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

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

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

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

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

Overall score: 7 out of 10

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

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

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

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Top 10 Things I’d Like to See in Chesapeake Shores’ Fifth Season

When I submitted my review of The Great Mouse Detective last week, it became the 175th movie review I’ve ever published! In honor of this accomplishment, I decided to write a Top 10 list, especially since I haven’t written one in quite some time! Back in February, in a Word on the Street story, I reported how Chesapeake Shores was renewed for a fifth season. However, because of the Coronavirus, the show hasn’t gone into production. On 18 Cinema Lane, I recap two of Hallmark’s shows, with Chesapeake Shores being one of them. While some areas of the world are slowly going back to creating movies and television shows, the O’Brien family may not appear on screen this year. This means that my Top 10 list will probably be the only Chesapeake Shores related content I create in 2020. As “Chessies” (the show’s fandom) waits for any news of the show’s return, here are the top 10 things I’d like to see in the fifth season! Before I begin, I want to say that this list is solely based on my opinion. There will also be spoilers for the previous season.

  1. Tone down the relationship drama

As I’ve said before in my Evenings At The Shore series, the first and second seasons of Chesapeake Shores contained a healthy balance between their character and plot driven narratives. But since season three, the show’s overall quality has plateaued. That’s because the overall narrative has placed its primary focus on the relationship drama between the characters. This decision has caused the plots to be put on the back-burner. One example is the fourth season’s fifth episode, where the plot surrounding Jess’s story didn’t make any sense. In Chesapeake Shores’ next season, I hope the screenwriters bring the show back to that balance from the first two seasons. This show has come up with some interesting plot ideas, but haven’t utilized them to their fullest extent.

2. A wedding for Jess and David

Before Kevin and Sarah got engaged in the fourth season, fans had never seen a wedding within the O’Brien family. This next step in Kevin and Sarah’s relationship was history in the making for the show. Because of the fourth season’s six episode run, wedding plans were replaced with an elopement and a reception dinner. This decision was a “bait and switch”, leaving fans cheated out of a historical moment they were promised. Kevin and Sarah were not the only couple to get engaged, however, as Jess and David became engaged at the end of the season. I’d like to see Jess and David’s wedding in the fifth season. Because the filming locations of Chesapeake Shores are photogenic, maybe they could receive an outdoor ceremony.

3. Get rid of the love triangle

It’s bad enough When Calls the Heart features a love triangle that seems to have no end in sight. Like I said in one of my Sunset Over Hope Valley posts, love triangles are a waste of time and creative energy. In Chesapeake Shores’ fourth season, the narrative introduced a love triangle between Abby, Trace, and Jay. This not only enables the screenwriters to continue emphasizing the relationship drama, but it also takes screen-time away from more intriguing plots. Hopefully, this love triangle will get resolved sometime in the fifth season.

4. A subplot for Carrie and Caitlyn

Speaking of When Calls the Heart, what this show does well is provide subplots for the younger characters. It gives the audience a chance to get to know them and view the story from their perspective. When it comes to Chesapeake Shores, Carrie and Caitlyn, the youngest characters on the show, have never received a story of their own. In fact, it feels like they’ve become an afterthought within the overall narrative. I’ve been waiting for Carrie and Caitlyn to receive their own subplot for a while, so I hope this happens in season five. It would be interesting to see what the screenwriters come up with.

5. More episodes

Earlier in this list, when I talked about Kevin and Sarah’s lack of wedding plans, I stated how the fourth season of Chesapeake Shores was only given six episodes. While Hallmark shows have received seasons with less than ten episodes before, a fourth season receiving six episodes is a bit concerning. This creative decision prevented certain subplots from being fully explored and made the story feel like more was desired. Personally, I think the fifth season should be given at least nine to ten episodes. That way, Chesapeake Shores will have enough time to flesh stories out and focus on telling well-thought out narratives.

Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/landscape-in-a-swamp-at-night_1042860.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by 0melapics – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

6. The fruition of Trace’s recording studio

Chesapeake Shores excels at featuring locations that have been brought up in the story. One example is The Bridge, a musical restaurant that Trace had been dreaming about for several years. At the end of the fourth season, Trace had expressed interest in creating a recording studio. While recording studios have been presented in the story before, this particular business was never shown in Chesapeake Shores. Because this show has a good track record when it comes to locations, I’d like to think Trace’s recording studio will become a reality. However, I still want to see this location brought to life.

7. For Bree and Simon’s paths to cross again

When Simon was introduced on Chesapeake Shores, he met Bree in her home country. At the end of the fourth season, Bree’s literary agent, Brian, wanted to bring her play to London. If this happens, Bree would be in Simon’s home country. This dynamic would be very interesting to watch, especially if Bree and Simon plan on revisiting their relationship. Should Bree decide to find a different significant other, I’d be curious to see which new British actor joins the show.

8. More appearances for Nell

Over the course of the fourth season, I noticed that Nell had such a limited on-screen presence compared to previous seasons. I was told Diane Ladd, the actress who portrays Nell, was experiencing pneumonia when this particular season was in production. As I indicated in the introduction, we don’t know when Chesapeake Shores’ fifth season will be filmed. Whenever that happens, I hope Diane is in better health. Nell is the one who keeps the glue of the O’Brien family together. Without her, things just wouldn’t be the same.

9. A Chesapeake Shores Movie

I know a Chesapeake Shores movie is on the way. However, it never went into production, partly due to the Coronavirus. Even though the film was originally about Abby, Bree, and Jess, I still want to see a St. Patrick’s Day themed movie in Ireland. Another possible film idea is a Chesapeake Shores Thanksgiving themed movie! Hallmark hasn’t created a Thanksgiving movie in several years. Also, Good Witch has capitalized on Halloween, while When Calls the Heart creates annual Christmas films.

10. Megan becoming a successful businesswoman

You’re probably thinking, “Megan’s not a businesswoman, it isn’t her forte”. However, when we look at Abby, Bree, and Jess, there is one thing they have in common: they are all successful businesswomen. While each sister has forged their own path in the world of business, they have let their passions guide them through this specific journey. For at least one season, Megan has expressed her passion for art. Toward the end of the fourth season, she had shown an interest in creating her own studio. If the screenwriters wanted, they could allow Megan to use her art as the basis for a small business. This could make Megan an independent businesswoman like her three daughters.

Chesapeake Shores poster image 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=Chesapeake%20Shores%20Season%203&episodeIndex=3001

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Great Mouse Detective Review

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

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

Things I liked about the film:

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

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

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

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen The Great Mouse Detective? What are some of your favorite mystery films? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Gaslight Review + 155 Follower Thank You

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d use this review to express my gratitude toward my readers and followers by taking a suggestion from one of my readers. Back in July, when I reviewed Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Emily, from The Flapper Dame, recommended a film called Gaslight. As I told her, I had heard of the film, but had never seen it. Fortunately, I had this movie on my DVR for several months. This means that I now had an excuse to finally watch this film! I don’t often receive film recommendations on 18 Cinema Lane. But, when I do, I try my best to review each film and acknowledge the person who told me about it. This happened when I reviewed The Santa Incident last December. Since I have acquired several suggestions within my year of blogging, I have created a list to keep track of the films. This is so I know which ones I’m able to rent or record on my DVR. Maybe I can find a way to create a tradition around these suggestions!

Gaslight poster
Gaslight poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s Inc. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/166/Gaslight/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Prior to watching Gaslight, I had seen a few of Ingrid Bergman’s films. But, to me, her portrayal of Paula is one the best I’ve seen from her filmography! What makes this performance so good is how expressive Ingrid is. She’s able to change her expressions at a moment’s notice, causing Ingrid’s portrayal to appear fluid and natural. I was pleasantly surprised to see Angela Lansbury star in this film! I’ve never seen any of Angela’s live-action films, as the only live-action project of hers that I’ve seen is Murder, She Wrote. However, it was nice to see her portray a character that is different from what I’m used to. Angela brought a sense of sass to her character, Nancy. Her interactions with the other characters was interesting because of how different her personality was from the other members of that household. Though her on-screen presence was limited, Angela found a way to shine with the material she was given!

 

The lighting: I wasn’t expecting anything special from the film’s lighting. But, when I watched Gaslight, I found the lighting to be one of the most memorable parts! In the London scenes, when it was night-time, the lighting reminded me of a noir film. What I mean by this is how the light is primarily dim and obstructed by another source. In the case of Gaslight, this source was fog. A common practice in this film was the use of shadows. This helped add a sense of mysteriousness to the story, as there was an uncertainty about the people who caused those shadows. One scene that used lighting in a creative way was when Paula and Gregory entered the drawing room of their London home for the first time. In this scene, the only light came from the outside. This means the shadow of the window’s blinds reflected off of these two characters.

 

The set design: Gaslight takes place during the Victorian era. As I’ve said in reviews for other period films, the sets in this movie appeared authentic to that specific time period. It shows that the creative team truly cared about the film they were making. It also shows that thorough research had been done during the pre-production stage of the project. The sets were very massive in scale, presenting the grandeur that would have been found within the world of these characters. It also helps that the architecture made these structures feel life-like. My favorite of this collection is the hotel where Paula and Gregory spent their honeymoon. While the exterior was the primary focus of this scene, it was still impressive to look at. The location itself seemed inviting and charming, like it would be a prime destination for anyone’s vacation.

OQECW90
Sketch of London image created by Archjoe at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-houses-of-parliament_1133950.htm’>Designed by Archjoe</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Archjoe – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Some of the accents: Like I’ve said in other reviews, accents in films can be hit or miss. In Gaslight, the accents sounded authentic and believable. But there were times when it was difficult to understand what some of the characters were saying. This was the case for Gregory Anton. At several moments, I found myself rewinding the movie in an attempt to hear what he was saying. This definitely took away some enjoyment from the film.

 

Some under-utilized characters: In this movie, I found some of the characters to be under-utilized more than they should have been. One example is the neighbor of Paula and Gregory, who Paula met on a train prior to the couple moving to London. Based on her first encounter with the protagonist, I thought she was going to play a larger role in the overall narrative. Sadly, it just felt like she was there for the sake of being there. Had this character been removed from the story, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference.

 

The mystery’s resolution: When a movie features a mystery, its resolution usually takes place during the film’s climax. This decision is made to not only make the moment feel big and action-packed, but it’s also made to get a reaction from the audience. I will not spoil Gaslight for anyone who hasn’t seen this movie. But I found this mystery’s resolution to be anti-climactic. The scenes involving the resolution were well-written and interesting. However, they failed to feel big or action-packed. Something that hurt them was how one particular confrontation was not shown on screen. I understand that this film was released during the Breen Code era. However, the confrontation’s absence took away from some of the climax’s excitement.

Gaslight choker necklace picture
Is it just me or is Paula’s choker necklace just the cutest piece of jewelry? Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

Gaslight is the third mystery movie I have reviewed this November. Maybe it’s to make up for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries taking a break from making mystery films due to the Christmas/holiday season. In all seriousness, I think the mystery aspect of Gaslight was the best out of those three films! While it had its issues, it was still the most compelling. I can now agree with Emily, from The Flapper Dame, that this is a good movie! Even though it is a “slow burn” story, it works for the overall picture. This allows for the events to happen at their own pace, which made elements of the story grow organically. If you have the patience, this is a movie you might enjoy. As this review is meant to celebrate receiving 155 followers on 18 Cinema Lane, I’d like to thank each of my followers for choosing to support my blog. When I first started my blogging journey, I never imagined achieving such a large number of followers this quickly. However, I’m very thankful for the success I have earned. I’d also like to thank Emily for recommending Gaslight to me. I appreciate when readers leave comments on my blog, so I was more than happy to choose this movie for this review!

 

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

 

Have you ever seen Gaslight? Are there any movies you’d like to recommend to me? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

My Bonus Double Feature Has Arrived!

Welcome to my Bonus Double Feature! Just to let you know, there will be spoilers within this post. If you want to read the introduction, here’s the link:

An Introduction to My Bonus Double Feature

The Secret Garden 1949 poster
The Secret Garden poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s Inc. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Secret_Garden_FilmPoster.jpeg

  1. In what way is the adaptation like the book?

1949: There were several similarities to the book in the 1949 adaptation of The Secret Garden. One of them was the incorporation of the wind. In the book, the sounds of Colin’s cries blend with the sounds of the wind. Mary quickly picks out the cries from the wind and notices that something isn’t right. In the movie, this aspect sounded just like how it was described in the book. If one wasn’t paying attention, they would assume that the cries were a part of the wind. The other element was the path to Colin’s room. Mary, in the book, enters different rooms and passageways in order to find the source of the crying. In the movie, when Mary attempts to find out where the crying comes from, she travels through various rooms and hallways, which take her to Colin’s bedroom door. While this trip takes place in a shorter amount of time, the visuals of the different places in the house shows just how intertwined Misselthwaite Manor really is.

 

1987: More similarities were found in this adaptation than in the 1949 version. The one that I was pleasantly surprised by was Mary’s characteristics. Despite Gennie James’ inability to carry a British accent, she made up for this by embodying the spirit and persona of her character. Through her emotions, actions, and behavior, Gennie brought the likability and unlikability that Mary Lennox is known for. Two examples are when Mary was more upset about losing her doll over her parents and when she became friends with the robin. While we’re on the subject of this friendship, Mary forms a relationship with a robin that is also very fond of Ben Weatherstaff. By befriending the robin, in both the book and movie, Mary’s transformation from self-centered child to selfless individual begins. As for the character transformations, they were developed very well in the source material and the adaptation. Even though the movie was drawn out, it showed that the transformations of characters like Mary, Colin, and Mr. Craven happened over the course of several months. It also showed that these transformations take time and patience.

 

1993: Similar to the 1987 film, the characteristics of Mary are pretty close to how the character was written in the book. But in this adaptation, the characteristics of almost all the characters seemed like it reflected the book very well. In the 1993 movie, Kate Maberly’s performance was the best portrayal of Mary Lennox! Not only was she able to carry a British accent throughout the entire film, but she also did a really good job at bringing a balance of emotions to her role. During the scene where Martha accidently offends Mary, the angry emotions that Kate brought to her character reminded me of how the character would have behaved in the book. Another good example is when Dickon and Mary are in the secret garden, while they are singing “Mistress Mary Quite Contrary”. Even though she’s happy to be spending time with Dickon, she’s reminded of the painful memories when she arrived in England. Speaking of Dickon, Andrew Knott’s portrayal of this character was the best out of all three adaptations I’ve seen! He did a fantastic job pulling off a Yorkshire accent and brought a sense of likability to his role. The scene where Dickon and Mary meet for the first time is a good example of this.

 

As I just mentioned, Dickon and Mary sing “Mistress Mary Quite Contrary” in the 1993 movie. This song plays a small role in the book. At the beginning of the story, the song is sung to Mary in a manner of teasing. When the story goes on, she reflects on the song’s meaning and questions her outlook on life. Another aspect of the movie that reflected the book was the interior designs of Misselthwaite Manor. Mary’s and Colin’s room are a great example, as tapestry can be seen on the walls. This is an important detail to mention because tapestry was described in the novel.

 

  1. Was there anything in the adaptation that was different from the book?

1949: In the 1949 adaptation, there were just as many differences from the book as there were similarities. One notable difference is how emotional Mary Lennox is. In the film, Mary bursts into tears when she finds out that her parents have died. This is not the reaction that Mary has in the book, as she wouldn’t care what happens to her parents because of her poor relationship with them. Speaking of relationships, Mary’s relationship with Ben Weatherstaff is quite different in the film. Mary, as well as Colin and Dickon, don’t like Ben. They not only keep their distance from him, but they also don’t allow him to enter their garden. In the book, however, Ben becomes the children’s ally. He provides them with plenty of information about the secret garden, such as why it’s closed off from the rest of the gardens. The children even invite him into the garden on a few occasions. Finally, how Mary and Dickon meet is also different in the movie. Mary meets Dickon before she’s even aware that a secret garden exists. In the book, Mary meets Dickon after she’s entered the secret garden. She meets him because he’s purchased some flower seeds for her.

 

1987: While watching this adaptation of The Secret Garden, I noticed fewer differences compared to the 1949 version. Like the 1949 film, the initial meeting of Mary and Dickon happens at a different part of the story. In this movie, Mary meets Dickon before she’s found the secret garden, yet she is aware that it exists. At the beginning and end of the movie, the audience sees that the story is told through the reflections of a grown-up Mary Lennox. Since the book only focused on Mary’s story from when she was a child, this was a creative choice that Hallmark Hall of Fame made. Unlike the book, Mary and Colin are not cousins. I’m not going to reveal the reason for this creative decision because I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen this version. But this choice wasn’t as much of an issue as I thought it could be. Plus, it works within this particular story!

 

1993: Toward the beginning of the film, Mary loses her parents to an earthquake. This is different from the book, as she loses her parents to sickness. The location of the secret garden’s key is also different from the source material. In the movie, Mary finds this key in her aunt’s jewelry box instead of in the dirt. Another difference I noticed was the characteristics of Mrs. Medlock. This character, in the book, was stern but caring. Mrs. Medlock, in the movie, was much stricter. She’s not only against the idea of Mary and Colin spending time together, but she’s also mean to the other members of the staff. I’m not sure if this creative decision was made to include a conflict or to highlight the acting strengths of Maggie Smith.

 

  1. Did you find anything in the movie that you felt improved upon the material more than the book?

1949: While the majority of the film is presented in black-and-white, the only scenes that were featured in color were those that took place in the garden. Frances Hodgson Burnett was very descriptive when writing about the garden. But you can only describe so much without giving someone a visual. The way the garden is presented in this adaptation helps bring the text to life.

 

1987: In a few parts of the film, the element of suspense was incorporated. One good example was when Mary meets Colin for the first time. The build-up to that moment was staged really well, using as little lighting as possible and featuring things like lightening and scary looking statues. Because of these elements coming together, it was better executed in the movie than in the book.

 

1993: During the 1993 adaptation, a transition happens between winter and spring/summer. This transition isn’t just seen through the exterior background. The cinematography and color of wardrobe are other visuals that indicate the changing seasons. An explanation of how Mary and Colin are related is included in this script. According to this adaptation, Mary’s mother was the twin sister of Colin’s mother. No explanations to how Mary and Colin are related were given in the book. All that’s known is that they’re cousins and Mr. Craven is Mary’s uncle.

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This is yet another Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that I purchased. However, I bought it because I wanted to give an honest opinion for this double feature. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

  1. Is there anything from the book that improved upon the material more than the movie?

1949: In the book, the garden itself is written as if it were its own character. Because of this, the garden creates a ripple effect on the characters and their lives. In the movie, however, the garden is treated like a Macguffin. It’s not featured in the film for very long and the progression of the characters happens pretty quickly. We also don’t see the process of the garden’s revival.

 

1987: When I was thinking about this Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, I found it difficult to find anything that the book did better than the movie. This is because the adaptation was pretty close to the source material. It gives people who have read the book, like myself, a reason to find it satisfying.

 

1993: Even though she plays a really small role in the book, Susan Sowerby, Martha and Dickon’s mom, shares her wisdom and advice throughout the story. These things have a small, but significant influence over the events of the plot. Because Susan was nowhere to be found in this film, this part of the story was eliminated from the script.

 

  1. Because each adaptation was released in a different decade, do you feel that the movie itself was affected by the time period in which it was released? If so, how?

1949: MGM’s The Wizard of Oz was one of the first movies to experiment with color imaging. Since the movie was a success for the studio, they were more than willing to incorporate color imaging into their future films. The Secret Garden was released ten years after The Wizard of Oz, so it makes sense that they reserved the color imaging for the titular secret garden. What’s interesting is how little color imaging is included in the movie. It’s only seen on three occasions, after the garden has been fully revived.

 

1987: There’s three key things that I think had an influence on this version of The Secret Garden. The first is the 1949 movie. Because this particular film had an equal amount of similarities and differences, it encouraged the creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame project to make a more faithful adaptation. The second key ingredient was the trend where content in ‘80s children’s/family-friendly entertainment was darker and “creepier”. Since Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Secret Garden was released in 1987, it provided an alternative for those who wanted to move away from the aforementioned trend. The last thing is the concept of home entertainment and video rental stores. One of the most well-known video rental businesses, Blockbuster, opened its doors in 1985, just two years before Hallmark Hall of Fame’s adaptation was released. Since then, the idea of renting or purchasing films has played a huge role in the world of cinema. I’m not sure when Hallmark starting allowing their movies to be sold for home entertainment. But their version of The Secret Garden has been available on VHS and DVD.

 

1993: Two important aspects affected the creation of this specific adaptation. The first one is the previous adaptations of The Secret Garden. This particular version of the story was the first theatrical adaptation since the 1949 film. The Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation was close enough to the source material where readers would be satisfied. Taking these films into consideration, the creative team behind the 1993 movie tried to make a movie that felt cinematic and respected the source material. The second thing is the climate that existed in children’s/family-friendly entertainment in the early ‘90s. During this time, the Disney Renaissance was in the early stages. The box office was also receiving films with Don Bluth’s signature animation style. In the live-action department, films like My Girl and Beethoven were released from their respective studios. The early ‘90s provided variety to children’s/family-friendly entertainment. Since this version of The Secret Garden was released in 1993, the film contributed to the aforementioned climate.

 

  1. If an adaptation of The Secret Garden were made today, how would it be different from the other adaptations?

I think that if The Secret Garden received another adaptation, that film’s creative team would probably try to have the story take place in “modern” times. If this decision were made, the simplistic nature that comes from a historical fiction narrative would be taken away. Another possible change would be the incorporation of an environmental message. This would be unnecessary because the purpose of the secret garden has nothing to do the environment. The garden is included in the story to present the idea of becoming a better person when putting the needs of others before one’s own.

 

  1. What aspect from the movie or book do you think has stood the test of time?

The messages and themes within this story have been relatable and cherished for many years. As I already mentioned, one idea that can be found in both the source material and any adaptation is how putting the needs of others before one’s own can help someone become a better person. Because the protagonist of this story is a child, the narrative evokes reflection on a time when a person’s life could be care-free. It also reminds the audience of how anything is possible when we set our minds on something.

20190906_190452[1]
While I have seen this version of The Secret Garden before, this was my first time watching it as an adaptation. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Swept from the Sea Review (A Month Without the Code — #8)

Out of all the movies that I’ve chosen for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon, this film is the one that I’m the most excited to talk about! I had never heard of Swept from the Sea until I discovered it on Pinterest this year (by the way, Pinterest is a great place to discover movies). When I first saw the film’s poster, I immediately noticed that Vincent Perez not only starred in the movie, but he also was the film’s top-billed actor. For those of you who are not familiar with this particular actor, Vincent portrayed Marius in Queen of the Damned, which I reviewed last Halloween. Since I enjoyed his performance in Queen of the Damned, I wanted to see what his acting talents had to offer in other films. When I was about to read the movie’s synopsis, I decided to watch the movie knowing as little about it as possible. I did this when I reviewed Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte and I ended up having a really good movie-viewing experience. Will history repeat itself with Swept from the Sea? I’m glad you joined me for my last A Month Without the Code review because we’re about to find the answer to this question!

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

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Among all of the movies I’ve seen in my life and among all the movies I’ve reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane, Vincent Perez’s acting performance in Swept from the Sea is one of the best I’ve ever seen! Throughout the entire film, he gave a captivating performance that was both heart-warming and heart-breaking. There were even times where, through the use of emotion, he was able to say so much without saying anything at all. One example is when Amy, Rachel Weisz’s character, gives Yanko, Vincent’s character, some food after they officially meet for the first time. Even though Vincent was the one who stole the show, I enjoyed seeing the other acting performances in this film. Despite the fact that Kathy Bates appears in the movie for a limited amount of time, her portrayal of Miss Swaffer was excellent! Not only was her performance well-rounded, but she also did a really good job pulling off an English accent. Performances like these made the characters come across like they were real-life individuals!

 

The cinematography: Swept from the Sea had some interesting cinematography that I was not expecting to see. At one point in the movie, all of the dead bodies from a recent tragedy at sea are featured on screen. In this particular scene, the camera pans outward in order to show Dr. James Kennedy, Ian McKellen’s character, standing in the middle of the area where these dead bodies were placed. Because of the cinematography, this moment showed the magnitude of the tragedy. Another great use of cinematography was when Amy was running through a rain-storm. What I liked about this scene was how it was dark enough to create the feelings of fear and dread, but not dark enough where one could barely see what’s happening on screen. Swept from the Sea’s cinematography made the film visually engaging!

 

The scenery: The majority of this movie takes place in the English countryside. Everything about this location was beautiful to look at! From the never-ending fields to the titular sea, all of the countryside’s natural landscapes were captured very well on film. Even the snowy environment that is briefly shown during Yanko’s journey is visually appealing. Because of the care that was taken in recording these locations, especially the sea, it gave the impression that the scenery was its own character. It also helped to create a stunning picture!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Because this story puts a good amount of focus on a romance, it’s important for the actors portraying the characters in that relationship to have good on-screen chemistry. As I’ve already said in this review, Vincent Perez’s acting performance stole the show! I was also impressed with Rachel Weisz’s portrayal of Amy Foster. Not only were they talented individually, but they were also a very talented pair! Anytime Amy and Yanko interacted with one another, their relationship was brought to life in a very sweet and genuine way. Amy and Yanko were an adorable couple without trying too hard to be. While some of the credit goes to the screenwriter, the rest of it belongs to Vincent and Rachel. What helped them was how different their acting styles were. These differences ended up complimenting each other instead of competing against them.

Board Games Composition
Chess game strategy 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.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The dialect: Swept from the Sea takes place in the late 1800s, so the dialect reflects that particular time-period. This aspect of the movie sounded authentic to that decade. However, because I’m not used to hearing it in films very often, I had difficulty, at times, understanding what the characters were saying. This is not the fault of the film, but the fault of me, as a viewer, for not being familiar with the dialect.

A Month Without the Code banner
A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode65/.

My overall impression:

Have you ever seen a movie that was so great, that all you wanted to do was tell everyone you knew about it? Well, that is exactly how Swept from the Sea made me feel! So far, this is the best movie I’ve seen this year! It’s endearing and emotional, grabbing hold of my attention from start to finish. So many components came together to make this film as entertaining as it was. From the acting to the scenery, there were so many things I liked about this movie. It is truly a hidden gem that I’m thankful to have discovered. Like I said about The Nun’s Story, Swept from the Sea is one of the “cleaner” films out of the ones I’ve chosen for A Month Without the Code. I found this to be pretty surprising, considering the fact that this is the only PG-13 rated movie in this roster. Despite this, I think the movie could be “breenable” with a few changes. These are the following:

 

  • There were about three times when characters were heard swearing and one time where Christ’s name was used in vain. These words would need to be omitted from the script.

 

  • Toward the beginning of the film, Miss Swaffer has a bloody wound on her leg and is having it taken care of by Dr. James Kennedy. While the scene itself is fine, the wound would have to be hidden on screen.

 

  • In one scene, a man is making an unflattering joke about Amy. While Amy and Yanko express their disgust over this joke, the joke itself would have to meet the standards of the Breen Code.

 

  • On the ship, at the beginning of the storm, Yanko is seen throwing up. To fit within the qualifications of the Breen Code, this image would have to be removed.

 

  • Because there is a tragedy at sea, there are several dead bodies that are shown on screen. There is one other part of the film that features a dead body as well. These scenes would need to be revised to fit with the Breen Code.

 

  • Yanko and Amy’s kisses are more passionate and last longer than kisses from the Breen Code era’s films. These kisses would have to be shorter in time-length.

 

  • There are two scenes that heavily imply that Yanko and Amy are having sex. Even though these scenes take place after they become married, these scenes would need to rewritten to make the implication more subtle.

 

Overall score: 9.6 out of 10

 

How do you feel about A Month Without the Code? Which review from this blogathon has been your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Edward, My Son Review + 70 Follower Thank You

Two weeks ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 70 followers! The reason why I waited this long to publish my 70 follower dedication post is to decide whether I should review Edward, My Son or The Secret Garden. I ended up choosing Edward, My Son because I haven’t heard many people talk about the film. In fact, I had never heard of this movie until this month. When I chose to review Edward, My Son, I discovered that it was based on a play. I also learned that it was about a father who wanted to protect the well-being and assets of his son. Curious about how this father was going to complete his mission, I became very intrigued by this story. With that, it’s now time for me to review my 14th movie in this series, Edward, My Son!

Edward, My Son poster
Edward, My Son poster created by MGM-British and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/73917/Edward-My-Son/#.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I thought Edward, My Son had a good cast! Spencer Tracy’s and Deborah Kerr’s performance was one of the most memorable parts of this film! Both of them brought the emotional intensity and versatility that helped their portrayals of Arnold and Evelyn Boult be as strong as they were. All of their emotions appeared very natural, providing depth to their characters and to any given scene. Mervyn Johns’ performance in Edward, My Son was such a pleasant surprise! He convincingly portrayed the terrified nature of his character, Harry Simpkin. Even though this character was not on-screen very often, Mervyn found a way to make this character as memorable as possible.

 

  • The evolution of Arnold and Evelyn Boult: Throughout the film, Arnold and Evelyn Boult evolve as individuals. This process started because of the actions and choices of Arnold. As time goes on, Evelyn changes as a person, being negatively affected by Arnold’s decisions. The way that Arnold and Evelyn evolve over the course of the film was very effective. This was because of how well-written and well-acted these characters were. Arnold and Evelyn’s evolution also effectively showed how time was passing in the story.

 

  • The staging of the sets: Before watching Edward, My Son, I found out this movie was based on a play. When I saw the film, all of the sets reminded me of scenes that could be found within a play. In Edward, My Son, there is no action and very few transitions between locations. The story itself doesn’t seem too complex. These factors helped this play make a smooth transition to the screen. The only thing about this movie that felt cinematic was any time Arnold spoke directly to the audience.

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Birthday party set-up image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/food”>Food photo created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • An Absence of Edward: Even though this movie is titled Edward, My Son, Edward never makes an on-screen appearance. In fact, Edward is only incorporated into the film through the dialogue of other characters. Because of this creative choice, it treats Edward and his story like an afterthought. Instead, the primary plot focuses on Edward’s father’s rise to power and fortune. The creative team behind this film did not show and tell their audience about Edward. They never give them the opportunity to get to know and connect with him as a character. Since the audience was not given this chance, the things that happen in Edward’s personal life don’t feel emotionally effective.

 

  • A longer run-time: Edward, My Son is almost two hours. This caused the story to feel a bit drawn out. It also made the film end about 10 to 20 minutes too late. Personally, I think Edward, My Son should have been at least an hour and ten minutes. If this were the case, then the story could have been a bit more condensed.

 

  • An uncompelling story: As I’ve already said, the primary plot of Edward, My Son is about Arnold’s, Edward’s father’s, rise to power and fortune. Since I was more interested in learning about Edward, I didn’t really think Arnold’s story was compelling. Watching Arnold progress from a caring father and husband with good intentions to a self-centered, power hungry man was a little bit interesting. However, it wasn’t interesting enough to make me, as an audience member, satisfied. Had the movie showed the points of view of both Arnold and Edward, I think it would have added intrigue to the overall narrative.

Jewels sparkle in the golden wedding rings lying on the leather
Fancy jewelry image created by Freepic.diller at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/wedding”>Wedding photo created by freepic.diller – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Edward, My Son was an ok film. It definitely had the pieces to be a good, quality project. However, the biggest issue I had with Edward, My Son was the lack of Edward. Even though Edward is not an on-stage character in the play, I didn’t like how Edward did not appear in the movie. The film focused more on Arnold and the changes he experiences over the course of twenty-three years. Therefore, the title should have been more reflective of the overall narrative. In my opinion, I think that Edward should have been an on-screen character. We not only could have gotten to know him, we also could have seen how his father’s choices affected him. It also would have been a great opportunity for an actor to either start their career or help their career grow. I’m guessing there were several actors, at the time, who would have wanted to accept a role in a movie like this. If Edward was an on-screen character, it could have helped an actor achieve a “standing ovation” that they had probably worked very hard to earn. Sadly, this opportunity was not available because of the creative choices that were made for this film. That is the one thing I will take away after watching Edward, My Son. Thank you so much to all my 70 followers! Your support of this blog really means a lot to me!

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

What did you think of my review? Is there a movie from 1949 that is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen