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.

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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