The results of The 3rd Annual Gold Sally Awards were many months in the making! Like last year’s awards, I continued the tradition of nominating films and talent not exclusive to Hallmark. I also started presenting two voting polls at a time. In 2022, I will publish two polls in each post, as a way to move the polls along at a smoother pace. But, for now, let’s start the moment you’ve been waiting for: the results of my annual awards!
Best Movie and Story: From Up on Poppy Hill
Best Ensemble: If You Believe
Best On-Screen Couple: Ally Walker and Tom Amandes — If You Believe
Best Actress: Margaret O’Brien – The Unfinished Dance
Best Actor: Neal McDonough – Grace & Glorie
Best Supporting Actress: Collin Wilcox Paxton – To Kill a Mockingbird
Best Supporting Actor:Fred Savage – The Boy Who Could Fly
For this blog follower dedication review, I was originally going to pick a movie to recognize Earth Day. However, after watching the true crime video titled ‘Holly Maddux and the Unicorn Killer | #TrueCrime’, I’ve gained a new perspective of the April 22nd date. Instead, I will use this review to not only thank my 190 followers, but to also commemorate the memory of Holly Maddux. This is the reason why I have chosen a 1947 release for this post, as that was the year Holly was born. In the aforementioned video, Alanda, the creator of that video as well as her Youtube channel, The Recovering Hunbot, indicated Holly was a dancer. So, I thought a musical would be an appropriate choice. While searching through titles, I discovered one called The Unfinished Dance. I had never heard of this film prior to this review. But I have seen the 1949 version of The Secret Garden and Meet Me in St. Louis, so I figured I’d see another good performance from Margaret O’Brien.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: As I said in my review, I’ve seen Margaret’s performances in the 1949 version of The Secret Garden and Meet Me in St. Louis. Her portrayal of Meg in The Unfinished Dance was different from her other aforementioned roles. This is because there was more dancing involved and it was much darker. However, Margaret executed her performance very well! Before watching The Unfinished Dance, I was familiar with who Cyd Charisse is as a person. But this was the first time I had ever seen one of her film performances. This movie highlights how wonderful of an actress and dancer she is! Whether she was dancing onstage or performing in a scene without dancing, she was so captivating to watch! Another first performance I saw came from Danny Thomas. To me, Danny will always be known for his philanthropic work, especially when it comes to the creation of St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I enjoyed watching his portrayal of Mr. Paneros, as it showed how great of an actor and singer Danny is!
The dance scenes: All of the scenes involving dance were one of the best parts of this movie! The dancing itself was well-choreographed, allowing dancers of all ages to showcase their talents. The set design surrounding the dance numbers was also great to look at, as the space was effectively used. On-stage sets that are sometimes shown during performances were colorful and appealing to the eye. Music also helped elevate the dance numbers, as they added emotion to the performances. These dance scenes were mesmerizing and there was always something interesting to watch!
The use of mirrors: In two scenes from The Unfinished Dance, mirrors were used in creative ways. The first scene revolves around Karin Booth’s character, La Darina, practicing for her upcoming performance. At certain moments in this scene, Karin’s performance was captured through the view of nearby mirrors. The second scene shows mirrors covering the floor of the stage. These mirrors were used to create a “lake” and give the audience the impression swans are gliding across it. I have never seen some of these techniques before, so, for me, it brought visual interest to the film.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Dance emphasized more than story: Like I previously mentioned, I really liked the dance scenes in this movie. However, there were times when it felt like these scenes were emphasized more than the story. This is the case in the first half of the movie, where the build-up to Meg’s act is kind of glossed over. While I did think the story itself was interesting, it seems like the dance numbers sometimes overshadowed the narrative.
Karin’s limited appearance: In The Unfinished Dance, Karin Booth’s character, La Darina, is in select scenes due to a particular circumstance. Because of this, Karin was given few opportunities to perform. She is a very talented actress and dancer! But, compared to Cyd, Karin only received three dance numbers. She, unfortunately, did not have much material to work with.
A mysterious red tint: There were some scenes in The Unfinished Dance where it looks like the camera captured them using red film. This causes the characters to look red-ish pink. It also causes locations to give off a red hue. In my opinion, these scenes appeared very strange because of how unnatural they looked. It was jarring, as this wasn’t a consistent occurrence.
My overall impression:
The Unfinished Dance does a good job exploring what happens when truth disappears from the world. It also shows how the ideas of ambition and dreams can easily get in the way of what’s really important. While this film had flaws that prevented it from being great, I still think it is a good, solid picture! Besides the intriguing story, the movie offers several dance scenes that are captivating and entertaining! The acting performances also help maintain the audience’s attention, as a wide range of emotions were used in a variety of situations. Once again, I found a hidden gem that I want to share with my followers. The same followers that helped me achieve this recent milestone. Thank you to everyone who continue to support my blog! Your interest in 18 Cinema Lane really means a lot to me!
Overall score: 8.2 out of 10
Have you seen any of Margaret O’Brien’s films? Which movie featuring dance is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
If you would like to learn more about the Holly Maddux case, you can visit Alanda’s Youtube channel, The Recovering Hunbot. If you watch it, there are sensitive topics that are brought up in the videos.
Last week, 18 Cinema Lane received 75 followers! Before I start this review, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of my followers for making this achievement possible. Without you, my blog would never have received this milestone (especially in this short amount of time). So, like I’ve done in the past, I will now review a film that was released 75 years ago (in 1944). Because I’ve only seen bits and pieces of Meet Me in St. Louis, I’ve chosen this movie to celebrate this accomplishment! When I picked this movie to review, I realized that the only films of Judy Garland’s that I had ever seen were The Wizard of Oz and A Child is Waiting. This gave me a good excuse to not only watch a movie that I had never seen in its entirety, but to also explore Judy’s filmography! Now, let’s finally start this review for Meet Me in St. Louis!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: The cast was very talented in Meet Me in St. Louis! To me, the two strongest performers in this film were Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien! Like in The Wizard of Oz and A Child is Waiting, Judy has both the musical and acting talents to carry a significant weight of the film. Judy also has good on-screen chemistry with Tom Drake, who portrays John Truett in the film. Margaret O’Brien’s portrayal of “Tootie” Smith was one of the strongest elements of this film! During the scene where “Tootie” is so upset about moving to New York that she destroys the snowpeople outside, Margaret’s performance was so emotionally powerful. In fact, her performance was so emotionally powerful, that it was an affective way to make the audience feel sorry for the character. Both Judy’s and Margaret’s performance complimented the performances of the other actors as well.
The music: I really liked the music in this film! The collection of songs was a good balance of light-hearted and emotional material. Judy’s musical performances were a treat to see, as they were all delightful and enjoyable! My favorite musical number in this movie was when Judy and Margaret performed “Under the Bamboo Tree”. This performance was so joyful and added to the light-hearted nature of the film. When it comes to more emotional performances, I really liked Judy’s rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Her version of the song was emotional enough to affectively reflect the mood of what’s going on in the film. It’s sad, as it addresses reflecting on times gone by, and it’s hopeful, as it talks about appreciating the things you have in your life. This assortment of songs made seeing this movie an enjoyable experience!
The sets: All of the sets in Meet Me in St. Louis were impressive! I’m not sure if the Smith family home is a real-life house or a house built on a studio lot. However, the facility itself was absolutely gorgeous! Everything in this house looked and felt like a home from the early 1900s. I also liked how the ballroom looked in the scene where Esther, Rose, Lon, and Grandpa attend the annual Christmas ball. The way the Christmas tree was placed in the greenroom was so pretty. The Christmas tree’s placement was also a good way to effectively pull off a surprise within the story!
What I didn’t like about the film:
A weak first segment: From a story-telling perspective, I thought the story during the “Summer 1903” segment was the weakest element of the movie. Within the first twenty minutes, the primary story focused on whether Rose would become engaged via a long-distance telephone call. Because the first few minutes of a film is, usually, reserved for providing exposition, I don’t think Rose’s story was an effective way to start this movie. It is as if the screenwriters expected their audience to automatically care about a character whom they just met. For me, the overall narrative wasn’t interesting until the “Fall 1903” segment began.
Too many characters: Even though Meet Me in St. Louis had a talented cast, I feel there were too many characters associated with this story. In this movie, the overall narrative seemed to serve only a few of the characters. The individuals that benefited the most from this narrative were Esther, Rose, “Tootie”, John Truett, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. The rest of the characters either feel like they’re there for the sake of being there or like they weren’t given enough screen-time.
The limited presence of the World’s Fair: Throughout this movie, the World’s Fair is referenced by several characters on several different occasions. It’s even mentioned in the opening song, “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis”. However, the World’s Fair itself was only featured within the last twenty minutes. Even in those few moments, the World’s Fair isn’t incorporated into the story enough to make me, as an audience member, feel satisfied. If anything, the World’s Fair in Meet Me in St. Louis was just a glorified extra.
My overall impression:
Meet Me in St. Louis is a good film! The music is entertaining and the story is interesting enough to keep the audience invested. As I mentioned in my review, the acting is what helped keep this movie going. While Judy and Margaret were the two strongest performers in this movie, the rest of the cast was also talented. Yes, this film did have its flaws. However, there was a good amount of content that made the experience of watching this movie enjoyable. I’m glad I chose this movie to review for my 75 follower dedication post because it allows me to explore the filmography of both Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien! It also gave me a good excuse to watch a film that I had never seen in its entirety.
Overall score: 7.5-7.6 out of 10
What are your thoughts on my review? Are you looking forward to seeing which movies I review in future blog follower dedication posts? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!