Take 3: The Clown Review

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

 

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

 

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

 

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

 

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

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

 

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

 

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

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

My overall impression:

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

 

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

 

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

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

When Maddy, from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, announced her 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon, I was eager to participate! I had reviewed Edward, My Son last February, so I was familiar with who Deborah is as an actress. Originally, I was going to review Black Narcissus. But due to technical difficulties with my DVR, I chose to write about Marriage on the Rocks instead. The idea of a struggling couple working through their problems in Mexico sounded like an interesting concept for a comedy. I was curious to see what effect this particular location would have on the aforementioned couple and how they would be transformed along the way. Also, I haven’t reviewed a comedy in a little while, so I thought it would be a good idea to expand the cinematic horizons of 18 Cinema Lane. Since this is my first blogathon in 2020, let the review for Marriage on the Rocks begin!

Marriage on the Rocks poster
Marriage on the Rocks poster created by A-C Productions, Sinatra Enterprises, and Warner Bros. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24787/Marriage-on-the-Rocks/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This is the second acting performance of Deborah Kerr’s I have seen (the first was from the movie, Edward, My Son). What I’ve noticed about both performances is how much effort she puts into her roles. Even if the movie itself doesn’t hold up, Deborah still puts every piece of acting talent she has into each of her characters. In her role as Valerie Edwards, she was very expressive with her facial expressions and actions. This added to the memorability of her performance! Marriage on the Rocks is the first movie of Frank Sinatra’s I’ve ever seen. While I am familiar with Frank as a singer, I had never seen any of his acting performances before. The most notable aspect of Frank’s portrayal of Dan Edwards was how at ease he was in this role. His performing experiences related to stage presentations and programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as prior movie experience, seemed to work in his favor when it came to his performance in Marriage on the Rocks! The aforementioned film is also the first time I have seen Caesar Romero act in a movie. I liked his performance because of how lively and energetic it was. It was also consistent throughout the movie, just like the performances from the rest of the cast!

 

Ernie Brewer’s house: The house of Ernie Brewer, portrayed by Dean Martin, was featured in the film on several occasions. Despite the living room being the only shown part of the house, I really liked the architecture within this space! When characters enter the house, they and viewers are greeted by walls and columns of exposed stone. As characters walk into the living room, they will come face-to-face with the room’s most prominent feature: the fire pit in the center of the room. Another fantastic element of this space is the wrap-around deck. While the deck itself is featured in only one scene, it serves the purpose of giving characters and viewers a perfect view of the ocean. Whether this location is a real-life home or a pre-constructed set, it definitely could make almost anyone want those elements as part of their own living space!

 

The opening credits: Sometimes, creative teams will come up with interesting ways to present their film’s opening credits. Marriage on the Rocks is a perfect example of this. Throughout this segment of the movie, stick figure cartoons can be seen next to people’s names and roles within the project. These stick figures were not only given to the cast, but also to the crew. When the director was introduced in the credits, he was given his own stick figure, which presented him sitting in a director’s chair. I found this to be a cute and creative way to grab the audience’s attention before the official start of the film!

2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon banner
The 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon banner created by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Image found at https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/announcing-the-2nd-deborah-kerr-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Comedy that was barely funny: On IMDB, Marriage on the Rocks is classified as a comedy. However, as I was watching this film, I found myself laughing only four times. Like I’ve said before, comedy is subjective. But, for me, I don’t find dysfunctionality to be hilarious. Also, the jokes themselves go on for too long. It feels like the screenwriter was having difficulty finding the punchline. There are also no breaks from the comedy, which made these jokes seem like run-on sentences. Personally, I found this aspect of the film to be an unenjoyable part to my movie-viewing experience.

 

The movie’s view on marriage and divorce: I watch movies to be entertained. While I appreciate a good message/lesson within a cinematic story, that’s not what compels me to watch any particular film. In Marriage on the Rocks, however, the overarching view on marriage and divorce made me feel uncomfortable. I personally feel that starting or ending a romantic relationship should not be taken lightly. This movie would say otherwise, portraying these two aforementioned concepts like they are effortless. Even the way most of the characters talk about marriage and divorce is concerning. One example is how David Edwards sees divorce as a way to manipulate his parents into giving him anything he wants. There were a few characters in this movie whose views were different from the overarching ones the film itself adopts. But, for most of the film, these characters are looked down upon. All the things I talked about made the views of the movie seem one-sided and skewed.

 

Problems that almost never get resolved: While watching Marriage on the Rocks, I could tell the screenwriter was trying to adopt a “comedy of errors” kind of story. But if any screenwriter is going to write a script with this kind of comedy, they need to remember that the errors have to reach a resolution. In this film, the majority of these errors don’t achieve a satisfying solution. In the rare case when one does, other problems arise because of it. The Hallmark movie, Holiday Date, is a great example of how this type of story can be executed well. In the 2019 release, the male and female protagonist experience a series of mishaps while visiting her family for Christmas. Despite this, they always found a solution that made everyone happy. Unfortunately, this never happens in Marriage on the Rocks. If anything, it made the characters’ situations even more complicated.

 

A drawn-out story: According to IMDB, Marriage on the Rocks is an hour and forty-nine minutes. To me, though, it felt like the movie was three hours. The problem here is how drawn-out the story is. This script takes a simple sounding concept and makes a bigger deal out of it than necessary. The narrative of this film could have been either a mini-series or a short film. This would have allowed the necessary plot points to be reached sooner and the script to be tighter. When I look back on it, there were things that happened in this movie just to satisfy the film’s run-time. The ongoing “second honeymoon” joke is a good example of what I’m talking about.

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Colorful travel suitcase image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/beautiful-illustration-of-travel_2686674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When I chose to review Marriage on the Rocks, I thought this would be a comedic version of Expecting a Miracle. While I haven’t seen the 2009 released Hallmark film, I’m aware of what the story is about. Unfortunately, Marriage on the Rocks was not even close to what I expected. Yes, there were things about it that I liked. Ernie Brewer’s house is just one example. But, for me, this movie contained more negatives than positives. As I said in my review, the movie’s view on marriage and divorce is one of the biggest missteps this project took. I didn’t find it to be funny or entertaining, just one-sided and out of touch. Later this month, I’ll be reviewing another Frank Sinatra picture called High Society. Hopefully that one will be more enjoyable than Marriage on the Rocks was. Despite the fact it’s only the beginning of the year, I think I found a contender for worst film of 2020.

 

Overall score: 4.7 out of 10

 

Have you seen Marriage on the Rocks? Do you have a favorite film from Deborah Kerr’s filmography? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019

Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody! Since I published my list of The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019 yesterday, it’s time for me to post my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019! Like I said before, I found 2019 has been a better year for movies. I saw a lot of good films, but only ten can be considered the best of the year. As I mentioned in my previous list, this article is based on my opinion and films that I personally watched. It’s also not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now that the introduction is over, let’s begin by bringing up the Honorable Mentions!

 

Christmas Bells are Ringing, Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas, Northern Lights of Christmas, A Gingerbread Romance, Kim Possible (2019), Flip that Romance, Chronicle Mysteries: Vines that Bind, Just Add Romance, Boys Town, Men of Boys Town, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Last Bridesmaid, Toy Story 4, Return to Oz, I Remember Mama, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Her Last Breath, Merry and Bright, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love, Time for You to Come Home for Christmas, and The Christmas Club

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Gold glittery 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-party-flyer_3641545.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

10. The Nine Lives of Christmas

Who knew I would like this movie as much as I did? As part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, I watched and reviewed this movie in an attempt to figure out if it was worth the hype it has received. Like I said in that post, I can now understand why so many people like the film so much! The humor within this movie is one of its highlights. Because of the quality of the script and the acting performances, The Nine Lives of Christmas was genuinely hilarious. While watching this movie, I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. Another part of this story that was well-written was the interactions among the characters. They were not only great to watch, but they also appeared natural on-screen. I’m glad I finally realize why this movie always makes an appearance in Hallmark’s yearly Christmas line-ups.

 

9. Holiday for Heroes

I will admit I had lower expectations for this film than I probably should have. But those lower expectations allowed the movie to surpass them and become the pleasant surprise it was. Holiday for Heroes was so good, that it reminded me of another movie I liked, Operation Christmas. With its genuine sincerity, the messages that were expressed in this story came across very well. I also liked how the formation of the protagonists’ relationship was more realistic than in something like The Christmas Card. Throughout this film, I could tell the creative team’s heart was always in the right place. It made it seem like they truly cared about the project they were working on.

 

8. Easter Under Wraps

In 2019, Hallmark finally created their first Easter themed movie! Even though it took so long to get to this point, I definitely think it was worth the wait. I really liked the writing within this film, as it created a story that was entertaining. Something I pointed out in my review is how conversations felt like they came from real-life. This helped me stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing throughout the film. Like in most movies from Hallmark Channel, Easter Under Wraps contained messages and themes that were relatable. Just one example is of personal growth. I’m not sure what Hallmark’s plans are for their “Spring Fever” line-up. I hope one of them includes a sequel to this film.

 

7. Ben-Hur (1959)

This is the first of two movies that I reviewed for a blog follower dedication review. At the beginning of the year, I was thrilled to share this movie with my readers and followers. That’s because I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Ben-Hur is a film that has acquired a lot of critical acclaim. As I said in my review, the hype surrounding it was well-earned. The script itself is one of the strongest elements of the project. Even though Ben-Hur is known as an “epic” picture, it is also a compelling story of faith and perseverance. From the acting performances to the cinematography, these things make this film the masterpiece it is. It’s no wonder Ben-Hur has been able to stand the test of time for so long.

 

6. Mystery 101: Words Can Kill

One of the newest mystery series that premiered in 2019, Mystery 101, has quickly become one of my favorites. I found the third movie in this series, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill, to be the strongest one. Unlike most of the films on Hallmark’s second network, this movie felt like it had higher stakes. This was caused by the female protagonist’s father being falsely accused on the crime and the male and female leads not being able to see eye-to-eye on the film’s main conflict. I also liked how the book festival was showcased in the movie for a satisfying amount of time. Like I’ll say about another movie on this list, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill shares some of the same positive qualities of its predecessors. It not only keeps up the series’ continuity, it makes me look forward to the future of Mystery 101.

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Jack Dawson from Titanic: “I’m the king of the world”!
Jake Sully from Avatar: “No, I’m the king of the world”.
Bucky Barnes from Avengers: Endgame: “Am I that much of a joke to you”?
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen

5. Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy was one of my most anticipated Christmas movies of 2019. After enjoying the second film in the series, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa, I was looking forward to seeing what was in store for the next chapter. This film did not disappoint! It felt like receiving a hug from a friend one hasn’t seen in a while. The third entry is one of the few Christmas films from Hallmark that tried to do different things with their story. One example is how the script explores the aftermath of the mystery. This is something that is hardly shown in Hallmark’s films, especially in their Hallmark Movies & Mysteries productions. After hearing other people’s positive responses to this movie, I’m hoping that a fourth one is in the cards.

 

4. Avengers: Endgame

After becoming the king (or queen) of the world, Avengers: Endgame will still be a movie that is remembered for years. Whether debating over the film’s time travel or discussing the highlights and flaws of the project, people are going to find an opportunity to talk about this movie. For me, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to this particular series of the MCU. Sure, there are things about it that I don’t like. But there is no such thing as a perfect film. Without spoiling the movie, I will say that several interesting decisions were made within this script. These decisions allowed the film to be engaging and, at times, thought-provoking. What also worked in the project’s favor was how it shared some of the same strengths as its predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. This actually helped it maintain a sense of continuity.

 

3. Kubo and the Two Strings

For my blog follower dedication reviews, I try my best to talk about films that I feel good about sharing with my readers and followers. When I think about Kubo and the Two Strings, it makes me thankful that I chose to watch this movie! This is the first time an animated film has appeared on my best of the year list. I’m glad this movie was the one to make 18 Cinema Lane history because, to me, it deserves it. The story is enriching and beautifully written. It takes elements that we’ve seen before and crafts them in a way that feel like a breath of fresh air. It also helps that the animation is visually appealing. Even though this is the only Laika film I’ve seen, so far, I’d be more than willing to check out what this studio has to offer.

 

2. Rome in Love

This movie premiered while I was on an out-of-town trip, so I wasn’t able to review it. But when I did watch this film, it ended up being the best Hallmark movie I saw this year! Rome in Love does so many things right when it comes to cinematic story-telling. It went out of its way to use as few Hallmark movie clichés as possible. But when the film did adopt a tried-and-true cliché, it improved upon that cliché, which enhanced the overall story. At times, this film felt like a theatrical production. This is because of how well done the cinematography is. If I were introducing someone to Hallmark’s library of films, this is one of the movies I would choose to show them.

 

1. Swept from the Sea

When I look back on 2019, Swept from the Sea is the one film I can’t stop thinking about! As the biggest pleasant surprise of the year, it is definitely deserving of the number one spot. There are no such thing as “perfect” films. However, this movie is the only one I saw this year that comes pretty close to it. There is so much to love about this film. But, for me, the best part of the movie was Vincent Perez’s performance! He single-handedly stole the show, which gave me an opportunity to appreciate his acting abilities more than I expected. From the cinematography to the on-screen chemistry, the other elements of this film certainly added to my enjoyment of it. As I think about Swept from the Sea, I feel that this is a movie I wish more people were aware of.

Swept from the Sea poster
Swept from the Sea poster created TriStar Pictures, Phoenix Pictures, and Tapson Steel Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sftspost.jpg

What do you think of my list? Which is your favorite movie of 2019? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

 

The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019

Another year, another annual Top 10 article! In 2018, I published my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2018 first. This time around, I’ll be publishing my worst of the year list instead! For me, 2019 has been a better year for movies, as I saw far more good films than bad. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see any movies I wasn’t a fan of. Similar to last year’s post, this list will be based on movies that I personally saw, as well as my own opinion. Also, this list is not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now, let’s begin by bringing up the Dishonorable Mentions!

Our Christmas Love Song, My One and Only, Over the Moon in Love, Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Heart, A Very Country Wedding, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, Nightmare Best Friend, Last Vermont Christmas, Always and Forever Christmas (I only watched half of it before turning it off), and Christmas in Louisiana (I ended up watching less than half of it before changing the channel)

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Setting up 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-background_3590600.htm’>Designed by Freepik. https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik. Image found at freepik.com.

10. After the Storm

Sadly, we start this list with an UP Network release. I was hoping any movie from this network didn’t have to end up on my list. But this movie is placed lower on the list than last year’s entry, Christmas on Holly Lane. So, I guess that’s a step in the right direction! Now, back to talking about After the Storm. What made me want to watch this movie is the discussion of natural disasters and their aftermath. In family-friendly, made-for-TV movies, this specific topic is rarely featured in the story. Unfortunately, this film’s narrative placed more emphasis on the romance than the titular storm and its aftermath. Another major issue I had with this movie was the questionable decisions the male and female protagonist make within the film. While these decisions were not necessarily bad, they were also given questionable explanations. I wasn’t able to stay invested in the protagonists and their relationship because of this creative decision.

9. A Feeling of Home

Texas is one of the states that isn’t always featured in a Hallmark movie. This part of the film made me want to give this project a chance. But, similar to After the Storm, the story placed more focus on the romance than in the conflict. There were some editing errors within this film that were painfully obvious. It also doesn’t help that the weakest acting performance came from the lead actress. Watching the female protagonist desperately trying to win over her father’s attention was, actually, quite sad. This made her appear weaker than the majority of female protagonists from Hallmark Channel. I have to ask: who greenlit this script when they knew it was this weak?

8. Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays

In 2018, I saw and really liked Christmas at Graceland. While I thought Wedding at Graceland was ok, it’s the third film in this trilogy that I find to be the worst out of the three. There were a number of plot points in this movie that didn’t make any sense. Why would the female protagonist give her nieces only one small snowglobe but the male protagonist’s children an elaborate and large advent calendar? Also, for a movie set in Graceland, the famous location ends up being a glorified extra by having less than three appearances on screen. Because of this, it makes the story feel like it didn’t need to take place in Graceland. The movie made me wish Christmas at Graceland had never received any sequels.

7. Christmas Scavenger Hunt

The idea of a Christmas themed scavenger hunt is something that had never been shown in a Hallmark production prior to 2019. So, I was somewhat optimistic about this particular movie. Sadly, the potential this film had was wasted on a poorly written script. All of the scavenger hunt clues were way too easy to solve. There was no sense of urgency throughout the film, as well as two separate moments where the male and female protagonist came across as selfish. Not only was the lead actress’s performance weak, but so was the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Like other films on this list, questions arose within the story that distracted me from enjoying the movie. One of these questions was why the female protagonist didn’t make her boyfriend take off his expensive tie before baking. All of these missteps added up to a movie that was less entertaining that it could have been.

6. Christmas Camp

When I first heard of this movie, I was excited to see a Christmas themed camp brought to life for the first time in a Hallmark film. I had reviewed this movie for Drew’s Movie Review’s Christmas in July Blogathon. Upon my first and only viewing of the film, I learned that the camp itself was nothing more than an afterthought. What this movie excels at is having a pointless plot and tradition shaming characters whose Christmas doesn’t look or sound “traditional”. Despite the fact this is a Hallmark film, these things don’t make it feel like a Hallmark film. If anything, it makes me wonder why the network would greenlight this movie at all? Hallmark has been known for creating a variety of Christmas products to celebrate a multitude of Christmas traditions. With Christmas Camp, it makes the network seem inconsistent with their message.

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Group of unhappy image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by rawpixel.com – http://www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

5. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Back in October, I gave this film a second chance for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. Looking back on it, I realize that was probably a mistake. Unfunny humor is the movie’s biggest flaw. Yes, I know that comedy is a very subjective thing. But if a comedic film barely makes me laugh, then it hasn’t done its job well. Other problems in this movie include the run-time and a weak story. There were elements that could have enhanced the project, such as commentary about greed and the power of money. But these things were swept under the rug for the sake of hosting a popularity contest instead of a movie production.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This was the first movie I saw in 2019 and boy was it a disappointment. All of the humor was so forced, that I found myself not laughing at any of the jokes. The film’s plot was tedious, which made the movie itself feel longer than its run-time. I also found a few plot-holes within this film. One of them was so large and obvious, that it made me question the existence of the movie’s narrative. While I liked the acting performances and the special effects (both practical and CGI), there were more negatives to the film than positives. This could have been something quirky and fun. Unfortunately, the movie was missing those two important ingredients.

3. A Cheerful Christmas

This is not only the worst Christmas movie I saw in 2019, it’s also the worst Hallmark movie I saw in 2019. It doesn’t help when the lead actress ends up over-acting or when at least one of the actors clearly can’t carry a British accent. But it also doesn’t help when the story is poorly written. This movie made me ask more questions than I had planned to. One question was about the female protagonist’s ability to keep her job after all the business-related blunders she makes. I know that fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But this movie tried to make me suspend all my disbelief, making me feel uncheerful. While I appreciate the movie’s attempt to avoid a large number of “royal movie” clichés, it wasn’t enough to save the project. In my opinion, it felt like the film’s creative team put so much emphasis on making a pointless, family-friendly, Christmas remake of Pretty Woman, that they forgot how to make a good movie.

2. Ace of Hearts

I’m all for helping smaller, family-friendly films get the “standing ovation” they might deserve. However, for a movie to achieve a “standing ovation”, it needs to be good. Ace of Hearts, unfortunately, fails to meet that criteria. The majority of the acting performances are poor and the pacing is very slow. But the worst offense this movie commits is bad writing. This story had so many plot-holes and inconsistencies, that it was exhausting instead of enjoyable. When the protagonist’s daughter convinces her friend that the reason why her family’s dog is trying to get home is to get back at the film’s villain because it’s his “unfinished business” (she comes to this conclusion after seeing the title of a video game), that’s when you know you’ve come across a bad script. As if that weren’t bad enough, this movie is, apparently, based on a true story. If my true story were handled this poorly, I would be offended and embarrassed.

1. A Page of Madness

A Page of Madness is a silent film from Japan, for those of you who are not familiar with this title. I appreciate the director’s efforts to preserve this movie, especially since, according to Ben Mankiewicz from Turner Classic Movies, the majority of Japanese films created before 1945 are either partially or completely lost. I also understand what the director was trying to do with the project. But just because I’m a grateful and understanding movie blogger, that doesn’t mean I liked the final product. This movie has a plethora of problems that would make this list longer than it already is. So, I’ll share two reasons why A Page of Madness is the worst film I saw in 2019. The first is how it has no plot, narrative, or story. It just contains a premise that goes nowhere. The second is how, in reality, this movie is an artistic experiment masquerading as a film. Personally, I found this to be dishonest and manipulative. At two separate moments, I wanted to fall asleep and turn the movie off. This is one of those times where I wish I would have listened to my instincts.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster created by Casey Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:It%27s_a_Mad,_Mad,_Mad,_Mad_World_(1963)_theatrical_poster.jpg

What are your thoughts on my list? Which is your worst film of 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World Review

If you’re wondering why I’m publishing this review for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon early, it’s because I will be attending an event during the weekend when the blogathon is taking place. Since I know I’ll have little to no time to complete this post over the weekend, I thought that publishing it early would be a smart idea. For this blogathon, I will be reviewing two films. As you can tell by the title, the first movie is It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World. I saw this movie for the first time several years ago. But I only watched a third of the film before I decided to stop watching it. When I was choosing what to write about for the aforementioned blogathon, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World came to mind. Had I judged this film too harshly? Now that I’m watching it years later, would I find more enjoyment out of the movie this time? In this review, I will be attempting to answer these questions, especially since the movie stars one of the actors that this blogathon is dedicated to; Spencer Tracy.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster created by Casey Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:It%27s_a_Mad,_Mad,_Mad,_Mad_World_(1963)_theatrical_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This movie has one of the largest casts in cinematic history. But what worked in this cast’s favor was that every performer had television or movie experience prior to appearing in this film. This presented the team dynamic that comes from working with a group of people. What I noticed while watching this movie was how consistent each performance was. Some actors and actresses received more screen-time than others. However, the consistency of the characters was maintained from start to finish. Another aspect to this cast was their on-screen chemistry. All of these characters had a very interesting relationship with one another. Because of the performers’ experience with working on other movies and television shows, it helped the cast create a sense of acquaintanceship with each other.

 

The scenery: California is the primary filming location for this movie. It’s interesting how the various landscapes featured in the Golden State were present within the story. Most of the film takes place in the desert, but there were some unique ways that this location played into the narrative. One example is when Otto Meyer, portrayed by Phil Silvers, drives down a very steep hill. Other landscapes in this movie include the city and the seaside, which also serve an important role in this story. I think it’s great that the creative team behind this film chose to show a more well-rounded view of this state. It reminded me of the movie, Return from Witch Mountain.

 

The music: All of the music in this film was created by the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. Despite this, it worked well with the events that took place on screen. Since this movie is a comedy, most of the music was up-beat in order to fit the overall tone. However, there were times when the music created a mood that felt different from the film’s norm. Going back to the example of Otto Meyer driving down the hill, the music that was incorporated into this scene created a moment that felt suspenseful. There was a song that was performed toward the beginning and end of the movie called “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”. This song’s score could be heard at various parts of the film.

Spencer and Katherine Blogathon
The Second Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Blogathon poster created Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/08/04/announcing-the-second-spencer-tracy-and-katharine-hepburn-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The weak story: People from different walks of life trying to find a large sum of money is a story that sounds like it has potential. But, in reality, this idea works better on paper than it does on the screen. The majority of the movie relies on driving scenes and people yelling at one another. The jokes and gags seemed to last longer than necessary, potentially making up for the weak plot. Any time there was a moment for commentary, the screen-writers don’t take advantage of them. Instead, they focus on creating a series of subplots that feel repetitive.

 

The run-time: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World is approximately two and a half hours, while IMDB lists the movie at three hours and twenty-five minutes. As I’ve already said, this plot was pretty weak. However, the story itself was also straight-forward. This film’s run-time feels excessive, being drawn-out longer than it needed to be. A film’s run-time can be hit or miss. It all comes down to what the story calls for. Personally, I think It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World should have been about an hour and thirty to fifty minutes. That way, the story could have gotten straight-to-the-point a lot sooner.

 

The humor: Humor, like film, is subjective. What is funny for one person might not be hilarious for another. For me, there were very few jokes in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World that I found legitimately funny. One example was when, at the beginning of the film, the man who tells the other characters about the money literally kicks a bucket before he dies. But the majority of the jokes revolved around people getting hurt at the expense of others. Instead of finding the events on the screen hilarious, I kept wondering how the characters were able to survive their ordeals. Something that I’ve already talked about was how, most of the time, the characters end up yelling at one another for a host of reasons. This aspect of the film didn’t add humor to the story either. What it did, instead, was sound like a broken record.

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park in California image created by Welcomia at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/tree”>Tree photo created by welcomia – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

If there is ever a movie that I haven’t finished or I haven’t watched in several years, I am more than willing to give it a second chance. Since I have this blog, it provides a place where I can analyze and evaluate each title. Unfortunately, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World did not deserve that second chance. Like I said, humor and film are subjective. This means that this particular film was not for me. Yes, there were things about the movie that I liked. But the negatives ended up out-weighing the positives. The movie, to me, felt like a drawn-out joke that had trouble finding its punch-line. It also seemed like the creative team behind this film put more emphasis on recruiting as many actors and actresses as possible instead of focusing on telling a good story. Since this is a double feature, I’m hoping that the second movie I plan to watch is better than this one.

 

Overall score: 5 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Spencer Tracy’s films? Are you looking forward to the second part of this double feature? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Sky’s the Limit Review + 135 Follower Thank You

Thank you to all of my followers that helped 18 Cinema Lane reach this milestone! If it weren’t for you, this blog would have never reached 135 followers in only one year! So, like before, it’s time for another blog follower dedication review! This time, I’m going to talk about a film that was released in September of 1943. The Sky’s the Limit is the only film from this time period that I was able to rent, so that’s the film that I have chosen. I have a confession to make: up until this point, I have never seen a movie where Fred Astaire made an on-screen appearance. I am familiar with who Fred is as a performer, so it’s hard to believe that this is the first of his films that I’ve seen. Choosing this film seems fitting for this particular review.

The Sky's the Limit poster
The Sky’s the Limit poster created by RKO Radio Pictures. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036363/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like I mentioned in the introduction, this was the first film of Fred Astaire’s that I’ve seen. Despite this, I was very impressed with his performance! His presentation was very natural and believable, helping him bring a certain amount of charm to his character. Before watching The Sky’s the Limit, I had no idea that Fred could sing. His singing and dancing talents added uniqueness to his on-screen presence. Another performance that I was impressed by was Joan Leslie’s! Joan made her character well-rounded because of the various emotions and behaviors she adopted. I was also pleasantly surprised by her singing and dancing abilities! By incorporating those elements to her role, it made her performance that much more enjoyable!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Not only did Fred and Joan deliver good performances individually, they also presented good performances as an on-screen pair! Throughout the film, their characters appeared to truly like each other. Moments where Fred and Joan spent time together represent the sweeter parts of the movie. While the relationship of the characters gradually developed, this aspect was portrayed in a way that felt believable. The fact that Fred and Joan’s acting talents were similar worked in their favor. It made their performances complement one another!

 

The dance numbers: Whenever Fred Astaire is cast in a movie, it’s almost guaranteed that there will be, at least, one dance number. In The Sky’s the Limit, Fred performed one dance solo and two dance duets with Joan Leslie. These performances were very well choreographed, appearing flawless and captivating. All of those hours of practice seemed to pay off. Fred and Joan also looked like they having fun during their performances! When a dancer looks like they’re enjoying what they’re doing, it helps the enjoyment factor of the dance number!

Six designs of military airplane
Military plane image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by brgfx – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The plot: You’re probably thinking, “If you didn’t like the plot, then why did you watch this movie?” The plot itself wasn’t bad, but it was too straight-forward for my liking. Before watching The Sky’s the Limit, I assumed that the protagonist would face one hilarious situation after another in order to resolve the conflict. However, no efforts were made to find a solution to the conflict. There were very few humorous moments in the film as well. This story took itself more seriously than I think it should have. It seemed to forget that “comedy” was a part of its identity.

 

The limited amount of dance numbers: When I found out that Fred Astaire would be starring in the film and that it was classified as a “musical”, I was expecting the movie to be filled with singing and dancing. In this hour and thirty-minute picture, there were only three dance numbers, with the first one appearing about forty minutes into the film. When a movie’s creative team hires an actor with more than one talent, they should help that actor use their talents to the fullest extent. This is especially true when the movie is labeled as a “musical”. If this doesn’t happen, it makes the actor appear under-utilized.

 

No consequences: As I said in the introduction, The Sky’s the Limit was released in 1943. This means that the film premiered during the Breen Code era. But when Fred Astaire’s character never faced any consequences for his actions and choices, I was shocked that the people behind the Breen Code would find this part of the story to be acceptable. One example is when Fred’s character is upset over a break-up. This causes him to destroy a restaurant’s bar by breaking drinking glasses and throwing a bar stool at the mirrored background. All that happens is Fred paying for his drink and acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Because he never owned up to his mistakes, I found it difficult to root for his character.

Dancing Pairs 2 Retro Cartoon Templates
Couple performing the waltz image 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.

My overall impression:

I can’t believe that I hadn’t seen any of Fred Astaire’s movies until now! That’s a great thing about this blog, as it gives me an excuse to introduce myself to films that I might not have seen otherwise. Now that I’ve shared what I liked and didn’t like about the movie, I can now tell you my honest opinion about it. Personally, I found the film to be just ok. It’s definitely not one of the worst films I’ve seen this year. But, it’s not one of the best films I’ve seen this year either, as it hasn’t aged as well as other projects from that decade. Despite this, I’m still glad I gave this movie a chance! Something that I have said before was how you never know if a film will be good or bad unless you watch it. This is certainly the case for my experience seeing The Sky’s the Limit. Once again, thank you to all of my followers! If it weren’t for you, this review wouldn’t exist.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on my review? Are you looking forward to my next movie review? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

What the Code Means to Me: Breen, Hallmark, and Me

Dumbo (2019). Men in Black International. Poms. Dark Phoenix. These are a few examples of movies that have, recently, lost their battles in the Cinematic Colosseum. When a film underperforms or doesn’t reach expectations, people always look for reasons why this happened. It is a way of providing a sense of closure to the situation. Some say that the reason why 2019 has seen more cinematic failures than successes is because of an absence of original and innovative ideas. Others say that the creative teams behind these projects put more emphasis on politics than the story itself. Another reason that has been discussed is having too many remakes, sequels, and franchise continuations competing against each other within a short amount of time. Whatever the reason, I think we can all agree that these films probably failed because, simply, movie-goers just weren’t interested in the overall product. This seems very different from the time-period of 1934 to 1954, when the Breen era not only existed, but also thrived. During this particular stretch of time, it feels like more films were both successful and memorable for the right reasons. Take 1939, for example. Within this year alone, movie-goers were given three films that cemented their place in cinematic history; Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and The Wizard of Oz. The fact that these very distinct films placed in the Top 10 at that year’s box office proves that during the Breen era, there was something for everyone at the cinema. With the Breen Code absent in today’s cinematic world, an interesting media company that, I feel, has embraced Joseph I. Breen’s way of thinking is Hallmark. The more I’ve thought about the Breen Code and its impact on film, the more I see the similarities within the kinds of movies that Hallmark creates. Even though these films are featured on either television or digital services, it proves that there is hope for the Breen Code to make a comeback.

What the Code Means to Me poster
What the Code Means to Me poster created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/what-the-code-means-to-me/.

Before discovering the blog, Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, I had never known about Joseph I. Breen and the Breen Code. In fact, I had always believed that the MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America) was the “end all, be all” when it came to judging a film’s content. It wasn’t until I watched the video, “Why You Shouldn’t Listen to the MPAA (Podcast Excerpt)” from the Youtube channel, Rachel’s Reviews, that I started to change my views about this particular rating system. In this video, Rachel and her friend, Conrado, talk about why movie-goers should form their own self-censorship than solely rely on the MPAA. When I came across Pure Entertainment Preservation Society last October, while looking for upcoming blogathons to participate in, I was introduced to who Joseph I. Breen was as well as the Breen Code itself. In preparation for this article, I read as much as I could about Joseph and his Code. Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan, the creators of Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, have done a wonderful job at educating their readers and followers about the Breen Code and advocating its return to entertainment. Their articles are very informative and interesting to read. After learning all of this information, I feel that a newer and stronger code for judging a film’s content needs to be put in place. While having the MPAA is better than having nothing at all, its rules and guidelines seem to be more on the relaxed side. In the previously mentioned video, Rachel and Conrado discuss some of the ways that a film receives a particular rating. One example is the use of blood within the film’s context. Rachel brings up the example of The Hunger Games receiving a PG-13 rating due to the absence of blood while “contestants” are dying during the event within the story. She feels that because blood isn’t shown during these moments, the film is “dehumanizing the situation”. Had The Hunger Games been created during a time when something similar to the Breen Code existed, either this film would have never seen the light of day or the “contestants” would have died off-screen.

Easter Under Wraps poster
Easter Under Wraps 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=&ShowTitle=Easter%20Under%20Wraps&IsSeries=False.

The movies and shows from Hallmark make up a large percentage of the content on my blog. Sometimes, I review films from Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Hall of Fame. In some of my Word on the Street posts, I’ve talked about movie news related to upcoming Hallmark projects. I also conduct two re-cap series for When Calls the Heart and Chesapeake Shores. Hallmark has created a reputation as being a family-friendly company in both appearance and content. As I mentioned in the introduction, things within the Breen Code sound like the type of material that Hallmark creates and distributes on their networks. Within the Hallmark entertainment spectrum, there are three television networks that air movies; Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama. Each network has their own unique and consistent tone, while still maintaining the company’s created image. Hallmark Channel features films that primarily contain light-hearted, romance stories. However, the relationships featured in these movies are wholesome. In the Breen Code, it states that “pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing”. Typical Hallmark Channel films do not feature or talk about sex. The only two films that I can think of that either mention sex or imply that a couple was having sex are A Family Thanksgiving and Audrey’s Rain. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has a darker tone than Hallmark Channel, as the majority of the network’s content is mystery related. The type of mystery that is common in these movies is the murder mystery. However, this aspect of the story is always handled in a very tasteful way. Not only is a small amount of violence shown, but a limited amount of blood is featured on-screen. The Breen Code contains a whole section about featuring murder in film. One of the points in this section says that “methods of crime should not be explicitly presented”. Sometimes, these films show how a victim is murdered. This is included to introduce the mystery and present the seriousness of the situation. Toward the end of the movie, the guilty party reveals how and why they committed the crime. But the guilty party is never “presented in such a way as to throw sympathy with the crime”. Even though Hallmark Drama has only been around for two years, it has been a network where Hallmark’s more dramatic films can be seen. These types of films are either from Hallmark Hall of Fame or from Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries that haven’t be aired in recent years. Some of these projects were created before Hallmark embraced the image they have today, even before the Hallmark Channel was introduced back in 2001. One of these films is Ellen Foster, which is a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that was released in 1997. In this film, there is one scene where Ellen is being physically abused by her father. If this exact same movie were released by Hallmark today, that scene would never have been featured in the film. The subject of child abuse would have only been implied through the use of dialogue and subtle visual references. This suggestion would fit with the Breen Code and Hallmark’s current image, as the Code itself states that “excessive and inhuman acts of cruelty and brutality shall not be presented. This includes all detailed and protracted presentation of physical violence, torture, and abuse”. Despite this aforementioned detail, Hallmark Drama still features content that is family oriented.

Crossword Mysteries -- A Puzzle to Die For poster
Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Crossword+Mysteries+A+Puzzle+to+Die+For.

The previous paragraph contains some examples of how the Breen Code can be found within Hallmark’s movies. I could provide more examples, but that would mean this article would be longer than it already is. Hallmark’s commitment to providing family friendly content to their audience shows that the Breen Code, or some form of it, can return to the entertainment world. It will most likely happen in a process of events rather than a quick succession. However, this is proof that Joseph I. Breen’s intentions still have a place in our world. In the article, “The Production Code of 1930’s Impact on America” from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, it was said that “films are merely rated but not censored”. Since this is the case, we, the movie-goers, need to take the initiative to discover a film’s content, understand why a rating was given to a particular film, and form our own choice to view or not view a film. Until the day when Joseph I. Breen’s dream can come true again, this is the only option that movie-goers currently have.

Hallmark Hall of Fame's Love Takes Flight review
Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Love Takes Flight 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=&ShowTitle=Love+Takes+Flight.

For my two Breening Thursday suggestions, I would like to recommend Wild Oranges and The Trouble with Angels. Wild Oranges is a silent film from 1924 that I reviewed when I received 95 followers on my blog. The Trouble with Angels is one of the films that I reviewed during the Rosalind Russell blogathon earlier this month. It was released in 1966.

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to check out the references I mentioned in this editorial, you can type “Why You Shouldn’t Listen to the MPAA (Podcast Excerpt)”  into Youtube’s search bar or visit Rachel’s Youtube channel, Rachel’s Reviews. You can also visit these links:

https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/the-motion-picture-production-code-with-its-revisions/

https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/the-production-code-of-1930s-impact-on-america/

Take 3: Sunnyside Review + 100 Follower Thank You

Well, I did it. I finally received 100 followers! When I started 18 Cinema Lane last February, I never thought I would achieve this many followers in such a short amount of time! So, I’d like to say thank you to every single person who has chosen to follow my blog. If it weren’t for you, I never would have reached this milestone so soon. You’re probably thinking that it would be nearly impossible to find a movie that was released 100 years ago, in 1919. But, surprisingly, I ended up finding a movie on Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) schedule. It’s a movie titled Sunnyside, which was directed, written, produced, composed by and starred Charlie Chaplin. In my Wild Oranges review, I mentioned that the only other silent film I’d seen was The Kid. By reviewing Sunnyside, it means that this is not only the third silent film I’ve seen, it’s also the second Charlie Chaplin picture that I’ve seen. When I recorded this movie on my DVR, I was shocked to discover that the film itself was less than an hour long. But, since Sunnyside is considered a short film, I realized that this run-time actually made sense. So, let the sunshine come pouring into your heart, as we’re about to begin this review of Sunnyside!

20190509_213523[1]
Not only did I surprise myself by finding a movie that was released 100 years ago, but I also found a poster of the movie (which appeared on my TV). Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

  • The comedy: Out of the two films of Charlie Chaplin’s that I’ve seen, it seems like Charlie’s cinematic work is known for being humorous. Because Sunnyside is a silent film, the creative team behind this movie had to rely on physical comedy, such as silly behaviors and actions, to make the audience laugh. This style of comedy was executed well in the film! While this form of comedy was more simplistic, I felt like it was effective! One such example is when Charlie’s character brings a cow into his house and milks it on the spot just so he can put milk in his beverage. The incorporation of humor helped make Sunnyside an interesting film!

 

  • The music: As I’ve mentioned in the introduction, Charlie Chaplin composed the music in Sunnyside. It felt like Charlie put a good amount of thought into the type of music that was incorporated into the film. Throughout the movie, I noticed that the overarching music matched the mood of whatever scene it was featured in. Whenever the scene was humorous, light-hearted music could be heard. If the scene had a more serious tone, dramatic music was placed over the on-screen events. This aspect of the movie provided a sense of understanding to what was happening in the story!

 

  • The use of title cards: In my review of Wild Oranges, I talked about the importance of title cards within the film. Just like that movie, Sunnyside also used title cards to their full advantage. These title cards were, sometimes, placed at the beginning of each scene. This helped introduce locations and characters to the audience. Title cards were also used to provide dialogue between some of the characters. It assisted the audience in helping them figure out what was going on within the narrative.
125843-OSCVR0-64
Happy sun image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Some scenes lasting longer than others: Throughout Sunnyside, I noticed that some of the scenes lasted longer than others. One example is the opening scene, when Charlie’s character wakes up in the morning. For scenes like this, I felt that they were as long as they were just to satisfy the film’s run-time. In my opinion, these specific scenes could have been cut to a shorter length.

 

  • A simplistic story: The main plot of Sunnyside was more on the simpler side. Because of this, it caused the first half of the movie to appear as a series of vignettes. The story didn’t seem to have a cohesive narrative until the character called “City Chap” showed up in the film. It made the film like it was an experiment of how to make a movie.

 

  • A drowned out piano: In Sunnyside, there was one scene where Charlie’s character is playing the piano. However, when he did play the piano, the instrument’s sound was drowned out by the overarching music featured in that scene. I understand that the cinematic technology of 1919 was vastly different than what it is today. But I think the sound of the piano should have been omitted from this film. That way, the only sound that the audience should focus on is the music that helps highlight the mood of that scene.
Note_lines_horizontal1
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:

As I’ve said in my Wild Oranges review, I don’t often watch movies in the silent film genre. However, because Sunnyside was the only film from 1919 that I was able to find, I decided to give the movie the chance. I’m glad I did, as this ended up being a good film! Because this was a short film and because, for the most part, I was able to understand what was going on in the narrative, I didn’t have a need to provide my own commentary to the film. It is interesting to see how movies have evolved over these 100 years. Seeing what’s changed and what’s remained the same in cinema is fascinating. This makes me appreciate the earlier projects of film, including Sunnyside.

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Do you watch silent films? Have you seen any of Charlie Chaplin’s movies? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Phffft Review + 65 Follower Thank You

Earlier this week, I received 65 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! With my blog’s first anniversary coming up next Saturday, I found this recent gain in blog followers to be a pleasant surprise! As I’ve been doing before, I have chosen to review a film that was released 65 years ago (in 1954). While researching movies with 1954 release dates, one film in particular instantly stood out to me. The reason is because of the title alone. Phffft (yes, that is the real title of this film) is a movie that seemed like it was begging for me to watch and, eventually, review it. So, because of everything I’ve just said, I decided to pick Phffft as my movie of choice this time around. Was this film as funny as this title suggests? I’m glad you came to this review, as we’re about to find out!

Phffft poster
Phffft poster created by Columbia Pictures. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/86629/Phffft/#.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I thought the cast of Phffft was good! Judy Holliday shined the brightest with her portrayal of Nina. Her performance appeared very natural as well as believable. I also thought that Jack Lemmon did a good job with his portrayal of Robert. Everything that happened with Robert seemed so convincing because of how versatile Jack’s performance was. Even though this is a movie about a couple experiencing a divorce, Jack and Judy gave a good performance not only as individuals, but also as a pair. Whenever Robert and Nina were together, I always had the impression that Judy and Jack had good on-screen chemistry. In a scene where Nina and Robert unexpectedly become each other’s dancing partner, it looked like they truly enjoyed one another’s company.

 

  • What it means to be a “hero”: During a flashback scene that explains how Robert and Nina met, it was revealed that Robert was a military lawyer. In this scene, his self-esteem has fallen a little bit because he doesn’t see himself as a hero. I found this character choice of Robert being a military lawyer very interesting. In fact, it seems like we, the audience, don’t get many portrayals of military lawyers in film. Besides A Few Good Men, I can’t really think of many movies that feature the importance of military lawyers. Phffft does take the time to show how lawyers can play a significant role within the military. The film does this by having Nina remind Robert, as well as Robert reminding himself, that if he wasn’t keeping an eye on the military’s finances, the military would have lost a lot of money. This message of how a hero can mean different things to different people was a good addition to this film.

 

  • Showing both perspectives: As I’ve already mentioned, Phffft is about a couple who experiences a divorce. In movies where divorce can be found in the film’s narrative, the main perspective is usually given to just one person in that relationship. Also, in movies about divorce, there are times when one person in the relationship is portrayed as an antagonist and the other is portrayed as a protagonist. In Phffft, however, the story is told from both of the perspectives of Robert and Nina. Each side of the story is given an equal amount of time for the characters to grow as individuals and experience their own personal journeys. It also shows an unbiased view of what each character is going through. To me, I thought this was a good story-telling choice.
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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.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Lack of comedy: Despite the humorous title, I didn’t find Phffft to be very funny. While I did chuckle at some moments, there were no moments within the film that made me burst out laughing. I’m not sure if this movie just didn’t correlate with my sense of humor or if the comedic writing in this film was just that weak. But I, personally, found the lack of comedy in this movie to be very disappointing.

 

  • Too dialogue-heavy: In every movie, dialogue is a necessary component to the overall story. However, there is such a thing as too much dialogue. Phffft featured many scenes where characters were having conversations with one another. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough situations and conflicts happening in this movie to balance out the dialogue. Having too much dialogue in this film did not work its favor.

 

  • The premise being too basic: While Robert and Nina’s divorce was the main plot in Phffft, it was the only plot within this movie. Also, I found this plot to be so basic, that the scenarios Robert and Nina get themselves into feel like they were incorporated in the movie just for the sake of keeping the plot going. Like I just mentioned, Phffft didn’t have enough situations and conflicts to balance out the dialogue. To me, this movie needed, at least, one secondary plot in order to keep it interesting. Because of the lack of subplots, it caused the other characters in this movie to feel like they were just there because they knew either Robert or Nina.
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Money plant image created by Dooder at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/infographic”>Infographic vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/watering-the-coin-plant_1076121.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

At the end of the day, Phffft was just ok. Because of how funny this title sounds, I was expecting the film to be just as funny. Unfortunately, this movie was somewhat disappointing for me. All of the comedy in Phffft felt weak, almost like it was poorly written. However, I would never say this is a bad film. There were things about it that I liked, such as Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon’s performances. But when it comes to comedies from the 1950s, I think there are movies out there that are better than Phffft. Now that this review is coming to an end, I just want to take the time to say thank you to each of my 65 followers. When I started this blog a year ago, I never expected to receive this many followers in such a short amount of time. It just makes me appreciate all the success this blog has achieved, including the increase in readers and followers.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts about this review? Are you looking forward to the 70 follower thank you post? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen