the characters themselves or the actors portraying them. I just found this part of the story to be unnecessary. This is because nothing became of this attraction, which prevented it from going anywhere. Even Ashe warns Sarah against this attraction, as he tells her that nothing will likely happen. If Ashe knew this all along, then why would he even entertain this idea in the first place? I could see what you were trying to do; give Ashe a conflicting choice between life on Earth and the afterlife. This would have been an interesting concept had more time been devoted to it. Because Ashe and Sarah’s attraction for each other came about so quickly and with everything else happening in the film, it ended up as a spark that had trouble igniting.

The image I created with the hashtag, #ReleasetheTimPopeCut. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

As a movie, you’re a fine, run-of-the-mill action film. But, as a continuation to The Crow story, you were weaker than your predecessor. I did cut you a little bit of slack because of the one thing I’ve been mentioning throughout this letter: “studio intervention”. Now that I have seen you, I still believe the Tim Pope cut should see the light of day. You do deserve to be the movie you were meant to be and we the audience and fans deserve to see that happen. On 18 Cinema Lane, I feature a crow image with the hashtag, #ReleasetheTimPopeCut, on the homepage. This is so people who come to my blog can easily find my editorial and read it for themselves. I also posted the aforementioned hashtag on all of 18 Cinema Lane’s social media accounts. If you know anyone who wants to see the Tim Pope cut, please tell them to speak up. Paramount, the studio you now call “home”, will never hear the fans unless they say something. All I’m asking is for you to be kind and respectful if you share this letter with others. I recently watched Lee’s video review from his Youtube channel, Drumdums. When addressing the horrible circumstance you went through, he contemplated the likelihood of the Tim Pope cut’s release. While he felt anything was possible, he also didn’t believe this cut would ever be seen. As I close this letter, I’d like to remind Lee and those who may have doubts of what Eric said in The Crow: “It can’t rain all the time”.

Sincerely,

Sally Silverscreen

P.S. I’m giving you a score of 7 out of 10.

If you want to watch Lee’s review of The Crow: City of Angels, you can find it on Youtube by typing “The Crow: City of Angels Movie Review” into the search bar or visiting his channel, Drumdums.

Oh, The Places She’ll Go: A Map of Esther Williams’ Travels

When I think of Esther Williams, the pool at Michigan’s Grand Hotel always comes to mind! As one of the hotel’s many amenities, the pool is named after one of Hollywood’s most popular stars because the movie, This Time for Keeps, was filmed at the hotel. As I thought about this beloved place in the Great Lakes State, I started to wonder if there were other places across the country or the world where Esther left her legacy. I also thought about the places where Esther visited or frequented. This became the inspiration for my entry in Michaela’s Esther Williams Blogathon! My list consists of nine locations that share a connection with the actress herself. Each listing will feature facts and insight about that specific spot. I wasn’t able to visit any of these places due to the Coronavirus. Because of this, I had to include screenshots from my phone of photos I found on the internet. Most of the information in this list is from Esther’s Wikipedia page.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Williams

The Esther Williams Blogathon banner created by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Image found at http://loveletterstooldhollywood.blogspot.com/2020/06/esther-williams-blogathon-announcement.html.

Manhattan Beach

Location: Los Angeles County, California

Status: Active

If we’re going to talk about the places in Esther’s life, we need to start with the beginning of her story. Born in Inglewood, California, Esther visited Manhattan Beach with her sister, Maurine, according to Wikipedia. While it’s unknown which specific places Esther frequented, it’s safe to assume she would have found a way to partake in the sport that brought her joy. On the Parks and Recreation site for Manhattan Beach, I came across the page for Begg Pool. Offering classes and times for lap and recreational swimming, the Begg Pool provides swimmers with a place to learn new skills and grow as athletes. As I was explored Manhattan Beach’s Park and Recreation site, I discovered the offering of performance arts classes. I also came across the page for the annual Shakespeare by the Sea event. Having these acting opportunities available in Manhattan Beach makes a lot of sense when it comes to discussing Esther Williams. Because she became an actress after she became an established swimmer, the inclusion of acting and swimming in Manhattan Beach serves the best of both worlds.

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/aquatics

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/special-events/shakespeare-by-the-sea

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/cultural-arts/events-camps-and-classes

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/aquatics.

Los Angeles Athletic Club

Location: Los Angeles, California

Status: Active

On Wikipedia, there is a picture of Esther at the Los Angeles Athletic Club that was taken in 1939. The site also lists her as one of the club’s notable members. When I explored the official website of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, I got the impression the club served as a place for athletes to take their sport seriously. It would make sense for Esther to spend her time at this location, especially since she was an Olympic hopeful. Similar to Manhattan Beach’s Begg Pool, the Aquatics facility at the Los Angeles Athletic Club offers swimming classes. They also provide a conditioning club and a clinic.  Looking at the photo of the pool itself, the main takeaway is the simple style this space boasts. The black and white color palette makes the area seem like it is frozen in time, with the design choice of stripes bringing a sense of elegance. These elements create a facility that feels as timeless as the actress who went there!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Athletic_Club (the club’s official website is included in this Wikipedia page)

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://laac.com/athletics/aquatics/.

Treasure Island

Location: San Francisco, California

Status: Active

In the year, 1940, Esther starred in a water spectacle called ‘Aquacade’. This show was held during the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. The official location of this exposition was Treasure Island, “an artificial island in the San Francisco Bay and a neighborhood in the City and County of San Francisco”, according to Wikipedia. If you’ve never visited this island or had no idea this location existed until you read this article, you might think of the famous ‘Pleasure Island’ from the beloved classic Pinocchio. However, Treasure Island is nothing like the island from Pinocchio’s story. In fact, it serves as a community that could be similar to your own backyard. The island’s official website lists many resources that will sound familiar, such as a bike shop and restaurants. What I find interesting is how an extraordinary event like the Golden Gate International Exposition was held on an island that seems ordinary. It would be fun to travel back in time to see Treasure Island transformed into an elaborate world stage!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_Island,_San_Francisco

https://sftreasureisland.org/treasure-island-businesses-attractions-and-recreation

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101854779/massive-redevelopment-underway-for-treasure-island.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

Location: Beverly Hills, California

Status: Active

Wikipedia states that one of the clauses in Esther Williams’ contract with MGM was “that she receive a guest pass to The Beverly Hills Hotel where she could swim in the pool every day”. After watching a video featuring this pool on the hotel’s website, I definitely see the appeal of this location! Similar to the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Aquatics facility, stripes are a design staple around the pool. They can be found in the seat cushions and the table umbrellas. Pink, green, and white serve as the the pool area’s color palette. Cabanas surrounding the pool showcase this palette beautifully. With the accent wall boasting a green leaf pattern, the two surrounding walls are a solid pink. A crème sofa and chair serve as seating options in this space. Wood furniture completes the overall look, capturing a classic style that has stood the test of time!

https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/the-beverly-hills-hotel/the-pool/

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/the-beverly-hills-hotel/the-pool/.

The Esther Williams Pool

Location: Mackinac Island, Michigan

Status: Active

Another hotel pool Esther frequented that joins this list! Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel was the filming location for the 1947 film, The Time for Keeps. Because of Esther’s involvement in the movie, the pool has been officially named the Esther Williams Pool!  Tanda Gmiter from MLive writes how Esther Williams and her film benefited the hotel’s longevity. The years when World War II took place were difficult for Mackinac Island’s crown jewel. The article states “during those lean war years, the Grand Hotel faced the same dismal predicament shared by many resorts: A long-term lack of paying guests”. However, a chance encounter would change the course of history for the hotel and those associated with the movie. Tanda says “someone connected to the film had seen a little 10-minute travelogue featuring the island that was done in 1944. When they were scouting sites for the Williams’ film, Mackinac seemed like a natural fit”. Since the release of The Time for Keeps, Grand Hotel has experienced years of success and has become an icon in Michigan.

https://www.mlive.com/travel/2018/07/how_a_hollywood_star_in_a_swim.html

https://www.grandhotel.com/activities/esther-williams-pool/

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.mlive.com/travel/2018/07/how_a_hollywood_star_in_a_swim.html.

Cypress Gardens

Location: Winter Haven, Florida

Status: Preserved

The 1953 movie, Easy to Love, was filmed in this particular destination, “where a swimming pool in the shape of the state of Florida had been built specifically for the film”. Wikipedia says “Cypress Gardens was a botanical garden and theme park near Winter Haven, Florida that operated from 1936 to 2009”. It was the Sunshine State’s first theme park, boasting attractions like water skiing, dinner cruises, and garden tours. This location was included in a 2014 list from the National Register of Historic Places.  Easy to Love was not the only Florida-filmed project Esther worked on, as she starred in multiple movies and television programs from the ‘50s and ‘60s. While the theme park has been closed and replaced with another one, Legoland Florida, the botanical garden is preserved inside the new park. In fact, it is included as one of their featured attractions!

https://web.archive.org/web/20070713205521/http://www.cypressgardens.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypress_Gardens

https://web.archive.org/web/20140426235832/http://www.nps.gov/nr/listings/20140425.htm

https://www.legoland.com/florida/map-explore/land-views/cypress-gardens/attractions/botanical-gardens/

While the Florida shaped pool still takes residence in Legoland Florida, it’s now used as a fountain. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiBkULOrf7Y.

Wembley Arena

Location: London, England

Status: Active

According to Wikipedia, Esther “starred in an aqua-special at Wembley Stadium in London”. A photo from 1956 reveals the event actually took place at Empire Pool, which is located near Wembley Stadium. The website Television Obscurities shares how this event was meant to serve as a part of an on-going tour lasting from 1956 to 1958. Poor reviews for the 1957 show caused this tour to be cut short. While I wasn’t able to find any photos of this event and a recording of the event itself hasn’t resurfaced, the Empire Pool is still part of the English community. Now known as the Wembley Arena, this venue hosts concerts covering a variety of musical genres. The arena is located in Wembley Park, a hub for attractions, entertainment, and leisure activities.

https://www.ssearena.co.uk/your-visit/wembley-park

If you want to learn more about the aqua-special, you can visit the website, tvobscurities.com, and type Esther’s name into the search bar located at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://wembleypark.com/attractions/the-sse-arena-wembley/.

The Raleigh Hotel

Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Status: Active

2010 saw the introduction of the Raleigh Hotel’s Esther Williams suite. This room “incorporates a beach summer theme”, with a basic color palette of white and beige allowing pops of color to be seen. Bright hues of blue, peach, and teal are found in pillows, towels, and curtains. There are three separate areas within the suite: the bedroom, the bathroom, and the main sitting area. Like the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Aquatics facility, the overall design of the suite captures a moment in time. While the style in this space is simple, it does help carry the consistency of the hotel. Its chic and vintage aesthetic make this location appear photogenic.

https://www.suiteness.com/suites/united-states/florida/miami/the-raleigh-hotel/the-esther-williams-suite

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34439-d85180-Reviews-The_Raleigh_Miami_Beach-Miami_Beach_Florida.html

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mercedes-benz-fashion-week-swim-lets-the-sun-in-98595984.html

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.suiteness.com/suites/united-states/florida/miami/the-raleigh-hotel/the-esther-williams-suite.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Location: Los Angeles, California

Status: Active

As we come to an end in our journey through Esther’s travels, we return to the place where we began: California. When Esther attended the first annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival, there was a screening of her film, Neptune’s Daughter, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s pool. This choice was fitting, since she spent a lot of time around pools during her life. The style around this area is much simpler than The Beverly Hills Hotel’s pool area. However, it works with its respective hotel’s interior designs. The white pool chairs with the hotel’s official monogram promote a more classic flare that is carried throughout the hotel. It lets the pool itself be the focal point, with the light and dark shades of blue complimenting the chairs surrounding it. This space provides a memorable view from the various suites that are offered. With the hotel itself surrounding the pool, it makes this feature as celebrated as Esther Williams herself.

https://www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com/pool/tropicana-pool-cafe

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com/pool/tropicana-pool-cafe.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: ‘Bill & Ted Face The Music’ Receives a Trailer + More Movie News

Yesterday, on June 9th, Orion Pictures/MGM Studios released an official trailer of the upcoming film, Bill & Ted Face The Music! The studio also released an official poster for the movie! I haven’t seen any of the films in the Bill & Ted series, but I really like what I’ve seen and heard about this third film so far. The poster itself adopts elements that were found in film posters from the past; artistic visuals that come together to create a singular image conveying mystery and intrigue. As for the trailer, I found it hilarious, as it had the kind of random humor that I resonate towards. This marketing campaign makes me want to watch the previous two Bill & Ted films! As of June 2020, the film has an August 21st premiere date. Bill & Ted is not the only Hollywood IP that has received sequel related news. Two weeks ago, Chris Murphy from Vulture reports how Sonic the Hedgehog will get a sequel! According to the article, “Paramount Pictures and Sega Sammy have begun development on a sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog”, which means the project is in the pre-production stage. The producers who have signed on to the film are Neal H. Moritz, Toby Ascher, Toru Nakahara, Hajime Satomi, Haruki Satomi, and Tim Miller. The first film’s director, Jeff Fowler, and screenwriters, Pat Casey and Josh Miller, are coming back for the second movie. While I haven’t seen Sonic the Hedgehog, I think this is great news for Sonic fans and for people who support studios that put their customers first. Even Chris, from Vulture, says “listening to feedback can be incredibly fruitful for everyone involved”. Hopefully, the sequel can be just as successful as its predecessor.

Article link for this news story:

https://www.vulture.com/2020/05/sonic-the-hedgehog-sequel-in-the-works-with-paramount.html

Bill & Ted Face The Music poster created by Orion Pictures, Hammerstone Studios, Dial 9, Dugan Entertainment, TinRes Entertainment, and United Artists Releasing. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bill_and_ted_face_the_music_poster.jpg

Months after Coronavirus forced businesses all over the world to pause their operations, steps are now being taken to reach a state of normalcy. In an article from The Hollywood Reporter, Etan Vlessing discusses how “the Quebec provincial government and health officials have given the green light for film and TV production to resume on June 8 amid the coronavirus pandemic”. Before this decision was made, Manitoba had resumed film and television production in their province of Canada. Toward the end of May, Vancouver Island said “the industry can resume shooting by June”. Robert Buffam, from CTV News, writes about the precautionary steps film and television teams will take to work as safely as possible. Ric Nesh, a television show producer, shares “We may reduce, revise, rewrite scenes without the larger crowds. No we may, we will revise scenes.” In the United States, film studios and movie theaters are making attempts to go back to work. A Hollywood Reporter article from June 8th states “anxious theater owners — and Hollywood studios — are being given the go ahead to flip on the lights later this week by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and the Department of Public Health.” June 12th is the selected date when California’s cinemas may start their operations again. Similar to the film and television industry in Canada, safety precautions will be put in place. One example is adopting a 25% capacity limit “or no more than 100 people per auditorium”.

Sources for this news story:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/quebec-restart-film-production-pandemic-era-safety-guidelines-1297049

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/california-allows-movie-theaters-reopen-june-12-restrictions-1297585

Movie night image created Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/cinema-festival-poster_2875637.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

I know this piece of news relates to television. But because it’s about Hallmark going out of their comfort zone, the story became an exception. Earlier last month, Emre Kaya from The Cinema Spot reported how Hallmark Channel is creating a new television show! The article shares that this is the network’s “first high-budget drama series”, which “is a science fiction soap drama series set on a space colony.” Emre’s post doesn’t reveal much information about the project. As of June 2020, Hallmark has not made an official statement about the show. When I first read this story, I was excited at the idea of Hallmark creating a project that is very different from their norm. On several occasions at 18 Cinema Lane, I have talked about how Hallmark should take creative risks and think outside the box. It looks like they’re starting to pay attention to these ideas. Maybe this show could be the beginning of a new era where creativity and originality reign.

Article link for this news story: https://www.thecinemaspot.com/2020/05/08/exclusive-hallmark-channel-set-to-develop-high-budget-sci-fi-series-first-entry-into-peak-tv/

Colorful galaxy image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/lovely-hand-drawn-galaxy-background_2943080.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.

Are you looking forward to any of these upcoming projects? What will be the first movie you see when theaters are open again? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Have at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Written from the Heart

In the season seven premiere of When Calls the Heart, Lucas says that stories should be written from the heart. As I contemplate those words, I wonder if that’s the reason why this show has lasted as long as it has? This is a program that takes place during a simpler time. Sure, there were difficulties back then. But because of that simplicity, people were given more opportunities to share what was in their heart. Through stories, letters, and face-to-face communication, people could use their words to solve problems or connect with other another. You might be thinking, “Can’t the internet do the same thing”? While this is true, the internet doesn’t always allow us to see someone’s reaction to a story or understand how someone is feeling about it. That is what When Calls the Heart strives to do: understanding the thoughts and feelings of the characters and the fans. The emphasis placed on those two things has helped this show become a place where people can connect with each other and even help one another in times of need. As season seven begins, it will be fascinating to see how the thoughts, words, and actions of Hope Valley’s citizens come from their hearts.

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season premiere of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

When Calls the Heart Season 7 poster
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=When%20Calls%20the%20Heart%20Season%207&episodeIndex=7001.

Season: 7

Episode: 1

Name: A Moving Picture

 

Major Stories:

A journalist named Mary comes to Hope Valley to write a story about Henry Gowan. Henry believes that she’s interested in his business endeavors. However, Mary wants to know more about Henry’s past, including his convictions. Henry tells her that he tries not to dwell on the past. Not satisfied with Henry’s response, Mary turns to Bill for answers. On the subject of Henry’s past, all Bill will say is that Henry is “complicated”. Mary also approaches Lucas with questions about Henry, but Lucas refuses to speak about Henry’s life before he owned a petroleum business. Later, in the evening, Mary receives a phone call from her boss. She learns that her deadline is approaching sooner than she expected. Mary is stressed because she feels she hasn’t learned enough about Henry to write a compelling story. When she shares her dilemma with Fiona, Mary comes up with a brilliant idea. Toward the end of the episode, the citizens of Hope Valley discover that Mary decided to write a story about Fiona instead. Henry feels this decision was made because his story is not as reader-friendly as Fiona’s. Elizabeth confesses to him that every person who was questioned by Mary refused to talk about Henry’s past. Her confession effectively shows Henry that the town supports him.

 

While delivering books to the library, Lucas shares with Elizabeth that his mother was an editor. After she hears this, Elizabeth tells him of her unsuccessful attempts to get her book published. Lucas volunteers to proofread her book and offer her writing advice. She tells him that she’ll consider his help. A few days later, Elizabeth visits the saloon and gives Lucas her book. The next day, Lucas comes to the school after classes are over to share his thoughts on her writing. He tells Elizabeth that her stories are good, but that she should add depth to her characters. He also advises her to write from her heart. After receiving this advice, Elizabeth tries to rewrite her stories. However, she’s finding the experience more difficult than she expected. Because of this, she comes up with a new plan. At Rosemary and Lee’s anniversary party, Elizabeth thanks Lucas for his help and reveals to him that she is going to write a novel instead. At the end of the episode, Elizabeth begins writing her new book, this time titled “A Single Mother on the Frontier”.

169
Hand-written letter image created by Veraholera at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Veraholera – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/love-letter-pattern_1292902.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor Stories:

Lee and Rosemary are preparing for a trip to Los Angeles in honor of their anniversary. The idea of traveling to the Golden State is especially exciting for Rosemary, as she makes her own preparations. These include designing swimsuits for her and Lee as well as purchasing a new pair of sunglasses. Meanwhile, Lee is looking forward to meeting with the owner of a paper plant. If all goes well, Lee feels they could be the lumber mill’s biggest client. One day, at work, Lee receives a phone call from the paper plant’s owner. They inform Lee that the only time they can meet with him is sometime the following week, the same week as Lee and Rosemary’s trip. When Lee tells Rosemary that their trip might have to be postponed, Rosemary agrees to push the trip to the week after the meeting. Feeling guilty about the situation, Lee decides to organize a surprise for his wife. On the night of their anniversary, Lee encourages Rosemary to wear the dress she had planned to wear in Los Angeles. After she agrees, Lee and Rosemary make a trip to the saloon. Rosemary is surprised to discover that Lee not only organized an anniversary party, but a movie screening as well. Rosemary is delighted by Lee’s attempt to make up for their changed plans.

 

Faith surprises Carson by returning home from Hamilton. She tells him that her father is in better health and has moved in with her brother. She also shares that a former colleague offered her the head nurse position at the local hospital in Hamilton. This news conflicts Carson. He missed Faith when she was away and enjoys her company in Hope Valley. But he doesn’t want to hold her back from a great occupational opportunity. At Rosemary and Lee’s party, Carson tells Faith that she should take the nursing job. When Faith feels that Carson is pushing her away so soon after returning home, she leaves the saloon. Carson follows her outside to tell her that he loves her and will support whatever decision she makes. Faith then tells Carson that she loves him.

Retro Device Poster
Image of vintage movie camera created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I really liked the movie/acting related “Easter Eggs” that were included in this script! While talking to Lee, Rosemary mentions Gloria Swanson. Rosemary also says that she would like to take a walk with Lee on Sunset Boulevard. In a conversation with Elizabeth, Rosemary shares that she helped a struggling British actor by advising him to focus on comedy. Through Rosemary’s dialogue, the audience learns that this “struggling actor” was Charlie Chaplin. The way these “Easter Eggs” were woven into the story was so clever! It was nice to see historically relevant references told in a way that today’s audience would recognize!

 

  • Due to the movie screening’s positive response, Lucas announces that the saloon will host a movie night once every month. Because of this, I’m hoping this is the first step toward Rosemary finally receiving her theater! Rosemary, as well the fans, have been waiting for this for a long time. As they say, anything is possible.

 

  • When Mary is struggling to find information about Henry, I honestly thought the writers of the show would pull the “it’s not what you think” cliché. I was expecting Mary to unintentionally write an article that contained embarrassing information about Henry, causing the citizens of Hope Valley to be upset. Seeing Mary write about Fiona instead was a good subversion of expectations. It allowed the writers to be creative in their story-telling and not rely on over-used clichés. This makes me look forward to seeing how the writers go against my expectations!

Red sunset clouds over trees.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on the season seven premiere? Is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing this season? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Romeo Must Die Review

Before I begin this review, I want to apologize for not publishing this article sooner. I’ve been busy not only preparing for Christmas, but also working on projects that are blog and non-blog related. But I finally found the time to post my review for December’s Genre Grandeur! For this round of the blogathon, the theme is “Shakespeare on Film Movies”. At first, I thought this was going to be a challenge. When I searched for possible titles on the internet, however, I realized that there were plenty of films for me to choose from. Out of all those choices, I picked Romeo Must Die! Over the years, I have discovered that Romeo and Juliet retellings can be hit or miss. While I thought Gnomeo & Juliet was cute, I was not a fan of Romeo + Juliet. When I discovered that Romeo Must Die was a modern adaptation of the famous William Shakespeare story featuring martial arts, it raised my interest in this film. For last month’s Genre Grandeur, I reviewed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If you read that review, you would remember that I enjoyed the film. One of the reasons why was the martial arts choreography. But just because there are martial arts in Romeo Must Die, does that mean I’ll enjoy it as much as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Thanks for joining me for this review, as we’re now about to answer that question!

Romeo Must Die poster
Romeo Must Die poster created by Silver Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/romeo-must-die/.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Last Halloween, I reviewed Queen of the Damned. Aaliyah’s portrayal of Queen Akasha is one of the things I liked about that film. I’m not sure how much acting experience she had prior to being cast in Romeo Must Die. But I was very impressed with her performance! The acting material Aaliyah was given allowed her portrayal of Trish to be versatile and well-rounded. In a scene where she shares a childhood memory involving her brother, I felt sympathy toward Trish and her situation. Before watching Romeo Must Die, I had never seen a movie starring Jet Li. However, I enjoyed seeing his performance in this film! One scene shows his character, Han, being informed of his brother’s death. In that scene, there was so much emotion in his facial expressions and body language, that those things were able to convey a message without the use of dialogue. This whole cast was very talented! Not only were they able to pull off a dramatic performance, some actors even delivered a comedic performance. A great example is Anthony Anderson’s portrayal of Maurice. While there were times when this character could be menacing, there were times when he was hilarious. One of the funniest scenes is when Maurice accidently destroys a CD display.

 

The martial arts choreography: The martial arts sequences in Romeo Must Die brought something special to the project! Because this is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, it helps this version of the story stand out from other cinematic retellings. I wasn’t able to find out who choregraphed these sequences. But whoever they are, they deserve recognition for their hard work and effort! All of the martial arts sequences were choregraphed well. They were fast enough to keep up the film’s pace, but not fast enough to confuse audience members with what is happening on screen. Some of the martial arts were incorporated in very creative ways! One example was when it was used during a football game. Since I haven’t seen something like that before, I thought it was a new and exciting way to see martial arts in film!

 

The modernization of Romeo and Juliet: As I said in the introduction, I’ve seen other modern adaptations of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo Must Die’s take on this story was very interesting and made some improvements to the source material. In this movie, the division between the protagonists’ families is given a better and more clear explanation. Business and cultural/racial differences are what creates a separation for these characters. Also, the protagonists, Han and Trish, are aged up. Having them be of adult age actually helps them play a significant contribution to the narrative, allowing them to make an impact on their families and the conflict surrounding them. This is different from the titular characters in William Shakespeare’s story, where they aren’t given much to do because of their youth.

766651
Martial arts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/red”>Red vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

What I didn’t like about the film:

No romance for Trish and Han: Romance plays an important role in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In fact, the majority of that story revolves around the relationship of the titular characters. In Romeo Must Die, there was a relationship between the protagonists, Han and Trish. But this relationship was not romantic. This adaptation placed more focus on the division between the rivaling families. Han and Trish’s roles were to solve the mysteries between a series of murders. I understand that the creative team behind Romeo Must Die wanted to present the source material in a new way. But excluding romance takes away an essential part of Romeo and Juliet’s identity.

 

A limited use of martial arts: In my review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I shared that I didn’t like how the film’s martial arts sequences were featured for a limited amount of time on screen. Romeo Must Die has a similar flaw. The 2000 released project is classified as an action movie, so these sequences had a greater presence on film. But it felt like the martial arts were incorporated at select moments. Like I said in my Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon review, a 50/50 balance was not found. Because the story put more emphasis on the rivaling families’ division, there were more dialogue focused scenes.

 

The character of Roth and his business team: One of the story-points in Romeo Must Die involves the construction of a football stadium. This part of the story introduced the character of Vincent Roth and his business team. I think the actors who portrayed these characters did a good job with the acting material they were given. But the characters themselves were under-utilized. Compared to the other characters in the film, Roth and his team didn’t play as significant of a role as they could have. If anything, it felt like these characters were there for the sake of being there.

oakland-96413_1920
Photo of Oakland, California city created by David Mark at pixabay.com. Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/12019-12019/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=96413″>David Mark</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=96413″>Pixabay</a&gt;. Image found at pixabay.com.

My overall impression:

To review or not to review, that is the question (yes, that Shakespeare reference was intentional). Sure, I’m not going to be the first movie blogger to make that reference. But I probably won’t be the last! Adaptations of William Shakespeare’s works have been around since the beginning of cinema. Whether these adaptations are classical or modern, they prove there are various different ways to approach the source material. Romeo Must Die is a great example of this. Because of the creative team’s perspective on the story, they were able to create a project that had its own identity and added some unique elements to the narrative. Because of this, I found the movie to be one of the better cinematic versions of this story! By making this an action movie and featuring a mystery within the script, it created a sense of intrigue and suspense for the project. It also helped me stay invested in the film. While this movie does have its flaws, it also has strong components that I liked about it. When I learned that Romeo Must Die was a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet with martial arts, I was hoping to, at least, get some enjoyment out of it. After watching it, I can now say this idea was well executed!

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Have you ever seen Romeo Must Die? Which adaptation of William Shakespeare’s stories do you like the most? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1995) Review

When Crystal, from In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood, invited me to join her Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon, I was aware of who Lauren is as an actress. In fact, I reviewed The Big Sleep for a blog follower dedication review back in August. For this blogathon, I wanted to pick one of Lauren’s films from outside the Classic/Golden Era of Hollywood. After looking through her filmography, I decided to review From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! Before watching this movie, I knew that it was based on a book. However, I have never read the book or seen the film adaptation from 1973. I also heard that there was a mystery within this story. Because I like movies such as those from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I felt that this would be a film I might enjoy.

20191121_230936[1]
Because I had difficulty uploading an image of this poster, I decided to take a picture of it on my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Films that feature young actors as the leads can be hit or miss. Because of their limited talents, it’s difficult for the audience to know what to expect from that actor or actress. In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the lead actors did a good job with the acting material they were given! Jean Marie Barnwell, who portrayed Claudia, and Jesse Lee Soffer, who portrayed Jamie, were both expressive and believable in their roles. They brought their characters to life with versatility, helping them present reactions that appeared realistic for children in that kind of situation. The supporting cast was also memorable in this film! Miriam Flynn, who portrayed Claudia and Jamie’s mom, mastered her role! She did this by bringing animation and emotion to her character. Miriam helped make her role distinct from the others in this film. She also had good on-screen chemistry with her fellow co-stars!

 

The cinematography: This film had better cinematography than I expected! The creative team behind the movie made some interesting choices when it came to how certain scenes were presented. One example is when Claudia and Jamie are hiding on the school bus. There was one scene where the camera was looking upward from the floor, focusing on the view from the window. This helped the audience picture the moment from the kids’ perspective. In the museum, there were close-ups of various artifacts. At opening or closing time, these close-ups emphasized the lights shining on these objects. Shots like these made the film visually appealing!

 

The locations of the museum and Mrs. Frankweiler’s house: Whenever I’ve talked about Murder, She Wrote, I almost always talk about how great the locations are. That series shares a similarity with this film. The museum and Mrs. Frankweiler’s house were the two best locations in the movie! Filmed in Los Angeles, both locations were captured very well on screen. They represent the impression that the creative team was going for: larger than life and exquisite. Not only were the exteriors impressive, but so were the interiors. From the domed ceiling of the museum to the grand staircase of Mrs. Frankweiler’s house, these facilities were some of the best parts of this project!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Angelic statue image created by Marcelo Gerpe at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Marcelo Gerpe.”

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lauren Bacall’s brief appearance: In my review of One Christmas, I shared that Katharine Hepburn’s limited presence was something that I didn’t like about the film. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler had the same problem. Like One Christmas, Lauren was the top-billed actor for this movie. This had given me the impression that she would appear in the majority of the project. But, similar to Katharine, Lauren only showed up in five scenes. Like I said in my One Christmas review, giving an actress like Lauren Bacall few opportunities to showcase her acting abilities does her a disservice. It also makes the movie’s creative team look like they’re making a promise they know they can’t keep. This decision came across as frustrating and misleading.

 

Over-shadowing the mystery: This story features a mystery about the authenticity of an angelic statue. While this was an interesting part of the overall narrative, it wasn’t given as much attention as I expected. Most of the story focused on Claudia and Jamie running away from home. The mystery itself wasn’t presented until forty minutes into the movie. Even then, the mystery was only discussed in a few scenes. It took a lot of intrigue out of the film, causing the story not to be as engaging or interactive.

 

Too much suspension of disbelief: I’ve said before on my blog that movies with fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler asked me to suspend my belief more than I had planned to. One example is how the police don’t play a big role in trying to find Claudia and Jamie. I found that to be very unbelievable, considering the fact that these children have been missing for three days. The idea of people living in a museum is also not realistic, especially since most facilities have things like motion sensors and security cameras. Things like this partially took me out of the film.

Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon banner
The Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/announcing-the-third-lauren-bacall-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

While I’m glad that I gave this film a chance, I can honestly say that it was just ok. Sure, there were things about the movie that I liked. But there were also aspects that could have made it stronger. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler made the same mistake that One Christmas did: incorporating a legendary actress but not utilizing her talents to the fullest extent. After I watched Lauren’s film, I realized that her movie and Katharine’s movie were both released in the mid – ‘90s. I’m now starting to wonder if this was a trend from that decade? Until that question is answered, I just wanted to thank Crystal for inviting me to join her blogathon! I’ve participated in several of her movie related events and she is an excellent host! I can’t wait for the next blogathon!

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Lauren Bacall’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

31 Spooks of October Update: I Finished California Angel

I was going to publish my second review for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Blogathon today. But since I finished the first book for 31 Spooks of October/Spookathon and Sbooktober yesterday, I decided to post my movie review tomorrow. If you read my article called “I’m partaking in 31 Spooks of October!”, you would know that the first book I chose to read was California Angel. When I published this particular post, I was half-way through the book. Now that I’ve completed the novel, I not only met the four challenges that were associated with California Angel, but I will also share my thoughts on it.

20191010_184611[1]
One book read, four more to go! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
When I read the acknowledgements section that was featured in my copy of the book, the way Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, California Angel’s author, talked about the story made it sound like Touched by an Angel meets a typical Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie. Since those are programs that I like, I thought that I would thoroughly enjoy this book. Sadly, I was mistaken. California Angel ended up becoming the worst book I’ve ever read. Why, you ask? Well here are a list of reasons why I didn’t like this book:

  • I found the majority of the female characters to be unlikeable. For this post, I’m going to be talking about just two of them. Toy Johnson is one of the worst protagonists I’ve ever read about in literature. She was self-centered, entitled, hypocritical, judgmental, close-minded, and ungrateful. What makes things worse is she used the ideas of selflessness, charity, and even faith as an excuse for her behavior. Let me share a passage from this book to give you an example of how selfish Toy really is. Just to preface, Toy is talking to her husband, Stephen, about how one of her dreams connects to an event that happened within the world of the story.

“No, you’re wrong. It’s something spectacular, something magnificent. Something about me is different from everyone else. I’m being dispatched on missions, like missions of mercy. What else could it be? All these dreams I’ve had. In every one there are children in some kind of grave danger. And I make a difference,” she said proudly, a fanatical fire burning in her eyes. “I feel great. It’s like my whole existence on earth has finally been validated, like I’ve been searching for this all my life”.

You see how often she refers to herself? That’s just one passage, Toy acts like this throughout the entire story. As you read, she is so set in her ways, that she doesn’t allow herself to take other people’s beliefs, views, and perspectives into consideration. A good example of this is her conflict with Stephen. This part of the story felt so one-sided, with Toy making Stephen look like an antagonist just because his way of approaching situations is different from her own. She also has a negative effect on those around her. One of them is Sarah Mendleson, who is the female friend of Raymond, an artist with Autism. Shortly after Sarah meets Toy, she decides to take advantage of Raymond, who, at that point in the book, is facing one of the lowest points in his life.  She disguises herself as Toy, whose encounter with Raymond left a positive impact on him, even going so far as to dye her hair the same shade of red as Toy’s hair. Sarah does this to trick Raymond into thinking she’s Toy and to try to make him her future husband. The sad part is how Sarah’s plan seems to work, as she becomes his girlfriend by the end of the book. Speaking of Raymond, all of the male characters in California Angel are either villainized because of their profession or are used just to, simply, make the female characters look good. Raymond is just one example. He was my favorite character and I found his story to be interesting. However, Raymond’s story ended up getting taken over by Sarah. After a while, his purpose turns into becoming Sarah’s love interest and standing up for Toy.

  • About 90% of this story revolves around Toy. Because of how unlikeable she was, it was difficult for me to get through this book.
  • I found the chapters in this novel to be longer than they should have been. In a typical thriller/mystery book, the pace is faster. This is done in an attempt to keep the audience on the edge of the seat and engaged in the story. But because the chapters in California Angel were too long, this make it difficult to enjoy the book.
  • In the synopsis listed on the back of the book, it says that Toy, within the story, is accused being a kidnapper and murderer. However, this part of the novel doesn’t happen until the last five chapters. The book had suspenseful moments sprinkled throughout the story. However, it was not a thrilling narrative from start from finish like I had expected.
  • There are several inconsistencies and flaws in logic that can be found in California Angel. In this book, Toy believes that the only way she can help children is in her dreams, which happen to translate into actual events within her world. However, Toy is a teacher and has provided financial assistance to one of the families that belong to her school community. Therefore, her actions and choices contradict her argument. When Toy receives letters from all over the world, her mother, Ethel, tells her that the letters were written by “little children” and “older people”. But two pages letters, she references the letters again, saying, “all of them from lovely little children”. So, were children the primary authors of these letters then?
  • The way that Autism is talked about in California Angel sometimes feels outdated. In at least two parts of the book, Raymond refers to his Autism as an “illness”. After Toy’s encounter with Raymond, that happens in a prologue, it says that “Raymond had simply snapped out of it” and he recovered from Autism. I’m not as educated on this particular subject as other people are. But, based on what I do know, I know that this is not how Autism works. Autism is a neurological disorder that one must live with. Sure, there are ways to manage and even overcome the symptoms associated with this medical condition. However, it’s not something that simply goes away.
  • While reading this book, it felt like Nancy used her story to try to capitalize on Touched by an Angel and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (which were both released in 1994, a year before California Angel was published) without showing a complete understanding or attempting to show a complete understanding of why people like those stories in the first place. In this novel, there was a courtroom scene that felt like a repeat of the aforementioned Christmas film. Even some of the events leading up to this scene felt reminiscent of that moment from the movie. But the difference between California Angel and Miracle on 34th Street is that Santa, for the entirety of the story, was portrayed as a likable character. This made it easy for the audience to root for him.

Overall score: 0 out of 5

Have fun at the library!

Sally Silverscreen