Take 3: One Christmas Review

On the first day of The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, it’s the perfect time for me to publish my second review that I mentioned in my post of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Because Hallmark has chosen to premiere their Christmas movies in late October, I thought that reviewing One Christmas would be very fitting. Before this blogathon, I had seen parts of this movie but never the whole thing. Choosing this film for the review gives me a second chance to see it in its entirety. While looking through Katharine’s IMDB filmography, it seems like One Christmas is the only Christmas movie that she starred in. Even though Little Women features the characters during Christmas-time, the story itself isn’t revolved around the Christmas holiday. One Christmas was released in 1994 and created by Hallmark Entertainment, yet it was not a Hallmark Hall of Fame production and Hallmark Channel had not existed at that time. I watch and review Christmas movies from both of Hallmark’s networks, so I was curious to see how Katherine’s movie compared to the kinds of films that Hallmark creates today.

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I’m thankful for the availability of this film on DVD, as I able to purchase it for this review. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In One Christmas, the acting was pretty good. Henry Winkler’s role in this film was very different from his other roles I’ve seen. But he did a very good job at portraying Buddy’s father! Seeing Henry go out of his comfort zone and take on a role that is more villainous shows how versatile of an actor he really is. It also made me appreciate his acting talents even more. Speaking of Buddy, T.J. Lowther also did a good job with his acting performance! Through his portrayal of Buddy, he was able to affectively convey skepticism paired with a child-like sense of wonder. T.J. helped create a character that was naïve yet kind-hearted. Because of this, it made the audience want to see his story unfold.

 

Christmas in New Orleans: In Christmas movies, New Orleans rarely makes an appearance. These types of movies stick to featuring locations that will present a “traditional” Christmas landscape. Choosing to have One Christmas take place in New Orleans was an interesting idea. While the Christmas aspect of this story was briefly shown, it was great to see garland, Christmas trees, and string lights in and around the buildings in this Louisiana city. It also shows that everyone doesn’t experience the type of Christmas that these movies typically try to display. As I said in my review of Christmas Camp, everyone has their own unique and special way to celebrate this holiday. Locations such as New Orleans play a role in someone’s personal idea of Christmas.

 

Historical accuracy: The story of One Christmas takes place in 1930. This time-period with the backdrop of New Orleans offered an interesting picture that looked and felt authentic. Things like costuming, buildings, and even the automobiles appeared accurate to that particular period in time. There was an airplane featured in this movie that also looked like it came directly from the late ‘20s to early ‘30s. As I’ve said on several occasions, this film’s historical accuracy shows that the movie’s creative team cared about this specific aspect, especially through the amount of detail that was incorporated. It could be something as simple as a business sign on a nearby barn or a piece of jewelry. These things are proof that nothing was left unnoticed when it came to bringing 1930 back to life. The music that was found in this film also reflected sounds and the atmosphere that specifically come from New Orleans as well as the early ‘30s. It effectively fit the overall tone of the movie.

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Christmas card image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-card-with-watercolor-mistletoe-decoration_965555.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Limited presence of Katharine Hepburn: Katharine Hepburn is one of the reasons why I chose to watch this movie. In fact, she is the top billed actor in One Christmas. However, she only appeared in about five scenes. I understand that this was one of her last films, so she probably could only devote so much time and energy to acting. But to give Katharine the top bill on this movie, yet only allow her to make brief appearances kind of does a disservice to her talents. It also does a disservice to her fans as well as the overall project. When a film’s creative team chooses an actor to be the top billed performer, they make a promise to their audience that this particular actor will be prominently featured in the movie. But in Katharine’s situation, it almost seems that the creative team made a promise they knew they couldn’t keep.

 

Christmas making a minor appearance: Like I just said, I liked seeing Christmas being showcased in New Orleans. But, in the movie as a whole, this holiday played such a small role. I was hoping to see Christmas traditions and celebrations that are specific to that location, wondering how the project would bring something new to the table of Christmas films. Sadly, Christmas just felt like a glorified extra, with decorations used for background aesthetic and the holiday itself an afterthought. When Christmas Day does arrive, it feels anti-climactic. Because of how little emphasis Christmas was given, it made me question why this story had to take place during this time of year.

 

A weak conflict: Every Christmas movie contains a conflict that can be resolved within the Christmas season. In One Christmas, however, the main conflict was so complicated and lasted for a long period of time, it seemed like a solution was nowhere in sight. Because this conflict took up the primary focus of the plot, it caused the story to have very few moments of happiness and joy. When the conflict did reach a resolution, it didn’t feel earned or like the story was working up to that moment. Anything happy that ended up happening seemed like it was there just because it had to be there.

Spencer and Katherine Blogathon
The Second Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Blogathon poster created Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/08/04/announcing-the-second-spencer-tracy-and-katharine-hepburn-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

I’m glad that I was given a second chance to watch One Christmas. However, I found this movie to be ok, at best. At worst, though, it was one of the most depressing Christmas movies I’ve ever seen. It put too much emphasis on a conflict that, realistically, would never get resolved in a month’s time. Another major flaw is how Christmas itself is barely featured in a movie that takes place during Christmas-time. For me, Christmas movies are about stories that rely on the holiday to compliment the narrative. They also try to make me feel good about what I had chosen to watch, either through the story or the messages/themes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that feeling while watching One Christmas. The film’s attempt to make me feel good about the project didn’t work either. While I liked it more than It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, I was expecting more from One Christmas.

 

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Katharine Hepburn’s movies? Are there any Christmas films you’d like to see me review? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte Review

Unlike the Jean Simmons and Rosalind Russell Blogathon, I was familiar with who Olivia de Havilland was, as an actress, before I signed up for The Fourth Annual Olivia de Havilland Blogathon. Gone with the Wind and The Snake Pit are the only two films of Olivia’s that I’d seen prior to my blogathon participation. I wanted to watch a film within this actress’s filmography that I haven’t seen before. When I found out that Olivia had starred in the film, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, I decided to choose this movie for this review. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a film that I had heard of before. It’s usually put in the same category as a film like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, where mystery and suspicion are the common themes within the narrative. I was fortunate to have seen this movie knowing very little about the story. The lack of spoilers helped my movie-viewing experience be as entertaining as possible. Now, let’s figure out what my thoughts are on Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte!

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Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte poster created by The Associates and Aldrich and 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hush_Hush_Sweet_Charlotte_Poster.JPG.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I was a fan of the acting performances in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte! The only other film of Bette Davis’ that I’ve seen is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. But even after watching that film and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, I think that Bette excels at portraying characters that are unsettling and over-the-top. Olivia de Havilland’s portrayal of Miriam Deering was very cool and collected. This helped balance out the differences between Bette and Olivia’s performances! I was also pleasantly surprised by Agnes Moorehead’s performance as Velma Cruther! She made her character so memorable, that her performance still stands out in my mind long after I saw the film.

 

  • The cinematography: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte had some really good cinematography! The way some of these scenes are presented made the movie look visually appealing. How the lighting was used in this film was something that caught my attention. For example, during an evening meal, when Charlotte was talking about her father, a portrait of him is shown with the use of a bright light. Certain camera angles made some scenes have a unique look to them. One example is when Charlotte is walking up the stairs. This scene was presented as if the audience was looking down on the set of stairs.

 

  • Some unexpected surprises: As I mentioned in the introduction, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a story that has a good amount of mystery and suspicion. With this comes some unexpected surprises. I will not be spoiling any of these surprises in this review, especially since some of my readers and followers may not have seen this film yet. But what I will say is that these surprises were very shocking, leaving me completely caught off guard! The surprises kept this story interesting, helping me to stay invested in the overall narrative.
Olivia de Havilland blogathon banner
The Fourth Annual Olivia de Havilland Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood and Laura from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/announcing-the-fourth-annual-olivia-de-havilland-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • An unnecessary amount of violence: When I was watching this film, I noticed some violence that, in my opinion, didn’t need to be there. For example, early on in the movie, John Mayhew, Charlotte’s love interest, gets his hand chopped off. This act is explicitly featured in the movie. While this was a shocking moment, I don’t think this needed to be shown in the film. If a shadow of the knife falling were seen or if John’s scream were heard in the distance, it would have created the same effect of shocking the audience.

 

  • The run-time: Two hours and 13 minutes is the official run-time for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Because of this, there were moments that were drawn out a little longer than they should have. One example is this is when Charlotte and Harry Willis meet for the first time. Personally, I think that the film’s run time is a bit too long. Having the movie run at under two hours would have worked better for the narrative. This way, the audience could stay invested in the story without having to feel bored at any moment of the film.

 

  • The amount of shocking/surprising moments: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte does have some shocking/surprising moments. However, most of these moments take place within the film’s climax, toward the end of the film. I understand that the narrative is building up to that climatic moment. But, prior to the climax, these shocking/surprising moments are used sparingly. This creative choice caused me to feel that this story was not as mysterious or suspenseful as I had thought it would be. The ratio between shocking/surprising moments and scenes without them were uneven.
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Manor with white colored porch image created by Arkadiusz Frankowicz at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Arkadiusz Frankowicz .”

My overall impression:

Though this movie had its flaws, I still found Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte to be a good film! It’s one of those movies that gets better as you keep watching, developing into a story that is truly shocking and intriguing. The only movie I can compare this to is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as the structure of each narrative is very similar. After comparing these two films, I would choose Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as the better of the two. It had more interesting components and I found myself being more invested in this particular story. I would definitely recommend giving this film a watch! But, if you choose to watch this film, please avoid spoilers, as it will make your movie-viewing experience that much better.

 

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Olivia de Havilland’s film? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen