I’m not going to lie; I love a good blog party! So, when I discovered Heidi, from Along the Brandywine, was hosting the Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party, I couldn’t wait to sign up! Period dramas are not regularly covered on 18 Cinema Lane. While I do have a re-cap series for When Calls the Heart, I choose what films to watch based on how interesting their stories sound. There have been period dramas I loved, such as Swept from the Sea. But, for this blogathon, I wanted to review a film I hadn’t seen before. For about a year, I’ve had the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Love Letter, on my DVR. Because parts of the movie take place in the 19th century, I felt it fit Heidi’s time period requirement of the 1600’s to World War II. I try to watch as many Hallmark Hall of Fame titles as I realistically can. Prior to reviewing The Love Letter, the only Hallmark Hall of Fame movie from 1998 I’ve seen is Grace & Glorie, which was one of the best movies I saw last year! While not all movies from this collection are created equally, I do watch these movies with an open mind.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Because The Love Letter heavily relies on the performances of its lead actor and actress, this part of the review will focus on Campbell Scott’s and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s portrayal of Scott Corrigan and Elizabeth Whitcomb. With Campbell’s performance, there was always a sense of focus in his character. This focus could be seen in Scott’s eyes. When he was inspecting the desk at the antique store or restoring that same desk, Scott’s focus showed how much he cared. This was a consistent part of the character and helped whenever he wrote to Elizabeth. In historical fiction/period films, it would be easy for the screenwriter to give their lead female character one distinct type of personality. Elizabeth Whitcomb, on the other hand, held a balance of two that brought something unique to the character. She had a youthful radiance about her, being a “romantic dreamer” at heart. However, Elizabeth carried herself with a graceful maturity that prevented her from becoming childish or immature. Jennifer brought both aspects to Elizabeth equally and beautifully, allowing her character to be multi-dimensional.
The historical accuracy: I am not an expert on the 1860s and its historical significance. But based on what I do know about this particular period in time, Elizabeth’s part of the story looked and felt historically accurate! The Whitcomb family home was furnished with pieces that appeared antique, from the couch in the sitting room to the desk Elizabeth and Scott share. Dark wood held these structures together, with green cushions and intricate carvings finishing the couch and desk. The costumes were very detailed and also reflective of the 1860s. Embroidery on Elizabeth’s jacket and the overall design of her lacy parasol serve as two examples. Even the dialogue spoken by the characters sounded like it came directly from an era gone by. Pieces of the story like the ones I mentioned tell me, as an audience member, the creative team behind this film cared about the presentation of this part of their project!
A fantastical element: Most of the stories from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection are grounded in reality, which means that fantastical elements are rarely found in these scripts. With The Love Letter, the story revolves around two people from different time periods who communicate to each other through letter writing. The idea of time manipulation is a concept that would likely be found in either a fantasy or science fiction film. While stories like Somewhere in Time and Portrait of Jennie have been dramas paired with this specific concept, I don’t recall Hallmark Hall of Fame creating their own film like that before or after 1998. Because The Love Letter’s creative team chose to include a fantastical element into their overall project, it gave the movie an opportunity to stand out from other titles. This was a creative risk that worked in the film’s favor!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Scott being engaged: A trope that has appeared in several Hallmark films is the male or female protagonist being engaged at the beginning of the story, only to fall in love with someone else by the end of that story. This trope has found its way into The Love Letter. For most of the movie, Scott is engaged to a woman named Debra. As he finds himself falling in love with Elizabeth, he strings Debra along and keeps the letter writing a secret. Scott does tell Debra the truth about his feelings, but this doesn’t happen until the movie is almost over. Personally, I think this trope is pointless, as the audience is spending time with a relationship that will end up leading nowhere. Scott should have remained single so the script could give its undivided attention to his and Elizabeth’s exchanges.
A rushed explanation: When fantastical or science fiction elements are included in a script, it helps to provide clear explanations to the audience so they can understand what is happening on screen. In The Love Letter, Scott’s mother tells Scott that an imbalance in the time-space continuum is the reason why he and Elizabeth are able to write to one another. However, this explanation was rushed, with Scott’s mother briefly bringing it up on only two occasions throughout the whole movie. She gives Scott stamps from the 1860s and had a special kind of writing ink made for him. Scott’s mother even found a post office that has existed since the Civil War era. These objects and the post office felt more like they conveniently benefited the plot instead of serving as ‘macguffins’ to move the story forward. As I already mentioned, this kind of story is rarely found in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection. Despite this, a little more time should have been devoted to providing a clearer explanation.
Lack of physical interactions between Scott and Elizabeth: Because Scott and Elizabeth are from different time periods, it is not possible for them to physically interact with one another. Even though this is the nature of the story, it prevented the audience from seeing the on-screen chemistry between Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh. One of the staples of a romance film is the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Since that element was missing from The Love Letter, I was only invested in Scott and Elizabeth’s relationship to a certain extent. While their words were romantic, verbal communication only plays a part among any given couple.
My overall impression:
As I said in my review, most Hallmark Hall of Fame stories are grounded in reality. These stories are also on the simple side, with messages and themes that audience members can relate to. Even though The Love Letter has a fantastical element that is rarely found in films from this collection, it has a simpler story that works! Romance through words and thoughts is what carries the overall story, with important advice woven into the script. Forming a relationship with someone you truly love and never giving up on yourself are nice sentiments that can make audience members feel good about what they are watching. The movie also has the ingredients of a good Hallmark Hall of Fame title, like the level of detail when it comes to the film’s historical accuracy. It is true the movie has its flaws. However, the execution of a creative risk like this makes up for The Love Letter’s weaknesses. Films such as this one make me wish Hallmark would be more creative with their stories and think outside the box more. With the ball in their court, I don’t know what their next creative step will be.
Overall score: 8 out of 10
Have you seen The Love Letter? What Hallmark Hall of Fame movies would you like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section!
2020 was a year that threw a huge wrench into a lot of movie-goers’ plans. As theaters shut their doors and new releases continuously changed dates, there were movie related content creators that had to either adapt as best they could or completely change their formula. Fortunately for 18 Cinema Lane, the impact of this year’s Coronavirus didn’t change the type of content published on the site. As with the previous two years, I saw more good movies than bad. This is honestly the first year where I had difficulty creating my top ten best movies list because of the quantity of enjoyable films that left a memorable impression on me. Since I published my worst movies of the year list first last year, I’ll post my best movies of the year list first this time around. As usual, I will begin the list with my honorable mentions and then move on to the official top ten list. Now let’s get this list started!
Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, Where There’s a Will, Generation Gap, A Beautiful Place to Die: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Sweet Surrender, Picture Perfect Mysteries: Dead Over Diamonds, Riddled with Deceit: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder, House of the Long Shadows, Up in the Air, The Crow, Mystery Woman: Game Time, Fashionably Yours, Finding Forrester, Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), Expecting a Miracle, Time Share, Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), The Wife of Monte Cristo, Cry Wolf, Mystery Woman: Mystery Weekend, Perry Mason Returns, Perry Mason and the Notorious Nun, Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, The Terry Fox Story, Follow Your Heart, House of Wax, Funny Face, and The Christmas Bow
10. Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
Looking back on the four film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ work I’ve reviewed, I realize how lucky I am to come across those I enjoyed. Despite having never read Nicholas Nickleby, this production was both understandable and engaging! With the 2002 version of this story, its balance of joy and despair is a staple of the world-famous author’s I recognize from his other stories like Oliver Twist. As I said in my review of Nicholas Nickleby, it can be easy to forget the beauty this world can offer, especially during a year like 2020. I don’t often come across a movie that is so good, it makes me want to seek out its original source material. For this film, however, I just found an exception!
This is an interesting entry from the Breen Code era. It’s a darker musical that is dark in nature for the sake of providing thought-provoking commentary. Like I said in my review, The Unfinished Dance does a good job exploring what happens when truth disappears from the world. All of the musical numbers in this film have a strong reason for being in the story, as opposed to typical musicals where the numbers feel more spontaneous than planned. Even though dance is emphasized more than the story, the quality of the routines themselves make this film worth a watch! The movie is a hidden gem that I wish more people knew about.
I’m glad I was given an opportunity to re-watch this film, as it was just as enjoyable as when I first saw it! The story moves away from the aesthetic that most Christmas movies adopt. Instead, it relies on the messages and themes associated with the Christmas holiday. This creative decision is a breath of fresh air, bringing a different kind of narrative that isn’t often found during that time of year. If You Believe is a film that does what it sets out to do. It also helps that it has stood the test of time.
This is the kind of Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I wish was made more often, one where unique concepts are explored and celebrated. Instead of following a plot, the story revolves around a debate. The subject matter was not only handled with reverence, but each perspective was shown in a respectful light. I’m not a fan of this film’s ending, but I respect Hallmark’s decision to include it in the script, as it respects the audience’s intelligence. Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a title from this collection that can be used as an introduction to Hallmark Hall of Fame!
6. From Up on Poppy Hill
Studio Ghibli has a reputation for giving it their all when it comes to making movies. Besides their signature animation style, they also take the time to create fantastic worlds and memorable characters. While From Up on Poppy Hill doesn’t contain any of the magical elements that can sometimes be found in Studio Ghibli’s stories, the project doesn’t feel out of place in their collection. The plot is a simple one, but the inclusion of interesting characters and world-building is what makes it work. It also contains a great message about history that fits into the script very well.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is more than just a story about Batman. It’s a chance for audience members to see a side of this superhero that doesn’t often get presented in the world of film. The movie is a good example of how impressive 2-D animation can be. Even though the world has moved on to the wonders of 3-D and computer graphics, there will always be a place for older styles of animation. Despite having seen only a handful of Batman films, I can honestly say Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the better options! The story itself is just as interesting as the world of Gotham City.
Grace & Glorie contains Hallmark’s favorite cliché of featuring a woman from a big city moving to a small town. But what sets this story apart is how that cliché is not the main focus of the film. Instead, the plot revolves around the friendship of Grace and Gloria. Because the titular characters were portrayed by two strong actresses, it made the dynamic between Grace and Gloria interesting to watch. Similar to From Up on Poppy Hill, this Hallmark Hall of Fame title has a simpler plot that works in its favor. Grace & Glorie is a type of story that is rarely seen on Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The movie is also an underrated gem that I wish more Hallmark fans were aware of.
With the way the theatrical landscape was affected in 2020, it kind of feels weird that a film like Matinee would appear on a best movies of the year list for 2020. But instead of making me miss the cinema or feel jealous of the characters as they get to see a movie in a theater, this particular 1993 title reminded me of what I love about film. Because I have a special place in my heart for Phantom of the Megaplex, Matinee showed me that there is more than one story that could show people how movies can be fun. One of the messages of this narrative is that film can provide a much-needed break from the troubles of the real world. With the way 2020 turned out, Matinee seemed to come at the right place and time.
Every year, there is that one movie that catches me by surprise because of how good it is. The Boy Who Could Fly was definitely that film in 2020! I was pleasantly surprised by how well the overall story has aged. Given the subject material and the time it was released in, I can certainly say that my expectations were subverted. While The Boy Who Could Fly would be considered a “teen movie”, it doesn’t follow a lot of the patterns that most of these types of stories would contain. The themes of showing compassion for others, dealing with grief, and understanding people’s differences are given center stage.
Who knew a Frank Sinatra movie would become the best one I saw in 2020? When I look back on this film, I remember how much fun I had watching it! As I said in my review, I spent most of my time smiling and laughing, which shows how the film’s joyful nature can certainly help anyone improve their mood. Anchors Aweigh is a strong movie on so many different levels. The acting, story, and musical numbers alone showcase how much thought and effort went into the overall production. If I were to introduce someone to the Breen Code era or musicals in general, this is the film I’d show them. Anchors Aweigh was certainly a bright spot in a year like 2020.
As Christmas is just around the corner, it’s time for me to publish my annual Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List! For those who are new to 18 Cinema Lane, I post a Christmas related article in honor of the holiday to sharing the things I, as a movie blogger, would like to receive as Christmas gifts. This is a tradition I started back in 2018. While I know I won’t get most of the items on my list, I try to choose those that seem realistic. Because my blog primarily revolves around movies, I pick “gifts” that have something to do with film. Unless I say otherwise, the screenshots were taken taken by me. If you’d like to read my previous Christmas wish-lists, I will provide the links here:
In 2020, Hallmark didn’t release any new Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. The on-going Coronavirus is likely one of the reasons why this was the case. Due to the lack of Hallmark Hall of Fame films this year, I’d like to see Hallmark create four new HHoF presentations in 2021 to make up for this. I feel that Hallmark has what it takes to tell interesting stories through visually appealing and captivating projects, something I’ve mentioned at various moments on my blog. If they chose to make four new HHoF movies, each story could revolve around a different seasonal component. The first film could have something to do with either St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, or Memorial Day, as those holidays are set around springtime. As the second film might be released during the summer, Fourth of July or Father’s Day could have a primary place in the plot. Because Halloween or Thanksgiving movies from Hallmark are far and few between, the third HHoF film might focus on those holidays. Since Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas movies have a staple in the collection, the last film of the aforementioned four would revolve around Christmas. If Hallmark could create forty new Christmas movies among two networks during a pandemic, then they can find the time to release four new Hallmark Hall of Fame films in 2021.
Something You Need to See
Since I’ve talked about this subject at length before, I won’t repeat myself. All I’ll say is that I want the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels to see the light of day. For me, this is more than just re-releasing a decades old movie. It’s about consumer advocacy and respecting the cinematic creative process. As of mid-to-late December 2020, my editorial about this topic has received over 200 views! This means a lot to me because it shows that that many people care about this particular issue. Hopefully, Paramount (the studio who owns the distribution rights to The Crow: City of Angels) hears our voices and releases this version of the film. If you would like to read my aforementioned editorial, here’s the link:
A movie related piece of clothing or accessory I’d want to wear
Similar to last year’s Christmas Wish-List, I have two choices for this category. The first is the cargo slim jeans from Perry Mason Returns! This pair of pants was worn by a gas station employee Perry’s assistant, Paul, interacts with toward the end of the movie. What I like about this pair of pants is how they appear to be a different style of cargo pants that isn’t common. Also, I think it’s cool how the pockets are big enough to fit a rolled up readable magazine. The second is the silver pair of pants Barbara Niven’s character, Joan, wears in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Promise. That is one of the coolest pairs of pants I’ve ever seen! Whenever Joan moved from location to location, the pants always shined. It is definitely an ‘80s piece that I would love to have in my wardrobe.
A book I’ve read that I’d like to see adapted into a film
Instead of talking about one book like I have in the past, I will talk about two of them. Both Hallmark Hall of Fame and BYU-TV have done a good job creating historical/period films in years prior. Because of this, To Stand On My Own: The Polio Epidemic Diary of Noreen Robertson would make a good presentation from either network, as the story takes place in the 1930s! While reading this book back in May, I couldn’t help noticing several parallels between the polio epidemic described in the book and the Coronavirus pandemic the world experienced in 2020. Just to provide one example, Noreen, the narrator of the story, discusses how some businesses were closed to the public and how there were periods of quarantine. If Hallmark or BYU-TV wanted to create a film in response to the Coronavirus, this particular story would be an interesting way to discuss that without coming across as too on the nose.
Another book I read this year was Zlata’s Diary. As I was reading, I came across this quote:
“I think about all the films that could be made in Sarajevo. There are loads of subjects for films here”.
Now that I think about it, I can’t think of many films about the Bosnian War, especially from the perspective of a civilian from Sarajevo. When it comes to Zlata’s suggestion of films about and/or filmed in Sarajevo, maybe this is the decade where that dream comes true. As I said about BYU-TV, they have done a good job at creating historical/period films. What they have also done is effectively told stories involving conflict. A perfect example is the Christmas film, Instrument of War. This movie showed the horrors of World War II without being graphic when it came to violence. With everything I just said, I could see BYU-TV adapting Zlata’s Diary into a film.
What are your thoughts on this year’s Christmas Wish-List? Is there anything movie related you’d add to your list? Let me know in the comment section!
At the end of last month, 18 Cinema Lane received 225 followers! Because of my participation in the Esther Williams Blogathon and the 4th Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon, I postponed this blog follower dedication review to this week. In that time, my blog also received 230 followers! Originally, this review was going to serve as an entry for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon. But because of everything I just said, I decided this post was only going to be a blog follower dedication review. I haven’t talked about a Hallmark movie in two months, with Nature of Love being the latest one. So, I chose Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Locket for this review. This is a movie I’ve wanted to watch for a few years. One of the reasons was Marguerite Moreau’s involvement in the film. After watching Queen of the Damned, I discovered she had starred in this Hallmark project from 2002. WhenHallmark Drama aired it recently, I knew I had to record it on my DVR!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: BecauseMarguerite Moreau is one of the reasons why I watched this film, I’ll talk about her performance first. Even though I haven’t watched many of her movies, I’ve noticed how her portrayals feel believable with what her character is experiencing. This is certainly the case for her performance in The Locket! Faye, Marguerite’s character, always appeared natural in her responses to various situations. It allowed me to stay invested in her part of the story. Another aspect to Marguerite’s performance is how her transitions between emotions were flawless! One good example takes place after Faye and Michael deliver Christmas gifts. Toward the beginning of this interaction, Faye is happy to spend time with her boyfriend. As she notices his demeanor, Faye’s face changes to showing an expression of concern. Speaking of Michael, I need to talk about Chad Willett’s performance. Throughout The Locket, Chad used a wide range of emotions. In a scene where Michael visits someone from his past, he appears angry and can be seen crying. Another scene, when Michael is telling Faye about his scholarship, shows him displaying happiness on his face. This part of Chad’s performance made the overall portrayal seem dynamic! I can’t review this movie without discussing Vanessa Redgrave’s performance. What I liked about it was how honest it came across. This component added depth to Vanessa’s portrayal. A good example is her character’s, Esther’s, first encounter with Michael. When he’s changing her bedsheets, Esther compliments Michael for not telling her she’s still beautiful. This is because she thinks that statement is silly.
Whitewood Nursing Home: A significant part of this story takes place at a nursing home called Whitewood. Despite this location serving a medical purpose, it didn’t feel like a medical facility. In fact, it looked and felt like a bed and breakfast! The interior design consistently ran throughout the home. Furniture helped make the rooms seem cozy, with armchairs in the bedrooms and main living room adding to this aesthetic. Detailed and flowery wallpaper displayed soft, pastel colors. This caused the overall location to have a calming effect. Fireplaces made of brick and wood completed the interior design of the rooms, making the home feel inviting. The exterior design of Whitewood is a large white wood structure, hence the name of the facility. These factors gave the impression of the home carrying a sense of importance. Because it is important to take care of the older members of a community, this appearance of the nursing home is fitting.
The on-screen chemistry: As I mentioned earlier in this review, Michael and Faye are in a dating relationship. Anytime they interacted with each other, I could tell Chad and Marguerite had strong on-screen chemistry! This caused their characters to feel like they truly cared about one another. Faye’s first visit to Whitewood is a good example of this. When Faye meets up with Michael, I could see her investment in what is happening in Michael’s life. This investment can also be seen when Michael learns about Faye’s acceptance into medical school. Non-romantic relationships also had good on-screen chemistry! Michael’s friendship with Esther came across like they got along well. It also effectively showed how they tried to understand each other. The scene where Esther explains the locket’s importance to Michael serves as one example.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The under-utilization of Marguerite Moreau: Marguerite is not only the third billed actor in this movie, she is also the main supporting actress. Despite this, she was kind of under-utilized in The Locket. While she was given enough material to make her performance memorable, her on-screen presence was not as consistent as I expected. Most of her appearances can be found in the film’s first half, with her character barely appearing in the second half of the movie. This makes me wonder if Marguerite was working on Queen of the Damned around the same time she was working on The Locket?
The locket is an afterthought: Before watching this film, I had expected the locket itself to affect the lives of the people surrounding it. Because the movie is called The Locket, I thought this artifact would have a large influence over the story. Sadly, this piece of jewelry ends up being an afterthought. Most of the film revolves around Michael and his hardships. When an explanation of the locket’s importance is finally given, happening about forty-five minutes into the movie, it takes place during one dialogue and video heavy scene. What would have made this artifact emotionally affective is if flashbacks from Esther’s life or from around the time Esther received the locket would have been sprinkled throughout the story.
Scenes that feel rushed: There were some scenes in The Locket that, to me, felt rushed. In one scene, Michael is at the VA Hospital, picking up a prescription for a patient at Whitewood. The very next scene shows Michael sharing some good news to Esther. Scenes like the one at the VA Hospital made it seem like the film’s creative team wanted to get certain parts of the story done and over with just to get to the next point. What also doesn’t help is how these scenes didn’t have effective transitions. It caused scenes like the one with Michael and Esther to feel too sudden.
My overall impression:
Before I talk about my overall impression, I’d like to thank all of my followers who helped my blog reach this milestone! Your investment in 18 Cinema Lane plays a role in its overall success! Now, time to discuss my final thoughts on The Locket! As glad as I am to have finally seen this movie, I recognize there are Hallmark Hall of Fame titles with similar ideas that are stronger than this one. Two examples are the 1998 film, Grace & Glorie,and 2011’s The Lost Valentine. One thing that The Locket was missing was an emphasis on the locket itself. Instead of having a story where this piece of jewelry impacts the lives surrounding it, the audience received a narrative where the locket is treated as an afterthought. I know there were three Hallmark Hall of Fame movies released in 2002. But, for whatever reason, there were times when The Locket felt rushed. Despite these flaws, the movie did have its strengths. The acting was definitely a high-light of this project, especially Marguerite Moreau’s performance! For me, she stole the show and even outshined the other actors involved! I just wish her on-screen presence would have been more consistent.
Overall score: 7.2 out of 10
Is there a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that you enjoying? Would you like to recommend a Hallmark Hall of Fame film for me to review? Please let me know in the comment section!
I spent Memorial Day with my family, so I didn’t publish a post on Monday. This is the reason why this week’s schedule will be shifted. However, Memorial Day has inspired me to choose a patriotic film for this blog follower dedication review. When I first watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Blind Spot, I saw a commercial for another film in this collection titled An American Story. The film looked intriguing and exciting, enticing me to want to check the film out. Recently, Hallmark Drama aired this film with a different title. This time, the movie is called After the Glory. Anyone who pays attention to Hallmark will know how the network loves changing their film’s titles after that project has been announced. But Hallmark changing a movie’s title 20+ years after its release seems like a strange decision. Despite this unusual choice, my family chose to watch this film in honor of Memorial Day.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Last August, I reviewed I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. One of the strongest aspects of that film was Kathleen Quinlan’s performance, as itwaswell-rounded, emotional, and powerful. Kathleen’s portrayal of Hope in After the Glory contained those same qualities. In one scene, Hope is reacting to George recalling her husband’s, Tim’s, final minutes. She goes from being pleased about George’s visit to the Veteran’s Office to crying for her lost love. This scene is an example of how much emotionality Kathleen brought to her role. Speaking of George, Brad Johnson effectively adopted the persona that’s expected of a character like George, one of the returning veterans. He appeared confident and sure of himself. But what I also liked about Brad’s performance was how he incorporated a sense of humility. During the film, there were times when George was held accountable for his choices and faced his mistakes. This made the character more relatable. Tom Sizemore portrayed another returning veteran named Jesse. His performance was versatile and highlighted his adaptability. When he was introduced, Jesse is happy to finally return home. A few scenes later, he is angry over the corruption taking place in his town. The well-rounded nature of Tom’s performance helped his character stand out!
The discussion of a veteran’s mental health: In the world of cinema and society as a whole, it seems like the subject of a veteran’s mental health has been recognized more in recent years. When this film was released in 1992, I don’t think there were many films released before or during that year that addressed this topic, especially when a movie takes places around the time of World War II. In After the Glory, the mental well-being of veterans was one of the recurring ideas of the story. During the war, Hope went back to school to earn her psychology degree. She did this in order to provide psychological services to returning veterans. She even tries to use her psychology skills to stop Jesse from committing suicide. The way this idea of a veteran’s mental health was written into the script was done with respect and realism. It made the movie feel like it was kind of ahead of its time.
The veterans’ transition period: An important part of this story was the veterans’ transition period to civilian life. Because the movie focuses on three different veterans, their journeys toward civilian life look and feel unique from each other. When he returns home, George is welcomed to an elaborate parade. He is even offered a job at his father’s law firm and is given an opportunity to be a running mate in Mayor Cantrell’s election campaign. Meanwhile, Jesse is only greeted by a small group of his family and friends when he comes home. He also struggles with issues relating to his physical and mental health. Like the aforementioned subject of a veteran’s mental health, this part of the story was written very well, making the film come across as reverent toward military veterans. It shows that within the uniform is a person that has their own thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Juan’s limited presence: One of the soldiers that was highlighted in this story is a Texas local named Juan. Despite facing racism in his civilian life, he still felt the world was bigger than his own backyard and that change was on the horizon. He was also starting civilian life as a newlywed. Compared to George and Jesse, Juan was featured on screen for a limited amount of time. His story was also weaker than George’s and Jesse’s. I’m not sure if this creative decision was meant to show how racism can negatively affective story-telling or if it was just a coincidence. But I feel Juan should have received the same amount of screen-time as George and Jesse.
A drawn-out first half: In the first half of After the Glory, the majority of the story focused on the veterans transitioning to civilian life. While this was an important part of the plot that provided context, it caused the film’s conflict, the town’s political corruption, to be placed on the back-burner. The conflict does maintain the plot’s primary focus in the second half of the film. But I think the conflict should have had a more consistent presence.
A limited amount of suspense: Because of the town’s election, it allowed the story to incorporate suspense. The process toward the conflict’s resolution was wrapped up in mystery, keeping the audience guessing what would happen next. However, the suspense in this movie was limited. This is the result of the aforementioned drawn-out first half. The creative team’s choice to adopt a more dramatic tone is also what caused the suspense to have a limited presence. Like the film’s conflict, I think the suspense needed to be more consistent.
An overall impression:
During Hallmark Hall of Fame’s 69-year lifespan, there have been some films that took place either during or around the time of World War II. If you look at my post where I tier ranked every Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I’ve seen, you will see that I have enjoyed these films. It looks like After the Glory will be joining that tier with a “good” status! This movie shows how innovative and compelling a project in this collection can be! The subject of a veteran’s mental health being incorporated in this story shows how Hallmark wanted to start a conversation among their audience when it came to important topics. While this is not a new concept for Hallmark Hall of Fame, it has been a consistent part of this collection. While watching this film, I realized that if After the Glory had not been released in 1992, it probably would have never been created. This is because, ever since the Hallmark Hall of Fame branch was moved to Hallmark Channel in 2014, the network has placed an emphasis on trying make the films adopt the same tone and feel as the movies that usually air on Hallmark Channel. I still hope that Hallmark can take more creative risks with their films and promote more creative freedom. To my 195 followers, thank you so much for helping my blog come this far! This review would not have possible without you!
Overall score: 8 out of 10
Have you seen any of Hallmark Hall of Fame’s military related films? Which movie would you watch on Memorial Day? Tell me in the comment section below!
This year, I’ve seen several tier ranking videos on Youtube. While most of these videos have revolved around books, there have been a few that focus on films. As I watched these tier lists being created, I discovered how there was no list dedicated to Hallmark’s productions. So, I decided to fill that void by making a list of my own! Because Hallmark has created so many movies, my tier ranking list focuses on all the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I have seen in my life. This article is based solely on my own opinion and is not meant to be mean-spirited in any way. I also created this list to bring unique content to my blog. I was trying to complete this post yesterday, but this project took longer than I expected, so I apologize for its late arrival. For this tier ranking list, there will be five categories; Bottom of the Barrel, Ok, Decent/Fine, Good, and Great. I will give each film a brief, but thorough explanation for why it has earned that placement.
Bottom of the Barrel
Back When We Were Grown-Ups
Anyone who has read my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time would not be surprised to see this movie placed in the Bottom of the Barrel category. To me, this is not only the worst Hallmark Hall of Fame picture, but also the worst Hallmark project ever made. If you’d like to learn more about why I don’t like Back When We Were Grown-Ups, you can check out my list of the Worst Hallmark Movies at this link:
This is another movie I talked about in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list. I’ve only seen Firelight once, but I found it to be so forgettable. When I think about this movie, on rare occasions, I wonder what message it was trying to deliver to their audience? If I, as an audience member, can’t determine what the intended purpose of that specific film is, that likely means something went wrong during the creative process. The rest of my thoughts on Firelight are found in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list at this link:
From what I remember, the overall plot was very lackluster. I also found the premise revolving around a child rarely lying to be unbelievable. A Painted House contains other flaws that prevented me from enjoying this picture. One of them was how a few characters were unlikable for no clear reason. For a stand-alone film, having it end on a cliff-hanger wasn’t a good idea. I haven’t read John Grisham’s novel, so I’m not sure if the film’s creative team adopted any liberties for this project.
While I don’t think Rose Hill is a bad movie, I just wasn’t impressed with the final project. The story as a whole was not the most interesting and Rose herself seemed to sit on the sidelines of her own story. There was a mystery within this script, but that part of the story was poorly executed. This surprises me, as Hallmark Hall of Fame released a film in 1990 with a similar story concept titled Caroline?
My Sister’s Keeper
I liked the first half of this movie, where the audience witnesses the two sisters growing up alongside each other. It provided strong opportunities for each sister to receive character development and the film’s first half felt like it was building up to something bigger. When the second half of the movie arrives and both sisters become adults, the project hits a stand-still where nothing interesting happens. I will say the high-light of My Sister’s Keeper is seeing Kathy Bates riding on an elephant.
I’ve only seen about 50% of this movie. However, based on what I saw, I found the project to be just ok. I didn’t find myself feeling emotionally invested in the story like I did with other Hall of Fame titles. I wouldn’t mind re-watching this one, and maybe even reviewing it, to see if I still hold the same opinion.
When I first saw this film, I thought it was decent/fine. But since its 2013 release, it has been relegated to ok status. The Makeover is a glorified Hallmark Channel movie, complete with the male and female protagonist falling in love with each other. In fact, Hallmark’s first network released a movie with a similar premise the year prior called Fixing Pete. Maybe the first Hallmark Hall of Fame project of 2013 should have been given a stronger story.
Blind Spot was decent/fine upon initial viewing, but is now in the ok category. The film’s cautionary message was given more emphasis than the plot. This caused the movie to feel like it belonged on Lifetime when these kinds of films were in their hey-day. As I’ve said before, Karina Arroyave stars in this Hall of Fame presentation. However, her talents were under-utilized in this picture.
The Magic of Ordinary Days
This is one of the most beloved titles Hallmark has ever made. However, I don’t like or love this project as much as other people do. I found the main plot to be too unbelievable for my liking. Hallmark also glossed over the subject of Japanese internment camps when they could have provided some commentary on how prejudice can negatively affect someone’s perspective. There was one romantic relationship that I knew wasn’t going to lead anywhere, making me wonder why it was included in the first place. The Magic of Ordinary Days is another Hall of Fame movie based on a book, so I don’t know what elements from the novel where translated to the screen.
I reviewed this film for the James Garner Blogathon back in February. On the dvd cover, it is considered “the most-honored television movie of all time”. But, to me, the project is a bit on the over-rated side. I’m not a fan of “slice-of-life” stories, which is exactly what the plot of Promise is. The road to educating the audience about Mental Illness seems like it was paved with good intentions. As I say in my review, it could have been executed better though. You can read my review at the link below if you want to learn more about my thoughts on Promise.
Back in 2015, I felt Just in Time for Christmas was a good movie. After giving it some more thought, I’ve come to see the film as just fine. Like The Makeover, the project is a glorified Hallmark Channel movie. But, unlike the aforementioned 2013 release, Just in Time for Christmas tried to do something different with their creative material. Time travel is rarely incorporated in any of Hallmark’s projects. This release was, I believe, the first time it had been included in a Hallmark Hall of Fame title.
In Love and War
When The World War II Blogathon took place last September, In Love and War is the film I chose to review. As a movie, I liked it for it was. But, as a Hall of Fame picture, it didn’t leave as big of an emotional impact as other titles from this collection have. For a story taking place during World War II, there wasn’t a lot of action in it. There was also an imbalance between the ideas of “love” and “war”. If you want to read my review for In Love and War, you can click on the link below:
I haven’t seen this movie since its 2011 release. From I remember, it was just fine. While I liked the acting, the story was straight-forward. I also found the part about the pregnant teacher working and, eventually, bringing her baby to a compromising environment to be unbelievable. Like I said about Loving Leah, I’m not opposed to re-watching this movie and reassessing my opinion on it.
Front of the Class
This is another picture I haven’t seen in years. However, I thought Front of the Class was a fine film. Similar to In Love and War, it didn’t leave a big, emotional impact on me. But, as I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind watching this movie again and seeing if my thoughts on it have changed.
The Secret Garden
In my Bonus Double Feature last September, I talked about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s version of The Secret Garden. I liked this adaptation, but I found it to be drawn-out. Looking back on this movie, it seems like the creative team placed so much emphasis on respecting the source material, they forgot to bring their own voice to the table. You can check out my thoughts on three different adaptations of The Secret Garden at these links:
I feel The Boys Next Door is one of the more under-rated titles from the Hall of Fame collection. The acting is solid and the perception of individuals with disabilities is mostly positive. My favorite character from this movie is Barry Klemper, but I felt he was under-utilized in the overall story. Also, some of the language toward the four men with disabilities reflects the time period the film was released in. I wonder how different the play this movie is based on is different from this adaptation?
The Valley of Light
Despite not having seen this movie since its 2007 release, I remember really liking this film! “She won’t give me my chocolate” is still one of my favorite quotes from a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. This film also contains one of the most shocking plot twists in the history of this collection. I definitely want to re-watch this film and possibly share my thoughts on this movie viewing experience!
As I have said before on this blog, Love Locks is the first newer Hall of Fame title that made me feel like this branch of Hallmark was going back to their roots! Yes, this is the type of story you’d likely find in Hallmark Channel movies. But the way Love Locks was presented made the overall project feel like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. I also like the movie’s original poster, as it is one of the most creative pieces of marketing in Hallmark history! Personally, I think this is a good picture if you want to introduce someone to the Hall of Fame collection!
Love Takes Flight
This is the most recent release from the Hall of Fame collection I’ve talked about, as I reviewed the film last April. Love Takes Flight is a better movie than its marketing campaign made it seem. However, as I’ve noticed with the newer Hall of Fame titles, it lacks emotional depth because it feels like it adopted Hallmark Channel’s “formula”. It also contains other flaws, like having too many plots. Here’s the link to my review of Love Takes Flight if you’re interested in reading it:
The Beach House is another Hallmark Hall of Fame film that was given less-than-stellar marketing. But this didn’t stop it from being better than I expected! As someone who has also read the book, I think the movie did a better job at telling the story than its source material did! I also believe the overall quality of this project is a good reminder of why the Hall of Fame branch exists. This is another title I reviewed, so I’ll provide the link to that post here:
I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Everlasting when it was released in 2018! In fact, the only aspect of the film I didn’t like was the limited on-screen presence Patti LaBelle received, as I expected her to have a larger role in the film. Similar to other Hall of Fame titles I’ll mention, this movie features a mystery within the overall plot. Mysteries are not often found in Hallmark Hall of Fame projects, so I like how Christmas Everlasting helped bring something different to the table. I reviewed this movie as well, so here is the link:
I liked this movie and the book it was based on! The overall execution of this project made it feel like a Hall of Fame production, making this the collection’s first newer Christmas film to make me feel this way. Similar to Christmas Everlasting, The Christmas Train incorporates a mystery into their story. While this element is also in the book, it brings a unique component to Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas line-up. It’s also special in how most of the film’s events take place on a train, which is rare for a Hall of Fame movie!
The Lost Valentine
This is a good, but sad film! While I appreciate the effort that has gone into Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas movies, it’s nice to see other holidays receive recognition within this branch of Hallmark. The use of flashbacks enhanced the overall story, giving context to the events being presented on screen. Because of how sad the film is, the re-watchability rate is on the lower side of the spectrum. But this is a project I would definitely recommend!
A Dog Named Christmas
A Dog Named Christmas is another Hall of Fame Christmas film I genuinely enjoyed! It does a good job at effectively showing how someone can make a difference in their community. Since this movie places a lot of attention on the titular dog, some story elements end up being over-looked. One of them is seeing how the main protagonist lives his life with a disability. I know there’s a prequel to this film called Christmas with Tucker. I haven’t seen it, but I’d like to see how it holds up to A Dog Named Christmas!
Sweet Nothing in My Ear
I saw this movie for the first time in 2020 and it made me miss the Hallmark Hall of Fame films of yester-year. Even though this story revolves around a debate, the overall project was interesting to watch. Both sides are treated equally and are given enough time to present their case. I don’t like the ending, but I can understand why the creative team made that specific choice. Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a unique addition to the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection!
Pictures of Hollis Woods
I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I recall having a good experience watching it. However, this film has flown under the radar for far too long. The acting is good and the overarching message of family is incorporated into the story very well. I also remember one of the characters lives in and owns a movie theater. This was a highlight for me because that is a dream of mine.
As I’ve said before, mysteries are not often found in Hallmark Hall of Fame projects. It is even rarer when the entire plot is a mystery story. The overall quality of the film’s writing is strong and I also liked the acting performances. However, like I said about Blind Spot, Karina Arroyave’s talents were under-utilized in this project. I’m surprised this movie has never been aired on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, as this title fits the network’s brand.
Grace & Glorie
One of the plot points of this film is a woman from a big city moving to a small town. However, it never felt like the project was following a formula. Instead, the story focuses on the friendship between Grace and Gloria. This part of the movie provided interesting opportunities for character development and exploration of certain themes. The movie also showcased wonderful scenery.
Christmas with Holly
In Christmas with Holly, the protagonist and his brothers take care of Holly after she loses her mother. This part of the movie reminded me of Three Men and a Baby. But what’s great about this 2012 release is how it takes a pre-existing story structure and creates a different narrative with it. While there was a romance in this film, it was never heavily emphasized like in other Hall of Fame titles. The overall story felt well-rounded.
A Smile as Big as the Moon
This is one of my favorite Hallmark Hall of Fame films! I was really impressed with the overall quality of the project when I first saw it in 2012. There is so much to like about this movie, from the acting performances to the messages and themes. To me, this is the perfect example of what a Hall of Fame should be.
I’m not going to lie; I thought the title sounded ridiculous when I first heard it. But the movie was better than I expected it to be! This film does a good job at exploring how childhood cancer can affect a child and the people around them. It also has a genuine sincerity that doesn’t feel too mushy or manipulative. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say this is a good choice to watch around Christmas-time!
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are known for having larger budgets than a typical Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film. The creative team behind The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler used that budget to their advantage. The presentation of this film is so good, it feels like a theatrical release! Everything about the movie feels like it is of the highest quality. I honestly wish Hallmark created more Hall of Fame pictures like this one.
Follow the Stars Home
From the moment I first saw this movie, I knew it would be a winner! But it sometimes feels like this film doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The acting performances from the whole cast is one of the strongest components of this project. This movie also contains one of the most intense scenes I’ve ever seen in a film. Follow the Stars Home does a good job at balancing the lighted-hearted and serious moments of the story.
The Sarah, Plain and Tall trilogy
This series introduced me to Hallmark Hall of Fame as well as Hallmark films in general. I’d say this is one of the strongest trilogies in film history! The overall quality is consistent and it feels like the creative team truly cared about the project they were making. I would like to see Hallmark attempt another series within their Hallmark Hall of Fame branch!
Ellen Foster is an excellent, but sad film! What makes this movie work is Jena Malone’s performance, as she carries the entire project! This movie features one of the few times where a young person is the film’s lead. The story as a whole is an emotional roller coaster ride that makes its audience experience a variety of feelings. I haven’t read the book this film is based on, but I’d be interested in reading how emotionally intense it is compared to the film.
What the Deaf Man Heard
I have fallen in love with this movie since I first saw it! It does a great job showing how far someone will go to show their love for another person. This film also shows how easy it is for people to take things at face value. There are other solid messages in this story, but I don’t want to spoil it. What the Deaf Man Heard is another Hall of Fame title I can’t recommend enough! It’s also based on a book, so I’d like to read it someday!
Before I start this award post, I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, April 16th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Movie and Story of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The last award category will be posted on the April 17th! Here is the link to the poll:
Last week, Ospreyshire, from Iridium Eye Reviews, nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award! This is my fourth time receiving the title. To me, even winning one of these awards in an honor. Thank you, Ospreyshire, for your thoughtfulness when it came to nominating me! Moments like these make me feel like I’m doing some good in the world of blogging. If you want to check out Ospreyshire’s blog, here is the link:
Before this post can begin, I must list the official rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award, which are the following:
List the award’s official rules
Display the award’s official logo somewhere on your blog
Thank the person who nominated you
Provide a link to your nominator’s blog
Answer your nominator’s questions
Nominate up to 11 bloggers
Ask your nominees 11 questions
Notify your nominees by commenting on at least one of their blog posts.
My 11 Answers
Which actor or actress do you think is overlooked by the public and what role would you like to see them in? For this question, I had to really think about who I would talk about. There are a number of actors and actresses that I believe are underrated. Some of them have been mentioned on 18 Cinema Lane before, like Max Lloyd-Jones. However, there are others that I haven’t found the opportunity to talk about yet. But, this time, I’ve decided to pick someone who I’ve previously brought up on my blog. According to her filmography on IMDB, Karina Arroyave has been acting in the film and television industry since the late ‘80s. However, it seems like she doesn’t receive the amount of recognition and attention that I think she deserves. As I’ve said in my Christmas Camp review, Karina has starred in two Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, Blind Spot from 1993 and Missing Pieces from 2000. But her roles in those films were smaller than what they could have been. One day, I’d like to see Karina cast in a Hallmark Hall of Fame film with a bigger role than she has received in years past.
If you could have a crossover between an anime and something involving Western animation, what would they be and what would the plot look like? When I read this question, I immediately thought of the Sailor Scouts from Sailor Moon teaming up with heroes from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)! Because the animated shows from Marvel follow a different story than the films, the Heart of the Universe would provide an interesting component to the plot. I’ve read online that the ‘Heart of the Universe’ is more powerful than the Infinity Gauntlet. Whether the ‘Heart of the Universe’ is a part of official Marvel canon is unknown to me. But it could create a way to raise the stakes for both programs.
What is your favorite thing about international cinema? I’d have to say being introduced to new people in the world of film! Before I started 18 Cinema Lane, I didn’t know who Vincent Perez was. Now, I’ve seen two of his films; Queen of the Damned and Swept from the Sea! This June, I’ll be reviewing the 1990 film, Cyrano de Bergerac, which I’m looking forward to because of Vincent’s involvement in the project!
If you could switch a theme song from a movie or TV series with a different song, what would it be and why? I have two choices for this question. The first is the theme music from Murder, She Wrote. To me, this piece of music doesn’t fit the tone of the show. It makes the program appear more cheerful than it really is. While there are light-hearted moments within the show, there can also be suspenseful and darker moments. I would change the theme music to something that sounds more mysterious. The second choice is The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. I’ve never watched the show, but I have seen a video of the show’s opening credits. I was surprised by the creative team’s choice not to use music from the 1994 film. For this show, I’d select a song directly from the movie.
What book would you like to see adapted onto the screen? This could be a novel or comic book, by the way. I’ve mentioned this on 18 Cinema Lane before, but I’ll say it again. I would love to see Murder on Ice by Alina Adams become a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film! If you want to learn why I feel this way, you can read my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List at this link:
What band would you like to see compose an entire soundtrack? What kind of movie would they score? My favorite band is Trans-Siberian Orchestra! While their music was featured in the movie, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, I really want to see them create a soundtrack for a Christmas movie musical for Hallmark Hall of Fame!
What is the least favorite thing from a creator you really like? Some of my favorite youtubers from the movie community host scheduled livestream videos. Unfortunately, there have been times when these videos have started late at night or lasted two+ hours. It also doesn’t help that I can’t pause the video while it’s live, as I end up missing important content. So, I either skip the video completely or watch it on a later date.
Who would you like to see voicing over a documentary that has never done so before? What would the documentary be about? Even though Disney+ is hosting Wandavision, it would be fascinating to see a mockumentary about Sokovia. It also makes sense for Elizabeth Olsen to provide the project’s voice-over, especially since we haven’t heard her speak in a Sokovian accent while portraying Wanda/Scarlet Witch in quite some time.
Which actor would sound ridiculous if they tried an accent outside of their own? I don’t know if it would sound ridiculous, but I’ve never heard Vin Diesel attempt an accent.
Who do you think is the most overrated film or animation director? Personally, I would say Steven Soderbergh is overrated as a director. Granted, I only saw Logan Lucky. But I couldn’t finish the movie, as I disliked it that much.
What is your greatest wish for cinema and/or animation? This could be realistic or a pipe dream. I will select two wishes for this question. Whether they’re realistic or just a dream is up for debate. The first is for the more underrated people in the entertainment industry to receive more recognition and attention then they might currently have. The second is for the full version of The Crow: City of Angels to be released. The Youtube channel, GoodBadFlicks, created a really good video about this film called “Exploring The Crow City of Angels”. I’ve only watched half of it, but it’s an informative piece on the “studio intervention” that heavily effected this movie. Because of the growing awareness and drive to restore lost media/films, I feel the release of the full version of The Crow: City of Angels could be possible.
My 11 Nominees
Eric from Dr. Eric Perry, PhD
Zach from Shut Up Zach!
Paul from Classic Film Journal
Luke from Luke Atkins – Critic
Steve from Movie Movie Blog Blog II
Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews
Bonnie from Quaint Cooking
The Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society
James from This Is My Truth Now
Erica from Poppity Talks Classic Film
Quiggy from The Midnite Drive-In
My 11 Questions
What is the first thing you will do when the Coronavirus is behind us?
Has there ever been a time when you thought a film adaptation was better than its source material? If so, what is it?
Which piece of lost media would you love to see found?
Who was the last person to leave a comment on your blog?
Describe your dream blogging collaboration!
Is there an event you’d like to attend? If so, what is it?
When Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews announced that her blogathon would focus on James Garner, I found the perfect excuse to talk about one of his Hallmark Hall of Fame movies! For this review, I chose to write about the first one he starred in called Promise. This entry from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection is one of the most beloved. It has not only received critical praise, but several awards as well. Movies that achieve a lot of praise can be hit or miss. I either find myself not liking the film as much as other people (in the case of The Christmas Card) or I gain understanding for why people like the movie so much (in the case of The Nine Lives of Christmas). With Promise, I wanted to judge it for myself. Is it worth its praise or is it overrated? I was lucky enough to find a copy of this movie on DVD, so I could bring this review to my readers and followers!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: The acting in Promise was definitely one of the best parts of this film! Throughout the movie, James Garner and James Woods go toe-to-toe with their acting prowess. What brought believability to these respective roles were the versatility and emotionality of Garner and Woods. When it comes to the acting, the best scene in this movie is when Bob discovers D.J. having a psychological catatonic break. James Garner’s portrayal of Bob was heart-breaking, as his voice was battling sobs and his eyes were full of fear. As for James Woods’ portrayal of D.J., he was so listless and still that I honestly thought this character had died. Piper Laurie did a really good job bringing the character of Annie to life! What worked in her favor was the on-screen personality she presented. Since it was so sweet and gentle, it made Annie a likable individual. Even though she had a limited presence in Promise, Barbara Niven portrayed her character, Joan, wonderfully! The great thing about Barbara’s acting abilities is how expressive she is. A perfect example is when Joan spots D.J. watching her and Bob having an intimate moment, as she quickly changes from a passionate and flirty attitude to screaming in fear.
The set design: There were some interesting creative choices made when it came to the set design. For the interior design, I really liked the look of the restaurant where Bob visits his co-workers. The use of red and gold was magnificent, from the rich red carpet to the way the light illuminated off the gold details on the wall. There were also some visually appealing choices made for the film’s exterior design. On Annie’s porch, there was a large, white, multi-paned window at one end of it. It made that space feel like an outdoor room! It also provided a unique look from the other porches that were featured in this film. At one point in the movie, D.J. and Bob discover an abandoned castle. The way this castle looked was mysterious, but not scary. It reminded me of the abandoned places that are shown in urban exploring videos. Because of the look and feel of this place, it made me want to explore the castle alongside Bob and D.J.!
The scenery: Another appealing element of Promise was the scenery! My favorite place in this movie was the lake Bob and D.J. visit. This location was shown at different times of the day. It was even shown in the rain. But the lake always appeared serene and peaceful. Mixed with the forest’s foliage, it looked like an inviting environment! Long shots were used to showcase various landscapes. The field in front of D.J. and Bob’s mother’s house is one of them. The way this location was framed brought up the feelings of possibility and hope. This fit within the context of the story.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The secondary storyline: In Promise, Bob tries to sell his and D.J.’s mother’s house. This part served as a secondary storyline. I wasn’t a fan of this narrative for a few reasons. Personally, I didn’t find it to be very interesting. Also, it felt distant from the main plot. I’m glad this story didn’t adopt a cliché similar to the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché. However, I wish this movie kept its focus on Bob and D.J.’s story.
The discussion of Mental Illness: Promise’s discussion of Mental Illness is similar to A Time to Remember’s discussion of Alzheimer’s. I commend this film and its creative team for addressing the ways Mental Illness can affect an individual and the people around them. But I honestly think this discussion could have been executed better. For starters, D.J. ends up being a supporting character in the story instead of an equal co-lead. This does a disservice not only to D.J., but also to members of the audience who have been affected by Mental Illness in some fashion. Within the first half of the movie, D.J. is called “crazy” by Bob because he has Schizophrenia and because his beliefs happen to be different from his brother’s. I understand that stories like this are meant to feature unlikable protagonists, in an effort to showcase their personal growth throughout the movie. However, Bob’s attitude and views toward D.J. were unfair and they did not sit well with me. In one scene, D.J. explains to Bob what having Schizophrenia is like. While this monologue was well written and delivered, I think this explanation would have been a little more effective if the audience could see at least one of D.J.’s hallucinations and/or hear the audio from his “voices”. It would have shown and told the audience an idea of how Schizophrenia affects someone.
The editing: As I was watching Promise, the overall film felt uneven. This was caused by some scenes ending too quickly. One example is the scene where D.J. tells Bob that he feels normal again. Right after he says this, the next scene immediately starts. This not only felt abrupt, but there also wasn’t a smooth transition provided. The presentation of these scenes was the equivalent of stop-and-go traffic.
My overall impression:
As the cover of Promise’s DVD says, this movie is “the most-honored television movie of all time”. However, I thought the film was just ok. This is certainly not one of the worst projects Hallmark Hall of Fame has created. Elements like the acting, set design, and scenery prevent it from being unenjoyable. However, I can think of other Hallmark Hall of Fame stories that are stronger than this one. The primary focus of Promise should have remained on Bob and D.J.’s story. It also should have given D.J. an equal portion of the narrative as Bob. This way, he could have a bigger voice and more perspective to share in the film. Since this is one of four Hallmark Hall of Fame movies James Garner starred in, I would be interested to see how those movies compare to Promise. I have Decoration Day on my DVR, so I might have to review it in the near future!
Overall score: 6.9 out of 10
Have you seen any Hallmark Hall of Fame movies? Are there any Hallmark Hall of Fame films you’d like me to review? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
As I am trying to stick with my blogging schedule, I’ve been looking for movie news stories that aren’t Hallmark related. That’s because I want to show my readers and followers that 18 Cinema Lane is not limited to one area of film. However, this story was too big to pass up. This week, Bill Abbott, one of the business leaders of Hallmark, stepped down from his presidential and CEO position. An explanation for Bill’s departure or a new leader of the company was not revealed as of late January 2020. In response to this latest news, Hallmark Cards’ president and CEO, Mike Perry, stated, “In a time when there is immense competition among television networks and streaming services, it is more important than ever that we find relevant new ways to grow our business and continue to produce high quality programming that resonates with our growing audience”.
Multiple news outlets have covered this story and have tried connecting it to the commercial controversy that happened last December. However, in my opinion, I’m guessing this recent situation has more factors to it than that. Last year, both the “Miracles of Christmas” and “Countdown to Christmas” line-ups collectively received lower viewership numbers than the previous year. Most of Hallmark Channel’s movies adopt repetitive story-telling, giving projects a sense of predictability. In 2019, Hallmark experienced several scheduling snafus, which I talked about in an editorial last October. Despite the uncertainty this decision has caused, I’m personally hoping the man or woman to take Bill’s Abbott’s place not only puts the best interests of the customers and fans first when it comes to making business decisions, but also takes creative risks and thinks outside the box. It’s unclear how Mike Perry and the overall Hallmark company define “relevant new ways”, but I’m guessing these definitions will be presented to viewers in a matter of time.
What are your thoughts on this latest news? How do you think this will affect Hallmark’s entertainment projects? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
Here are the links to two of the many articles discussing this story, as well as the editorial I referenced in this Word on the Street post:
Well, here we are. The conclusion of this double feature has finally arrived! At the start of this project, my goal was to figure out which adaptation of The Secret Garden was the best one. After reading the book, I watched and analyzed three of the most well-known film versions of this story. Now that we’re at the end of this double feature, it’s time for me to evaluate my results!
In the video, “Talking Anne with an E (Spoilers)”, Rachel and Amber, who are also hosts of Hallmarkies Podcast, share their thoughts on Netflix’s adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. During this discussion, Amber was saying how the film or television adaptation of this story is “not the end all, be all of Anne”. What she meant by this was that there is much more to the source material than just the first book, Anne of Green Gables. Other stories and characters from this series are just as important as the content that is considered when it comes to adaptations. Amber’s beliefs can also be applied to my double feature. No matter how many adaptations are made, they should never be a replacement for the source material. Each adaptation has a different creative team associated with it, so the beliefs about which elements are worth including in the movie are going to vary. With that said, I think that both the 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation and the 1993 version are the best adaptations of The Secret Garden! Both of these films have their fair share of similarities and differences. But I found them to be close enough to the book where I was satisfied. As a film, however, I would prefer the one from 1993 over the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. While the 1987 production was good, it felt a little too drawn-out. I also think that Kate Maberly did a better job at portraying Mary than Gennie James did. Since I now found the answer to a question that I’ve wanted to find for years, I can honestly say that my mission is finally accomplished.
Have fun at the movies!
If you want to read the other posts from this double feature, go to these links: