Buzzwordathon 2022: Review of ‘Private L.A.’ by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

Three days ago, I reminded readers and followers that my blogathon, the Travel Gone Wrong Blogathon, was on its way. For those who aren’t aware, this event highlights stories where a trip doesn’t go according to plan. Whether these trips go hilariously or horrifyingly wrong, they have one thing in common: attempting to reach a desired destination. This leads me to address my selection for March’s Buzzwordathon! The theme this time around is ‘Locations’. Since L.A. (Los Angeles) is a real-life location, I selected Private L.A. by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan!

Here is a screenshot of my copy of Private L.A. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

The first book co-written by James Patterson I had read was Confessions: The Private School Murders. Unfortunately, this book was, for me, a disappointment, as a side mystery monopolized the overall story. Private L.A. avoids that issue by devoting a satisfying amount of time to the novel’s main mystery, which involves the disappearance of a powerful acting couple. This book also highlights a mystery featuring a group of criminals called ‘No Prisoners’. However, the text provides an equal amount of attention to both mysteries, going back and forth between first- and third-person narration. When I purchased my copy of Private L.A., I didn’t know it was the sixth book in a series. Despite this, the book does not heavily rely on events from the previous installments. If a character or situation is introduced in the text, Jack (the protagonist) informs the readers of their significance to him. It should also be noted how Private L.A.’s chapters are shorter in page length. This allows the story’s overall pace to be faster, which works for mysteries taking place in “real time”.

Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

There are some parts of Private L.A. I felt were unnecessary. Breaking the book up into sections was one of them. Throughout the story, there was a prologue, five separate parts, and an epilogue. I recognize this creative decision was made to group certain areas of the story together. But since the chapters were so short, these sections felt like they were included for the sake of being there. Along with the two aforementioned mysteries, Private L.A. contained two subplots. The first one focused on preparations for the murder trial of Jack’s brother, Tommy. Even though I haven’t read the Private series in its entirety, I’m guessing this is an overarching story for the series. However, I wish this subplot was one of the main plots in another book, in order to receive enough time to reach a resolution.

Courtroom image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/isometric”>Isometric vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

The second subplot, revolving around Justine Smith, also didn’t receive a resolution. Justine is a close friend and co-worker of Jack’s. Her subplot is comprised of two narratives; dealing with PTSD and her growing feelings for a man named Paul. While it was interesting to read about Justine coming to terms with her PTSD symptoms, her interactions with Paul were lackluster. Justine’s story grew frustrating after she witnesses Paul interacting with a woman, causing her to assume his relationship status with little to no proof. Honestly, I wish Justine’s story had solely focused on how she dealt with PTSD. Some parts of Private L.A. needed descriptive imagery. When characters from the LAPD and ‘No Prisoners’ were incorporated into the story, I found it difficult to decipher who was who. This is because the characters seemed, more often than not, interchangeable.

Therapy session image created by Pressfoto at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/businesswoman-talking-to-her-psychologist_860909.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Pressfoto – Freepik.com</a>.  Image found at freepik.com.

Prior to this year’s Buzzwordathon, I had never read any books from the Private series. Despite jumping into the middle of the story, I enjoyed Private L.A for what it was! It was interesting to read how each mystery unfolded, as well as seeing how each of the dots connected. But because of this book’s subject matter, the story might not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. I wouldn’t say Private L.A is a “good” book, but it was better than being just fine. It was an intriguing and well-written story that was also a nice introduction to the series. Therefore, I wouldn’t oppose reading more Private books!

Overall score: 3.8 – 3.9 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: As I mentioned in this review, the subject matter in Private L.A. prevents the book from being everyone’s “cup of tea”. This content is the following:

  • Swearing on several occasions
  • References to sex toys on a few occasions
  • In Justine’s subplot, it is mentioned she and Paul had sex. However, this interaction is not described in detail.
  • Several murders take place in this story. Some of them are described in detail.
  • References to children in danger
  • References to a dog in distress (the dog in question is never harmed)
  • The use of slurs on two occasions
  • One member of ‘No Prisoners’ disguises himself as a woman. He only does this in an attempt to carry out his mission.
  • Two chapters that feature sexual assault

Evenings At The Shore: You Fit In Just Fine

Now we are coming to the end of another season of Chesapeake Shores. With this story complete, I can now give my honest opinion on the season as a whole. This has been one of the strongest seasons in the show’s history! That balance between character and plot driven stories has returned! One of the strengths was the addition of new cast members. Because Robert Buckley was promoted the most, I’ll talk about his character, Evan Kincaid. With new characters, it can be hit or miss. But with Evan, he fit in just fine. In fact, it felt like he was meant to be on Chesapeake Shores all along. Evan was a well written character, with each layer being pulled back as the story went on. Robert also presented a personality that hadn’t been seen on the show before. Despite joining Chesapeake Shores this season, I can’t imagine this story without him. As this chapter of the show comes to a close, let’s re-cap the season finale!

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season finale of Chesapeake Shores, there are spoilers within this re-cap.

Chesapeake Shores Season 5 poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel.

Season: 5

Episode: 10

Name: As Time Goes By

Abby’s story: Abby comes back home from her business trip in Cleveland. She is surprised to discover Evan waiting for her at the airport. Afterwards, they agree to have lunch at Sally’s Café. During their meal, Evan confesses how he might have romantic feelings for Abby. She turns down this possibility at first, as she and Evan are business partners. But Evan convinces her to, at least, think about the idea of them together. The next day, Evan visits the O’Brien family home to deliver some homemade brownies. Abby is not only amazed by how good the sweet treats are, but how Evan created the brownies so that Caitlyn, who is lactose intolerant, could eat them too. In the middle of this exchange, Evan shares with Abby how he learned to bake from a man who used to date Evan’s mother. When Abby asks Evan if she can meet this man, Evan says he’ll try to locate him, as he is a truck driver. Later in the episode, Jay reveals how every year, he takes a picture for his “Best Moment of the Year” collection. For the previous year, he shows Abby a picture of her, indicating how she was his “Best Moment of the Year”. Jay also confesses how he has romantic feelings for Abby. But he says he has romantic feelings for a female guidance counselor named Cam as well. The information Abby received from Evan and Jay puts her at a fork in the road. After consulting with Bree, Abby calls someone and tells them how she has feelings for them too. But the identity of the receiver is not known.

Mick and Megan’s story: One morning, Mick and Megan share the news that not only are they taking a trip around the world, but Mick is also taking a year off work in order to make this trip happen. While the family is shocked by this news, there are happy to see Megan and Mick move forward with their relationship. While she’s at the location where the art show took place, Carter tells Megan how she has received multiple job offers due to the art show’s success. Megan says she has given up that life, indicating her disinterest in these offers. Then, Carter reveals how a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles wants Megan to join their team. Because she has always dreamed of working with that particular gallery, she thinks twice about her future. Mick ends up finding out about this job offer from Carter, as Carter is on his way home to New York. When Mick addresses this piece of news with Megan, she says she hasn’t made a decision yet. But, by the end of the episode, she questions if she can have both the job and the trip. This makes Mick wonder if she’ll leave the family again.

Connor’s story: While Luke’s court hearing has received a different judge, the date is scheduled for the very next day. Even though this concerns Connor, he continues to look for a way to help Luke. Meanwhile, Margaret has her concerns about Connor’s well-being. Remembering what Connor said in the previous episode, Margaret brings s’more ingredients to the firm, in an attempt to help Connor relax. Connor likes Margaret’s gesture, which ends up with both of them kissing. But, the following day, Luke and Bree discover Connor slept at the firm. Because of this discovery, Luke reveals how he takes sleep medication. This information gives Connor an idea. He recruits his doctor as an expert witness, in an attempt to show how Luke’s sleep medication could be mistaken for amphetamines. The plan works and Luke doesn’t have to go back to prison. Toward the end of the episode, Margaret visits Connor at the O’Brien family home. While they are kissing, Connor collapses. The cause of his ailments is unknown.

Courtroom image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/isometric”>Isometric vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Kevin and Sarah’s story: At the beginning of the episode, it is revealed Sarah had a miscarriage. Devastated by this latest heartbreak, Sarah tells Kevin to keep it between themselves. But, later in the episode, Kevin shares this information with Mick and Megan. They tell their son how they suffered a miscarriage years ago. Through the interaction, they show their support for Kevin and Sarah. When Kevin tells his wife what he told his parents, Sarah is upset. However, she comes to appreciate Mick and Megan’s support when Megan pays her a visit. Megan tells Sarah how her miscarriage happened after Jess was born. She also tells Sarah how, in time, she will get through this tragedy.

Jess and David’s story: Jess has a lot of thoughts about Mick and Megan getting back together. So, at three in the morning, she decides to write Megan an email, which contains her real thoughts. Later that day, Jess freaks out because she actually sent the email. When David reads it, he thinks it is brutally honest. So, Jess goes to the O’Brien family home to talk to Megan. She apologizes for the email, telling Megan how she’s actually happy for her and Mick. But Megan responds by saying she hadn’t checked her email yet, but appreciated Jess’s honesty. Meanwhile, David discovers his trust fund has been cleaned out. Only his father has access to this fund, but he is nowhere to be found. David goes to Boston to find out more information on his father’s whereabouts. When he returns, David tells Jess his father flew out of the country, with the FBI looking for him.

Money image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/bills-and-coins-in-isometric-design_1065328.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Looking back on the show as a whole, it seems like Kevin and Sarah can’t win. First, they don’t have the wedding of their dreams because season four only contained six episodes. Now, they are dealing with a miscarriage. I understand things do not always go according to plan, in real life and in fictional stories. However, I was hoping the writers would try to make it up to the fans after the omission of a wedding in the previous season. If Chesapeake Shores receives a sixth season, I hope Kevin and Sarah meet happier circumstances.
  • While talking to a family member about this season, I realized injuries and falls seemed to be a common theme. Sarah fell twice, Thomas fell while hiking, and Evan fell in Tae Kwon Do class. There was also Mick’s plane accident, Thomas’ sprained ankle, Evan’s hurt back, and Connor’s medical issues. I’m guessing this was all a coincidence. But, as a fan, I found it concerning how five of the show’s characters were in harm’s way, sometimes on more than one occasion.
  • While I know cliffhangers and season finales can sometimes go hand-in-hand, I thought it was risky for the season to end with four cliffhangers. As of October 2021, there has been no announcements about a sixth season. This means if the show were to be cancelled, several stories would receive no resolution. Personally, I think one or two cliffhangers would have been just fine. Some of these cliffhangers could have been introduced earlier in the season, such as the whereabouts of David’s dad. Had this been the case, David and Jess’s story could have contained more depth.
Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/landscape-in-a-swamp-at-night_1042860.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by 0melapics – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on the season finale? Would you like to see Chesapeake Shores receive a sixth season? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Crow: City of Angels Review

Because I received positive responses for the way I wrote my review of The Crow, I decided to write another open letter. This time, I’ve addressed it to The Crow: City of Angels. As I mentioned before, this isn’t the typical writing style I adopt for my reviews. But it’d only be fair to present this article in a similar fashion. Now, let me start this letter to The Crow: City of Angels.

The Crow: City of Angels poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Crow_2.jpg.

An Open Letter to The Crow: City of Angels,

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of my editorial that I wrote back in May. You know the one; about how the Tim Pope cut should be released. A question you’re probably asking is “How can you advocate for a cut of a movie you’ve never seen”? Well, I’m glad you asked! I first learned about your experience with “studio intervention” from the Youtube video, “Exploring The Crow City of Angels”. I was not happy to hear what you had to go through, thinking it a circumstance that should have never happened. While scrolling through the video’s comment section, I read responses from people who expressed interest in seeing the Tim Pope cut. But despite this interest, it seemed like nothing was being done about the situation. From how I saw it, wishful thinking overshadowed any plans or ideas. After Justice League’s Snyder Cut was announced for a 2021 release, I knew it was the perfect time to bring up the Tim Pope cut and explain why it’s important. When other films were brought up in the discussion of special cuts, you weren’t really added to the conversation. So, I’m actually doing you a favor by advocating on your behalf. By the way, my original plan was to watch you and your predecessor, The Crow, around Halloween. But I’m guessing they told you about my change of plans.

Image of crow at sunset created by Rayudu NVS at freeimages.com. Photo by <a href=”/photographer/rayudu238-57835″>rayudu NVS</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt;. Image found at freeimages.com.

Because of a grammatical error I stumbled across on the internet, where your title was written as The Crow, City of Angels, I honestly thought Vincent Perez had starred in your predecessor. However, when I discovered The Crow Wiki, I learned he was the lead actor in the second chapter. Like I’ve said about movies like Swept from the Sea and Cyrano Bergerac, Vincent’s involvement is what made me want to check you out. In the previous films of Vincent’s I’ve seen, he always steals the show for the right reasons. He certainly did that this time around! Similar to Brandon’s portrayal of Eric, Vincent brought an emotional intensity that made his performance captivating to watch! However, he went out of his way to set his character, Ashe, apart by adding a sense of showmanship to his role. In a scene where some of the villains are shooting at Ashe in a club, Ashe acts performative about the situation, using the violence against him in his one-man show. He even bows after the villains have finished shooting. This acting decision ended up working in Vincent’s favor! I’m not sure how much acting experience Iggy Pop had prior to his casting. However, I feel he did a fairly good job with the material he was given! While portraying Curve, one of the villains, Iggy effectively showcased the anger and frustration a person in that situation or environment might feel. This can be seen when Curve goes to Noah’s tattoo parlor and fights with Sarah. As Curve’s hostility grew, I quickly became concerned for Sarah and Noah’s safety. This scene showed me that Iggy’s performance was convincing. Speaking of Sarah, I liked seeing Mia Kirshner portray this character! Through her performance, she brought a calmness that the world surrounding Sarah was missing. Sarah’s gentle demeanor was a physical representation that hope wasn’t completely lost. This definitely worked in Mia’s favor, as it helped her performance stand out!

Paint palette image created by Freepik at freepik.com <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-artsy-tools_836777.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/hand”>Hand vector created by Freepik</a> Image found at freepik.com

Over the twenty-four years you have existed, I’m guessing you’re tired of being compared to your predecessor. You so desperately wanted to be your own individual, but “studio intervention” prevented you from doing so. However, I made sure to notice how you were different from the first chapter. Eric and Ashe’s face disguise are just one example. In The Crow, Eric painted his face to resemble a mask he and Shelly owned when they were still alive. Ashe, in The Crow: City of Angels, uses some paints his son, Danny, owned before he died. This contrast shows the personal, semimetal touches each character’s appearance was given. Throughout the second chapter, Ashe moves around Los Angeles by primarily riding on a motorcycle. Because he was a mechanic before he became the Crow, this distinction makes sense. While we’re on the subject of Los Angeles, I really liked your set design! It’s griminess and unruliness showed a different way a city can express chaos. The sets were also colorful, which is the opposite of your predecessor’s black-and-white color palette. Day of the Dead festivities certainly made a contribution, as various masks, flowers and other items related to the holiday helped scenes visually pop. I’m glad you decided to use more light when presenting the story! This decision allowed me to clearly see what was happening on screen. It certainly sets you apart from the first chapter, as they only used a certain amount of light throughout the story.

City of Los Angeles at night image created by Wirestock at freepik.com. City photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

Now it’s time for me to point out your flaws and mishaps. I’m not doing this to be mean, but only to be honest, as I do recognize your horrible experience with “studio intervention”. All of the villains were weak imitations of those who came before them. One perfect example is Sybil, who was the mystical figure Myca was in your predecessor. In a scene where she is explaining the connection between the crow and Ashe to Judah, Sybil sounded like she was quoting Myca word for word. Because of everything I just said, these villains were not allowed to have their own stories and be their own characters. It also made it easier for me to root for Ashe, as the villains didn’t have anything interesting or unique to offer. While I don’t have anything against Grace herself, I found her to be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. She didn’t add anything to the story or have a strong reason for being in that world. I’m guessing this was a “studio intervention” related decision, where the studio wanted Los Angeles to have their own “Sarah”. The difference between Sarah in The Crow and Grace in The Crow: City of Angels is Sarah receiving a vital role in the first chapter, serving as a reminder for Eric to keep his moral compass. In the second chapter, Grace could have been written out of the story and not much would change.

Breaking heart image created by Kjpargeter at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/broken-heart-valentine-background_1041991.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Now that I mention Sarah, I was not a fan of her and Ashe’s attraction for one another. This has nothing to do with the characters themselves or the actors portraying them. I just found this part of the story to be unnecessary. This is because nothing became of this attraction, which prevented it from going anywhere. Even Ashe warns Sarah against this attraction, as he tells her that nothing will likely happen. If Ashe knew this all along, then why would he even entertain this idea in the first place? I could see what you were trying to do; give Ashe a conflicting choice between life on Earth and the afterlife. This would have been an interesting concept had more time been devoted to it. Because Ashe and Sarah’s attraction for each other came about so quickly and with everything else happening in the film, it ended up as a spark that had trouble igniting.

The image I created with the hashtag, #ReleasetheTimPopeCut. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

As a movie, you’re a fine, run-of-the-mill action film. But, as a continuation to The Crow story, you were weaker than your predecessor. I did cut you a little bit of slack because of the one thing I’ve been mentioning throughout this letter: “studio intervention”. Now that I have seen you, I still believe the Tim Pope cut should see the light of day. You do deserve to be the movie you were meant to be and we the audience and fans deserve to see that happen. On 18 Cinema Lane, I feature a crow image with the hashtag, #ReleasetheTimPopeCut, on the homepage. This is so people who come to my blog can easily find my editorial and read it for themselves. I also posted the aforementioned hashtag on all of 18 Cinema Lane’s social media accounts. If you know anyone who wants to see the Tim Pope cut, please tell them to speak up. Paramount, the studio you now call “home”, will never hear the fans unless they say something. All I’m asking is for you to be kind and respectful if you share this letter with others. I recently watched Lee’s video review from his Youtube channel, Drumdums. When addressing the horrible circumstance you went through, he contemplated the likelihood of the Tim Pope cut’s release. While he felt anything was possible, he also didn’t believe this cut would ever be seen. As I close this letter, I’d like to remind Lee and those who may have doubts of what Eric said in The Crow: “It can’t rain all the time”.

Sincerely,

Sally Silverscreen

P.S. I’m giving you a score of 7 out of 10.

If you want to watch Lee’s review of The Crow: City of Angels, you can find it on Youtube by typing “The Crow: City of Angels Movie Review” into the search bar or visiting his channel, Drumdums.

Oh, The Places She’ll Go: A Map of Esther Williams’ Travels

When I think of Esther Williams, the pool at Michigan’s Grand Hotel always comes to mind! As one of the hotel’s many amenities, the pool is named after one of Hollywood’s most popular stars because the movie, This Time for Keeps, was filmed at the hotel. As I thought about this beloved place in the Great Lakes State, I started to wonder if there were other places across the country or the world where Esther left her legacy. I also thought about the places where Esther visited or frequented. This became the inspiration for my entry in Michaela’s Esther Williams Blogathon! My list consists of nine locations that share a connection with the actress herself. Each listing will feature facts and insight about that specific spot. I wasn’t able to visit any of these places due to the Coronavirus. Because of this, I had to include screenshots from my phone of photos I found on the internet. Most of the information in this list is from Esther’s Wikipedia page.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Williams

The Esther Williams Blogathon banner created by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Image found at http://loveletterstooldhollywood.blogspot.com/2020/06/esther-williams-blogathon-announcement.html.

Manhattan Beach

Location: Los Angeles County, California

Status: Active

If we’re going to talk about the places in Esther’s life, we need to start with the beginning of her story. Born in Inglewood, California, Esther visited Manhattan Beach with her sister, Maurine, according to Wikipedia. While it’s unknown which specific places Esther frequented, it’s safe to assume she would have found a way to partake in the sport that brought her joy. On the Parks and Recreation site for Manhattan Beach, I came across the page for Begg Pool. Offering classes and times for lap and recreational swimming, the Begg Pool provides swimmers with a place to learn new skills and grow as athletes. As I was explored Manhattan Beach’s Park and Recreation site, I discovered the offering of performance arts classes. I also came across the page for the annual Shakespeare by the Sea event. Having these acting opportunities available in Manhattan Beach makes a lot of sense when it comes to discussing Esther Williams. Because she became an actress after she became an established swimmer, the inclusion of acting and swimming in Manhattan Beach serves the best of both worlds.

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/aquatics

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/special-events/shakespeare-by-the-sea

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/cultural-arts/events-camps-and-classes

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/aquatics.

Los Angeles Athletic Club

Location: Los Angeles, California

Status: Active

On Wikipedia, there is a picture of Esther at the Los Angeles Athletic Club that was taken in 1939. The site also lists her as one of the club’s notable members. When I explored the official website of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, I got the impression the club served as a place for athletes to take their sport seriously. It would make sense for Esther to spend her time at this location, especially since she was an Olympic hopeful. Similar to Manhattan Beach’s Begg Pool, the Aquatics facility at the Los Angeles Athletic Club offers swimming classes. They also provide a conditioning club and a clinic.  Looking at the photo of the pool itself, the main takeaway is the simple style this space boasts. The black and white color palette makes the area seem like it is frozen in time, with the design choice of stripes bringing a sense of elegance. These elements create a facility that feels as timeless as the actress who went there!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Athletic_Club (the club’s official website is included in this Wikipedia page)

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://laac.com/athletics/aquatics/.

Treasure Island

Location: San Francisco, California

Status: Active

In the year, 1940, Esther starred in a water spectacle called ‘Aquacade’. This show was held during the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. The official location of this exposition was Treasure Island, “an artificial island in the San Francisco Bay and a neighborhood in the City and County of San Francisco”, according to Wikipedia. If you’ve never visited this island or had no idea this location existed until you read this article, you might think of the famous ‘Pleasure Island’ from the beloved classic Pinocchio. However, Treasure Island is nothing like the island from Pinocchio’s story. In fact, it serves as a community that could be similar to your own backyard. The island’s official website lists many resources that will sound familiar, such as a bike shop and restaurants. What I find interesting is how an extraordinary event like the Golden Gate International Exposition was held on an island that seems ordinary. It would be fun to travel back in time to see Treasure Island transformed into an elaborate world stage!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_Island,_San_Francisco

https://sftreasureisland.org/treasure-island-businesses-attractions-and-recreation

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101854779/massive-redevelopment-underway-for-treasure-island.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

Location: Beverly Hills, California

Status: Active

Wikipedia states that one of the clauses in Esther Williams’ contract with MGM was “that she receive a guest pass to The Beverly Hills Hotel where she could swim in the pool every day”. After watching a video featuring this pool on the hotel’s website, I definitely see the appeal of this location! Similar to the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Aquatics facility, stripes are a design staple around the pool. They can be found in the seat cushions and the table umbrellas. Pink, green, and white serve as the the pool area’s color palette. Cabanas surrounding the pool showcase this palette beautifully. With the accent wall boasting a green leaf pattern, the two surrounding walls are a solid pink. A crème sofa and chair serve as seating options in this space. Wood furniture completes the overall look, capturing a classic style that has stood the test of time!

https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/the-beverly-hills-hotel/the-pool/

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/the-beverly-hills-hotel/the-pool/.

The Esther Williams Pool

Location: Mackinac Island, Michigan

Status: Active

Another hotel pool Esther frequented that joins this list! Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel was the filming location for the 1947 film, The Time for Keeps. Because of Esther’s involvement in the movie, the pool has been officially named the Esther Williams Pool!  Tanda Gmiter from MLive writes how Esther Williams and her film benefited the hotel’s longevity. The years when World War II took place were difficult for Mackinac Island’s crown jewel. The article states “during those lean war years, the Grand Hotel faced the same dismal predicament shared by many resorts: A long-term lack of paying guests”. However, a chance encounter would change the course of history for the hotel and those associated with the movie. Tanda says “someone connected to the film had seen a little 10-minute travelogue featuring the island that was done in 1944. When they were scouting sites for the Williams’ film, Mackinac seemed like a natural fit”. Since the release of The Time for Keeps, Grand Hotel has experienced years of success and has become an icon in Michigan.

https://www.mlive.com/travel/2018/07/how_a_hollywood_star_in_a_swim.html

https://www.grandhotel.com/activities/esther-williams-pool/

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.mlive.com/travel/2018/07/how_a_hollywood_star_in_a_swim.html.

Cypress Gardens

Location: Winter Haven, Florida

Status: Preserved

The 1953 movie, Easy to Love, was filmed in this particular destination, “where a swimming pool in the shape of the state of Florida had been built specifically for the film”. Wikipedia says “Cypress Gardens was a botanical garden and theme park near Winter Haven, Florida that operated from 1936 to 2009”. It was the Sunshine State’s first theme park, boasting attractions like water skiing, dinner cruises, and garden tours. This location was included in a 2014 list from the National Register of Historic Places.  Easy to Love was not the only Florida-filmed project Esther worked on, as she starred in multiple movies and television programs from the ‘50s and ‘60s. While the theme park has been closed and replaced with another one, Legoland Florida, the botanical garden is preserved inside the new park. In fact, it is included as one of their featured attractions!

https://web.archive.org/web/20070713205521/http://www.cypressgardens.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypress_Gardens

https://web.archive.org/web/20140426235832/http://www.nps.gov/nr/listings/20140425.htm

https://www.legoland.com/florida/map-explore/land-views/cypress-gardens/attractions/botanical-gardens/

While the Florida shaped pool still takes residence in Legoland Florida, it’s now used as a fountain. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiBkULOrf7Y.

Wembley Arena

Location: London, England

Status: Active

According to Wikipedia, Esther “starred in an aqua-special at Wembley Stadium in London”. A photo from 1956 reveals the event actually took place at Empire Pool, which is located near Wembley Stadium. The website Television Obscurities shares how this event was meant to serve as a part of an on-going tour lasting from 1956 to 1958. Poor reviews for the 1957 show caused this tour to be cut short. While I wasn’t able to find any photos of this event and a recording of the event itself hasn’t resurfaced, the Empire Pool is still part of the English community. Now known as the Wembley Arena, this venue hosts concerts covering a variety of musical genres. The arena is located in Wembley Park, a hub for attractions, entertainment, and leisure activities.

https://www.ssearena.co.uk/your-visit/wembley-park

If you want to learn more about the aqua-special, you can visit the website, tvobscurities.com, and type Esther’s name into the search bar located at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://wembleypark.com/attractions/the-sse-arena-wembley/.

The Raleigh Hotel

Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Status: Active

2010 saw the introduction of the Raleigh Hotel’s Esther Williams suite. This room “incorporates a beach summer theme”, with a basic color palette of white and beige allowing pops of color to be seen. Bright hues of blue, peach, and teal are found in pillows, towels, and curtains. There are three separate areas within the suite: the bedroom, the bathroom, and the main sitting area. Like the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Aquatics facility, the overall design of the suite captures a moment in time. While the style in this space is simple, it does help carry the consistency of the hotel. Its chic and vintage aesthetic make this location appear photogenic.

https://www.suiteness.com/suites/united-states/florida/miami/the-raleigh-hotel/the-esther-williams-suite

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34439-d85180-Reviews-The_Raleigh_Miami_Beach-Miami_Beach_Florida.html

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mercedes-benz-fashion-week-swim-lets-the-sun-in-98595984.html

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.suiteness.com/suites/united-states/florida/miami/the-raleigh-hotel/the-esther-williams-suite.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Location: Los Angeles, California

Status: Active

As we come to an end in our journey through Esther’s travels, we return to the place where we began: California. When Esther attended the first annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival, there was a screening of her film, Neptune’s Daughter, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s pool. This choice was fitting, since she spent a lot of time around pools during her life. The style around this area is much simpler than The Beverly Hills Hotel’s pool area. However, it works with its respective hotel’s interior designs. The white pool chairs with the hotel’s official monogram promote a more classic flare that is carried throughout the hotel. It lets the pool itself be the focal point, with the light and dark shades of blue complimenting the chairs surrounding it. This space provides a memorable view from the various suites that are offered. With the hotel itself surrounding the pool, it makes this feature as celebrated as Esther Williams herself.

https://www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com/pool/tropicana-pool-cafe

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com/pool/tropicana-pool-cafe.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Written from the Heart

In the season seven premiere of When Calls the Heart, Lucas says that stories should be written from the heart. As I contemplate those words, I wonder if that’s the reason why this show has lasted as long as it has? This is a program that takes place during a simpler time. Sure, there were difficulties back then. But because of that simplicity, people were given more opportunities to share what was in their heart. Through stories, letters, and face-to-face communication, people could use their words to solve problems or connect with other another. You might be thinking, “Can’t the internet do the same thing”? While this is true, the internet doesn’t always allow us to see someone’s reaction to a story or understand how someone is feeling about it. That is what When Calls the Heart strives to do: understanding the thoughts and feelings of the characters and the fans. The emphasis placed on those two things has helped this show become a place where people can connect with each other and even help one another in times of need. As season seven begins, it will be fascinating to see how the thoughts, words, and actions of Hope Valley’s citizens come from their hearts.

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season premiere of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

When Calls the Heart Season 7 poster
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=When%20Calls%20the%20Heart%20Season%207&episodeIndex=7001.

Season: 7

Episode: 1

Name: A Moving Picture

 

Major Stories:

A journalist named Mary comes to Hope Valley to write a story about Henry Gowan. Henry believes that she’s interested in his business endeavors. However, Mary wants to know more about Henry’s past, including his convictions. Henry tells her that he tries not to dwell on the past. Not satisfied with Henry’s response, Mary turns to Bill for answers. On the subject of Henry’s past, all Bill will say is that Henry is “complicated”. Mary also approaches Lucas with questions about Henry, but Lucas refuses to speak about Henry’s life before he owned a petroleum business. Later, in the evening, Mary receives a phone call from her boss. She learns that her deadline is approaching sooner than she expected. Mary is stressed because she feels she hasn’t learned enough about Henry to write a compelling story. When she shares her dilemma with Fiona, Mary comes up with a brilliant idea. Toward the end of the episode, the citizens of Hope Valley discover that Mary decided to write a story about Fiona instead. Henry feels this decision was made because his story is not as reader-friendly as Fiona’s. Elizabeth confesses to him that every person who was questioned by Mary refused to talk about Henry’s past. Her confession effectively shows Henry that the town supports him.

 

While delivering books to the library, Lucas shares with Elizabeth that his mother was an editor. After she hears this, Elizabeth tells him of her unsuccessful attempts to get her book published. Lucas volunteers to proofread her book and offer her writing advice. She tells him that she’ll consider his help. A few days later, Elizabeth visits the saloon and gives Lucas her book. The next day, Lucas comes to the school after classes are over to share his thoughts on her writing. He tells Elizabeth that her stories are good, but that she should add depth to her characters. He also advises her to write from her heart. After receiving this advice, Elizabeth tries to rewrite her stories. However, she’s finding the experience more difficult than she expected. Because of this, she comes up with a new plan. At Rosemary and Lee’s anniversary party, Elizabeth thanks Lucas for his help and reveals to him that she is going to write a novel instead. At the end of the episode, Elizabeth begins writing her new book, this time titled “A Single Mother on the Frontier”.

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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.

Minor Stories:

Lee and Rosemary are preparing for a trip to Los Angeles in honor of their anniversary. The idea of traveling to the Golden State is especially exciting for Rosemary, as she makes her own preparations. These include designing swimsuits for her and Lee as well as purchasing a new pair of sunglasses. Meanwhile, Lee is looking forward to meeting with the owner of a paper plant. If all goes well, Lee feels they could be the lumber mill’s biggest client. One day, at work, Lee receives a phone call from the paper plant’s owner. They inform Lee that the only time they can meet with him is sometime the following week, the same week as Lee and Rosemary’s trip. When Lee tells Rosemary that their trip might have to be postponed, Rosemary agrees to push the trip to the week after the meeting. Feeling guilty about the situation, Lee decides to organize a surprise for his wife. On the night of their anniversary, Lee encourages Rosemary to wear the dress she had planned to wear in Los Angeles. After she agrees, Lee and Rosemary make a trip to the saloon. Rosemary is surprised to discover that Lee not only organized an anniversary party, but a movie screening as well. Rosemary is delighted by Lee’s attempt to make up for their changed plans.

 

Faith surprises Carson by returning home from Hamilton. She tells him that her father is in better health and has moved in with her brother. She also shares that a former colleague offered her the head nurse position at the local hospital in Hamilton. This news conflicts Carson. He missed Faith when she was away and enjoys her company in Hope Valley. But he doesn’t want to hold her back from a great occupational opportunity. At Rosemary and Lee’s party, Carson tells Faith that she should take the nursing job. When Faith feels that Carson is pushing her away so soon after returning home, she leaves the saloon. Carson follows her outside to tell her that he loves her and will support whatever decision she makes. Faith then tells Carson that she loves him.

Retro Device Poster
Image of vintage movie camera created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I really liked the movie/acting related “Easter Eggs” that were included in this script! While talking to Lee, Rosemary mentions Gloria Swanson. Rosemary also says that she would like to take a walk with Lee on Sunset Boulevard. In a conversation with Elizabeth, Rosemary shares that she helped a struggling British actor by advising him to focus on comedy. Through Rosemary’s dialogue, the audience learns that this “struggling actor” was Charlie Chaplin. The way these “Easter Eggs” were woven into the story was so clever! It was nice to see historically relevant references told in a way that today’s audience would recognize!

 

  • Due to the movie screening’s positive response, Lucas announces that the saloon will host a movie night once every month. Because of this, I’m hoping this is the first step toward Rosemary finally receiving her theater! Rosemary, as well the fans, have been waiting for this for a long time. As they say, anything is possible.

 

  • When Mary is struggling to find information about Henry, I honestly thought the writers of the show would pull the “it’s not what you think” cliché. I was expecting Mary to unintentionally write an article that contained embarrassing information about Henry, causing the citizens of Hope Valley to be upset. Seeing Mary write about Fiona instead was a good subversion of expectations. It allowed the writers to be creative in their story-telling and not rely on over-used clichés. This makes me look forward to seeing how the writers go against my expectations!

Red sunset clouds over trees.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on the season seven premiere? Is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing this season? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1995) Review

When Crystal, from In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood, invited me to join her Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon, I was aware of who Lauren is as an actress. In fact, I reviewed The Big Sleep for a blog follower dedication review back in August. For this blogathon, I wanted to pick one of Lauren’s films from outside the Classic/Golden Era of Hollywood. After looking through her filmography, I decided to review From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! Before watching this movie, I knew that it was based on a book. However, I have never read the book or seen the film adaptation from 1973. I also heard that there was a mystery within this story. Because I like movies such as those from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I felt that this would be a film I might enjoy.

20191121_230936[1]
Because I had difficulty uploading an image of this poster, I decided to take a picture of it on my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Films that feature young actors as the leads can be hit or miss. Because of their limited talents, it’s difficult for the audience to know what to expect from that actor or actress. In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the lead actors did a good job with the acting material they were given! Jean Marie Barnwell, who portrayed Claudia, and Jesse Lee Soffer, who portrayed Jamie, were both expressive and believable in their roles. They brought their characters to life with versatility, helping them present reactions that appeared realistic for children in that kind of situation. The supporting cast was also memorable in this film! Miriam Flynn, who portrayed Claudia and Jamie’s mom, mastered her role! She did this by bringing animation and emotion to her character. Miriam helped make her role distinct from the others in this film. She also had good on-screen chemistry with her fellow co-stars!

 

The cinematography: This film had better cinematography than I expected! The creative team behind the movie made some interesting choices when it came to how certain scenes were presented. One example is when Claudia and Jamie are hiding on the school bus. There was one scene where the camera was looking upward from the floor, focusing on the view from the window. This helped the audience picture the moment from the kids’ perspective. In the museum, there were close-ups of various artifacts. At opening or closing time, these close-ups emphasized the lights shining on these objects. Shots like these made the film visually appealing!

 

The locations of the museum and Mrs. Frankweiler’s house: Whenever I’ve talked about Murder, She Wrote, I almost always talk about how great the locations are. That series shares a similarity with this film. The museum and Mrs. Frankweiler’s house were the two best locations in the movie! Filmed in Los Angeles, both locations were captured very well on screen. They represent the impression that the creative team was going for: larger than life and exquisite. Not only were the exteriors impressive, but so were the interiors. From the domed ceiling of the museum to the grand staircase of Mrs. Frankweiler’s house, these facilities were some of the best parts of this project!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Angelic statue image created by Marcelo Gerpe at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Marcelo Gerpe.”

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lauren Bacall’s brief appearance: In my review of One Christmas, I shared that Katharine Hepburn’s limited presence was something that I didn’t like about the film. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler had the same problem. Like One Christmas, Lauren was the top-billed actor for this movie. This had given me the impression that she would appear in the majority of the project. But, similar to Katharine, Lauren only showed up in five scenes. Like I said in my One Christmas review, giving an actress like Lauren Bacall few opportunities to showcase her acting abilities does her a disservice. It also makes the movie’s creative team look like they’re making a promise they know they can’t keep. This decision came across as frustrating and misleading.

 

Over-shadowing the mystery: This story features a mystery about the authenticity of an angelic statue. While this was an interesting part of the overall narrative, it wasn’t given as much attention as I expected. Most of the story focused on Claudia and Jamie running away from home. The mystery itself wasn’t presented until forty minutes into the movie. Even then, the mystery was only discussed in a few scenes. It took a lot of intrigue out of the film, causing the story not to be as engaging or interactive.

 

Too much suspension of disbelief: I’ve said before on my blog that movies with fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler asked me to suspend my belief more than I had planned to. One example is how the police don’t play a big role in trying to find Claudia and Jamie. I found that to be very unbelievable, considering the fact that these children have been missing for three days. The idea of people living in a museum is also not realistic, especially since most facilities have things like motion sensors and security cameras. Things like this partially took me out of the film.

Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon banner
The Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/announcing-the-third-lauren-bacall-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

While I’m glad that I gave this film a chance, I can honestly say that it was just ok. Sure, there were things about the movie that I liked. But there were also aspects that could have made it stronger. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler made the same mistake that One Christmas did: incorporating a legendary actress but not utilizing her talents to the fullest extent. After I watched Lauren’s film, I realized that her movie and Katharine’s movie were both released in the mid – ‘90s. I’m now starting to wonder if this was a trend from that decade? Until that question is answered, I just wanted to thank Crystal for inviting me to join her blogathon! I’ve participated in several of her movie related events and she is an excellent host! I can’t wait for the next blogathon!

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Lauren Bacall’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen