Take 3: Funny Face Review (Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly Blogathon Part 2)

For the second part of my Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly double feature, I’ve chosen to review the 1957 film, Funny Face! Last September, when 18 Cinema Lane received 135 followers, I reviewed my first Fred Astaire movie. That was The Sky’s the Limit, which I thought was just ok. Speaking of firsts, reviewing Funny Face is a first for 18 Cinema Lane, as it is the first musical film starring Aubrey Hepburn I’ve seen! Even though I have seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Nun’s Story, those films would be classified as dramas. Since this was my first time seeing Audrey perform in a different genre, I was curious to see if she would be able to hold her own. When I read the synopsis for Funny Face, it sounded similar to another musical starring Audrey: My Fair Lady. Because I haven’t seen that movie, I can’t make a comparison between it and Funny Face.

Funny Face poster created by Paramount Pictures.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The one word I’d use to describe the cast in Funny Face is comfortable. I chose this word because every actor and actress appeared comfortable in their role! This presented the characters as if they were real-life people dealing with real-life situations. Watching Audrey’s performance in this movie reminded me of her performance in The Nun’s Story for this reason: her character grows over the course of the movie. In Funny Face, Jo opens her heart and mind to a new chapter in her life that she never thought she’d embark on. She steps out of her comfort to not only follow her dream of meeting her favorite philosopher, but she also creates new dreams for herself. Audrey’s ability to adapt to any scenario helped her make Jo’s journey seem believable! As I mentioned in the introduction, I saw The Sky’s the Limit last September. Personally, I liked Fred’s character in Funny Face more than his character in the 1943 film. This is because Dick Avery had a better personality. He came across as easy-going and approachable, someone who you would want to tour Paris with. This made Dick Avery worth rooting for! Kay Thompson stood out to me as Maggie Prescott! While her character was no-nonsense and straight-forward in what she wanted, she was never cold-hearted or mean for the sake of it. This is different from other characters of this specific type. What’s also different is how Maggie was allowed to be silly, as could be seen when she and Dick are attempting to find Jo at the home of Jo’s favorite philosopher. This gave Kay an opportunity to apply her acting abilities to various situations!

The use of color: I love how color was used in Funny Face! Whenever scenes had a primarily plain color palette, like white or beige, objects or pieces of clothing were added to bring a pop of color to the space. The opening scene is such a great example! Each door of Quality magazine’s office was painted a bright shade of various colors, providing visual appeal to a mostly white lobby and hallway. Maggie’s office adopted a beige hue for about 85% of that location. However, certain pieces of fabric and even an assistant’s green coat add bold colors to a place that would have remained dull without them. This decision to use color was very detail oriented and showed how the film’s creative team really paid attention to how their project would be presented!

The musical numbers: Funny Face’s musical numbers were not only entertaining to watch, they also incorporated creative ideas that made them memorable. The very first musical number, “Think Pink!”, showed a montage of the different ways the color pink could be worn. Through the use of colorful visuals, it helped illustrate the point Maggie was trying to stress to her assistants as well as the audience. “Bonjour, Paris!” showed Maggie, Dick, and Jo simultaneously in a split screen shot. I have never seen a musical use a split screen before, so this detail is the one I remember the most! Each performer in these musical numbers looked like they truly enjoyed what they were doing! “Basal Metabolism” showed Audrey Hepburn having fun performing her dance trio. She appeared in her element and joy radiated from her routine. This definitely added to the overall enjoyment of Funny Face’s musical numbers!

Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

No major conflict: While watching Funny Face, I noticed something was missing from this movie. That would be a major conflict, which I think would have made the story a little more interesting. Smaller conflicts, like finding a new face for Quality magazine, kept the film moving forward. But, because a major conflict was absent, it made situations feel like they worked out too easily in the characters’ favor. One idea could have shown Dick struggling to decide if he should continue to be a fashion photographer or become a stage performer. If this would have been a conflict in the story, it would have presented a mystery as to which career path Dick will choose.

A prolonged transformation: Like I said in the introduction, I haven’t seen My Fair Lady. Therefore, I can’t compare the two movies. What I will say about Funny Face is how Jo’s transformation doesn’t happen until the film’s halfway point. In the first half of the story, Jo’s perspective starts to change, allowing her to expand her intellectual horizons. But the physical transformation, from bookworm to fashion model, happens a lot later than most movies of this nature. When a character makes a dramatic change to their appearance, that moment may be the audience’s most anticipated moment. If they are forced to wait too long, they may start to lose interest.

An attraction that happened too quickly: In my review of The Crow: City of Angels, I pointed out how, to me, Ashe and Sarah’s attraction for one another was a flaw of that movie because it came about so quickly. The attraction between Jo and Dick in Funny Face makes the same error, as it also happens too quickly. Minutes after meeting for the first time, Jo and Dick share a kiss. Shortly after this encounter, Jo sings “How Long Has This Been Going On?”, a song about falling in love. If this song had been sung later in the film, after she had spent more time with Dick, the song itself would have been more impactful. Even though it is somewhat predictable for Jo and Dick to form a relationship, it should have taken its time to come to fruition.

With Glamour & Panache: A Fred Astaire & Gene Kelly Musicals Blogathon banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.

My overall impression:

Funny Face is a film I had heard of for years, but had never seen. Whenever I heard about classic films or even movies starring Aubrey Hepburn, this film has, more often than not, been brought up. Now that I have seen Funny Face, I have developed an understanding for why this is the case. This is not just a good musical or a good Audrey Hepburn title. It is a good movie in general! Creative ideas within this project help it stand out. Some examples include using a split screen and incorporating objects with color into scenes with plain color palettes. Musical numbers were well-choreographed, featuring performers that appeared to enjoy the material they were given. Every actor and actress seemed comfortable in their roles, giving their characters a life of their own. While Funny Face does have its strengths, it has its weaknesses as well. Just one example is how Jo’s transformation happens much later in the film. Despite having seen only two of Fred Astaire’s movies, I’d pick Funny Face over The Sky’s the Limit. I would even choose Funny Face over Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

Have you seen Funny Face? Which Fred Astaire musical is your favorite? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly Blogathon Part 1)

Because Heidi’s new blogathon celebrates two classic film stars, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, I decided to write a double feature in their honor. I’m starting with one of Gene Kelly’s movies first, as my movie selection had a shorter run-time. On 18 Cinema Lane’s Pinterest account, there is a recommendation board where people who visit the blog can make a suggestion for future reviews. That board hosts some Gene Kelly titles, so I had plenty of options to choose from. In the end, I picked the 1949 film, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, which was recommended by Kristen from KN Winiarski Writes! The idea of a musical surrounding an athletic sport was a fascinating concept. It also gave me an excuse to finally watch one of Esther Williams’ films, as I had not seen one up until this point. 2020 has become the year of Frank Sinatra films on this blog, as Take Me Out to the Ball Game is now the fifth film from Frank’s filmography I’ve reviewed. An interesting coincidence I just noticed is how most of these movies have had a musical element included.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, I reviewed Anchors Aweigh back in September. In that review, I said that Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly were one of the best on-screen duos I’ve ever seen because of how different their characters were from each other. Because of Frank and Gene’s experience working together, it allowed them to be familiar with the other performer and know what to expect from them in Take Me Out to the Ball Game! Like Anchors Aweigh, their characters in the 1949 film, Dennis and Eddie, were opposites of one another. This time, however, it was for different reasons. While Eddie was interested in the night life of his world, Dennis has a quieter soul that seems to notice the finer details within his surroundings. While I wrote a list article about the travels of Esther Williams, this was my first time watching one of her films. Even though Esther spent more time on land than in the water, she appeared at ease in her role as K.C. Higgins! When people tried to stand in her way, K.C. always stood her ground. At the same time, she tried to instill fairness into the situation. One great example is when she insists on a curfew penalty for every member of the Chicago Wolves. On the surface, it seems like K.C. is being unfair toward the team. In reality, she is looking out for their best interests by making sure they get a good night’s sleep so the team can perform better on in their baseball games.

The set design: Because a significant amount of time in Take Me Out to the Ball Game takes place in Florida, the sets surrounding the characters are going to reflect the Sunshine State. This is done through a variety of design choices. What made me like these sets so much was how appealing they were! When Dennis and Eddie arrive in Florida for Spring Training, the audience is introduced to the stadium, located right on the beach. With fair weather in the scene and the sandy shore taking center stage, the beach looked inviting! At night, when K.C. is interacting with both Dennis and Eddie near the pool area, lights illuminated this location to show off its exterior design. The white balcony of K.C.’s hotel room complimented the dark sky shown in the background. Light colored outdoor furniture consistently carried the color scheme this set was striving for! In an outdoor sitting area occupied by K.C. and Eddie, tan wicker chairs were paired well with green plants placed in various spots. This design choice showcased a good color combination!

The majority of the musical numbers: For the most part, I liked seeing the musical numbers in Take Me Out to the Ball Game! They were well choreographed and each performer looked like they truly enjoyed what they were doing. Like I said earlier, Frank and Gene’s experience working together helped them become familiar with the acting/performance style of the other actor. This certainly worked in their favor when it came to the musical numbers! In the opening number, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, both actors wonderfully pull off a tap-dance duet! Even though tap was out of Frank’s creative comfort zone, he was able to hold his own throughout the routine. Like I also said in this review, Esther spends more time on land than water. However, she was given one scene where she swam and sang the song from the movie’s opening number. Because of Esther’s experience with musicals, she was able play her own unique role in the film’s musical department that allowed her to stand out. Esther also appeared comfortable with the performance material given.

With Glamour & Panache: A Fred Astaire & Gene Kelly Musicals Blogathon banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Two songs that didn’t age well: In Take Me Out to the Ball Game, there are two songs that have aged poorly. The first song, “Yes, Indeedy”, is performed by Frank and Gene when their characters are telling the Chicago Wolves about the females they met during their traveling talent tour. The lyrics reveal how one woman committed suicide and another female was 11 years old. Because the song itself is faster paced and upbeat, it almost sounds like Dennis and Eddie make light of the woman’s passing. Even though they say they didn’t interact with the 11-year-old for long, it makes me wonder why this child would have anything to do with Dennis and Eddie in the first place? The second song, “It’s Fate Baby, It’s Fate”, is performed by Frank Sinatra and Betty Garrett. The purpose of this song is for Betty’s character, Shirley, to share her feelings for Dennis. How she does it is very forceful, with the musical number showing Shirley blocking Dennis’ path, chasing him through the stadium, and picking him up against his will. Because of her aggression in the situation and her lack of accepting rejection, it feels like a unhealthy relationship in the works.

The character of Shirley: While Betty Garrett did a good job with the acting material she was given, I was not a fan of her character. Personally, I found Shirley to be a selfish individual who didn’t seem to care about the feelings of others. As I just mentioned, Shirley is very forceful when it comes to expressing her feelings for Dennis. If her musical number, “It’s Fate Baby, It’s Fate”, wasn’t bad enough, she wants to treat Dennis like she’s his mother. The way she talks to him in a scene where she blocks Dennis’ path with her horse and buggy shows Shirley talking to Dennis like she has more authority than him. More often than not, Dennis expresses how he doesn’t like Shirley in a romantic sense. He goes out of his way to avoid her and shows displeasure when she’s nearby. However, everyone surrounding him overlooks Shirley’s actions and encourages Dennis to spend more time with her.

An unclear time period: According to Wikipedia, Take Me Out to the Ball Game takes place in 1908. Certain aspects of the movie reflect this, with the various modes of transportation being one example. But there were some outfit choices that appeared to belong in a different decade. Whenever the Chicago Wolves are spending time in the hotel, all the team members wear team sweaters featuring their team logo. This style of sweater looked like it came from somewhere between the ‘30s and ‘50s. Like previously said, Esther has a swimming scene in this film. Her swimsuit resembles the style she wore in her “aqua musicals” of the ‘40s and ‘50s. These costume choices prevented me from getting fully immersed in the movie’s world.

Baseball game image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/baseball-game-illustration_2871359.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/man”>Man vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:  

Even though Take Me Out to the Ball Game is the second Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly collaboration I’ve seen, I’d still prefer Anchors Aweigh over the aforementioned film. While Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a fine movie, I feel the 1945 film was a stronger picture overall. However, I’m not going to dismiss the movie completely. One of the strengths of the 1949 project is the acting performances! Musical experience from Frank, Esther, and Gene definitely worked in this movie’s favor, with each actor appearing comfortable in their roles! I also enjoyed most of the musical numbers! They were certainly entertaining and fun to watch! Even though I didn’t mention it in my review, I feel the film’s conflict was underutilized. Within the last thirty minutes, Eddie tries to juggle baseball and performing in a café. Eventually, he learns that he can’t have everything he wants. Story wise, I think the film’s main conflict should have been Eddie’s struggle to fit his love of performing and baseball into his life. I actually found this part of the story more interesting than the Chicago Wolves dealing with a new team owner.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen Take Me Out to the Ball Game? Which Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly collaboration is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Anchors Aweigh Review

This is it, my 200th movie review! It’s hard to believe I’ve reached this accomplishment in only two years! The recent occurrence and my participation in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Joe Pasternak Blogathon caused me to choose Anchors Aweigh as the next movie to review! This film was recommended to me by The Classic Movie Muse from the blog, The Classic Movie Muse. Anchors Aweigh is also the fourth Frank Sinatra picture I’ve written about in 2020. When reading about Joe Pasternak in the announcement post for the blogathon, I learned that Joe put a lot of thought into the films he produced. Prior to joining the event, the only movie of his I’ve seen is The Unfinished Dance. Back in April, when I reviewed the project, I said it was a good, solid picture! I also mentioned how the movie did a good job at exploring thought-provoking ideas, such as the disappearance of truth. I’m looking forward to talking about Anchors Aweigh, as it is very different from The Unfinished Dance!

Anchors Aweigh poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, M-G-M Cartoons, and Loew’s Inc. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anchors_aweigh.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Anchors Aweigh is the fourth movie of Frank Sinatra’s I’ve seen, as I said in the introduction. His performance as Clarence “Brooklyn” Doolittle was different from his roles in Marriage on the Rocks, High Society, and Ocean’s Eleven. This is because his on-screen personality was sweet-natured. It was a good contrast to Gene Kelly’s character, Joseph “Joe” Brady. In Anchors Aweigh, Gene displayed a confident and headstrong personality. This set of opposites is what helped Gene and Frank become one of the best on-screen duos I’ve ever seen in film! Despite watching only one of Joe Pasternak’s films, I have noticed how the female characters are intelligent women who always hold their head up high. Kathryn Grayson’s character, Susan Abbott, is a great example! Even though she is a single parent, she never gives up on her dreams of being a singer. Because of a believable performance, Kathryn made Susan someone worth rooting for! While Pamela Britton appears in Anchors Aweigh for a limited time, I really liked her character! She not only had a good on-screen personality, but she also had good-screen chemistry with Frank Sinatra. Watching Pamela in Anchors Aweigh was a joy to watch, as her presence brought a bright light to any of her scenes!

The comedy: I found Anchors Aweigh to be a genuinely funny movie. That’s because the humor in this film was well-written and delivered! When Susan and Clarence are on their way to dinner, Clarence suggests that Joe join them. When Joe asks Clarence why he should go, Clarence tells him he won’t know what was said in Joe’s phone conversation. Not only was this conversation clever, but it was also executed well by Frank and Gene. Another funny scene involving Gene and Frank is when Joe is chasing Clarence around the service lodge. This moment was caused by Joe sleeping in, making him miss his meeting with Lola.

The musical numbers: In Anchors Aweigh, the musical numbers were definitely a highlight! There were so many good scenes, it is difficult to choose a favorite. Gene’s dancing talents were utilized to their fullest extent, from his duet with Jerry (the animated mouse) to his Latin inspired solo. These dance numbers were very colorful. The costumes and set design were bright and cheery, allowing the overall mood to be light-hearted and joyful. Frank’s singing abilities were also well incorporated into the story. His solos were slower, ballad pieces. This choice complimented the more romantic moments of the narrative. Having Frank and Gene perform together was a great decision! They were able to keep up with each other’s fortes as well as work well with one another. “I Begged Her” and “If You Knew Susie” showcases this creative partnership wonderfully!

The joining of animation and live-action: In one scene, Joe finds himself in a magical make-believe land where he interacts with animated animals. This is because he is telling a story to the children of Hollywood Day School how he earned his Silver Star. This part of the movie looked really good, especially for a film released in the mid-‘40s! It felt like Gene was actually in that world, as the technology of the time appeared top-notch. I also liked the quality of the animation! It contained bright colors and clear lines, reminding me of the older films from Disney.  Seeing Gene and Jerry dance together was impressive, as it seemed like they were in the same room. Before the actual dance routine, Gene led Jerry onto the ballroom floor by holding his hand. Because of how good the technology looked, this interaction between these two characters was convincing!

The Joe Pasternak Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/08/21/announcing-the-joe-pasternak-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out conflict: The main conflict of Anchors Aweigh shows Joe and Clarence trying to set up an audition for Susan. While conflicts take time to be resolved, I wasn’t expecting the conflict in this film to last the entire story. Quality script-writing made the conflict itself interesting. But I honestly feel it could have been resolved sooner.

Less Tom, More Jerry: Tom and Jerry, the famous animated cat and mouse, are listed in the opening credits of Anchors Aweigh. I was not expecting this special guest appearance, so seeing these characters in the film was a pleasant surprise. Even though I liked Jerry’s duet with Gene, Tom showed up for only a few seconds. I found their cast listing misleading, as an equal amount of screen time is expected when Tom and Jerry are included in a program.

I had this patch lying around my house and thought it would be perfect to include in this review! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

For someone who had never seen any of Frank Sinatra’s films, I have really made up for lost time in 2020. By selecting Anchors Aweigh for the Joe Pasternak Blogathon, I gave myself an opportunity to watch one of Frank’s earlier works. It also gave me an excuse to see more of Joe’s films. I can honestly say Anchors Aweigh is, so far, the best movie I’ve watched this year! There is so much to like about this project and it was pleasantly joyful! I spent most of my time smiling and laughing, as the humor was one of the strengths of this story. The entire movie was well thought out, showcasing an engaging film that was also entertaining. Thank you, Classic Movie Muse, for suggesting this film to me. If not for your recommendation, I might have never seen this delightful movie!

Overall score: 8.9 out of 10

Have you seen any of Joe Pasternak’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Unfinished Dance Review + 190 Follower Thank You

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.

The Unfinished Dance poster
The Unfinished Dance poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s, Inc. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Unfinished_Dance.jpg

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.

Getting ready
Image of ballerina preparing to dance created by Pressfoto at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People photo created by pressfoto – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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.

Note_lines_horizontal1
String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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!

Sally Silverscreen

 

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.

Take 3: High Society Review

I interrupt my Youth-Led Film Double Feature to bring you my review for The Wedding Bells Blogathon! One day, as I was searching Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) schedule, I came across a film called High Society. Through its description, I learned it was a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story. Since I have enjoyed that movie, I figured there was a good chance I might like this picture from 1956. In my review of Marriage on the Rocks, I mentioned I would be reviewing the movie later this month. I also said in that review that I did not like Marriage on the Rocks. High Society is now the second film of Frank Sinatra’s and Grace Kelly’s that I’ve seen! While I knew that Frank and Bing Crosby had musical talents, it would be interesting to see what Grace had to offer to a movie musical. Now, as you’re waiting for the wedding to start, please take a moment to read this review of High Society.

High Society poster
High Society poster created by Sol C. Siegel Productions, Bing Crosby Productions, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/78008/High-Society/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: It’s no secret that Grace Kelly is one of the most versatile actresses to ever exist! Her performance in High Society helps her maintain that reputation. Grace has the ability to adapt her emotions to any scene. When Grace’s character, Tracy, is talking with her father by the pool, she can go from angry to crying with sadness within a matter of minutes. Because of her experience working with various actors and actresses, Grace never had difficulty keeping up with her co-stars. Speaking of co-stars, I have seen Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby in at least one film prior to watching High Society (Frank in Marriage on the Rocks and Bing in scenes from White Christmas). Similar to what I said in my Marriage on the Rocks review, both Frank and Bing appeared at ease in their respective roles. This allowed them to bring a natural charm to their characters, C. K. Dexter-Haven and Mike Connor. What also helped was how their singing talents complimented their acting talents. Even though he portrayed himself in the film, Louis Armstrong did a good job with the material he was given. He had a delightful on-screen personality and great musicality. These things made me enjoy Louis’s presence in the movie!

 

The sets: In High Society, the sets were absolutely gorgeous! Not only did they fit the environment the film’s creative team wanted to create, but these sets also looked magnificent on film! The great part about them are the textures, colors, and materials that were used in each space. In one of the Lord family’s sitting rooms, the sea green walls worked really well with the white wood paneling and crown molding. Another great set was Tracy’s uncle’s library. While the dark wood walls and bookshelves were beautifully crafted, it’s the hidden bar within the bookshelves that steals the show. The sets in High Society certainly made the movie visually appealing!

 

The musical numbers: For the most part, I enjoyed the musical numbers in High Society. They sounded pleasant and were, more often than not, lively. My favorite musical number is “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, as it was one of the funniest scenes in the movie. In this number, Frank and Celeste Holm, the actress who portrayed Liz Imbrie, had really good on-screen chemistry and comedic timing. Frank and Celeste’s singing voices also sounded great together. I was pleasantly surprised by Grace’s singing abilities in the duet, “True Love”. She sounded excellent alongside Bing Crosby and the song itself sounded nice. I’m not sure how much singing experience Grace had prior to being cast in this movie. But it’s nice to see her trying different things and going out of her comfort zone.

Jewels sparkle in the golden wedding rings lying on the leather
Fancy jewelry image created by Freepic.diller at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/wedding”>Wedding photo created by freepic.diller – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Unacknowledged commentary: In my Rich Kids review, I shared that one of the film’s messages was how wealth didn’t equal invincibility. This message can also be found in High Society, as Tracy shows Mike various houses in her neighborhood that are either boarded up or for sale due to homeowners no longer affording them. While this commentary added something interesting to the story, there was no room in the script for it to be explored or discussed. I understand there’s only so much you can do in an hour and fifty-one minutes. However, it was disappointing to see this commentary get ignored.

 

Few dance numbers: When I learned that High Society was a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story, I was excited for the song-and-dance fest that would take place. But, as I was watching the movie, I discovered it only contained two dance numbers. These numbers were a short solo performed by Frank and a short duet performed by Frank and Grace. Since White Christmas premiered two years prior, I’m surprised Bing wasn’t given at least a waltz with Grace, especially since that film featured both singing and dancing. Personally, I had expected more dance sequences in High Society. But I’m guessing there was no room in the budget to recruit a choreographer.

 

Dialogue-heavy scenes that felt a little drawn out: Within musicals, dialogue-heavy scenes are meant to give the audience a break from the high energy that can sometimes come from the musical numbers. However, in the case of High Society, these scenes felt a little drawn out. The scene where Mike and Liz meet the Lord family is one example. The pace of the scenes feel slower than I hoped. It also caused the film’s overall pace to seem uneven. Issues with pace and length of scenes are some reasons why I think this script was weaker than it could have been.

Wedding Bells Blogathon banner
The Wedding Bells Blogathon banner created by Annette from Hometowns to Hollywood. Image found at https://hometownstohollywood.com/2020/01/03/the-wedding-bells-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

High Society is a fine, enjoyable film! While it’s not one of my favorite musicals, I certainly liked it for what it was. It was also far more entertaining than Marriage on the Rocks! Because High Society is a remake of The Philadelphia Story, there are bound to be similarities between the two. However, there are also differences that give each movie their own identity. For the 1956 picture, this was the incorporation of the message that even wealthy people can experience hardship. Combined with the song, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, the film tells its audience to count their blessings and to focus less on what they don’t have. This shows that the film’s creative team not only wanted to bring something new to the story, but also respect the source material that came before it. As I end this review, I’d like to quote Louis Armstrong by saying “end of story”.

 

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

 

Which movie musical is your favorite? Are there any you’d like me to review? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Stepping Out Review

Shelley Winters is an actress that I was familiar with before joining The Shelley Winters Blogathon. I’ve seen The Diary of Anne Frank, What’s the Matter with Helen?, and Lolita. But out of those three movies, her most memorable role is Helen from What’s the Matter with Helen?. Shelley was able to bring a very haunting element to that character, giving the audience a reason to feel uneasy toward her. As I searched through her IMDB filmography, I came across a film called Stepping Out. When I read the synopsis, it sounded like a very sweet story. Because of this, I choose the 1991 picture for my entry in the blogathon. When it comes to blogathons, I rarely have an opportunity to review musical films. In fact, the last movie musical I reviewed was Summer Magic for A Month Without the Code back in August. I also learned that Stepping Out was based on a pre-existing play. If I hadn’t watched a Youtube video where Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert talk about their least favorite films of 1991, I wouldn’t have discovered this valuable piece of information.

Stepping Out poster
Stepping Out poster created by Paramount Pictures. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SteppingOutFilmPoster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in my I Remember Mama review, every actor and actress is expected to bring the best of their acting talents in an ensemble cast. With confidence, I can say that all of the actors and actresses in Stepping Out did a fantastic job in their roles! The chemistry between all of the characters was strong, making their relationships feel believable. Andi, portrayed by Sheila McCarthy, and Geoffrey, portrayed by Bill Irwin, are a perfect example of this. During the duration of the film, Andi and Bill develop a friendship that survives outside of the studio setting. Their interactions give the audience the impression that they truly care about one another. Though her role in this movie was smaller than in other movies, Shelley Winters had a memorable on-screen appearance! Her performance was consistent and her sense of humor was subtle yet effective. I also liked hearing her singing performance when she shared, in one scene, that it was Irving Berlin’s birthday. Despite her limited amount of screen-time, Shelley still found a way to make a big impact in this story!

 

The film’s sweeter moments: Throughout the film, there were sweet, light-hearted moments that I enjoyed seeing. Anytime Mavis encouraged her students and tried to help them become the best dancers they could be, it was very refreshing to see a teacher figure with realistic goals. Even when there were obstacles within the dancing lessons, the students were able to find moments of positivity and humor. One example is when there was a mix-up with their costume hats. It was also nice to see the students trying to help each other outside of the studio environment. When Maxine offers Rose’s son a job, it shows the team dynamic that Mavis strives for during the movie. It also displays how the characters are able to put the needs of others before their own.

 

The dance numbers: Seeing the dance numbers in Stepping Out was a highlight! Since the story revolves around Mavis and her students, all of the dance numbers are performed by them. Despite this, they are all entertaining! Whether it was Mavis’ solo or the group numbers that appeared toward the end of the film, these dance numbers were well choregraphed. It also helps that a good percentage of this cast had Broadway experience prior to appearing in Stepping Out. Their experience and performance related knowledge worked in their favor, as it brought a sense of realism to the dance numbers.

12 size
Masks of comedy and tragedy images created by freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Some characters receiving more character development than others: In Stepping Out, I found that some characters received more character development than others. Two examples are Andi and Mrs. Fraser. This story gave Andi a fully developed back-story. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fraser’s back-story resides in only two sentences. There are even some characters that don’t receive any character development. Dorothy, portrayed by Andrea Martin, is one of them. I understand that in an ensemble cast, it’s not easy providing a story and character development to every character. But, for me, it left more to be desired.

 

Some under-utilized actors: I noticed within this cast that some of the actors were under-utilized. One of these actors is Geza Kovacs, who I talked about in my editorial, “Why Jiggy Nye is Not an Effective Villian in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure”. In his role as a club manager named Jerry, he did a good job with the material he was given. However, he was only in the film for two scenes. I know that this particular character didn’t provide as much to the story as other characters did. But I find it frustrating when talented actors and actresses aren’t given an opportunity to fully utilize their talents.

 

A weaker second half: While watching this movie, I felt the second half was weaker than the first half. This is because some parts of the story were drawn out more than others. A good example is Andi’s story. As I stated before, Andi is a character that received a well-developed back-story. However, it was drawn-out longer than it should have been. To me, this issue is the result of the run-time and a script that wasn’t as tightly written. Even though the film’s second half contained two very entertaining dance numbers, the story itself could have been stronger from start to finish.

Shelley Winters Blogathon banner
The Shelley Winters Blogathon banner created by Erica from Poppity Talks Classic Film and Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews. Image found at https://poppitytalksclassicfilm.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/announcing-the-shelley-winters-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

Stepping Out made me feel the exact same way that Moulin Rouge! did. The film had sweet moments and other factors that I liked. But the story as a whole could have been stronger. Some of the downfalls include select characters receiving well-written backstories, some under-utilized actors, and a script that’s not as tightly written as it could have been. However, these elements did not make this movie one of the worst I’ve seen this year. Even though this project had its flaws, the cast, as a whole, shines in the spotlight! This is especially true for Shelley Winters! When we think about actresses who’ve graced the silver screen, Shelley, to me, seems like one of the underrated ones. I don’t hear her name being added to the conversation as I do for other starlets, such as Audrey Hepburn and Bette Davis. But during my year of blogging, I learned that this is the reason why blogathons exist. These events provide a platform to talk about almost anything and everything, so it’s great to see blogathons take the time to give lesser known stars and other movie related topics their “standing ovation”.

 

Overall score: 6.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Shelley’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to check out the video that I referenced in this review, type “SISKEL & EBERT: The Worst Movies of 1991” into Youtube’s search bar. Just to let you know, there is some language and suggestive topics discussed in this video. The segment about Stepping Out starts at 6:55 and ends at 8:33.

Take 3: The Sky’s the Limit Review + 135 Follower Thank You

Thank you to all of my followers that helped 18 Cinema Lane reach this milestone! If it weren’t for you, this blog would have never reached 135 followers in only one year! So, like before, it’s time for another blog follower dedication review! This time, I’m going to talk about a film that was released in September of 1943. The Sky’s the Limit is the only film from this time period that I was able to rent, so that’s the film that I have chosen. I have a confession to make: up until this point, I have never seen a movie where Fred Astaire made an on-screen appearance. I am familiar with who Fred is as a performer, so it’s hard to believe that this is the first of his films that I’ve seen. Choosing this film seems fitting for this particular review.

The Sky's the Limit poster
The Sky’s the Limit poster created by RKO Radio Pictures. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036363/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like I mentioned in the introduction, this was the first film of Fred Astaire’s that I’ve seen. Despite this, I was very impressed with his performance! His presentation was very natural and believable, helping him bring a certain amount of charm to his character. Before watching The Sky’s the Limit, I had no idea that Fred could sing. His singing and dancing talents added uniqueness to his on-screen presence. Another performance that I was impressed by was Joan Leslie’s! Joan made her character well-rounded because of the various emotions and behaviors she adopted. I was also pleasantly surprised by her singing and dancing abilities! By incorporating those elements to her role, it made her performance that much more enjoyable!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Not only did Fred and Joan deliver good performances individually, they also presented good performances as an on-screen pair! Throughout the film, their characters appeared to truly like each other. Moments where Fred and Joan spent time together represent the sweeter parts of the movie. While the relationship of the characters gradually developed, this aspect was portrayed in a way that felt believable. The fact that Fred and Joan’s acting talents were similar worked in their favor. It made their performances complement one another!

 

The dance numbers: Whenever Fred Astaire is cast in a movie, it’s almost guaranteed that there will be, at least, one dance number. In The Sky’s the Limit, Fred performed one dance solo and two dance duets with Joan Leslie. These performances were very well choreographed, appearing flawless and captivating. All of those hours of practice seemed to pay off. Fred and Joan also looked like they having fun during their performances! When a dancer looks like they’re enjoying what they’re doing, it helps the enjoyment factor of the dance number!

Six designs of military airplane
Military plane image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by brgfx – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The plot: You’re probably thinking, “If you didn’t like the plot, then why did you watch this movie?” The plot itself wasn’t bad, but it was too straight-forward for my liking. Before watching The Sky’s the Limit, I assumed that the protagonist would face one hilarious situation after another in order to resolve the conflict. However, no efforts were made to find a solution to the conflict. There were very few humorous moments in the film as well. This story took itself more seriously than I think it should have. It seemed to forget that “comedy” was a part of its identity.

 

The limited amount of dance numbers: When I found out that Fred Astaire would be starring in the film and that it was classified as a “musical”, I was expecting the movie to be filled with singing and dancing. In this hour and thirty-minute picture, there were only three dance numbers, with the first one appearing about forty minutes into the film. When a movie’s creative team hires an actor with more than one talent, they should help that actor use their talents to the fullest extent. This is especially true when the movie is labeled as a “musical”. If this doesn’t happen, it makes the actor appear under-utilized.

 

No consequences: As I said in the introduction, The Sky’s the Limit was released in 1943. This means that the film premiered during the Breen Code era. But when Fred Astaire’s character never faced any consequences for his actions and choices, I was shocked that the people behind the Breen Code would find this part of the story to be acceptable. One example is when Fred’s character is upset over a break-up. This causes him to destroy a restaurant’s bar by breaking drinking glasses and throwing a bar stool at the mirrored background. All that happens is Fred paying for his drink and acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Because he never owned up to his mistakes, I found it difficult to root for his character.

Dancing Pairs 2 Retro Cartoon Templates
Couple performing the waltz image 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.

My overall impression:

I can’t believe that I hadn’t seen any of Fred Astaire’s movies until now! That’s a great thing about this blog, as it gives me an excuse to introduce myself to films that I might not have seen otherwise. Now that I’ve shared what I liked and didn’t like about the movie, I can now tell you my honest opinion about it. Personally, I found the film to be just ok. It’s definitely not one of the worst films I’ve seen this year. But, it’s not one of the best films I’ve seen this year either, as it hasn’t aged as well as other projects from that decade. Despite this, I’m still glad I gave this movie a chance! Something that I have said before was how you never know if a film will be good or bad unless you watch it. This is certainly the case for my experience seeing The Sky’s the Limit. Once again, thank you to all of my followers! If it weren’t for you, this review wouldn’t exist.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on my review? Are you looking forward to my next movie review? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Jersey Boys Review + 115 Follower Thank You

Before I begin this review, I would like to thank all 115 of my followers! I achieved this accomplishment two weeks ago! However, I wasn’t able to publish this post as early as I had wanted to. That’s because I started my Clean Movie Month reviews and was participating in a few blogathons. But I fortunately found the time to share this blog follower dedication review with the people who have helped my blog grow and thrive! For this post, I have chosen a movie that was released in June of 2014. Even though I talked about a musical in my previous blog follower dedication review, I chose the film, Jersey Boys, for this particular post. I was familiar with the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, so I could appreciate the songs that appear in this film. When it comes to the band itself, I didn’t know much information about them. This movie was, to a certain extent, educational. That’s because this film explores the history of The Four Seasons. It also talked about how some of the songs were created, as well as who the members of the band were. So, let’s learn more about Jersey Boys through this review!

Jersey Boys poster
Jersey Boys poster created by GK Films, Malpaso Productions, and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/jersey-boys/.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: One of the strongest components of this film is the acting performances! From what I’ve heard, the cast consisted of actors and actresses who also starred in the Jersey Boys stage play. I feel that this was a good decision because this means that before film production began, they already knew their characters. This shows in all of the acting performances, as the actors and actresses appeared to be comfortable in their roles. Something I noticed while watching this film was the accents. As I’ve said before, accents in movies can be hit or miss. In Jersey Boys, however, the accents sounded authentic enough to be satisfying. This goes back to the fact that the cast is from the original stage play, as they had plenty of time to perfect that part of the performance!

 

The aesthetic: I really liked the world that was created in this film! Everything looked and felt like the time period in which this story took place in. Even the cinematography correlated with the previously mentioned time period. This showed how much the creative team behind this movie cared about the details that went into their project. It also made the movie feel immersive, like the audience themselves are visiting that world. The locations and settings of Jersey Boys were visually appealing!

 

The music: Because this movie is about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the majority of their music is featured throughout the story. Since I like their music, I found these parts of the film to be enjoyable. Jersey Boys was a stage play before becoming a movie, as I’ve said before. This aspect worked in the performers’ favor because they were familiar with the music prior to the film’s production. All of the actors in the band sounded close enough to the original group to keep me, as an audience member, satisfied. It added to the authenticity of their collective performance!

music sign
Music and stage image created by Topntp26 at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/music-sign_1179519.htm’>Designed by Topntp26</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage image created by Topntp26 – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Breaking the “fourth wall”: At certain points in the movie, some members of The Four Seasons told their story directly to the audience. While this was an interesting idea, it didn’t work as well as it could have. This is because the “fourth wall” was broken so infrequently, it ended up feeling out of place. Only three members of the group get to break the “fourth wall”. The only time Frankie Valli gets this kind of moment was toward the end of the movie. The fact that more than one person was trying to tell the story made it difficult to decipher who the key narrator was supposed to be.

 

Scenes that don’t mesh together: When it comes to movie musicals, the segments of story and music are supposed to work together to create a cohesive narrative and propel the story forward. One example is when Mother Abbess sings “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” in The Sound of Music. But I never felt that the story segments and musical segments meshed together in Jersey Boys. Anytime a musical segment appeared in the film, it felt like the story segments were paused for the sake of presenting the musical segments. This disrupted the flow of the narrative.

 

The run-time: Jersey Boys is a two hour and fourteen-minute film. Because of this run-time, the movie felt longer than it was intended and some scenes were too drawn-out. Having the film set at one hour and thirty or forty minutes would have worked better for the overall production. Drawn-out scenes could be shortened to a length of time where that part of the story could get straight to the point. If the “fourth wall” moments that I mentioned earlier were reserved for the end of the movie, this would shorten the run-time as well.

61511-OANU9Y-551
Diner image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/american-vintage-restaurant-hand-drawn_902205.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/food”>Food vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

At best, Jersey Boys is an ok film. I can definitely see how this project could work as a Broadway stage show. However, this particular story would have worked better as either a documentary or as a mini-series. There was so much interesting content to this narrative, that I actually learned more about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons than I had expected. But, because of the set run-time, there was only so much material that was discussed. Even though I learned a lot about this particular musical group, I feel like I could have discovered this same information on the internet. When it comes to movie musicals, Jersey Boys is not the worst of them. But there are movies within this genre that are better than this one.

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Do you like that music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons? Which movie musical do you like? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Stowaway Review (Clean Movie Month — #1)

For the first time ever, I am participating in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month! Every July, participants are encouraged to watch and write about films that were released within the Breen Code era. This era started in 1934 and ended in 1954. On 18 Cinema Lane, I will be reviewing a Breen Code era film every week during this month! These reviews will be released in the chronological order of the film’s premiere. For my first Clean Movie Month review, I have chosen the Shirley Temple film, Stowaway! Earlier this year, I wrote an editorial about my thoughts on all three of Shirley’s films from 1938. As I said in that editorial, my goal is to watch every single Shirley Temple film ever made. So, if I have a chance to watch a Shirley Temple movie that I haven’t seen before, I will definitely make an effort to do that. So, let’s sail away in Clean Movie Month with 1936’s Stowaway!

Stowaway poster
Stowaway poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Film_Poster_for_Stowaway.jpg.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: One of the great things about this movie was Shirley’s performance! Like I said about Shirley’s role, Betsy, in Little Miss Broadway, her role in Stowaway felt like it was created just for her. Not only did this role compliment Shirley’s acting abilities, but it challenged her as an actress. At certain moments in the film, Shirley’s character, Barbara/Ching-Ching speaks Chinese. This means that Shirley had to learn her lines in English and learn a new language that she was probably not familiar with before. Shirley was surrounded by a cast of actors and actresses that were just as talented as her! Everyone’s acting talents were equally showcased in this film, helping each performer receive their moment to shine!

 

  • The humor: A pleasant aspect of Stowaway was the humor within the story! One of the funniest scenes in this film was when Ching-Ching is trying to find Tommy Randall while wearing a dragon head. What made moments like this so hilarious was the screen-writing. The way that the dialogue and actions were written was not only innocent, but clever as well. An example of this is when Tommy and Ching-Ching are at a restaurant. While ordering food off of a menu that’s written in Chinese, Tommy tells Ching-Ching, “It’s all Greek to me”. She then replies, “But it’s in Chinese”. This type of humor is what made Stowaway an enjoyable story!

 

  • A unique location: I am not an expert on Shirley Temple’s filmography. But, out of the films that I’m aware of, it seems like most of her movies take place in the United States. Stowaway, however, mostly takes place in China and on a cruise ship. These locations provided a unique look and feel to the overall production. It was interesting to see the Chinese culture playing an influential role within the narrative. The language, music, and even some proverbs could be found in Stowaway. Seeing the various areas of the cruise ship was interesting as well. This backdrop worked really well for the story!

316988-P9JAM8-876
Traditional Chinese dragon image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design”>Design vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • A limited amount of musical numbers: Earlier this year, when I talked about Just Around the Corner, I said that there was a limited amount of musical numbers in the movie. This made the story feel drawn out and a little bit longer than intended. Similarly, there was a limited amount of musical numbers in Stowaway. Throughout the whole film, there were four musical numbers. However, the first musical number doesn’t appear in the film until after the first thirty-seven minutes. Personally, I think that the first musical number should have, at least, started at the fifteen-minute mark. That way, the audience could get quickly invested into the musical aspect of the movie.

 

  • No Chinese influences in the music: I liked how the Chinese locations, as well as the culture, were incorporated into the film! But I was surprised that there were no Chinese influences in Stowaway’s music. Every song that Shirley sang sounded like the typical musical melody, the usual sounds that are found in Shirley’s films. Even though Shirley spoke Chinese in the movie, none of the lyrics were in Chinese. I feel that the creative team behind Stowaway missed a special opportunity to expand the musical horizons of both the studio and the audience. Who knows? Maybe this could have encouraged someone to learn another language.

 

  • Shirley’s limited involvement in the film: Most of Shirley’s films involve a subplot that allows Shirley’s character to play an important role in the film. While Ching-Ching was a significant character in Stowaway, she didn’t play as big of a role as Shirley’s other characters. It felt like most of the story was about the characters who were adults. In fact, it seemed like Shirley had the least amount of screen-time out of all the performers in the starring cast. While it’s understandable that Shirley was the youngest cast member in this film, it kind of felt like Stowaway wasn’t Shirley’s movie compared to her other titles.

Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

My overall impression:

For my first Clean Movie Month review, we’re off to a decent start! Stowaway, in my opinion, is better than something like Just Around the Corner. But there are films in Shirley’s filmography that I think are stronger than Stowaway. The most memorable part of this film was the Chinese locations as well as the cruise ship backdrop. They were very unique for a film starring Shirley Temple, especially since most of her films take place in the same continent. The setting of Stowaway provided an interesting component to the story, influencing how the characters interacted with each other and how they accomplished their goals. I can’t say much about the content of the film, since it was approved by the Production Code Administration (as the logo was featured in the bottom left hand corner of the opening credits) and it was released two years after the start of the Breen Code era. It’ll be fascinating to see how this movie compares with the other movies I’ll review during Clean Move Month!

 

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on Clean Movie Month? Are you looking forward to my next review? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Moulin Rouge! Review + 110 Follower Thank You

In my review of Sister of the Bride, I mentioned that I would be reviewing Moulin Rouge! for my 110 follower dedication review. Since I did promise that this review would come soon, I made this post one of my top priorities for this week. As I said in my Jurassic World review, I have a new system for choosing movies for these specific reviews. If you want to learn more about this system, you can read the introduction of my Jurassic World review. Because I received 110 followers on 18 Cinema Lane last month, I chose a movie that was released in the month of June. But the year of its release was 2001. My last movie review about a musical was Little Nellie Kelly back in June. So, I decided to pick Moulin Rouge! for this particular review! This is a movie that I’d heard of, but had never seen. Now that I’ve seen this film, it’s time to share my thoughts on it with the help of this review!

Moulin Rouge! poster
Moulin Rouge! poster created by Bazmark Productions and 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/moulin-rouge.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I was very impressed with the cast in Moulin Rouge! Every actor and actress in this film surpassed my expectations when it came to their performance! Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman did a great job bringing their characters to life, providing a sense of depth and authentic emotion to their roles. The on-screen chemistry between Ewan and Nicole felt real, helping me to stay invested in Christian and Satine’s relationship. Richard Roxburgh also gave a good performance as The Duke of Monroth! The emotions and reactions that were brought to this character were truly unsettling. However, this made The Duke of Monroth be the unlikable character that he was meant to be. What helped was Richard giving everything he had, talent wise, into his portrayal of this character. His dedication to his performance is what made The Duke of Monroth so memorable!

 

  • The set-pieces: For musicals featured on film, one of the most important aspects of the production are the set-pieces. This part can make or break a musical. The set-pieces in Moulin Rouge! were exquisite, especially those within the Moulin Rouge nightclub! The colors were very vibrant and paired really well with the metals of silver and gold. A key ingredient to set-pieces is how immersive they make the world within the musical/movie feel. Set-pieces found in Moulin Rouge! made the world in the movie look and feel like it actually exists. The level of detail in these set-pieces added to the magnificent nature of them. It shows that the creative team behind this film put a lot of effort into making the set-pieces the best that they can be!

 

  • The transitioning animation: When scenes were transitioning from one part of the story to the next, the animation that was used in these transitions was unique. The best examples I can give to what this animation looked like are the television show, Angela Anaconda, and the “moving newspapers” in the Harry Potter film series. What I mean by this is most of the animation was in a black-and-white/gray tone, with a few hints of color to keep the images looking interesting. This type of animation is rarely seen in entertainment, so I like that the creative team behind Moulin Rouge! was thinking outside the box.

3 paris
Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The editing: One of the most distracting aspects about this film was the editing. Quick-cuts were commonly used in the movie, especially within the first half. As I mentioned, Moulin Rouge! had gorgeous set-pieces. But because of these quick-cuts, it was sometimes difficult to see these set-pieces on screen. In at least two scenes, there was “shaky cam” that didn’t need to be there. This aspect of the editing felt very out of place.

 

  • Some of the songs: I wasn’t a fan of some of the songs that were featured in Moulin Rouge! It’s not that the songs themselves were bad, they just didn’t fit within the world that the film created. For example, toward the beginning of the film, Christian sings “The Sound of Music”. If you know musicals, you would know that this song is from the movie and stage play, The Sound of Music. Because of this and the story of the aforementioned production, the context of this song feels out of place in Moulin Rouge! Another thing I noticed was that a large portion of the songs came from other movies or artists, music that was created prior to the film’s release. If this musical was advertised as or had a reputation of being a “jukebox musical”, having pre-existing songs incorporated into the narrative would make sense. But since Moulin Rouge! is not known for being this kind of musical, it just felt like the characters took a break from the story to sing karaoke.

 

  • Some of the humor: There was some humor in this movie that I did not like. That is because it was too crude and over-the-top for my liking. I understand that this humor was meant to represent the values and beliefs of the patrons associated with the Moulin Rouge nightclub. But that doesn’t mean I found this type of humor to be entertaining. In fact, some scenes that featured this kind of humor made me feel uncomfortable. One example is when Christian and Satine meet for the first time.

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My overall impression:

I’m glad I gave myself a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to movie musicals! On 18 Cinema Lane, this genre doesn’t get talked about often. So, choosing Moulin Rouge! for this review was worth it! As for the movie itself, I thought it was just ok. There are things about it that I can appreciate, such as the quality of the acting performances. What held this movie back from making it greater than it was are the editing and some of the songs. Because some of these songs came from other movies and artists, they kind of took me out of the film. As for the editing, this part could have been better executed. Moulin Rouge! is definitely not one of the worst musicals I’ve ever seen, but I’ve also seen better. Before I finish this review, I want to thank all of my 110 followers! Also, thank you for your patience when it came to the release of this review. It means a lot to me that I have followers that are supportive and understanding.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What did you think of my review? Which movie musical is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen