Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Witness for the Prosecution (1982) Review

In my list of the Top 10 Movies I’d Love to Review, I mentioned finding Oliver 2: Let’s Twist Again on Diana Rigg’s IMDB filmography. During that trip on IMDB, I found another film I could review for the Other Than A Bond Girl Blogathon. As the title of this review says, that movie is the 1982 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, Witness for the Prosecution! I’ve gone on record to state how I’d like to watch as many Hallmark Hall of Fame titles as realistically possible. If I’m going to be honest, I didn’t think I would ever see Witness for the Prosecution. That’s because the film not only didn’t receive a DVD release, but it doesn’t seem to have received a VHS release either. So, imagine my shock when I found the full movie on Youtube! Mysteries are, arguably, the most popular genre on my blog. This is also not the first time I’ve reviewed an Agatha Christie adaptation. Back in April, I wrote about the 2022 film, Death on the Nile. In that review, I said the movie had a weaker execution than its 2017 predecessor, Murder on the Orient Express. How will Witness for the Prosecution fare against these aforementioned adaptations? All rise, as this review is now in session!

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Witness for the Prosecution poster created by CBS Entertainment Production, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, Rosemont Productions, and United Artists Television

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Diana Rigg is one of the eligible Bond Girls for the Other Than A Bond Girl Blogathon. Therefore, I will talk about her performance first. In Witness for the Prosecution, Diana portrayed Christine Vole, the wife of the accused party. Throughout the film, she carried her character as a woman from stories in the 1920s. What I mean by this is Christine held her own with confidence, never shaken by the probing of those involved in the legal side of the case. Even when she took the stand, Christine adopted a serious demeanor, as if putting on a “poker face” and refusing to show her deck of cards too early. These acting choices and the consistency of her performance allowed Diana to pull off a captivating and memorable portrayal!

Deborah Kerr is an actress I’ve talked about before on 18 Cinema Lane. While I have seen and reviewed five of her films, none of them were from the mystery genre. Despite this, Deborah held her own, acting wise, among the cast! She portrays Nurse Plimsoll in Witness for the Prosecution. While watching the 1982 production, her performance reminded me a bit of Donna Reed’s portrayal of Mary from It’s a Wonderful Life. Nurse Plimsoll cares about the health and well-being of the film’s protagonist, Sir Wilfred Robarts. Though Wilfred finds her overall nursing approach annoying, Nurse Plimsoll doesn’t give up on her mission. Even though she is stricter on other on-screen nurses, her heart is always in the right place. This can be seen through Deborah’s facial expressions, body language, and emotions.

Even though the cast as a whole was strong, there was one performance that stole the show. This came from Beau Bridges! Witness for the Prosecution shows Beau portraying an American named Leonard. Because his case is presented in a British/U.K. court system, he is a “fish out of water”. The situation itself provides an interesting dynamic for the cast, including Beau, to work with. It also gave Beau an opportunity to utilize a variety of emotions. During the case, one of the witnesses causes Leonard to have an emotional reaction. At the start of the witness’ questioning, Leonard presents a calm “resting face”. But as the questioning continues, he slowly becomes sadder, adopting a growing frown and his eyes filling with tears. This transformation was gradual, allowing Beau to adapt to the on-screen situation.

The set design: The majority of Witness for the Prosecution takes place within a British/U.K. court room. Despite the limited locations, there were some examples of set design that I liked! Inside the court room, the ceiling was domed, with clear glass exposing a view of the sky. Surrounding the dome are etched, white arches. With a green light shown on these arches, they gave the appearance of boasting an antique limestone material, which complimented the dark wood of the court room’s walls and furniture. In the lobby of the court room, painted murals are shown near the ceiling. The lobby’s walls appear to be covered in a two-tone marble material, with the floor revealing a black-and-white tile design. My favorite set in Witness for the Prosecution was Wilfred’s office! The room’s color scheme was brown, beige, and red. When this set was first introduced, a large, dark wood bookcase proudly stood. It was guarded by a dark wood table and two dark brown armchairs. While the walls were beige, the curtains on the window were red, giving the room a pop of color. The more time Wilfred spent in this space, the more the sophisticated, professional, and intelligent appearance of the office complimented his personality.

An in-depth look at the British/U.K. court system: As I mentioned in my point about the film’s set design, the majority of this story takes place in a British/U.K. court room. That part of the movie exposed the audience to the British/U.K. court system. Even though Witness for the Prosecution is not the “end all, be all” when it comes to this specific court system’s portrayal in entertainment media, it gives viewers a chance to compare and contrast it to other court systems in other productions. The layout of the court room itself provides one example. Toward the front of the court room, the witness stand is located at the judge’s right-hand side. This part of the court room is separate from the judge’s stand. Meanwhile, in court room productions taking place in the United States, the witness stand can either be located at the judge’s left or right-hand side. It is also connected to the judge’s stand.  

The Other Than A Bond Girl Blogathon banner created by Gabriela from Pale Writer and Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews

What I didn’t like about the film:

The magical monocle: While working on the case, Wilfred wore a monocle when he was questioning the accused party and his wife. As he questioned them, a light shone through the monocle and directly landed on Leonard and Christine. But these were the only two times Wilfred used the magical monocle. The purpose of the monocle or Wilfred’s reason for using it was never explained. Was this monocle truly magical or was the monocle used as foreshadowing? I wish this part of Wilfred’s character was more consistent.

A dialogue heavy story: With any movie or tv show episode featuring a court case, there’s going to be a certain amount of dialogue within the story. But because Witness for the Prosecution mostly revolved around a court case, the 1982 production feels more dialogue heavy compared to Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express. Before watching Witness for the Prosecution, I had expected more showing than telling when it came to the mystery. Instead of watching the characters making discoveries related to the mystery, I heard about it through the questioning in court. Because of this creative decision, I didn’t find the movie’s mystery as engaging as it could have been.

An inactive detective: In a story where a detective, amateur or professional, is the protagonist, the audience expects to see this character actively solve their respective film’s mystery. Sadly, the viewers won’t witness that in Witness for the Prosecution. Wilfred is a lawyer defending Leonard in his case. However, Wilfred places more emphasis in resolving the case than playing detective. Even though this movie’s mystery was solved, it felt like Wilfred was served the answer on a silver platter instead of discovering it himself. Similar to what I said about the dialogue-heavy story, I didn’t find the mystery engaging because of Wilfred’s inactive detective role.

Sketch of London image created by Archjoe at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-houses-of-parliament_1133950.htm’>Designed by Archjoe</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Archjoe – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Witness for the Prosecution shares a similar plot with 1997’s Red Corner: an American man is accused of murder, with his case in a court system outside of the United States. But where Red Corner succeeded and Witness for the Prosecution didn’t is how Shen, Jack’s lawyer in Red Corner, not only played a role in the court case, but also went above and beyond in attempting to solve the mystery surrounding the case. This allowed Red Corner’s story to be intriguing and engaging for the audience. With the 1982 production, Wilfred spends more time on the court case than the mystery wrapped around it. This decreases the audience’s engagement. The dialogue heavy nature of Witness for the Prosecution’s story also affected the mystery’s intrigue. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s presentation is the third Agatha Christie adaptation I’ve seen, which I wasn’t overly thrilled with. I still want to, one day, read her literary work. But based on my reactions to the three adaptations I have watched so far, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll find an Agatha Christie story I like?

Overall score: 6.1-6.2 out of 10

Have you seen any of Agatha Christie’s adaptations? Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie story? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Dr. Phibes Rises Again Review + 420, 425, and 430 Follower Thank You

While looking for a movie to review for my next Blog Follower Dedication Review, I realized it’s been a month since I wrote about a “spooky” title. It’s also been two months since I reviewed a sequel. Because of those factors, I choose to review the 1972 movie, Dr. Phibes Rises Again! Last year, I saw the predecessor, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, after one of my readers recommended it to me. In my opinion, the film was just fine, as I found the horror in the horror-comedy classification heavily emphasized. The fact The Abominable Dr. Phibes received a sequel was surprising to me. That’s because I had no idea the 1971 title received a second chapter until I recently stumbled across it. What other surprises are in store? Let’s take a trip through this review of Dr. Phibes Rises Again in order to find out!

Dr. Phibes Rises Again poster created by
American International Pictures and Anglo-EMI Film Distributors Ltd./MGM-EMI

Things I liked about the film:

A mystery-adventure: In my review of The Abominable Dr. Phibes, I stated how the story was more of a horror-mystery due to the limited incorporation of comedy. Like its predecessor, the sequel also features a mystery. But this time, an adventure story is included in the script, as the characters travel to Egypt. The change in scenery allowed something new to be brought to the overall story. It also added an exciting component, with the audience receiving an opportunity to witness new sights and join the ride with the characters. A new setting made the film’s twists and turns interesting, as Dr. Phibes came up with different ways to attempt to reach his goal. A distinct identity was given to Dr. Phibes Rises Again because of these creative decisions!

Toned down character demises: One of The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ flaws was how over-the-top demises of characters were, as they came across more gross than scary. These demises also overshadowed Vincent Price’s performance, which led to his talents being underutilized. While Dr. Phibes continued to go after anyone who stood in his way in Dr. Phibes Rises Again, the execution of his plan was toned down. Not only were there less demises, but there was also less on-screen gore compared to the first film. Vincent’s acting abilities received more emphasis because of this creative decision. That creative decision also allowed me, as a viewer, to focus on Vincent’s body language, facial expressions, and vocal inflections. Vincent’s role in Dr. Phibes Rises Again felt more like lead actor material compared to The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Robert Quarry’s portrayal of Darius Biederbeck: When I talked about Queen of the Damned in my article, Twentieth Century vs. Queen of the Damned at the Against the Crowd Blogathon, I said the movie presented Lestat as a more likable protagonist. Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Lestat helps make this statement accurate, as his consistent suave, confidence added to Lestat’s likability. Robert Quarry’s portrayal of Darius Biederbeck in Dr. Phibes Rises Again reminded me of Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Lestat. This is because Darius’ suave, confidence was similar to Lestat’s. Darius was a goal-driven man, believing in himself and his mission. Even when those around him had their doubts, his confidence was unwavering, presented consistently by Robert. What also helped was how strong Robert’s acting abilities were, giving him an opportunity to present a stand-out performance. These aspects of Robert’s portrayal of Darius made it enjoyable for me to watch!

Egyptian hieroglyphic image created by wirestock at freepik.com. Luxor photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

A somewhat rehashed story: Dr. Phibes’ story in The Abominable Dr. Phibes revolved around trying to find a solution for his deceased wife, Victoria. This quest for a solution drove Dr. Phibes to go after those he felt wronged him and his wife. In Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Dr. Phibe travels to Egypt. But his mission is similar to the first film: find a solution for Victoria. I won’t claim this story is a carbon copy of The Abominable Dr. Phibes. However, I wish it had less similarities to the predecessor.

Confusing parts of the story: A confusing part of Dr. Phibes Rises Again is the return of Vulnavia. Dr. Phibes’ assistant, Vulnavia, was one of the key characters in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Without spoiling the first movie, I will say something happens that prevents Vulnavia from appearing in the sequel. Yet, she does appear in Dr. Phibes Rises Again, with no clear explanation provided. This is just one example of confusing parts of the story that should have received more context.

An unresolved mystery: While in Egypt, Dr. Phibes discovers a sarcophagus. When he opens the sarcophagus, it appears a mummy had been removed. Dr. Phibes even questions what happened to the aforementioned mummy. But after this scene took place, the mystery is never resolved. In fact, it was never brought up after Dr. Phibes’ initial discovery. This made me wonder why the film’s creative team would include that mystery in their script if they had no intentions to solve it on screen?

Scary movie screening image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/small-skeleton-with-popcorn-and-tv_1323292.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my overall impression of Dr. Phibes Rises Again, I’d like to thank all my followers! I appreciate your support of 18 Cinema Lane! Now, on to my thoughts on Dr. Phibes Rises Again. On the one hand, the sequel tries to go in a different direction from the first movie. It even fixes some of the predecessor’s flaws. On the other hand, though, Dr. Phibes’ story was similar to his story in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It also doesn’t help how parts of the story were confusing and a mystery was unresolved. Therefore, I will say this: as a movie, Dr. Phibes Rises Again is fine. As a sequel, it is slightly better than the first film.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen The Abominable Dr. Phibes or its sequel? Are there any sequels you think are better than their predecessor? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Point of Origin Review

When the subject of “disaster films” is brought up, one will usually think of films revolving around over-exaggerated, fictionalized disasters. Whether it’s Sharknado or The Day After Tomorrow, these types of titles have become the faces of the “disaster film” category. But what if a movie depicts a real-life disaster that could be experienced by anyone? This is the case of my Disaster Blog-a-Thon entry, Point of Origin. Last month, I searched on Wikipedia for a title to review for May’s Genre Grandeur. During that search, I stumbled across the aforementioned 2002 HBO production. After reading the film was a “fact-based drama about an arson investigator searching for the perpetrator of a string of deadly fires in 1980s California”, I knew it was the perfect choice for J-Dub and Pale Writer’s event! Before I start this review, I would like to point out how this marks two firsts for 18 Cinema Lane. Not only is this my first time participating in the Disaster Blog-a-Thon, this is also the first HBO film reviewed on my blog!

Point of Origin poster created by HBO Films and New Redemption Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The mystery: For the most part, the mystery in Point of Origin allowed the audience to experience it alongside the characters. What also helps is how the mystery started right at the beginning of the film. This immediately hooked the audience into the story, while also giving them a shared journey with the key players on screen. There was room for viewers to speculate what would happen in the story. That gave them the opportunity to interact with the film’s mystery. Three separate components played a role in the overarching narrative. While I won’t give anything away, it was interesting to see these components come together.

The special effects: When John was investigating a crime scene, he would attempt to figure out how the fire started. Toward the beginning of the film, this thought process was visualized through special effects. As John is recounting the information, the actual fire is played out in reverse on screen. This is very different from other mystery movies, as flashbacks might be utilized to speculate the cause of a crime. When it came to the fires themselves, it appeared as if they actually took place in a given scene. It may have been possible for the movie’s creative team to insert footage of fires through editing or CGI, as Point of Origin was released in 2002. However, practical effects were an interesting choice. This creative decision reminded me of productions like The Crow.

Showcasing the dangers of fire: While investigating a local fire, John and his co-worker, Keith, examine a young boy who died on the crime scene. Despite only the victim’s face being shown, it is blackened due to smoke and flame exposure. Later in the film, John visits a surviving burn victim in the hospital. The victim’s face and part of his hand are covered in burns. He even claims that it hurts to open his eyes. Due to the nature of Point of Origin, the story is heavier in tone. However, the incorporation of the dangers of fire never felt like they were there for “shock value” or as a tactic to scare the audience. If anything, it was shown just enough to get the point across.

The Second Disaster Blog-A-Thon banner created by J-Dub from Dubsism and Pale Writer from Pale Writer

What I didn’t like about the film:

Bai Ling’s limited presence: Bai Ling was cast as John’s wife, Wanda Orr, in the 2002 HBO film. Her involvement in Point of Origin is one of the reasons why I sought out this movie, as she is the top billed actress. When I watched the film, however, I discovered Bai appeared in only a handful of scenes. Compared to some of Bai’s other projects, her talents were under-utilized in Point of Origin. It also seems like the main supporting actress, Illeana Douglas, received more screen-time than Bai. Bai did a good job with the acting material she was given. But this situation is very reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn’s involvement in 1994’s One Christmas, where Katharine appeared in about five scenes despite being that film’s top billed actor.

A confusing time period: As I mentioned in the introduction, Point of Origin takes place in the 1980s. Elements from that decade were incorporated into the film, such as vehicles and a typewriter used by John at various moments in the story. Meanwhile, Bai’s wardrobe looked like it came straight from the early 2000s. There was also a scene where a store patron tells another patron not to smoke in the store. This attitude was more prevalent in the 2000s, as smoking in public places was more accepted in the 1980s. The inconsistency with the film’s historical accuracy was so confusing, it was, on a few occasions, distracting.

An unidentified red-haired man: Throughout the movie, a red-haired man made multiple appearances. I won’t spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. But I will say when everything was said and done, I don’t feel like I received a satisfying explanation of who that character is. Yes, I can assume the red-haired man’s identity. However, when it comes to that character, the movie was building up to something without providing a pay-off.

Magnifying glass and fingerprint image created by Alvaro_Cabrera at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/loupe-over-a-fingerprint_853908.htm’>Designed by alvaro_cabrera</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Alvaro_cabrera – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

For the Disaster Blog-a-Thon, I chose to talk about a film that revolved around a real-life disaster. This is because, in my opinion, these types of titles aren’t talked about as much within the realm of “disaster films”. When it comes to Point of Origin specifically, it was a fine, competently made, intriguing movie. But the 2002 HBO project made me feel similarly to Red Corner. This is ironic, as Bai Ling was cast as the lead actress in both films. What I mean by my aforementioned statement is I held higher expectations for each film, only to be somewhat let down by them. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, the historical accuracy works when the creative team places emphasis on the details. In Point of Origin, however, it seems like the film’s creative team forgot, at times, their project took place in the 1980s. This is because some aspects of the film reflected the time of the film’s release; the early 2000s. I haven’t seen a lot of HBO films, so I can’t make any comparisons with Point of Origin. But I will say, based on other made-for-TV mystery productions, this one felt closer to the middle of the road.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen Point of Origin? Are there any HBO films you’d like to see reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane? Please let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Review

For The Corman-Verse Blogathon, I was originally going to review the 1996 film Kyoko/Because of You. The only way I could watch the movie is if I purchased a DVD copy. Unfortunately, the copy I bought would not arrive in time for the blogathon. Even though I do plan to review Kyoko/Because of You in the near future, I needed to select a back-up film to write about for the event. While scrolling through Roger Corman’s filmography, I discovered he directed the 1961 adaptation, The Pit and the Pendulum. Since no other participant had selected the film, I chose to review this movie instead. Vincent Price is no stranger to 18 Cinema Lane. As of the publication of this review, The Pit and the Pendulum is the ninth movie of Vincent’s I’ve seen. The majority of his films have been enjoyable to varying degrees. So, where does the 1961 title lie? You won’t know that answer unless you read this review!

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) poster created by Alta Vista Productions and
American International Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, The Pit and the Pendulum is the ninth movie of Vincent’s I’ve seen. Among most of these films, Vincent’s acting talents have been on full display, allowing the audience to witness just how versatile of an actor he is. In the 1961 adaptation, Vincent portrays Nicholas Medina. Throughout the story, Nicholas is overcome not only by the loss of his wife, but also by trauma he experienced as a child. When Francis Barnard, the film’s protagonist, questions the cause of his sister’s death, Nicholas’ eyes appear both concerned and wounded. This is because he wants to protect Francis from the truth and himself from the grief. During Francis’ stay in the Medina Castle, Nicholas shows Francis Elizabeth’s (his wife and Francis’ sister) room. While reminiscing over his time with Elizabeth, Nicholas is suddenly overcome with sorrow. With a quivering lip and tear-filled eyes, he bursts out crying, longing for his dearly beloved.

 Like I previously mentioned, Francis Barnard is the film’s protagonist. Portrayed by John Kerr, this character was a good representative of the audience. What I mean by this is he and the audience were in the same boat, figuring things out as they go along. That element of the story gave viewers an opportunity to connect with the character. What also worked in John’s favor is how consistent his performance was. Throughout The Pit and the Pendulum, Francis was suspicious of the Medina Castle and the people who lived there. His face was set in a serious expression; mouth displaying a tight, straight line and eyes in a scowling manner.

Nicholas’ sister, Catherine, is one of the people Francis meets. Catherine, portrayed by Luana Anders, reminded me of Snow White from the 1937 animated classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This is because she showcased a gentle concern toward the characters around her. But unlike the cartoon princess, Catherine contributed more to the story, instead of being a more passive participant. When she and her brother are first confronted by Francis about Elizabeth’s death, Catherine shows worry on her face. However, the reason for her facial expression was different from Nicholas’, as she wonders how she will reveal the truth to Francis. Later in the film, Catherine explains Nicholas’ past trauma to Francis, in an effort to show him her brother is being honest. This time, her expressions show more understanding, appearing calmer and sure of herself.

The set design: The Pit and the Pendulum takes place inside the Medina Castle, during the year 1547. While I’m not a historian when it comes to this particular era, I will say the set design appeared historically accurate! Each room of the castle was spacious, presented in long to medium shots to showcase their size and scope. Though the walls were a mix of white and caramel marble, they were covered with exquisite artwork. In Francis’ room, there was a wall-sized piece of tapestry. Elizabeth’s room boasted her portrait, which captured her in blue and purple hues. The rooms in Medina Castle also included elaborate pieces of furniture. A gold canopy bed in Elizabeth’s room displayed small, detailed carvings on the footboard.

The mystery: When I talked about John Kerr’s performance, I said his character, Francis, was in the same boat as the audience. That’s because this is the type of mystery story where the audience figures things out alongside the protagonist. Out of the mystery movies I’ve seen in my life, I find these types of stories to be some of the more engaging ones in the genre. They give viewers the illusion they are experiencing a journey with the main character. The mystery in The Pit and the Pendulum started right away and was carried until the movie’s end. As the story moved forward, the reveal of certain secrets was evenly paced throughout the script. This allowed the film’s momentum to remain consistent and keep the story intriguing!

The flash-back scenes: In a few moments of the movie, flash-back scenes were used to explain things that happened in Nicholas’ past. One example is when Nicholas himself is telling Francis how Elizabeth passed away. Those flash-back scenes were narrated by Vincent Price and were coated in a single-color hue. For instance, in the days of Nicholas and Elizabeth’s happier times, the scenes were displayed in either green or blue. The way the flash-backs were presented made them feel distinct from the “current” events. They also brought Nicholas past to life.

The Corman-Verse Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry from Cinematic Catharsis

What I didn’t like about the film:

The prolonged appearance of The Pit and The Pendulum: I’ve gone on record to say a movie’s title, sometimes, serves as a promise to the audience. There is a pit and pendulum in this film. But they appeared in the movie’s last eleven minutes. It’s been years since I’ve read anything by Edgar Allan Poe, so I’m not sure which parts of the story are straight from the source material. However, I kind of wish the pit and pendulum would have appeared in the movie sooner.

A somewhat confusing climax: For this part of the review, I will be bringing up spoilers. While I typically try to leave spoilers out of my reviews, I feel I can’t fully explain my points without including them. If you haven’t seen 1961’s The Pit and the Pendulum, please skip this part and continue reading where it states “The underutilization of Maximillian”.

In The Pit and the Pendulum, Francis, and the audience, learn Elizabeth died of shock. But throughout the film, Nicholas is convinced he killed his wife. To prove Nicholas didn’t kill Elizabeth, Francis and Doctor Leon open Elizabeth’s grave, revealing a skeleton. But toward the end of the movie, Nicholas discovers Elizabeth had been alive that whole time. Even though he is overcome by shock, Nicholas pulls out of it, believing he is his father, Sebastian. Looking back on the film, I wonder if Nicholas assumed his father’s identity because the grief and trauma made him take a psychological turn for the worse? Or did Nicholas know about Elizabeth and Leon’s affair that entire time, using the “shock” as the perfect opportunity for revenge? Also, where did Leon and Elizabeth find a skeleton for their plan?

The underutilization of Maximillian: In a handful of moments, a servant named Maximillian appeared in the movie. At one point, I honestly thought he would play a bigger role in the mystery. Unfortunately, Maximillian was underutilized throughout the story. It felt like this character was included in the movie just for the sake of it.

Castle photo created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/old-castle-in-the-mountians_1286237.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/tree”>Tree image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When it comes to movie blogging, things don’t always go according to plan. That was the case when I chose to review The Pit and the Pendulum. Looking back on the film, I realize this change of plans ended up being a good thing. For starters, I had the opportunity to review one of Vincent’s films on his birthday, which happens to be today. The film in question was also a pleasant surprise because of how good it was! The Pit and the Pendulum is an engaging and intriguing mystery from start to finish. This is one of the more effective horror movies, similar to titles like 1962’s Cape Fear. Vincent Price is one of those actors I’ve come to appreciate the more of his films I watch. After watching The Song of Bernadette, I thought it would be so cool to hear Vincent read some of Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Because of his involvement in The Pit and the Pendulum, my wish kind of came true. I also discovered, in 1970, Vincent was the narrator of An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe. Since I enjoyed the 1961 adaptation so much, I’ll have to seek that production out!

Overall score: 8.1-8.2 out of 10

Have you seen any adaptation of The Pit and the Pendulum? Did you read Edgar Allan Poe’s literary work? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Disappearance of Flight 412 Review

Aviation is one of the broadest topics when it comes to the world of cinema. However, I was determined to find a movie to review for Taking Up Room’s Aviation In Film Blogathon. While visiting the Youtube channel, Cult Cinema Classics, I came across a film titled The Disappearance of Flight 412. As this title suggests, there is a plane within the story. But the story itself is what led me to ultimately select the movie for this review! The idea of the military possibly crossing paths with a UFO is fascinating, especially in film. I also don’t receive many opportunities to review tv movies from the 1970s. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for takeoff, as we’re about to start this review of The Disappearance of Flight 412!

The Disappearance of Flight 412 poster created by Cine Films Inc., Cinemobile Productions, and NBC

Things I liked about the film:

The use of time-stamps and a voice-over: Throughout the movie, a male voice-over can be heard explaining what was happening on screen. His tone is serious, which complemented the film’s tone. The inclusion of this technique reminded me of The Twilight Zone, where the narrator is presenting the film as a case study. Another technique used in this film was time-stamps. These showed how much time had passed since the mystery started. The time-stamps also shared locations, informing the audience when a scene transition took place. This technique added to the film’s intended delivery; a classified file the audience is given exclusive access to.

A different side of the military: When one thinks of the military’s presence in a film, movies involving war/combat typically come to mind. However, there are films that depict the military in less combative environments. The Disappearance of Flight 412 is one of those films, as members of the Air Force are performing daily operations or testing a plane. The 1974 tv movie also focuses on the leadership within the military. As the story revolves around the military’s approach to unexplained phenomena, various military leaders handle the situation in a way they feel is best. With all that said, The Disappearance of Flight 412 presents a different side of the military, allowing the film to have its own unique identity!

The mystery’s start time: I’ve stated before how I prefer mysteries start sooner rather than later. This is so the audience can get, and stay, invested in the mystery. In The Disappearance of Flight 412, the mystery started six minutes into the movie. Because of this, it allowed the audience to get hooked into the story. It also allowed the story to get straight to the point sooner.

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:

A misleading title: This movie is titled The Disappearance of Flight 412. But throughout the story, the audience follows the members of the titular flight. Therefore, they know exactly where this plane ended up. There were two fighter jets, named Tango 1 and Tango 2, that did disappear. However, the title does not acknowledge those jets. With that said, I found this movie’s title misleading.

Few opportunities to know the characters: According to both IMDB and the title of the Youtube video, The Disappearance of Flight 412 is classified as a mystery. But because the story primarily revolves around this mystery, there aren’t many opportunities to get to know the characters. Sure, the audience learns a little bit of information about them, such as some of their military history. However, this information isn’t enough to truly get to know the characters. If anything, the audience simply becomes familiar with them.

The prolonged mention of UFOs: At the beginning of the movie, the aforementioned voice-over provides explanations and details about possible UFO sightings. This sets the stage for what’s to come in the story. After this introduction, though, the subject of UFOs isn’t brought up until about thirty-seven minutes into the movie. If that introduction hadn’t been included in the film, the first mention of UFOs would have been an unexpected surprise for the audience. But because of the introduction’s inclusion and because the introduction felt more like a news reel, it, in a way, presented false expectations of more serious UFO discussion.

Detective work image created by Photoroyalty at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/investigation-background-design_1041877.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

There are movies where the subject itself is more interesting than the film. Some examples are Over the Edge and The Last Full Measure. In my opinion, The Disappearance of Flight 412 fits in this category. As I mentioned in my review, the story primarily revolves around the mystery of the disappearing fighter jets. Since the movie also covers the subject of the military dealing with unexplained phenomena, I think this topic would serve as an interesting documentary. That way, more time could be given to the subject, while also exploring the debates and perspectives surrounding it. At the end of the movie, a series of text states how the film’s characters and events are fictional. Maybe if The Disappearance of Flight 412 had been based on a real-life story, the project would be more memorable than it was.

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

Have you seen The Disappearance of Flight 412? Are there any films involving aviation you like? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Death on the Nile (2022) Review + 415 Follower Thank You

When I reviewed Curious Caterer: Dying for Chocolate for my last Blog Follower Dedication Review, I figured by writing about a mystery film, I would be giving the readers what they wanted. Well, for my 415 Blog Follower Dedication Review, I decided to give my readers yet another mystery, as both reviews for Curious Caterer: Dying for Chocolate and Cut, Color, Murder have been quite successful. This time, though, the movie in question is a more current mystery production from the big screen. Recently, my family rented the 2022 adaptation, Death on the Nile. This is the follow-up title to the 2017 adaptation, Murder on the Orient Express. On 18 Cinema Lane, I have gone on record to state I was not a fan of Murder on the Orient Express’ ending. I would say why, but then I’d have to spoil that movie for my readers. With that said, I watched the 2022 film with an open mind, hoping the ending would be better. But was that enough to be stronger than the 2017 title? Join me as I review Death on the Nile!

Death on the Nile (2022) poster created by Kinberg Genre, Mark Gordon Pictures, Scott Free Productions, TSG Entertainment, and 20th Century Studios

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Sometimes, in ensemble films, there is at least one performance that steals the show. In the case of Death on the Nile, I can’t say that happened, as everyone’s performance was equally strong. So instead, I’m going to talk about how all of the actors and actresses appeared at ease in their roles. Every interaction among the characters seemed natural. Despite the talent being on different journeys in their career, there was a shared chemistry to be found. Gal Gadot did not star in Murder on the Orient Express alongside Kenneth Branagh. However, when they interacted together, it felt like their characters, Linnet and Hercule, had known each other longer than their total screen time. Even actors and actresses whose characters developed their own relationships created a believable on-screen connection. Bouc is a close friend of Hercule’s, but wasn’t brought up or featured in Murder on the Orient Express. Rosalie is a character who made her debut in Death on the Nile. Despite never meeting prior to this film, Rosalie and Bouc formed a romantic relationship that felt genuine. Their bright smiles and warm embraces present the impression they were always meant to be together. It’s interactions like Bouc and Rosalie’s that allowed the overall acting performances to be enjoyable to watch!

An atmospheric setting: The majority of Death on the Nile takes place in Egypt, specifically on the Nile River. Despite a cruise ship being the primary setting for the story, the characters make an excursion to an ancient Egyptian tomb. I’m not sure if Death on the Nile was filmed on-location, on a set, or if everything was green-screened. No matter where the movie was filmed, this particular location was very atmospheric! The structure was covered in a warm sandstone, reflecting the nearby natural landscape. The interior walls were covered in hieroglyphics, only seen through torch light or a flashlight. Before the characters entered the tombs, a long, overhead shot showcased their entry. Even though a structure like this one would likely never be done justice through filmography, it emphasized the scope of a location of that scale!

The Egyptian tombs were not the only atmospheric location in this film. When it comes to the S.S. Karnak, the creative team knew what style they wanted to execute. Boy, did they stick the landing! This ship was posh, bearing the word “elegant” like a badge of honor. The floor was a dark wood, which nicely contrasted the white shiplap walls. Polished glass windows surrounded a grand sitting area, separating patrons into an isolated, beautiful world. Even this aforementioned sitting area was a sight to behold! A detailed oriental rug hosted an island to a set of plush armchairs and a sofa. An elegant bar overlooked both the seating arrangements and the windowed walls, which showcased a perfect view of the river. When I first saw this ship on screen, it looked, to me, like a miniature version of the Titanic.

The use of black and white imagery: Within the mystery genre, black and white imagery has been, in my experience, used rarely in more recently released titles. Even in Death on the Nile, this kind of imagery had a limited incorporation in the movie. But the use of black and white imagery is what stood out to me. This film’s very first scene is captured in black and white. However, it took place during World War I, with the rest of the story taking place in 1937. The distinction of past and present through imagery was clever and visually interesting. This creative tactic was used again later in the story. But this time, color was included to force the audience to focus on that scene’s particular aspects. Like I said about the previous scene, it was an interesting and clever way to use black and white imagery!

Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The mystery’s delayed start time: One of my least favorite aspects of the mystery genre is when the mystery starts at a later time in the story. This is because I prefer mysteries to be more interactive and get to the heart of the matter sooner. Unfortunately, Death on the Nile did not ask me what I wanted, as the mystery in this movie started at the halfway point. That means the audience was given half a movie to attempt to solve the mystery alongside Hercule. To me, this felt reminiscent of episodes of Murder, She Wrote, where the first half of the story is devoted to the mystery’s build-up. This creative decision caused a much slower start to the movie, as well as a delay in suspense.

A mystery overshadowed by relationship drama: Drama among the characters can work in a mystery’s favor, as it provides possible motives and suspects. Various types of relationships can also create tension within the overall story. But in Death on the Nile, the relationship drama ended up overshadowing the mystery. In fact, it dominated the film’s first half. While characters fell in and out of love, or simply reflected on love, one of my family members asked, “Isn’t someone supposed to get murdered in this story”? I could easily sense this family member’s impatience, as I too felt my good will toward the movie slipping away with each of the characters’ romantic embrace. I have never read any of Agatha Christie’s books, so I’m not sure if these relationships are straight from the source material. However, this part of the story was over-emphasized.

A past detail that doesn’t lead anywhere: Death on the Nile starts with showing Hercule during World War I. In that time, it is revealed he developed romantic feelings for a woman named Katherine. For the rest of the movie, though, this part of the story was never revisited. If Katherine was brought up, Hercule only talked about her in passing. Hercule’s past relationship and his time during World War I getting ignored was confusing to me. Why include these details if there was no plan to follow through on them? It felt like they were added to the story simply for the sake of being there.

Egyptian hieroglyphic image created by wirestock at freepik.com. Luxor photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

My overall impression:

Before I share my overall impression of Death on the Nile, I would like to thank my followers for helping make this review a reality! In four years, my blog has achieved far more success than I ever imagined. All of that is thanks to you. Now, back to sharing my overall impression. While the ending/resolution in Death on the Nile was stronger than Murder on the Orient Express’ was, the overall execution was weaker than the 2017 adaptation. The 2022 film contained a similar flaw to Knives Out: the drama among the characters overshadowed the mystery. Having the mystery start at the movie’s halfway point didn’t help Death on the Nile’s case either. Like Murder on the Orient Express, though, the cast was strong in Death on the Nile. In fact, it was difficult for me to choose a favorite performance. The locations in the 2022 production were atmospheric as well. At the publication of this review, I’m not sure if Kenneth Branagh has plans to adapt more of Agatha Christie’s books. It depends, at this point, if the potential is there.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any adaptations of Agatha Christie’s work? Have you read any of Agatha’s books? Don’t hesitate to comment in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Mightier Than the Sword

While working on the next issue of the Valley Voice, Lee and Rosemary talk about how “the pen is mightier than the sword”. As I reflect on this episode, I have to agree with the Coulters. The spoken or written word is a very powerful tool. But as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben put it, “With great power comes great responsibility”. In Hope Valley alone, words have been used to help and hurt. In Elizabeth’s case, words have been utilized in the name of learning. Joseph is now using words to bring people closer to the Lord.  And Mike is trying to use words to be a better leader. What I get out of the quote, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, is how accessible pens are compared to swords. When one learns how to use a pen, it can empower and inspire them in a way they may not have realized before. So far, on When Calls the Heart, there are three writers: Elizabeth, Rosemary, and Lee. If this show continues for a tenth season, who knows who’ll be encouraged to pick up the written word?

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

When Calls the Heart season nine poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel

Season: 9

Episode: 8

Name: Hope Valley Days: Part 2

Major stories:

Geoffrey is still in Hope Valley, claiming that Mei needs to be arrested. Curiosity getting the better of him, Nathan asks Mei for the truth. Mei confesses that, before she came to town, she worked with Geoffrey as a friend. When Geoffrey wanted to be more than friends, Mei turned him down. Refusing to take no for an answer, he created a rumor that he and Mei not only got engaged, but also eloped. Nathan takes Mei to jail, but only to protect her from Geoffrey. In the meantime, he tries to find legitimate evidence against her “ex”. Nathan sends a telegram to Chicago, in the hopes of finding out more information about Mr. Lewis. Later in the episode, when he does receive a call from Chicago, Nathan informs Mei of the charges against her. The newly elected mayor of Chicago has connections to Geoffrey. When Nathan tells her the mayor wants Mei to be transferred to Chicago, she recognizes this as a manipulation tactic on Geoffrey’s part. But instead of following the mayor’s orders, Nathan finds a way to help Mei. As Nathan is letting Mei out of jail, Geoffrey shows up. Nathan uses this as an opportunity to present a marriage license in Geoffrey’s name. This license reveals that Geoffrey was married this whole time, but abandoned his wife in pursuit of Mei. After being confronted with this truth, Geoffrey leaves. Mei not only hugs Nathan, but also thanks him for his help.

Bill is still dealing with his cough from the previous episode. After visiting with Joseph and Minnie, congratulating them on their new loan, Bill discovers he is now coughing up blood. At his recent doctor’s appointment, both Faith and Mollie are disappointed he didn’t receive the X-Ray he was prescribed in “Hope Valley Days: Part 1”. However, Faith does prescribe him medication he has to take once every hour. But Bill doesn’t listen to Faith’s recommendation. Instead, he drinks the whole medicine bottle in one sitting, causing him to become drunk. While Mei is in jail, Bill ends up resting in the cell across from hers. As was mentioned in the previous episode, Bill is representing April Fools’ Day for ‘Hope Valley Days’. People in town comment how he still hasn’t done anything in correlation with the holiday. What they don’t know is that Bill has a trick or two up his sleeve. After church services one day, Hope Valley’s citizens discover a Christmas tree residing in the center of town. No one can figure out who put the tree there. But the audience discovers it was Bill all along.

Image of Thanksgiving dinner 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.

Minor stories:

While walking through town one day, Elizabeth meets a woman who has chosen to homeschool her children. After reading the Valley Voice’s bulletin board, she would like to know if Elizabeth could help her receive school supplies. Elizabeth not only agrees to help, but she also gives the woman suggestions on how to locate educational materials for older students. Elizabeth finds a way to help Anna as well. When visiting the café one day, Elizabeth tells Anna she talked to Anna’s mother beforehand. In that conversation, they came to an agreement that Anna could stay in Hope Valley and continue working at the café, until she has enough money saved for college. As for lodging, Joseph has agreed to set up the café’s rooms into boarding house rooms. That way, Anna could stay at the café and pay Mr. and Mrs. Canfield monthly rent. Anna agrees with this plan and is grateful for Elizabeth’s help.

Rosemary and Lee continue to find the voice of Hope Valley’s newspaper. They’re not opposed to writing in an honest manner. But, at the same time, they seek to discover a literary voice that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Rosemary also gives Lee a typewriter, in the hopes of helping Lee learn how to type. Lee has been impressed with Mike’s idea for ‘Hope Valley Days’ and decides to write an editorial about that. When Lee tells Mike about his editorial plans, Mike doesn’t want to hear it, as he fears Lee will only give him more criticism. Despite these concerns, Lee still publishes the editorial. Rosemary likes it, claiming she can sense Lee’s change of heart when it comes to Mike’s leadership. At Elizabeth’s Thanksgiving feast, Mike privately tells Lee how much he liked the article.

Blue sparkly Christmas tree image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/merry-christmas-card_2875396.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I’m glad Mei’s story has finally concluded! While it contained a good twist and the explanation was straight-forward, Mei’s secret was not as shocking or scandalous as the show’s marketing made it seem. In fact, the creative team behind this season “pulled an Achara” on the audience. For those wondering what “pulling an Achara” means, let me provide some context before I give you an answer. Achara is a character that made a guest appearance in the Lost episode, “Stranger in a Strange Land”. In that episode’s flashback scenes, Achara mentioned to Jack (the show’s protagonist) and the audience that she had a “gift”. But for the majority of the episode, she purposefully withheld any information related to her “gift” and strung both Jack and the audience along. When that information was revealed, some could argue it was underwhelming. To sum all that up, “pulling an Achara” is when a character spends more time withholding information than sharing it, which ends up stalling the story. Like I mentioned earlier, the explanation of Mei’s secret was straight-forward. But if the show’s creative team knew that was the case, why would they string that story along for more than half the season? Looking back on Mei’s story, I wish that information was revealed sooner, so the audience could spend more time getting to know Mei.
  • I like Joseph and Minnie’s idea to use the café’s rooms as boarding rooms for future tenants! This could encourage more people to visit Hope Valley, as the saloon only has a certain number of rooms in their establishment. But this begs the question; where have the Canfield family been living this season? Toward the end of season eight, the Canfield family moved out of the log cabin they moved into within that season. Are they currently living in the row houses like Elizabeth and the Coulters? Having they been living in the café this whole time? Even though we have about four episodes left this season, I would like to receive an answer to this question.
  • After Bill coughed up blood, I wondered if he’ll stay on the show much longer? Usually when a character coughs up blood, it’s not a good sign for them, health-wise. However, I haven’t heard anything about Jack Wagner, the actor who portrays Bill, expressing any desire to leave When Calls the Heart. Granted, there has been no official word about a tenth season, as of late April 2022. Personally, I hope Bill pulls through, especially since he has appeared on the show since the very beginning.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this episode? What do you think Bill’s fate will be? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: ‘Aurora Teagarden’ Series Ends as Candace Cameron Bure Walks Away from Hallmark

Earlier this week, it was reported Candace Cameron Bure, one of the most popular actresses in the Hallmark community, has chosen to start a new chapter at GAC Family. With this decision, she will not only star in the network’s future projects, she will also be involved with the behind-the-scenes process of these projects’ creation. Now, Emily Longeretta, from Variety, writes that “there are no plans for new “Aurora Teagarden Mysteries” films”. Emily’s article states that Candace’s partnership with GAC Family “is not exclusive”. Despite this, she will not participate in Hallmark’s ‘Countdown to Christmas’ or ‘Miracles of Christmas’ line-ups either. An official spokesperson for Hallmark gave a statement about Candace’s choice. The spokesperson mentioned how Candace has worked with the network for “over 10 years”. They also said, “We respect her decision and thank her for her many contributions”.

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

The unceremonious end of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries does not look good for Hallmark. Including this series, the network has cancelled eight programs since 2021. These programs are the following:

  • Home & Family
  • The Bubbly Sesh Podcast
  • Good Witch
  • Matchmaker Mysteries
  • Hailey Dean Mysteries
  • Picture Perfect Mysteries
  • Chesapeake Shores
  • Aurora Teagarden Mysteries

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries is, arguably, the most popular series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. In fact, as of late April 2022, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder has the highest number of viewership, with 1.7 million viewers. With this series gone, that means Hallmark’s second network will receive less viewership. Less viewership means less sponsorships, which equals less revenue. As for Candace, I’m curious to see what her talents and acting experience have to offer to GAC Family. I haven’t seen any original programming from this network. But I have heard good things about them. Who knows? Now that Candace has an executive role with GAC Family, maybe she and the rest of the network’s leaders can transfer the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection to GAC and rebrand it “Great American Hall of Fame”?

What are your thoughts on Candace’s new partnership with GAC Family? Are you interested in her future projects? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here are the links to the references in this articles:

https://variety.com/2022/film/news/candace-cameron-bure-aurora-teagarden-canceled-hallmark-movies-1235235735/

Sunset Over Hope Valley: A Little Light Goes a Long Way

Looking back on this episode, it seems light is the theme of “Hope Valley Days: Part 1”. The candles on a Menorah begin to be lit and a bonfire takes place in the middle of town. But literal light is not the only kind to be found in the episode. Bill and Nathan shed light on secrets from the past. Elizabeth gives a former student the light of hope. Joseph and Minnie rely on God to shine a light on a brighter future. If you think about it, light appears to be a common subject on When Calls the Heart. The most obvious is, for the most part, the show is light-hearted. The majority of the characters try to be a light in someone else’s day. I could go on and on about how light comes into play in other ways. But, right now, we need to get started re-capping this episode of When Calls the Heart!

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

When Calls the Heart season nine poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel

Season: 9

Episode: 7

Name: Hope Valley Days: Part 1

Major stories:

In an effort to put his best mayoral foot forward, Mike hosts Hope Valley’s first annual ‘Hope Valley Days’. This holiday is a collection of other holidays wrapped up into one. Some of the town’s patrons are not only responsible for decorating their place of employment, but for also preparing activities based on their respective holiday. These participating patrons are Elizabeth (representing Thanksgiving), Ned and Florence (representing Hannukah), Bill (representing April Fools’ Day), Rosemary and Lee (representing Halloween), and Mei (representing Valentine’s Day). Throughout the festivities, the aforementioned patrons really get into their roles. From Lee and Rosemary dressing up in costume to Elizabeth planning a Thanksgiving dinner, everyone seems to be enjoying the new holiday. Among the festivities, Faith becomes interested in purchasing an X-Ray machine for the Infirmary. This interest begins after Bill needs to take a chest X-Ray in another town. But Mike created a rule that doesn’t allow her to receive financial grants from the town, as she now owns the Infirmary. Faith tries to ask Mei for financial help, but Mei thinks Mike’s rule is reasonable. Faith also tries to convince Mike to change his mind, but he thinks she will find a way to afford the X-Ray machine. At the town’s bonfire, Faith decides to burn the old Infirmary sign. She tells Mike this is the first step to truly creating the Infirmary as her own.

A man claiming to be Jeffrey bolts into Bill’s office. Jeffrey wants Mei to be arrested, but all Bill wants is for Jeffrey to, politely, leave his office. After Jeffrey refuses and punches Bill in the face, Bill puts Jeffrey in jail. When Bill goes to Nathan with this information, Nathan discovers there are no arrest warrants for Jeffrey, but there are three for Mei, all from Chicago. It is revealed these charges are Arson, Forgery, and Abandonment of a Spouse. Shortly after Mei accepts a permanent position at the Pharmacy, she is called to Bill’s office. Nathan is upset Mei never told him any of the information he discovered. She says no one knows the whole story. Later in the episode, Mei is still in Bill’s office, but alone this time. Ally unexpectedly shows up, still wanting advice about what she should do about Robert. After Mei tells Ally to be herself, she suddenly knows how to handle the situation with Jeffrey. When Mei goes to the jail, Bill tells her he will have to release Jeffrey, as no one saw Jeffrey punching Bill. Jeffrey tries to explain what has been happening, but Mei wants to hear none of it, as she claims he accused her of crimes she didn’t commit.

Things are not going according to plan for the petroleum plant. Henry called Fiona, only to find out she wasn’t successful in driving away the investors. After telling Lucas this news, Henry decides to travel to San Francisco, in order to give Fiona a helping hand. Meanwhile, Lucas is recruited in teaching Nathan how to drive, after Elizabeth was unsuccessful in doing so. But instead of learning how to drive, Nathan shares his worries about Mei to Lucas. Lucas suggests Nathan ask Mei for the truth. Nathan leaves the vehicle, immediately taking Lucas’ advice. After school one day, Lucas comments on how passionate Elizabeth is about teaching. When she asks him what he has always wanted to do, Lucas simply says he has always wanted to set roots in one place, a place to call home.

Valentine’s Day image created by Starline at freepik.com <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Starline – Freepik.com</a> <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/happy-valentine-s-day-red-background_1725125.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> Image found at freepik.com

Minor stories:

Minnie receives some promising news. She tells Joseph Bill told her Abigail is interested in selling her half of the café. But before any purchases can be made, they need to receive a loan from the bank. When Elizabeth visits the café, Minnie shares her good news. Elizabeth says Abagail also told her this news during a phone conversation. Before they go to the bank in Buxton, Joseph and Minnie pray for a good outcome. But when they arrive back in Hope Valley, later in the episode, they confess to Rosemary and Lee they didn’t receive the loan. Though no reason was provided, this news upsets both Lee and Rosemary. But Lee isn’t going to give up without a fight. After Minnie and Joseph leave, Lee makes a phone call to his bank teller in Buxton, demanding he give Minnie and Joseph a loan. Toward the end of the episode, Joseph and Minnie tell Rosemary and Lee the good news, as they ended up receiving a loan.

When picking up some biscuits at the café, Elizabeth discovers Anna, one of her recent graduates, has started working there. Though everything looks fine on the surface, Elizabeth can tell something is bothering Anna. Later in the episode, Anna visits Elizabeth at the school. Anna confesses she and her mother are moving to Bellingham. However, Anna doesn’t want to move out of Hope Valley. In fact, she took the job at the café in order to earn money for college. Anna knows she has what it takes to look out for herself in town. After asking Elizabeth for help, Elizabeth vows to help Anna any way she can.

Hanukkah menorah image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mehorah-with-flaming-candles_3299423.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • At the Mercantile, Ned brings out a Menorah. He tells Florence he hasn’t used it since his previous wife passed away. Florence then says what is important to him is also important to her. I was surprised to discover Ned is Jewish. Faith/religion is only brought up a limited number of times, with Christmas and a baptism being the only religious specific events ever brought up on When Calls the Heart. With that said, Christianity has made more frequent appearances in the show’s script. A few days ago, I realized there has never been an Easter episode of the show. There also hasn’t been a Passover episode either. If When Calls the Heart receives a tenth season, I hope Passover and/or Easter appears in at least one episode.
  • While ‘Hope Valley Days’ is not a bad idea, I was really confused by its concept. If you’re going to create a new holiday, why not create a whole new reason to celebrate? Why take several pre-existing holidays and pair them together? It felt like the show’s creative team wanted to create holiday specific episodes, but never found the time or reason to write them into the script. In order to make up for lost time, my guess is ‘Hope Valley Days’ was the result of all those abandoned ideas.
  • When Elizabeth visits Rosemary and Lee at the Valley Voice, she compliments them on their costumes. For ‘Hope Valley Days’, they chose to dress up as Cleopatra and Marc Anthony. Thinking back on this episode, I have to agree with Elizabeth. Lee and Rosemary looked amazing! Their whole ensemble looked so good, it appeared to come straight out of a Broadway show. Whoever was in charge of Pascale and Kavan’s wardrobe, make-up, and hair should receive an applause!
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this episode? Do you have any theories about Mei? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Enjoy the Compliment

At the Soda Fountain, Mike gives Faith a compliment on her hair, which was styled by Fiona in the previous episode. Faith then asks Mei what she should do about it, with Mei telling her to “enjoy the compliment”. While the advice itself is vague, both Faith and Mei bring up a good point. When someone gives us a compliment, we, more often than not, accept it. But once we’ve accepted it, what do we do with that compliment? Sure, we could use that to boost our confidence. Or we could “pay it forward” and give a compliment to someone else. But I feel there must be something more that could be done with any compliment. Sadly, I don’t currently have the answers to solve this dilemma. Until then, let’s begin this re-cap of When Calls the Heart!

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

When Calls the Heart season nine poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel

Season: 9

Episode: 6

Name: Past, Present, Future

Major stories:

Henry, Lucas, and Fiona are still dealing with the woes of the petroleum plant deal. At the plant, Lucas asks Henry why he is against the new investors and Jerome. Henry reveals that, in the court hearing from the earlier seasons, the Pacific Northwest Mining Company was forbidden from re-opening the mines. With Jerome now on board, Henry fears Jerome will try to re-open the mines under a new company name. Lucas and Henry, along with Fiona, visit Bill at his office, in an attempt to remedy the situation. Because money has already exchanged hands, Bill says there isn’t much that can be done. However, he still thinks they should find a way to dissuade the investors without showing their hand. Bill tells Fiona, Lucas, and Henry to keep quiet about their conversation for the time being, especially since several Hope Valley residents lost a family member or friend in the mining accident. When Elizabeth visits Lucas at the saloon, he tells her how much her concern means to him. She then addresses Wyman’s interaction with her in an earlier ninth season episode, asking Lucas if he’ll sell the saloon. Lucas reveals that not only has Wyman left with no forewarning, but how he won’t ever be selling the saloon. Later in the episode, Fiona leaves for San Francisco again, attempting to fix the mess she made. But before she leaves, Henry apologizes to Fiona for how he treated her. This is because he realizes Mike placed Fiona in a situation she was ill-prepared for. Accepting his apology, Fiona agrees with Henry to start their business relationship over.

There have been several changes taking place in Hope Valley. One of them has been increased traffic. Even though some of the town’s residents have not been pleased about some of these changes, Lee has become the most vocal about them. He approaches Bill to see if anything can be done. After Bill reminds him how Mike is now Hope Valley’s mayor, Lee comes up with an idea. This idea is to write an editorial in the Valley Voice about the changes that have taken place. While Lee hopes some issues can be addressed in his editorial, there are some issues that have suddenly popped up. One day, at the Valley Voice office, Lee notices a group of men building something just outside of town. When Lee approaches the men in order to ask questions, one of the men is standoffish with him. As Lee tries to help him carry a plank of wood, the man pushes Lee, which starts a fist fight. Not only is Joseph able to stop the fight, but Lee was able to walk away with minor injuries. Before his article is published, Lee discovers the group of men were building a billboard to advertise jobs at the incoming foundry. But when Lee’s editorial is printed, it causes a buzz in the town. Rosemary warns Lee that even though his words are important, they might not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. Her words of wisdom encourage Lee to cancel additional prints of the new edition of the Valley Voice.

Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

One morning, Nathan decides to reacquaint Newton to their Mountie duties. But just as Nathan is about to put the saddle on his horse, Newton becomes skittish. The situation gets worse when Nathan and Newton arrive in town. Nathan is attempting to direct traffic. But the noise and commotion frighten Newton. So, Bill agrees to look after Newton during Nathan’s traffic directing. After the morning’s events, Bill informs Nathan that, for the time being, he has to get permission to ride Newton. This is because Newton’s current demeanor could put both horse and man in danger. Later in the episode, Nathan addresses what Bill told him to Mei. He says she shouldn’t have told Bill about Newton’s issues, as they were none of Bill’s business. But before this conversation, Nathan shared with Mei a past memory that has contributed to his current apprehension toward riding. When he was first learning to ride horses at thirteen, Nathan was thrown off a horse, which caused him to acquire a concussion. This recent apprehension led Nathan to take up Elizabeth’s offer, so he can learn how to drive a vehicle.

Mei is still secretive about her past and reasons for coming to Hope Valley. When Nathan asks Mei why she came to town, she tells him she wanted to see the world. She also tells Nathan Faith sold her on how great Hope Valley is. At the Soda Fountain, Faith asks Mei what happened between her and Jeffery. Mei simply says that her marriage with Jeffery was never going to work. Later in the episode, Bill arrives at the Soda Fountain to get some strawberry ice cream. While there, he wonders if Mei has anything to hide. Mei claims that she has been telling the truth the whole time. But Bill tells her that anyone who fears the truth is hiding more than they’re letting on. Meanwhile, Joseph and Minnie have been considering new steps in their careers. Joseph is still thinking about becoming a partner in Lee’s lumber yard. Minnie also wants to purchase the café from Bill. For now, though, they will continue to pray about it.

While showing Ally how the seltzer squirt bottle works, Robert unintentionally causes a food fight with some of Elizabeth’s students. Not only do these students have to clean up their mess, but Robert is also required to take care of Newton with little to no pay. Ally is proud of her throwing arm, as she claims she threw some ice cream right at Robert’s face. But she also claims the food fight was all meant in good, friendly fun. Later in the episode, Ally visits Elizabeth seeking advice. Even though she had a good time at her grandparents’ house, Ally now feels left out. She says her friends are either too busy interested in “childish” things or are moving on to graduation or taking jobs. Ally is also jealous of Angela’s new friendship with Robert, especially after hearing about their bike ride that happened earlier this season. Elizabeth tells Ally the same thing Nathan told her: to simply remain friends with Robert. She also tells Ally to find people who she feels comfortable with. That way, Ally will have a place to belong, no matter where she is.

<a href=”http://<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type=”URL” data-id=”<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.comStrawberry background image created by Bluelela from freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Toward the end of this episode, Elizabeth asked Joseph to build a book wagon. After seeing a notice on the Valley Voice’s bulletin board, Elizabeth became inspired to deliver books to neighboring towns in the summer. Not only do I like her idea, but I honestly wish this was the basis for When Calls the Heart’s spinoff show. The overarching story could have been similar to shows such as Highway to Heaven and Touched by An Angel: where a new person is helped each episode. Maybe if the spinoff show had a more unique identity, I would have a stronger interest in watching it.
  • As I mentioned in the introduction, Mike gives Faith a compliment. He then invites Faith to dinner at the saloon, with Faith accepting the invitation. Even though Mike is not romantically involved with Faith or Fiona, it makes me wonder if we’ll witness a second love triangle in the future? At this point, it’s way too early to speculate. But after the love triangle that took place from seasons six to eight, I really don’t like the idea of another one.
  • While looking back on Henry’s overarching story, I realize it has, more often than not, been unhappy. Yes, he’s come a long way since the beginning of When Calls the Heart. And we did see a happier side to him in season eight. But giving Henry basically one happy story in nine seasons is, honestly, disappointing. If When Calls the Heart receives a tenth season, I hope Henry catches a break. If he’s not ready to fall in love, that’s ok. As long as Henry is happier than he usually has been.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this episode? How are you enjoying this season so far? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen