The Top Ten Best Hallmark Hall of Fame Movies from the 1990s

Whenever I’ve been nominated for The Pick My Movie Tag, the theme has revolved around Hallmark movies. First, I wrote a list of the top five Hallmark films based on a true story. Then, I published an editorial why Francesca Quinn, PI is the worst Hallmark movie I’ve ever seen. Now, after being nominated for The Pick My Movie Tag for a third time, I’m creating another Hallmark related list! Tagged by Rebecca from Taking Up Room, I was given the option to either write about my first Hallmark film or a favorite Hallmark film from the 90s. While reflecting on all the Hallmark movies released during the 1990s, I realized I had seen enough presentations from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection to curate a top ten list. So, with a gracious thank you to Rebecca, I will share my list of the top ten best Hallmark Hall of Fame films from the 1990s! Before I start this list, I’d like to remind my readers that this article is not only based on my opinion, it is also based on the Hallmark Hall of Fame projects I’ve seen. Each movie will be listed based on when they were released on television. Since this list was written for a tag, I need to include the official tag rules, which are featured below:

The Tag’s Rules

  • Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.
  • Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.
  • Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog.
  • Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Maybe both.
  • All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.
  • All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.
  • Have fun!
The Pick My Movie Tag banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room

1. Caroline?

Released April 29th, 1990

Two months ago, I reviewed Caroline? for a Blog Follower Dedication Review. When I chose to write about this film, it was an opportunity to share another VHS exclusive Hallmark Hall of Fame title with my readers. But after I saw Caroline?, it quickly became one of my favorite movies from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection! The combination of strong acting performances and a mysterious plot made the story intriguing to watch! The inclusion of messages and themes such as learning from the past and respecting the wishes of others gave the story more depth. Even the creative team’s attention to detail was reflective in the set design, showcasing the differentiation of time within the story. If I were introducing someone to the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection, I would tell them about Caroline?!

2. Sarah, Plain and Tall

Released February 3rd, 1991

Hallmark Hall of Fame has a history of adapting pre-existing, literary source material. Based on the works I have read, these films are typically respectful toward the source material or better than the source material. From what I remember, Sarah, Plain and Tall belongs in the first category. Like Caroline?, the creative team’s attention to detail could be seen in the set and costume design. The cast as a whole was strong as well. The success of Sarah, Plain and Tall not only led to the start of the only trilogy in Hallmark Hall of Fame history, it also led to the adaptation of other stories from the Western genre within the 1990s. This is one of those titles from the collection that earned a “classic” status!

3. An American Story/After the Glory

Released November 29th, 1992

My review of An American Story/After the Glory is one of my popular movie reviews, garnering over a thousand views and counting! Looking back on my thoughts on this movie, I have an idea why it’s so popular. As I said in that review, An American Story/After the Glory kind of feels ahead of its time. That is due to the inclusion of veteran’s mental health within the story. The way veteran’s mental health, as well as the transition period from soldier to civilian, was written was done with reverence and realism. The script also emphasizes how each veteran is their own unique individual. Out of Hallmark’s miliary related projects, An American Story/After the Glory is one of their better ones!

4. Redwood Curtain

Released April 23rd, 1995

When talking about Sarah, Plain and Tall, I said Hallmark Hall of Fame’s adaptations are typically respectful toward the source material or better than the source material. In the case of Redwood Curtain, the 1995 film falls in the latter category. Hallmark Hall of Fame adapted this story from a pre-existing play. Redwood Curtain’s transition to the screen allowed the world surrounding the characters to expand, exclusively providing the Riordan landscape to the movie. Other changes in the script include a different personality for Gerri, the story’s protagonist. In the film, Gerri is a more empathetic and understanding character, which gives the audience a reason to want to root for her. Music plays a bigger role in Gerri’s life as well, showing her dedication toward her dreams.

5. The Boys Next Door

Released February 4th, 1996

Besides adapting pre-existing, literary source material, Hallmark Hall of Fame has a history of adapting pre-existing plays. 1996’s The Boys Next Door is one of those plays that made the transition to the screen. Similar to Redwood Curtain, the world surrounding the characters expands beyond the limits of the stage. This emphasizes the idea the men in the group home (Barry, Lucien, Norman, and Arnold) are trying to find their place in the world. What also works in The Boys Next Door’s favoris the strength of its cast. Through a blend of facial expressions, vocal inflections, and body language, each character is distinct from one another. These characters are also well written, which made them cherished individuals in the story!

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Caroline? poster created by Hallmark Hall of Fame productions, CBS, and Republic Pictures Home Video

6. What the Deaf Man Heard

Released November 23rd, 1997

It has been a while since I’ve seen What the Deaf Man Heard. From what I remember, I was impressed with the 1997 presentation! This is another film with a strong cast. The interactions between the characters felt believable, making the performances interesting to watch. What the Deaf Man Heard successfully presents the idea of appearances being deceiving, this idea given in a wholesome way. I would love to revisit this movie in the future!

7. Ellen Foster

Released December 14th, 1997

Ellen Foster is another Hallmark Hall of Fame production I haven’t seen in several years. However, this is a movie I highly regard! Like a lot of Hallmark Hall of Fame titles on this list, the cast in Ellen Foster was very talented. But Jena Malone, the actress who portrayed the titular character, stole the show, as she provided a versatile performance! Because this story discusses the subjects of child abuse and neglect, the nature of the film is going to be sadder. Therefore, those who are interested in watching the movie should approach it with the right mind-set. While I won’t spoil the story, I will say the story’s resolution feels earned.

8. The Love Letter

Released February 1st, 1998

Fantasy/Magical Realism is rarely incorporated into Hallmark’s films, let alone their Hallmark Hall of Fame projects. This makes 1998’s The Love Letter stand out among the collection! The idea of time manipulation adds creativity to the movie’s identity. Historical accuracy within the story embellishes the aforementioned identity of the film. Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh succeeded in carrying this movie, as they sold the illusion their characters were attracted to each other. With the consistent focus in the character of Scott and Elizabeth’s graceful maturity beautifully paired with her “romantic dreamer” persona, it was fascinating to watch these two characters communicate with one another!

9. Grace & Glorie

Released December 13th, 1998

As I said in the past, I am not a fan of the Hallmark movie cliché where a woman from a big city moves to a small town. Grace & Glorie contains this cliché, but doesn’t emphasize its presence in the story. Instead, the film focuses on the friendship between the titular characters. The quality of Diane Lane and Gena Rowlands’ performances made their characters’ friendship feel realistic. This made their interactions interesting to watch. Grace & Glorie contains a simpler plot that ends up working in the story’s favor. All these factors come together to create a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that is an underrated gem!

10. Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter’s End

Released November 21st, 1999

Between Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter’s End and Skylark, I always thought the third movie in this trilogy was the more memorable sequel, even though I think this trilogy is one of the strongest ever made. Similar to Sarah, Plain and Tall, the 1999 film revolves around conflicts within the family, such as the arrival of Jacob’s father. However, there were moments of humor and joy that prevented the story from being too serious. The scene where Cassie says grace serves as a perfect example. It was nice to see the Witting family together again, as, from what I remember, the family was split up in Skylark. It almost feels like coming home after a long trip!

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the announcing of the nominees! As I share which bloggers will receive The Pick My Movie Tag, they will be asked to write about a movie from the 1990s they don’t like. So, these five nominees are:

Screenshot of The Love Letter‘s poster taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Rebecca from Taking Up Room

Hamlette from The Edge of the Precipice

MovieRob from MovieRob

Cameron from The Blog Complainer

Kim from Tranquil Dreams

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Caroline? Review + 460 Follower Thank You

As I seek out Hallmark’s “older” content (“older” as in older than ten years old), I find myself gravitating toward Hallmark Hall of Fame’s VHS exclusive titles. For those who are not familiar with the history of Hallmark Hall of Fame, there are several movies from this collection that were only released on VHS. Caroline? from 1990 is one of those films. All I knew about this particular title was how the story revolved around a woman claiming to be a long-lost family member. Since I haven’t reviewed a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie in several months, I thought reviewing Caroline? for my latest Blog Follower Dedication Review would be perfect! Over my five years of movie blogging, I’ve noticed how my Hallmark related content has become some of my most popular content. In fact, one of my Hallmark Hall of Fame reviews, After the Glory, has garnered over a thousand views and counting! But will I like Caroline? as much as I liked 1992’s After the Glory? Keep reading my review in order to find out!

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Caroline? poster created by Hallmark Hall of Fame productions, CBS, and Republic Pictures Home Video

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: When portraying a titular character, that movie’s actor or actress needs to use their talents to not only carry the production, but also shine on their own. While I’m not familiar with Stephanie Zimbalist’s filmography, she did succeed in this task! In Caroline?, Stephanie’s portrayal of the titular character was so naturally presented, her interactions with the other characters were fluid. One great example is when Caroline is being questioned about her past whereabouts. In a calm voice, she answers every question given to her. As she sits upright in her chair, Caroline recounts how she survived a plane crash, looking away from Grace and Paul Carmichael as she’s remembering what happened. When Paul confronts Caroline over her selfishness, her face effortlessly turns to sadness. Caroline’s mouth conforms into a frown and her eyes appear to be on the verge of tears.

While watching Caroline?, I was fascinated by the interactions among the characters. This was achieved because of the strength of the cast! But two performances that impressed me the most came from Shawn Phelan and Jenny Jacobs! When a younger character plays a significant role in a story, the likability of that character can depend on an actor or actress’ performance. With Heidi and Winston, their interactions felt so realistic! A perfect example is when Winston is looking through a family photo album. Curious about Caroline’s true identity, Winston sneaks into his father’s office in the middle of the night. Several minutes later, Heidi comes into the office, wanting to look at the photo album as well. Throughout this scene, there is tension between Winston and Heidi. Winston is frustrated by Heidi’s constant questions and comments about the photos. He also does not like the fact he can’t look at the photo album independently. Meanwhile, Heidi is frustrated at the idea of being left out of Winston’s activity. She even looks defeated after Winston doesn’t believe her claims that she can read. With a combination of vocal inflections, facial expressions, and emotions, both Shawn and Jenny were able to present a sibling relationship that felt believable!

The element of mystery: As I mentioned in the introduction, Caroline? is about a woman claiming to be a long-lost family member. Even though I wouldn’t consider this film as a part of the mystery genre, the mystery of Caroline’s identity is spread out throughout the story. This creative decision allowed the audience to witness the interactions between the characters. Through these character interactions, the audience is left guessing if Caroline is who she says she is. All I can about the mystery’s resolution is it ended on a plot twist I didn’t see coming. The combination of these creative decisions presented a movie that was captivating to watch!

The messages and themes: Hallmark films, especially Hallmark Hall of Fame productions, are known for featuring strong messages and themes that most people can support. Caroline? is no different, as this story contains a collection of great themes and messages! While in the Carmichael family’s attic, Winston and Caroline are talking about the past. During their interaction, Winston tells Caroline, “My history teacher tells me that the secret to the future is often found in the past”. This quote resonated with me, as I, more often than not, talk about films from the past on 18 Cinema Lane! Later in the movie, Winston is frustrated with Heidi because she won’t receive academic assistance from Caroline. When Winston comes to Caroline with his frustrations, Caroline tells him, “I can’t force her to. I can’t help her unless she wants me to”. That quote alone highlights the importance of respecting one’s wishes. At the same time, Winston’s desire to see his sister academically succeed shows how necessary it is to support those you care about.

The differentiation of time: The story of Caroline? features two time periods: the “present” (1990, when the film was released) and the past (late 1940s to early 1950s). Because of choices in styling and presentation, these time periods appeared distinct from one another. In one scene, Mr. and Mrs. Carmichael (Winston and Heidi’s parents) are debating the legitimacy of Caroline’s claims. This scene takes place in their bedroom, which contains two separate beds. That specific choice in the movie’s set design is a strong reflection of the ‘40s to ‘50s, as it was more common for married couples to have separate sleeping arrangements. It also boasts the historical accuracy between these aforementioned time periods.

Library image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stack-of-books-on-library-desk_2509490.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/school”>School image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Questions left unanswered: Any story containing a mystery will raise some questions within the script. Usually, these questions are answered as the film progresses. But in Caroline?, there were some questions I wish were addressed. While shopping at a bookstore, Winston purchases a book of poems for Caroline. Yet, at Caroline’s party, he gives the book to Heidi. Speaking of Heidi, she is called “Heidi” by her mother, despite her name being Hilary. These are two examples of questions that weren’t explained.

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:

The story of a character claiming to be a long-lost family member is nothing new. The ‘90s, the decade when Caroline? was released, saw the premiere of 1997’s Anastasia, which revolves around this same type of story. But Hallmark Hall of Fame’s presentation makes several creative decisions that allow their story to travel down different avenues. It goes beyond simply figuring out if the protagonist is the claimed long-lost family member, as the film discusses reaching one’s full potential and helping those that need help. As I mentioned in my review, I was fascinated by the interactions among the characters because of the strength of the cast. That combined with the intriguing nature of the story is what kept me invested in the film! Caroline? is a movie I was Hallmark had re-released on DVD. In fact, I wish more people knew about this movie. With that, I’d like to thank all of my followers, as you are the reason why this review exists!

Overall score: 9 out of 10

Have you seen or heard of Caroline? Which Hallmark Hall of Fame movie would you like to see reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The 5th Annual Gold Sally Awards has Finally Arrived!

With 18 Cinema Lane’s 5th anniversary in February, the annual Gold Sally Awards is here to mark this occasion! As I mentioned last month, this year’s awards will be presented differently. Each category was created by me, based on topics I’ve brought up on my blog. The award recipients relate to movies I saw in 2022, with some of those movies covered on 18 Cinema Lane. For each category, I will explain the significance of them and why I chose that recipient. So, without any delay, let the Gold Sally Awards begin!

5th Annual Gold Sally Awards Winners created by me, Sally Silverscreen.

The Edwin P. Christy Award

(Most Annoying Character in Film)

Grandpa Marcus from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Journey

When I saw I Dream of Jeanie two years ago, I was introduced to the character of Edwin P. Christy. In my review of the 1952 movie, I said I found Edwin annoying. This is because he used every opportunity to put the spotlight on himself. He does this so often, I said in my list of the top ten worst movies of 2021 that I Dream of Jeanie’s honest title would be “The Edwin P. Christy Show”. In 2022, I met another annoying character named Marcus, from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Journey.

Having a hobby can be a good thing. But in Marcus’ case, his hobby for photography turns into an obsession. This obsession causes Marcus’ family to either hide their faces or run away from him whenever he wants to take their picture. Marcus also takes pictures of people without their permission. It even gets to the point where Marcus makes his grandson, who appears to be eight to ten years old, drive a car so Marcus can take photos. His grandchildren jokingly remark how their grandpa will photograph their car accident if something should happen to them, their remark not sitting well with me at all. In Journey, Marcus’ hobby is related to one of the movie’s themes; memories are irreplaceable. The delivery of this theme, though, was an annoying one.

The “She Won’t Give Me My Chocolate” Award

(Best Quote from a Movie)

“Someone who likes their cereal really hot” – Wanda, Point of Origin

The Valley of Light is a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I like. I’ve mentioned in my tier rank list of every Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I saw that “She won’t give me my chocolate” is one of my favorite quotes from this collection of films. When I watched Point of Origin last June, I heard a quote that was so funny, it caught me off guard! In one scene, John’s daughter asks John, the film’s protagonist, what a serial arsonist is, after hearing the term on the news. Without missing a beat, Wanda, John’s wife, answers the young girl’s question by explaining it is “someone who likes their cereal really hot”. I was not expecting Wanda to provide this kind of answer, let alone any answer at all. Its unexpectedness is why I found this quote hilarious!

The Edward Boult Award

(Missed Opportunity in Cinema)

Not Having the Quote, “I have a need, a need for speed”, in Top Gun: Maverick

Back in 2019, I watched Edward, My Son for the first time. In my review of that film, I talked about how Edward’s lack of on-screen appearances was a missed opportunity. Not only did this creative decision prevent the audience from getting to know and connect with Edward as a character, it also denied an actor from receiving the “standing ovation” he deserved. Out of the films I saw in 2022, there were a few times where I felt an opportunity was missed. But not having the quote, “I have a need, a need for speed”, in Top Gun: Maverick was, in my opinion, the biggest missed opportunity of the year. The aforementioned quote is not only the most well-known quote from Top Gun: Maverick’s predecessor, it’s one of the most famous quotes in movie history. Like I said in my review of the 2022 blockbuster, the film did a good job respecting Top Gun. However, I still think “I have a need, a need for speed” should have been referenced somewhere in the movie.

The They Deserve an Award Award

(An Actor or Actress Who Deserves Recognition)

Melissa Joan Hart (for her performance in Dirty Little Secret)

A quote I have always tried to incorporate into 18 Cinema Lane is Auggie’s quote from Wonder: “Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.” This is why I go out of my way to talk about movies, people, or movie related topics that may be overlooked. Dirty Little Secret is a Lifetime movie that premiered last year. In this film, Melissa portrays Joanna, a woman who is secretly a hoarder. As I have said in the past, Lifetime has a history of creating PSA/ “after school special”/cautionary tale type of movies. Unlike the majority of those projects, Dirty Little Secret revolves around a story, which happens to address the serious issue of hoarding. Through her performance, Melissa was able to successfully bring forth the humanity of her character. With a strong sense of emotionality and an array of expressions and body language, Joanna became a character the audience could be empathetic towards. Personally, I think Melissa should have, at least, been nominated for an award, as her performance in Dirty Little Secret was one of the best from 2022!

The “Woman from the City Coming Back to Her Small Hometown” Award

(Most Extreme Use of a Cliché)

Lily from Lake Effects

If you’ve read my list of the top ten worst cliches from Hallmark movies, you’d know the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché is my least favorite. It’s been used so many times, it makes a story more predictable. There are two cliches from Hallmark productions I’ve never talked about on 18 Cinema Lane: the “younger sibling is free-spirited” cliché and the “artist = free-spirit” cliché. While these cliches have made several appearances in Hallmark projects, including When Calls the Heart, their presence hasn’t been as frequent as other cliches. But these two cliches were fully embodied by Lily, one of the characters in the 2012 film, Lake Effects. From her colorful wardrobe to her dream of studying art in Paris, Lilly adopted every component of the two aforementioned cliches you can think of. The combination of these elements created a character I couldn’t take seriously. In fact, you could make a bingo game revolving around the various ways the “younger sibling is free-spirited” cliché and the “artist = free-spirit” cliché are incorporated into Lilly’s story.

The Standing Ovation Award

(Character Most Deserving of Receiving Their Full Potential)

Kili from The Hobbit trilogy

When I talked about The They Deserve an Award Award, I brought up Auggie’s quote from Wonder. Last November, I created a list of characters who didn’t receive their full potential. With both of that said, I decided to create an award category where I recognize a character that I feel should receive the full potential they deserve. In my tag post, My take on The “Flaming Hot…5 Reasons Why” Tag, I brought up Kili from The Hobbit trilogy. Since I saw all three movies for the first time last year, Kili would be eligible for this award. In that aforementioned tag post, I claimed how Kili was, in my opinion, the MVP of Middle-Earth. This is because there are several attributes that make him a likable character, such as his humbleness toward his royal title. Throughout the trilogy, I was rooting for Kili to achieve his full potential, which I feel could have been possible. But, without spoiling this story, his potential was ultimately denied. I do plan on writing at least one editorial about Kili, so stay tuned!

The Honorable and Dishonorable Mention Award

(Best and Worst Movie from the Honorable and Dishonorable Mention Category)

Best – Akeelah and the Bee, Worst – Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Corsican Brothers

Whenever I publish my best and worst movies of the year lists, I receive few opportunities to talk about the movies in my Honorable and Dishonorable Mention categories. In fact, the only times I talk about these movies are when I get the opportunity to review them on my blog. Therefore, I created an award category to recognize these films. Akeelah and the Bee was such a pleasant surprise for me! It was a feel-good story that felt sincere in the messages and delivery. There were even interesting twists that I did not see coming. Without spoiling the movie, the script did a good job at avoiding a cliché when it comes to competitions in movies. I’m glad I checked out Akeelah and the Bee, as the film was time well spent!

Last October, I reviewed Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Corsican Brothers for the Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon. After seeing some adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ stories, I thought I knew what to expect from the 1985 made-for-tv movie. But the longer I watched The Corsican Brothers, the more disappointed I became. This story was not the exciting tale with adventure and intrigue I was hoping for. Instead, it was a confusing film with little to no use of urgency. As of the publication of this award post, I still have not read this movie’s source material. Therefore, I don’t know which parts of the production are creative liberties.

The Nosferatu vs. Dracula Award

(Two Movies That Feel Like You’re Watching the Same One)

Harvey (1950) and Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Harvey (1972)

For a Blog Follower Dedication Review, I wrote about 1931’s Dracula. Because I had seen Nosferatu prior to watching Dracula, the 1931 film felt like a re-tread of its predecessor. I even told my readers if they had seen Nosferatu, they’d already seen Dracula. Last year, I reviewed two versions of Harvey; the 1950 movie and the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation from 1972. Though I liked the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie more than its predecessor, I didn’t like how it was a copy of the 1950 film. The movie’s sets even looked almost exactly like they did in the 1950 production. If you’ve never seen any version of this story, I’d recommend only seeing 1972’s adaptation of Harvey.

The Hallmark Hall of Fame Award

(Movie That Feels Like It Belongs in the Hallmark Hall of Fame Collection)

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love

I have sometimes found a movie that feels like it should have been included in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection. So, when I find out a story isn’t associated with this series, it surprises me, whether it’s because the movie is based on a true story or the story itself covers a topic found within Hallmark Hall of Fame. That leads me to bring up A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love! Like other films in the Godwink series, the 2021 film is also based on a true story. Subjects related to faith, which usually aren’t found in a typical Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries production, are included within this particular story as well. In my opinion, the overall quality of A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love felt reminiscent of Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I like, such as The Valley of Light and A Dog Named Christmas. I’m honestly surprised SQuire Rushnell’s stories weren’t included in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection back when Hallmark utilized that banner.

The “Based on a Book I Haven’t Read Yet” Award

(Movie Based on Source Material I Have Not Yet Read)

The Pit and the Pendulum

I feel like, more often than not, I find myself saying that a movie I review is based on source material I haven’t read. This prevents me from judging the film as an adaptation. It’s been years since I’ve read anything by Edgar Allan Poe. I even mentioned this fact in my review of the 1961 adaptation. Fortunately, The Pit and the Pendulum is a book I plan on reading for the upcoming Eurovisionathon readathon. Because of that, I selected The Pit and the Pendulum for this specific award!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2022

My worst movies list of 2022 is different from that of the previous year. This time, I’ll be talking about more films that were “so bad they were bad”, as only three of these movies were disappointments. The Dishonorable Mentions portion of the list has also returned! Though I did see more good movies than bad, I couldn’t avoid coming across a “stinker” every now and then. I like to think I’ll, one day, see less than ten films for my annual worst list. But someday has not come this year, as the title of this article suggests. As I’ve stated in past lists, I did not write my list to be mean-spirited or negative. It’s just a way to express my own, honest opinion. Since some of these films have been reviewed on my blog, I will provide links to those reviews.

Dishonorable Mentions

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Vows We Have Made, A Place for Annie, Swim Instructor Nightmare, Nikki & Nora: Sister Sleuths, The Corsican Brothers (1985), and Donnie Brasco (I only watched forty minutes of the film before turning it off)

<a href=”http://<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/new-year’>New year vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type=”URL” data-id=”<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/new-year’>New year vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com2022 Changing numbers image created by Freepik at freepik.com

10. The New Adventures of Heidi

In 2022, I was hoping to finally find my coveted “so bad, it’s good” movie. Sadly, The New Adventures of Heidi was not it. As I said in my review, this film is “spectacularly average”. The more I think about the 1978 made-for-tv movie, the less justifiable reasons I can think of for the project’s existence. Yes, The New Adventures of Heidi was intended as a “modern” re-telling of Johanna Spyri’s story. But the movie didn’t feel unique enough, despite all the changes. Every year I’ve participated in the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, there has been a pattern between movies that turned out ok and movies that were just disappointing. Hopefully, in 2023, I can break this pattern.

Take 3: The New Adventures of Heidi Review

9. Love in Wolf Creek

When I first read the synopsis for Love in Wolf Creek, I was excited at the idea of a “cozier” story filled with adventure and excitement. The 2022 television film seemed better on paper than in practice. For a movie titled Love in Wolf Creek, there was very little romance in the story. The writing was weaker than I hoped, filled with scenarios that were too unrealistic for my liking. This project was too ambitious for INSP, the network who created the film. It was so disappointing, I didn’t bother watching its sequel, Christmas in Wolf Creek.

8. Harvey (1950)

I think the 1972 Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of Harvey is better than its 1950 predecessor. While I’m aware how controversial my opinion is, the 1972 film had more success executing its intended points. A mistake the 1950 movie makes is trying to be a comedy and a drama. This decision led the comedy to not only be underutilized, but also showcased medical negligence in a way that didn’t sit well with me. “Magical realism” was lacking in the 1950 film. This took away any opportunity for the story to be charming and whimsical. When I reviewed Harvey back in January, it was the most disappointing movie I saw in 2022. Now, eleven months later, the 1950 picture still holds that title.

Take 3: Harvey (1950) Review

7. Journey

The 1995 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation made the same mistake Durango did: not giving the audience a reason to care about the characters and their story. In the case of Journey, the creative team failed to provide explanations for the characters’ choices. At the beginning of the film, the protagonist’s mother, Min, abandons her family, claiming she hates her parents. But the script never explains why she made this decision. Even when there are cut-away scenes featuring Min, she isn’t doing anything significant. How am I expected to care about Min’s choice affecting her family when I don’t even know why she left in the first place?

6. My Mom Made Me Do It

According to a synopsis I read for this 2022 Lifetime film, the protagonist, Jade, turns to stealing in order to help her mom pay the bills. Both the title and synopsis turned out to be a lie because 1) Jade’s decisions were made on her own and 2) Jade never steals anything. What she does instead is crash wealthy people’s parties and photographs their belongings. Other issues contained in this movie are weak lead performances and characters who make one dumb choice after another. I will admit there was at least one effective plot twist. But I wish it had taken place in a better film.

Harvey (1950) poster created by Universal Pictures

5. The Sundowners (1960)

For a little while, I thought The Sundowners was going to be the worst movie I saw this year. Even though I was proven wrong, the 1960 film has still remained in my top five. Like I said in my review, one of the worst things you can do as a film-maker is waste your audience’s time. The story felt longer than necessary, which made the movie two hours and thirteen minutes not well spent. One of my biggest issues with The Sundowners was its “bait and switch” ending. While I won’t go into detail about the ending, as I don’t want to spoil the film, I will say it was cruel for both the characters and the audience.

Take 3: The Sundowners (1960) Review

4. The North Avenue Irregulars

This movie attempts to answer the question; “Wouldn’t it be funny if a group of women came together to solve a mystery”? By the time The North Avenue Irregulars was released in 1979, that question made the film dated on arrival, as there were several television programs from the ‘70s featuring at least one female character solving mysteries or fighting crime. The movie’s creative team told too many types of stories, yet failed at all of them. One minute, the film felt like a precursor to the Mitford series, revolving around a preacher trying to live his best life. The next minute, the film turns into a gangster heist picture, paired with car chases that were longer than necessary. Honestly, I wish this movie was a Scooby Doo-esque story about the film’s fictional band, Strawberry Shortcake. Maybe then the movie would seem more timeless.

3. Lake Effects

For the first time in 18 Cinema Lane history, all the movies in my worst list’s top three are Hallmark productions. Accepting the bronze is the 2012 film, Lake Effects. This movie has so many Hallmark movie clichés, you could create a bingo game around them. You could also create a bingo game around the many storylines found in this script. Lake Effects is a production that relies on style over substance. While Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia was captured well on film, there’s only so much the movie’s creative team could do with the weak script at their disposal. In my review from August, I stated how the movie seemed forgotten over the years. Its poor quality makes it not worth remembering.

Take 3: Lake Effects Review

2. A Boyfriend for Christmas

In 2019 and 2020, a Hallmark Christmas movie ended up in the top three of my annual worst movies list. History is kind of repeating itself with A Boyfriend for Christmas in second place. Like Lake Effects, the 2004 film contained a weak script. But in A Boyfriend for Christmas, I only liked two minor parts of the story. The lack of Christmas magic made my movie viewing experience unenjoyable. It was one of those stories that became worse the longer I watched it. I know this movie is one of the most beloved titles in Hallmark’s cinematic library. Honestly, though, I found it over-rated.

Take 3: A Boyfriend for Christmas Review

1. Francesca Quinn, PI

Remember when I said one of the worst things a film-maker can do is waste their audience’s time? Well, another worst thing a film-maker can do is disrespect their audience’s intelligence. As I watched Francesca Quinn, PI, I was given the impression the film’s creative team didn’t want me to solve the mystery alongside the protagonist. That’s because Francesca explained things that didn’t need explaining. Despite Francesca being a professional private investigator, she constantly made decisions an amateur detective would likely make. Her lack of personality didn’t help either. According to IMDB, Francesca Quinn, PI could replace the Mystery 101 series. The reason is “the main characters’ relationship and the crime at the end of Deadly History are the same as the main characters’ relationship and crime in Francesca Quinn, PI”. If this is the case, the Mystery 101 fans, including myself, deserve so much better.

A Boyfriend for Christmas poster created by Hallmark Entertainment,  MAT IV,  Alpine Medien Productions, Larry Levinson Productions, Gaiam Entertainment, and Hallmark Channel 

Have fun in 2023.

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2022

As the sun begins to set on 2022, it’s time to publish my best and worst movies of the year lists! Last year, every film on my best list had been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. But that’s not the case this time around. For this list, only two movies were not reviewed, while another movie served as an editorial subject. Any film I covered on my blog will have a link included in this post. I’m thankful another year was filled with more good movies than bad. I’ll even have more titles in my Honorable Mentions! While these lists have become great traditions on their own, the variety of this collection of films has become another tradition. So, without any delay, let’s begin the list of the best movies I saw in 2022!

Honorable Mentions

Cut, Color, Murder, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), Children of a Lesser God, Sweet Revenge: A Hannah Swensen Mystery, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Honeymoon, Honeymurder, The Princess and the Pirate, Dirty Little Secret, Singin in the Rain, McBride: Tune in for Murder, McBride: Dogged, McBride: Requiem, Hugo, Akeelah and the Bee, The Shoplifting Pact, and Secrets at the Inn

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10. Fiddler on the Roof

When I reviewed the 1971 musical back in February, I said it was too early to say whether it would be one of the best movies I saw this year. But Fiddler on the Roof captivated me so much, the film ended up on my annual top ten list! I described the movie as a well-made quilt, with each of the film’s strengths representing a different quilt piece. The inclusion of Jewish faith/culture also gave the project a unique identity by asking questions and discussing topics that aren’t often found in musicals. Looking back on this movie, Fiddler on the Roof was three hours well spent. It’s a special project in both the world of musicals and cinema. I hope to check out more Jewish cinematic stories in 2023!

Take 3: Fiddler on the Roof Review

9. The Lost Empire/The Monkey King

Out of all the movies on my best list for 2022, The Lost Empire/The Monkey King is the most unique one! A fantasy film based on Chinese folklore, this was an imaginative production I enjoyed watching. The story was sometimes thought-provoking and even somewhat educational, as it included literature related discussions. Strong acting performances brought to life characters who seemed believable. The set designs boasted a realistic and fantastical setting, which effectively presented the illusion of an immersive world. I wish Hallmark created more movies like The Lost Empire/The Monkey King, where the stories and ideas are more creative. With the network prioritizing rom-coms and dramas, though, I don’t know what their decisions will be in the new year.

Take 3: The Lost Empire/The Monkey King Review

8. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder

Talking about this movie is bittersweet, as it is the last film in the Aurora Teagarden series. I’ve thought about all the moments the fans will never get to see, such as Aurora and Nick’s first Christmas, Phillip’s college graduation, and Sally falling in love. But if this is where the story must end, at least it ended on a strong note. The realistic and supernatural elements of the story complimented each other nicely. Supernatural elements being incorporated at all gave this chapter a more creative approach to the series. It was nice to spend time with Lawrenceton’s favorite residents; the acting performances and on-screen camaraderie remaining consistent. Even though I would have loved to see the Aurora Teagarden series continue for many more years, I know nothing lasts forever. But as the saying goes “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.

7. Redwood Curtain

There are very few movies I found better than their source material. Redwood Curtain just so happens to be one of them! The creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation took advantage of the expansive nature of film by providing the story with more locations. Allowing characters like Julia and Laird to appear in the movie showcase the Riordan family dynamic not present in the play. I found Geri more likable as a character in the movie. Lea’s performance paired with the screenwriting gave Geri an empathetic and understanding personality. Redwood Curtain is a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation I wish was re-released on DVD.

‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen

6. The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum was one of the biggest pleasant surprises of 2022! Despite the film not being my first choice for its respective blogathon, I thought it was engaging and entertaining. Vincent’s performance didn’t disappoint, as his portrayal of Nicholas was versatile and fueled on emotion. The mystery not only started right away, but it also allowed the audience to experience the journey alongside Francis, the main character. The Pit and the Pendulum is, to me, one of the more effective horror movies, like 1962’s Cape Fear. While this film would be a perfect choice to watch on Halloween, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it around Vincent’s birthday!

Take 3: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Review

Redwood Curtain poster created by Chris/Rose Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and Republic Pictures (II)

5. The Song of Bernadette

And another film of Vincent’s joins my list! Faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. The Song of Bernadette falls into the latter category, as it revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. What I like about the 1943 film is how different perspectives relating to the phenomena are explored, highlighting how various members of the town view the events unfolding. The story doesn’t choose sides on the main topic, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about what is taking place in the movie. Even though The Song of Bernadette was released during the Breen Code era, the film is a good representation of the quality from that period in cinema. As I said in my review, Easter would be an appropriate time to watch the movie!

Take 3: The Song of Bernadette Review

4. Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real shares a major similarity with The Song of Bernadette. The 2014 film also revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. But what Heaven Is for Real does differently is encourage the audience to have a conversation about their beliefs on Heaven. Like I previously stated, faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. However, I’ve rarely seen a movie of this nature start a discussion about one of their themes. This creative decision brings something new to the table and gives Heaven Is for Real a unique identity.

3. Words on Bathroom Walls

It seems like I’ve been talking about this title for as long as my blog has been around. But I’m glad I finally got the chance to see Words on Bathroom Walls this year, as it was such a good adaptation! There were changes between text and film. Despite that, the adaptation was, for the most part, respectful to its source material. The visual presentation of the story gave the audience a glimpse inside Adam’s mind. Interactions between the characters were believable, thanks to the actors’ performances and screenwriting. As I mentioned in my review a month ago, the adaptation for Words on Bathroom Walls seems more underrated. Based on the response my review received, my statement may be wrong.

Take 3: Words on Bathroom Walls Review

2. Top Gun: Maverick

I’m going to be honest; I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. That’s because sequels released over ten years after their predecessor can be hit or miss. Top Gun: Maverick ended up surpassing my expectations, making it in the top three of my best of the year list! From what I know about Top Gun, the sequel respected what came before it. At the same time, new elements were added to the story, like focusing on an overarching mission. In a cinematic landscape where a film receiving over a billion dollars has become a rarity, Top Gun: Maverick achieved what some studios only dream of. As the 2020s move forward, maybe more filmmakers will turn to this film as an example of what can be cinematically possible.

Take 3: Top Gun: Maverick Review + 450 Follower Thank You

1. A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love

When it comes to “Godwink” stories, I prefer those that focus on a conflict. While that is the case for A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, I found the overall production impressive! The interactions among the characters, as well as each volunteer’s talent being showcased, provided a nice amount of character development. Christmas activities were incorporated in more unique ways, such as the Romero family’s gift exchange. The inclusion of Advent was a newer approach to the Christmas movie genre. I don’t know what’s in store for the Godwink series. But I’d love to see more adaptations of these stories!

Take 3: A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love Review

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Have fun in 2023!

Sally Silverscreen

Top Ten Characters Who Didn’t Reach Their Full Potential

For my World Television Day Blogathon, I was originally going to review one of the books in the Murder, She Wrote series. But with the recent passing of Angela Lansbury, I thought it would be a bit too soon. Therefore, I decided to write about the top ten characters who didn’t reach their full potential instead. What does it mean for a character to reach their “full potential”? In my opinion, it means a character is given the opportunity to reach their goals, make their dreams come true, and allow their stories to be told to a satisfying extent. Unfortunately, some characters are denied these opportunities for various reasons. This list will address the characters I wish had received their full potential. For the sake of this discussion, I will focus on characters who appeared in television shows or made-for-tv movies. While there are some characters I have talked about before, I tried to include those I never talked about on 18 Cinema Lane. There will also be spoilers for the television shows and movies discussed in this list.

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1. Matthew Rogers from Little House on the Prairie

Yes, I’m starting this list with a character I’ve written part of an editorial about. However, I feel there’s an argument to be made for Matthew not reaching his full potential. On Little House on the Prairie, he was introduced in the show’s last season. Within that season, Matthew only appeared in a total of three episodes, departing in the series finale. This left him with little to no time to reach his full potential. Meanwhile, characters such as Albert Ingalls, Willie Oleson, and even Nancy Oleson had their potential recognized because they were introduced in earlier seasons. Had Matthew made his debut in, say, season seven, his chances to reach his full potential may have been stronger.

2. Jamey Farrell from 24

24 was released during a very interesting time. It was almost ten years after the premiere of Jurassic Park, a film that showed Dr. Ian Malcolm breaking the mold of a “geek/nerd”. But 24 was also released almost ten years prior to Iron Man, when the idea of the “cool geek/nerd” would be fully embraced by the media. Before Robert Downey Jr. accepted the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man, Karina Arroyave portrayed Jamey on 24. A beautiful, intelligent, and charismatic woman, Jamey had the potential to be the Dr. Ian Malcolm of the show. In fact, I think if the show’s writers had allowed her to reach her full potential, Jamey could have been the reason why the media embraced the “cool geek/nerd” idea a lot sooner than they did. As the events of 24’s first season unfolded, though, Jamey’s sparkling personality became watered down and her unique attire morphed into looking just like every other employee. Becoming a villain and dying after appearing in ten episodes ended all chances of Jamey reaching her full potential.

3. Jiggy Nye from Felicity: An American Girl Adventure

Another character I’ve written an editorial about joins this list. In the 2005 made-for-tv film, Jiggy was presented more as a victim than a villain. This is because he didn’t come across as a big enough threat to the protagonist. It also doesn’t help how Jiggy’s backstory was poorly incorporated into the script. Felicity: An American Girl Adventure is based on a six-book series. Like any adaptation, changes were made between books and film. When it comes to Jiggy’s part of the story, though, it seems like he received the short end of the stick. From a writing perspective, he deserved so much better.

4. Libby from Lost

Out of all the characters from Lost to not receive their full potential, especially those from season two, Libby is the one you can make the strongest argument for. Introduced as one of the “Tailies”, there was so much mystery and intrigue surrounding her and her story. When Libby and Hurley started a romantic relationship, things seemed to be going well with her character development. Sadly, Libby’s story was short-lived, as she died toward the end of the second season. Because of her departure, none of the mysteries surrounding her were ever addressed. Libby never even received any flashbacks.

5. Amédée Chevalier from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s O Pioneers!

I first mentioned Amédée in my review of the 1992 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. In his limited appearance in the movie, he had so much potential. From his athleticism to his charisma, Amédée could go anywhere and be anyone he wanted. Sadly, his story was cut short due to dying off-screen of appendicitis. From the information I’ve found about Amédée, he only made three appearances in the book. This makes me wonder if his full potential was always meant to be denied?

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6. Captain Lynch and Judy from Crusoe

Long before 18 Cinema Lane existed, there was a television adaptation called Crusoe. In the season premiere, Captain Lynch and Judy arrived on Robinson’s island. Similar to Libby from Lost, Judy and Captain Lynch were surrounded in mystery and intrigue. But toward the end of the season premiere, these characters departed from the show. While Captain Lynch died, Judy was taken away by the Royal Naval Police, never to be seen again. It also didn’t help how Crusoe survived for only one season.

7. Barry Klemper from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Boys Next Door

I always thought there was an argument to be made for Barry Klemper’s full potential in the 1996 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. A photogenic and articulate man, Barry had a passion for golf, which he kept alive at his job at a driving range. Had he received a more one-on-one, individualized approach to his care, I honestly think Barry could have lived a, somewhat, independent life. But all that momentum Barry had was destroyed when his father showed up and intimidated him. This interaction caused Barry to spend the remainder of the story in a psychiatric hospital. The Boys Next Door is based on a play that I have not read or seen in its entirety, so I’m not sure how respectful the adaptation is to its source material. All I know is Barry Klemper not reaching his full potential is, in my opinion, heart-breaking.

8. Moon from Cedar Cove

The proprietor of Moon’s Café, Moon is one of the most important characters of the 2013 Hallmark Channel show. Along with coffee and baked goods, Moon serves up wisdom to those who will provide a listening ear. I even recall one episode where he claimed he was adopted. This tidbit could have opened the doors to a compelling story for Moon. But during Cedar Cove’s three season run, Moon, more often than not, was overshadowed by the other characters and their stories. Since the show ended in 2015, there have been no announced plans to release a Cedar Cove movie or reunion special. Hallmark’s lack of interest in revisiting their first scripted show leaves Moon with no more chances to reach his full potential.

9. Harris Trinsky from Freaks and Geeks

After watching some episodes of Freaks and Geeks, Harris has become my favorite character from the show. His “wise beyond his years” perspective make him a character the “geeks” can trust and others can respect. Harris also had a lot going for him, from his intelligence to his interest in Dungeons & Dragons. Unfortunately, Freaks and Geeks lasted for only one season. The fact Harris was a recurring character didn’t help his case either, as he appeared in ten of the show’s eighteen episodes.

10. Jesse and Clara from When Calls the Heart

When I was creating this list, I, at first, didn’t think there were any characters from When Calls the Heart who didn’t reach their full potential. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized Jesse and Clara fit my list’s criteria. Clara came to Hope Valley in season two, still healing from a broken heart. Season three saw the arrival of Jesse, seeking a second chance after living a life of crime. When Clara and Jesse became a couple, they had their whole lives and relationship ahead of them. But the longer they stayed on the show, the more overshadowed they became. Jesse and Clara were given few good stories during their time on When Calls the Heart. They were also denied the outdoor wedding of their dreams. Clara and Jesse were written out of the show after season seven.

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Have fun on television!

Sally Silverscreen

Welcome to the World Television Day Blogathon!

The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here; the World Television Day Blogathon! Since the dawn of television, this particular medium has become a staple in popular culture. Through this lens, history has been recorded and memories have been made, giving people a way to look back on the past. Television’s broad landscape has provided something for everyone, from cozy mystery shows to beloved musical competitions. In this blogathon, various television related topics will be showcased. Each entry highlights different decades, made-for-tv movies, and shows, illustrating the importance of World Television Day!

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18 Cinema Lane — Four Reasons Why ‘The Flamingo Rising’s Adaptation is Different from its Book, Top Ten Characters Who Didn’t Reach Their Full Potential

The Stop Button — THE JERICHO MILE (1979, MICHAEL MANN)

Taking Up Room — My Top Twelve “Gilmore Girls” Episodes

Four Reasons Why ‘The Flamingo Rising’s Adaptation is Different from its Book

When we talk about book-to-film adaptations, we are quick to point out how both pieces of media are different. Some of these differences can lead to insightful conversations between the fans and the casual audience. Other differences can cause a negative reaction, from readers walking out of the theater mid-film to Youtube videos showcasing fans’ rants and complaints. But one topic I haven’t heard addressed is why these changes between book and film likely happened. This topic can be applied to any adaptation. For the sake of my editorial, though, I’m writing about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising. Back in June, I published a list of the top ten movies I’d love to, one day, review. The 2001 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie was on that list. Because I own a copy of Larry Baker’s novel, I thought it would be interesting to read the book after I saw the movie. Now that I’ve consumed both pieces of media, I have gained an understanding for why Hallmark likely made the changes they did. There are four main reasons why The Flamingo Rising’s book is different from its adaptation, which will be explored in this editorial. This article contains spoilers for the story of The Flamingo Rising.

Created by Sally Silverscreen at Adobe Creative Cloud Express

The Run-Time

Abraham Isaac Lee is the protagonist of The Flamingo Rising. In Larry Baker’s novel, Abraham takes a biographical approach to telling the story, reflecting on various moments that occurred in his life. He even goes into detail about the history of his parents and Grace’s parents. According to IMDB, Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising has an hour and thirty-four-minute run-time. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, that run-time gives a film’s creative team only so much time to tell a story. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s adaptation of The Flamingo Rising condensed the events in Abraham’s and his family’s life. The book explains how Hubert, Abraham’s father, purchased the land for The Flamingo Drive-In before Abraham and his sister, Louise, were adopted. While Hubert was a soldier in the Korean War, he sent building plans and business ideas to his wife, Edna, who was put in charge of putting those plans into fruition. The purchase of the land and creation of The Flamingo Drive-In, in the movie, took place long after Hubert left the military and in a shorter amount of time. Both Abraham and Louise are teenagers for the majority of the movie, with only one flashback showing the siblings as babies.

There are many characters in The Flamingo Rising. While reflecting on his life, Abraham takes the time to explain who each person in his life is, as well as giving these people a significant presence in the story. Most of these characters were present in The Flamingo Rising movie. But because the film’s run-time is an hour and thirty-four-minutes, their parts of the story were reduced. Abraham’s sister, Louise, is one of these characters. The book reveals Louise grew up to become an actress, as Abraham claims she had the talent for it. In one scene, Louise expresses interest in flying in Harry “Judge” Lester’s plane. This interest was sparked by a promise Hubert made to his children. The movie’s script, however, never addresses why Louise wants to fly with “Judge”. In fact, the audience never sees her flying in “Judge’s” plane. When it comes to Louise’s acting, it was only mentioned once throughout the movie. During a conversation between Abraham and his friend, Gary, Abraham mentions how his sister wants to be an actress someday.

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising VHS cover created by Hallmark Entertainment, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, McGee Street Productions, CBS, and Artisan Entertainment 

The Budget

From what I’ve heard over the years, a typical made-for-TV movie costs somewhere between one to three million dollars. While that sounds like a lot of money to the average movie blogger, that amount is actually on the lower end of the financial spectrum, when it comes to making movies. If the aforementioned millions were the budget for Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising, it would explain why some parts of the source material were cut from the movie. In the book, Abraham shares his family had a temperamental dog named Frank. This dog was so unstable, he not only bit Louise, he was forced to live in an empty room above Abraham’s room, due to the dog’s behavior. In the film, however, Frank the dog is nowhere to be seen and is never acknowledged by any of the characters. If a movie’s creative team chooses to include an animal in their production, the training, veterinary care, and other related expenses will need to be factored into the overall budget. Working with an animal trainer also requires time, something the creative team behind The Flamingo Rising only had so much to spend. Therefore, the inclusion of Frank the dog was an expense the adaptation’s creative team likely thought was unnecessary.

Location scouting is a film-making component also affected by a creative team’s budget. Like I said in my editorial, ‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen, a location scout might not be able to secure a location similar to one described in the source material. Even if they succeeded, there’s a process in order to film at a residential building, especially if it’s someone’s real-life home. This process, along with the budget, is the probable reason why the funeral home has a different appearance in the movie than described in the book. Larry Baker’s novel gives the West Funeral Home the look of a “Southern plantation style house”, complete with white columns and Jeffersonian arches. The Home also contains a garage full of hearses and limousines. The Flamingo Rising’s adaptation gives the funeral home a different exterior. Referred to as the Knight Funeral Home in the movie, the facility boasts a bungalow style in a dark green hue. The Home’s garage is not shown on-screen. However, the Home itself does feature a full-sized porch. The funeral home’s interior has more appearances in the book than in the movie. In fact, the only time the Lee family enter the Knight Funeral Home is shortly after Edna dies. For those two scenes, the creative team may have filmed them on a set, away from the building that portrayed the funeral home.

Image of The Flamingo Rising by Larry Baker found on Goodreads

Appropriateness of Content

For many years, Hallmark garnered a reputation for presenting themselves as a “family-friendly” company. This has been reflected in their programming, including their Hallmark Hall of Fame productions. As someone who’s read The Flamingo Rising book, I’ll be the first person to say there are some parts of the story that are not “Hallmark appropriate”. One of these parts is Louise’s social life. Abraham, in the novel, recalls how, one night at The Flamingo Drive-In, Louise snuck out with some male college students. During this interaction, these males attempt to take advantage of her. Even though Louise is saved just in time by some of the drive-in’s employees, the ordeal is a frightening one. This event is not included in the movie. The only older characters Louise is friends with are Polly and Alice, who all happen to work at the drive-in. It should also be noted that Abraham and Gary are the only male characters Louise hangs out with in the film.

Louise’s story was not the only one to change in Hallmark’s efforts to keep the adaptation “Hallmark appropriate”. Polly, an employee of The Flamingo Drive-In, is a very problematic character in the book. A reason for this is due to her racism. Polly expresses how she didn’t like her high school becoming integrated. She also thinks Abraham is “too brown”, causing Abraham to have self-image related issues. Even though Polly’s role in the movie is smaller, she never comes across as racist. In fact, racism is never addressed in the film. Polly, along with Alice, appear to get along with both Abraham and Louise. Alice, throughout her time at the drive-in, gives Abraham advice and looks out for him, like an older sibling would look out for their younger brother or sister.

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The Casting

When an author creates a story, they sometimes don’t consider how that work could be translated to film or television. If that author’s work does receive an adaptation, the casting can dictate how the story changes. Abraham describes Alice Kite, in the book, as being “as tall as my mother”. Edna is six feet tall in the novel. Because of her height, Alice wore baggy jeans and shirts, never shorts. Elizabeth McGovern and Angela Bettis were cast as Edna and Alice in the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation. According to IMDB, Elizabeth is 5’7, while Angela is 5’3. Alice wardrobe’s, in the movie, included tank tops and shorts. This creative decision was likely made to compliment Angela’s height.

In both the book and movie, Grace looks like her mother. Turner, Grace’s father, tells Edna, in the film, “she looks just like her”, referring to his daughter’s resemblance of his late wife. But Grace’s mother never makes an on-screen appearance, as she dies before the movie’s events. Therefore, The Flamingo Rising’s creative team cast an actress that resembled the actor portraying Turner. William Hurt portrayed the owner of Knight Funeral Home. He appears blonde in the film, despite his character having “coal-black hair” in the book. Erin Broderick was cast as Grace, though it isn’t known if Erin or William was recruited to the movie first.

Since The Flamingo Rising takes place in Florida, I figured featuring this screenshot was appropriate. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiBkULOrf7Y.

When I reviewed the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, O Pioneers!, back in July, I said that story should have been adapted into a multi-part mini-series or a television show. That’s because I felt an hour and thirty-seven minutes was not enough time to tell a story with that many moving parts. I feel similarly about The Flamingo Rising. Because Abraham, in the book, is reflecting on his life, there are a lot of characters and plot points included in the text. With the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation being an hour and thirty-four-minutes, Larry Baker’s story was forced to be condensed.

There are several parts of The Flamingo Rising book that were either omitted or changed in the adaptation, due to these parts not being “Hallmark appropriate”. With that said, it makes wonder why Hallmark Hall of Fame chose to adapt Larry Baker’s novel over a story that was more “Hallmark appropriate”? This situation kind of reminds me of when Hallmark Channel adapted At Home in Mitford. Last September, I reviewed the 2017 film for one of my double features. After reading the book and watching its adaptation, I came to the conclusion the network was attempting to fit a round peg into a square hole, trying so hard to fit At Home in Mitford into their brand of film-making. Perhaps something similar happened to The Flamingo Rising, causing history to repeat itself sixteen years later?

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Top 5 Hallmark Films Based on a True Story

Last December, I was nominated for The Pick My Movie Tag by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews. My selected topic was “A list of must-watch Hallmark film star biopics”. In my quest to find these kinds of films, however, I found very few Hallmark titles about film stars, especially those I’ve seen. More often than not, I came across Hallmark movies that were based on true stories that were not celebrity related. Therefore, I decided for this tag I would write about the top five Hallmark films based on a true story! Before I list the tag’s rules, I’d like to thank Gill for the nomination, as Gill’s thoughtfulness is appreciated.

The Tag’s Rules

  • Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.
  • Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.
  • Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog.
  • Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Maybe both.
  • All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.
  • All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.
  • Have fun!
The Pick My Movie Tag banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room and found on Realweegiemidget Reviews

1. The Christmas Choir (2008)

It’s been years since I’ve seen The Christmas Choir. From what I remember, I enjoyed this film! The cast as a whole is strong. Quality in acting talents and screenwriting allow the characters to come across as realistic and endearing. The Christmas Choir is one of Hallmark’s more unique Christmas titles, as it doesn’t follow a formula or contain a certain set of Christmas movie tropes and cliches. In fact, it’s surprising this film isn’t a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, as the story of a choir that started in a homeless shelter seems like the perfect material for that collection of movies. Another thing I remember about The Christmas Choir is the genuine good-heartedness the film exuded. As the Christmas season is on the horizon, this may be a movie I end up revisiting!

2. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2009)

I first talked about this film in my tier rank list of all the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I’ve seen. In that list, I mentioned the film’s presentation, as the film itself felt like a theatrical release. However, that’s not the only strength The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler contains. Historical accuracy is an element that Hallmark Hall of Fame productions have, more often than not, executed well. This film is no exception, as the movie appropriately reflects the story’s time period! Movies like The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler make me wish Hallmark had created more period dramas. Yes, we have When Calls the Heart. But, to me, that feels like the exception to the rule.

3. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s A Smile as Big as the Moon (2012)

If you asked me to name a “space camp” movie, A Smile as Big as the Moon is the first one that comes to mind. As I said in my aforementioned tier rank list, this film is the perfect example of what a Hall of Fame title should be. I still stand by that statement, with the movie containing so many good components! Similar to The Christmas Choir, the strong acting performances and screenwriting brought to life characters that were worth rooting for. It was also interesting to see what it takes to be enrolled in space camp. The story’s messages and themes are just as relevant today as they were in 2012 or even the late 80s, when the story takes place. A Smile as Big as the Moon is a Hallmark Hall of Fame title that I consider a classic!

4. The Color of Rain (2014)

In my opinion, The Color of Rain is Lacey Chabert’s best film from Hallmark. One reason why is the story in this film is so different from those in Lacey’s other Hallmark movies. The Color of Rain does contain sadder moments, as both families are dealing with the death of a family member. But similar to films like Holly and Ivy, the movie’s creative team adopted a balance between sorrow and joy. It also helps how the cast’s acting talents were strong, as it allowed the characters to be memorable. The more I think about The Color of Rain, the more it feels like a Hallmark Hall of Fame title.

5. A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love (2019)

Personally, I enjoyed this sequel in the “Godwink” series more than the first film. A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love does a better job at explaining and showcasing what a “Godwink” is. Like Holly and Ivy and The Color of Rain, this movie’s creative team successfully balances joy and sorrow. I also think Cindy Busby’s portrayal of Alice is one of her best performances, as it is well-rounded and contained emotionality. In a year when Hallmark premiered new films weekend after weekend, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love was, to me, one of their stand-outs. I may have to seek out the other two films in this series.

Movie time 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.

Nominations

  • Jillian from The Classic Film Connection – A Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring at least one “classic” film star
  • Rebecca from Taking Up Room – A vampire film released after 1960
  • Eric from Diary of a Movie Maniac – A made-for-TV movie from the 1990s
  • Andrew from The Stop Button – An underrated sports film
  • J-Dub from Dubsism – Another entry in the Movies Everybody Loves That I Hate series

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Corsican Brothers Review

When I reviewed the 1982 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Witness for the Prosecution, back in July, I stated how I didn’t think I’d ever see the film. This was due to the movie’s lack of DVD or VHS release. But this is not the only Hallmark Hall of Fame production I didn’t think I would ever receive the opportunity to watch. One of these titles is the 1985 film adaptation, The Corsican Brothers. Similar to Witness for the Prosecution, the 1985 title didn’t receive a VHS or DVD release, as far as I know. Also similar to Witness for the Prosecution, I was able to locate the full movie on Youtube! Besides these similarities, both films star Donald Pleasence. In fact, Donald’s involvement in The Corsican Brothers is one of the reasons why I chose to review this film, as I’m participating in The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon!

The Corsican Brothers poster created by Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, Norman Rosemont Productions, and CBS

Things I liked about the film:

The scenery: Within the movie’s introduction, there is a shot of the ocean surrounding Corsica. As the introduction continues, rocky terrains, rolling hills, and a city on a mountain are also showcased. The natural beauty of this island was captured well on film, making outdoor scenes visually appealing. When scenes took place in the town, quaint looking buildings met cobble stoned streets. A fountain was located in the town’s square. From a visual perspective, the town looked peaceful. It resembled Wanda’s hometown in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, In Love and War!

The historical accuracy: According to the film’s introduction, the story begins in 1820. Though the majority of the story revolves around Louis and Lucien’s life as adults, the film still takes place in the 19th century. While watching The Corsican Brothers, I was impressed by the historical accuracy shown on screen! Furniture is one example of this. In a scene where the camera pans over a section of a study room, a green embroidered chair with bolted upholstery was featured. An oil lamp was also included in the room. The windows boasted a lattice design, which highlighted an old-world charm to the titular characters’ home. These details provided a nice blend of the characters’ past and present!

The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry from Cinematic Catharsis

What I didn’t like about the film:

The underutilization of Donald Pleasence: As I stated in the introduction, Donald Pleasence is one of the reasons why I chose to review this adaptation of The Corsican Brothers. As this is his second Hallmark Hall of Fame production I’ve seen and reviewed, I was eager to witness more of his acting talents. But, to my disappointment, Donald only appeared in about three and a half scenes. He did a good job with the acting material he was given. However, it made me wonder why he was cast in this movie in the first place, especially if the role didn’t allow his talents to be fully showcased?

Unexplained parts of the story:  I have never read this film’s source material. Despite this, I expected The Corsican Brothers to be like other adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ stories; exciting tales full of adventure and intrigue. With the 1985 Hallmark Hall of Fame project, however, I was, more often than not, confused by what was happening on screen. At the beginning of the movie, a voice-over talks about how the region of Corsica is overruled by a multi-generational long vendetta. What this voice-over forgets to mention is how and why this vendetta started. From time to time, a mysterious woman appeared in Corsica, giving some of the characters fates. No explanations are provided for who this woman is or why she wants to get involved in the story’s events.

Little to no sense of urgency: In the adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ stories I’ve seen, a common ingredient is a sense of urgency. Since there is a sense of adventure found in these stories, an added element of urgency gives the audience a reason to stay invested in the characters and their journey. With The Corsican Brothers, though, this sense of urgency was almost non-existent. I’d say about fifty percent of this movie showed Louis attending fancy events in Paris. Even when parts of the story were meant to be exciting, they either came across as anti-climactic or were not shown on screen. A good example is the trial in Paris that Louis is a part of.

Limited use of lighting: In a few scenes, events took place at night. But because of the limited use of lighting, it was difficult to see what was happening on screen. It got to the point where I couldn’t see characters’ faces. I am aware cinematic technology in the mid-80s was not as advanced as it is today, especially when it comes to made-for-tv films. Had the creative team of The Corsican Brothers incorporated a little more light to the nighttime scenes, it would have remedied the issue.

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

My overall impression:

When creating a book-to-film adaption, you should strive to create a movie that satisfies both the casual viewer and readers of the source material. As I stated in this review, I have never read The Corsican Brothers. Instead of being invested in the characters and their stories, I was, more often than not, confused by the events on screen. It felt like the creative team behind the movie expected the audience to have read the book prior to watching their presentation. Story related flaws are not the only flaws that stood out to me. Limited use of lighting made nighttime scenes difficult to see. The underutilization of Donald Pleasence also didn’t help. Not all Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are created equal, as some are bound to be better than others. Sadly, The Corsican Brothers isn’t one of the better ones.

Overall score: 5.5 out of 10

Have you seen The Corsican Brothers? What’s your favorite adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ literary work? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen