Take 3: Making of a Male Model Review

Any time I participate in a blogathon, I try to choose a film or topic that brings something different to the event. This allows my entry to stand out, as well as offer a sense of variety to the blogathon’s subject. When searching Joan Collins’ filmography, for Realweegiemedget Reviews’ Joan Collins Blogathon, I came across the 1983 television movie, Making of a Male Model. What intrigued me to the point of wanting to watch it was how it told a story from a completely different perspective. In films that revolve around modeling or the fashion industry, the story usually focuses on a female protagonist. With Making of a Male Model, a man is entering the modeling world. Out of the films I’ve seen involving modeling, the only one featuring a male model in the starring cast is the Disney movie, Model Behavior. Add the fact I’ve haven’t seen many of Joan’s projects, I am definitely eager to start this review!

Here is a screenshot I took with my phone of the movie’s opening title. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because Joan Collins’ involvement in this movie is one of the reasons why I chose to review this film, I’ll talk about her performance first. In stories where the head of a fashion or modeling firm is one of the main characters, they either have an obvious self-centered personality or they come across as emotionally distant. With Joan’s portrayal of Kay Dillon, she brought something different to a role like this. For most of the film, Kay appeared genuinely kind-hearted and nurturing. The only times Kay sounds self-centered is when she is upset. When Kay and Tyler discuss their plans over lunch is a perfect example, as she explains how she can’t spend much time with him because she had spent ten years building her career. Speaking of Tyler, I enjoyed watching Jon-Erik Hexum’s performance! He did a good job portraying a character in his specific situation. At the beginning of the movie, Tyler is a “fish out of water”, overwhelmed by the modeling world and taken aback by some of the things that take place in that world. As the film progresses, Tyler gains more confidence and his perspective begins to change. I also liked Jeff Conaway’s portrayal of Chuck Lanyard! It was dramatic and emotional without being over-the-top. One of Jeff’s best scenes is when his character is comparing the modeling world to a stage play. That scene proved to me Jeff has the talents for a Broadway show!

The costume design: In one scene, Tyler and Kay attend a costume party. The costumes were so elaborate and detailed, I honestly thought they were going to the Met Gala! One of the party goers wore a large hat in the shape of eyes. The piece around the blue eyes appeared periwinkle, with the hat portion blending into a pretty purple. Kay’s dress was absolutely gorgeous! It was covered in sparkles, allowing the dress to shine whenever Joan moved. The top of the dress was gold, with the skirt adopting an ombre design of blue and purple. A clear jeweled collar completed the look. During a photo shoot, one of the models was wearing a hat with a bird on it. The bird was covered in purple jewels, sparkling anytime the model moved her head. It was such a cool piece that I’d love to have in my wardrobe!

An insightful look into the world of modeling/advertising: Out of the episodes of Murder, She Wrote I’ve seen, my favorite one is ‘Film Flam’. One of the reasons is the behind the scenes look at how a movie premiere is organized. Throughout Making of a Male Model, the world of modeling and advertising is explored. When Tyler goes to apply for a catalogue modeling job, he is turned down due to his appearance and his lack of a portfolio. This instance shows how fast-paced this particular world can be and how one must always be prepared to bring a good first impression. At one point in Tyler’s journey, Tyler takes part in television commercials. Before a commercial for cologne was filmed, the director conducted a practice run in order to help Tyler remember what to do. It was interesting to see how the sets were constructed, how far the crew was willing to go to create an image or an idea. It was also interesting to see the prep work that goes into creating a commercial.

What I didn’t like the film:

Lack of on-screen chemistry: During the film, Tyler and Kay form a romantic relationship. However, I never sensed a spark between them. Jon-Erik and Joan worked well together from an acting perspective. But when it came time for their characters to become intimate, it felt like they were following story points within a script instead of allowing their characters to form a connection.  Tyler and Kay’s relationship comes to fruition after the costume party I mentioned earlier. But up until that moment, Tyler and Kay did not express any interest in falling in love with each other. So, the formation of their relationship, from a story telling perspective, felt forced and random.

Following the same beats: As I said in the introduction, I wanted to watch Making of a Male Model because it told a model’s story from a man’s perspective, which is not often explored in the world of cinema. Because of this, I was expecting the movie to tell a different kind of story from others of this nature. Sadly, it was just more of the same. The story followed a lot of the same beats as other modeling/seeking fame films. Making of a Male Model featured tropes such as “the two-faced boss”, “a cautionary tale about fame and fortune”, and “a friend in crisis”. This movie had an opportunity to take different avenues of the modeling or advertising world that either haven’t been or are rarely discussed in film. But that opportunity was not taken advantage of.

Telling more than showing: There were some moments in Making of a Male Model where characters told more than showed what was happening. As I already mentioned, Chuck compares the modeling world to a stage play. I did like Chuck’s monologue and Jeff’s performance. However, because this monologue was given before Tyler’s modeling career began, it denied the audience a chance of seeing Tyler’s journey firsthand, without being spoiled. At the costume party, a man named Ward accuses Kay of breaking a contract. It gets to the point where Ward starts causing a scene. Since this accusation is presented as hearsay, it is never determined who was telling the truth.

I apologize for the poorer quality of this photo, but it was one of the few complete shot of the dress this movie presented. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

I know that stories are bound to get repeated overtime. But there is a fine line between telling similar stories and rehashing material. Making of a Male Model fits into the latter category, as the same tropes are adopted from other films of this nature. Honestly, this disappoints me because I was expecting more from this movie. Despite finding Making of a Male Model to be just ok, there are aspects of the film I liked. One of them is the insightful look at the modeling/advertising world. This part of the story held my interest, as I found it to be a fascinating exploration. With that in mind, I think the concept of this movie would have worked better as a television show or documentary.

Before I finish this review, I’d like to let my readers know I did choose another book from my TBR Tin. For those who don’t know, I announced in January how I would choose which book to read next from a hot chocolate tin I won last year. My second TBR Tin book of the year is

(insert drumroll here)

Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn!

Yes, this is a book I said I was going to read in 2019. But I’m glad to finally get around to reading it!

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen Making of a Male Model? Which projects of Joan Collins’ have you watched? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star Review

I am so close to publishing 200 movie reviews! Because of this, I have devoted this week to publishing my 199th and 200th movie reviews. Next week, I will publish a celebratory post to commemorate this accomplishment. Yesterday, I watched Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. When I posted my review of Perry Mason Returns last month, it ended up becoming more popular than I expected, with the article receiving nine likes! These factors are the reason why I chose to review Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. For the most part, I have enjoyed this particular series. While some films have been better than others, I haven’t come across an installment that was bad. What works in Perry Mason’s favor is having consistent elements, such as the acting performances. Because these elements have been, more often than not, strong, it has helped the memorability of the series!

While searching the internet for this film’s poster, I took a screenshot of this one, as I love the overall design! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Joe Penny is an actor I’m familiar with because of his performance in Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. What I liked about his portrayal of Robert McCay in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is how he was given more opportunities to use emotion! A great example is when Robert is being questioned by Perry Mason at the police station. For most of this scene, the sadness and concern of the situation can be seen on Joe’s face. As the scene progresses, Robert’s anger explodes. Another actor that uses facial expressions well is Jennifer O’Neill! Portraying the murder victim’s wife, Alison Carr, Jennifer used her eyes to enhance the emotions her character was feeling. Her best scene was when Alison and Perry are having a conversation at a law library event. During this conversation, Alison tries to convince Perry that despite everything she has experienced, she is fine. But because her eyes contain so much pain, it appears that Alison is falling apart at the seams. Something I enjoy about the Perry Mason TV movie series is how new, memorable characters have been introduced in each story. Michelle Benti, portrayed by Wendy Crewson, is one of these characters. A photo journalist from New York City, Michelle plays an integral part of the story. She also had a great on-screen personality! Because of these things, it makes me wish Michelle became one of the series’ regulars.

The cinematography: There are times when a mystery movie offers visually appealing cinematography to their audience. Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is one of these films, as I noticed some interesting cinematography while watching the movie! In the scene where Robert is being questioned by Perry, light is pouring into the room through the blinds of the windows. Both the light and shadows reflect off of Robert’s face, highlighting his facial expressions. Toward the beginning of the film, Robert is walking through the city at night. Smoke could be seen at various moments in that scene. This element helped add to the mysterious nature of the story!

Scenes that tricked the audience: Throughout Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, Robert McCay is filming a movie in New York City. This caused a few scenes to be presented in a way that tricked the audience. In the aforementioned beginning scene, Robert finds himself in the city at night. At one point, he is surrounded by two sets of gang members. As the scene goes on, it is revealed that Robert and the gang members are in the middle of shooting a film scene. Later in the film, Robert and one of his co-stars, Kate, are seen having a conversation with each other. At first, it seems like they are gaining a mutual understanding of the murder case. But, like the previously mentioned scene, this moment is also revealed to be a part of Robert’s movie.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Characters with wasted potential: While each character in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star gets their moment to shine, there are a few characters that could have had a greater significance in the story. The gang members from the very first scene serve as a good example. I understand these characters were meant to be extras in Robert’s movie. However, I feel at least one of them could have been given more lines and screen time. Who knows? Maybe they would have become a series regular.

The funeral/memorial dinner: When I reviewed the Murder, She Wrote episode, ‘Hannigan’s Wake’, I mentioned how one funeral visitation felt more like a light-hearted dinner party. There was one scene in this movie that made me feel similar to the aforementioned episode. In Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, the funeral/memorial dinner for the murder victim felt more like an award ceremony. This is because of two things; the fact that some characters don’t wear black attire and how one of the murder victim’s closest friends incorporated jokes during his speech. As I said in my review of ‘Hannigan’s Wake’, funeral services are unique to the family hosting that gathering. However, the two factors I brought up prevented this scene from displaying strong feelings of sadness and grief.

An unbelievable stunt scene: I am aware how fictional stories make their audience suspend their disbelief to varying degrees. But in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, there was one scene involving a stunt that didn’t seem believable to me. The stunt itself is not what caused me to feel this way. This was brought on by the stunt coordinator’s decision to allow a civilian, Perry’s colleague Paul, to participate in a stunt without taking precautionary steps beforehand. I understand this particular scene was meant to serve as a comedic moment. But I just can’t believe any stunt coordinator would willingly overlook details like that, especially in a mystery movie that appears grounded in reality.

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

My overall impression:

As the eighth movie I’ve seen in the Perry Mason TV movie series, I’d say Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is the best one! Despite its flaws, this film did contain a mystery that was not only intriguing, but also captivating from start to finish! Almost every series features at least one chapter that revolves around show business. When this creative decision is chosen, Hollywood usually serves as that chapter’s backdrop. In Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, a movie was being filmed in New York City. This allows a nice change of scenery and a different perspective to this tried-and-true plot point. While watching the film, I couldn’t help being reminded of the Brandon Lee tragedy. It is due to the murder victim also being killed by a prop weapon in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. There’s no denying the major differences between the real-life and fictional situations. But after watching Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, it does make me wonder if there would have been a heightened sense of awareness had someone working on the film or a person who knew a cast or crew member had seen the 1986 movie prior to production on The Crow?

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

What are your thoughts on the Perry Mason TV movie series? Do you have a favorite mysteries series? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Alice in the Cities Review + 210 & 215 Follower Thank You

Three weeks ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 210 followers! Because I was in the middle of coordinating my PB & J Double Feature and reviewing films for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month, I postponed my 210-follower dedication review. During that time, my blog also received 215 followers! This caused me to combine my 210 and 215 follower dedications into one review. Since last March, I’ve had a recording of Alice in the Cities on my DVR. As you can tell by the title of this post, this is the film I have chosen to write about. Every so often, I try to watch and/or review a movie that was created outside of North America. Most of these films have come from Europe. Prior to watching Alice in the Cities, the only German film I’ve written about on 18 Cinema Lane was Nosferatu. What’s interesting is how, like the 1922 movie, Alice in the Cities was restored as a result of two different versions of the project. According to a message at the beginning of the film, the movie was filmed in two separate millimeters.

This is a screenshot of the poster I took with my phone that happened to be featured on my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: According to an article from Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website, Wim Wenders, the director of Alice in the Cities, was inspired to create this film after watching Rüdiger Vogler and Yella Rottländer perform together in a previous project. Having these two actors reunite for Alice in the Cities was a smart decision! I liked Rüdiger’s portrayal of Philip because it was consistent. Not only that, but he had a coolness about him as his character moved from one scene to the next. No matter what scenario was thrown in his path, Philip was calm and collected. This made Rüdiger’s performance appear effortless! Something that I noticed while watching Yella’s performance was how believable it was. Whether she was questioning Philip’s “scribbles” or asking for food, Yella’s body language, facial expressions, and overall demeanor appeared as one would expect from a child in Alice’s particular situation. It also helps that Yella worked with Wim and Rüdiger prior to this movie. Because of this, Yella appeared comfortable in the role she was given!

The cinematography: Alice in the Cities is filmed in black-and-white. This was done not only because of a personal decision by the director, but also to avoid having Alice in the Cities be compared to Paper Moon, a movie that was released a year before Wim’s project. When film fans think about black-and-white movies, productions that were released before 1965 will likely come to mind. However, it’s important to remember those titles were presented in black-and-white because filming in color was rarely an option. With Alice in the Cities, its presentation was purposefully chosen, which proved to be more interesting than I would have expected. It caused the story to be frozen in time, allowing the narrative to serve as a time-capsule. Having a few characters appear on screen at a given moment makes each interaction feel intimate, like the audience is directly a part of these verbal exchanges. I also liked how some scenes looked like the view came straight from Philip’s perspective. One great example is when Philip is boarding a train in Amsterdam.

Philip and Alice’s interactions: The majority of this story revolves around Philip’s search for Alice’s grandmother, which results in Philip and Alice spending a significant amount of time together. As I mentioned before, Rüdiger and Yella had worked together in a previous film. This helped their interactions come across as realistic. In the aforementioned TCM article, one of Wim’s inspirations for Alice in the Cities was his friend, who happened to be a single parent. This explains why Philip and Alice’s interactions feel like they are between father and daughter. Because of the quality of their acting abilities, Rüdiger and Yella were able to bring this idea to life in their performance! They were also able to equally carry the film.

Map of Germany image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Background vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like the film:

Scenes feeling like padding: There were some scenes in Alice in the Cities that ended up feeling like padding. One example is when Philip and Alice go to an ice cream shop. Within this scene, a shorter scene of a child eating their ice cream next to a juke box is included. This scene didn’t serve the overall story and felt like it was there just to be there. Personally, I think scenes like the shorter one I mentioned should have been cut from the film.

The run-time: IMDB lists Alice in the Cities with a run-time of one hour and fifty minutes. To me, this caused the movie to feel a bit too long. Like I previously stated, there were scenes in this film that felt like padding. Their purpose seemed to be that of satisfying this run-time. The story itself was also straight-forward. These two factors made me believe that, at least, ten minutes of this movie could have been shaved off.

An inconsistent exploration of Philip’s beliefs: At certain points in Alice in the Cities, Philip expresses his beliefs about topics like his dislike toward television and why he takes photos. Philip presents an interesting way of looking at things that most people wouldn’t think twice about. Unfortunately, these beliefs were not explored to a satisfying extent. As the story places a primary emphasis on Philip’s search for Alice’s grandmother, this exploration gets lost in the shuffle. It also creates an inconsistent inclusion of this part of the story.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) features an interesting article about Wim Wenders and the creation of Alice in the Cities. After reading about Wim’s personal struggles as a filmmaker and after learning about this film’s restoration efforts, it makes me glad that Alice in the Cities was able to see the light of day! Movies involving road trips usually don’t interest me. But because of Rüdiger Vogler and Yella Rottländer’s performance, I found myself invested in the journey of their characters! Creative cinematography and addressing Philip’s beliefs also help make this film likable and well-made. Even though Alice in the Cities is a fine film, there were things about it that prevented the overall project from being better. The main plot didn’t allow Philip’s beliefs to be explored to their fullest extent. It also doesn’t help that some scenes felt like padding. However, I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity to share this film with my followers! Thank you for helping 18 Cinema Lane reach these milestones! This blog would not be the same without you!

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

Have you seen any movies created outside your home country? If so, what was your movie-viewing experience? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here’s a link to the article from Turner Classic Movies that I mentioned in my review:

http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/719889%7C0/Alice-in-the-Cities.html

Take 3: Never a Dull Moment Review

Like I said in my Follow Me, Boys! review, I have several movies on my DVR. Most of these films were recorded last year or over a year ago. Last night, I chose to watch one of these films, which I added to my DVR last June. This film is Never a Dull Moment! Sometime, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will host a marathon called “Treasures from the Disney Vault”. When this event takes place, the network will show a collection of smaller titles and lesser known films from Disney. In one of these marathons, Never a Dull Moment was included in the line-up. While I had never heard of this film prior to the marathon, I have seen two of Dick Van Dyke’s movies. Because one of those films was Mary Poppins, which I have enjoyed, I had a good indication that I might like Never a Dull Moment. Was this the case? Keep reading my review if you want to find out!

Never a Dull Moment poster created by Walt Disney Productions and Buena Vista Distribution. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NeverADullMoment1968.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Before watching Never a Dull Moment, I had seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. A consistent component of Dick Van Dyke’s acting abilities I have noticed is the strong adaptability. In one scene, his character, Jack, is acting drunk in an attempt to impersonate a gangster. Moments later, Jack is crying over the loss of a fictional Aunt Gladys. This is a great example of how Dick could effortlessly take on any situation through his performance! At limited moments in the film, a gangster named Florian would appear. This character was portrayed by Tony Bill. What I liked about his performance is how calm and collected his persona came across. Even though Florian was Leo Smooth’s henchman, he presented an idea of a gangster that people have come to recognize in film. While I liked Dorothy Provine’s portrayal of Sally, I want to talk about Joanna Cook Moore’s portrayal of Melanie, as her on-screen presence was shorter. Joanna’s personality was bubbly, which appeared natural for her character. During a scene where Melanie is showing Jack some of her figure skating photos, Joanna seemed to use her performance to light up the room. Her on-screen presence was memorable, despite being featured in only three scenes.

The set design: I was really impressed by the set design in Never a Dull Moment! Since the movie takes place in New York, tall skyscrapers and even the Brooklyn Bridge can be seen. This specific set looked impressive, making the location feel larger than life! Another great example of set design was Leo Smooth’s mansion. My favorite feature of this set was the consistency and fine detailing of the woodwork, especially on the staircase! A local art museum is where the film’s heist is featured. During the climax, various art exhibits are showcased. The Pop Art exhibit was the best one, as the art itself was colorful. It was also large in scale, creating a space that felt grand.

The music: If used well, music can help set a tone for either the whole movie or a particular scene. The music certainly did that for Never a Dull Moment! Whenever Jack was sneaking around Leo’s mansion, smooth jazz music could be heard. This fits the tone of those scenes because it emulates a feeling of curiosity that usually comes from film-noir and mysteries. In a scene involving a spinning piece of art, music from a merry-go-round was playing in the background. Since the art itself is colorful and the scene is meant to be humorous, this musical selection makes sense.

Art tools image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/flar-art-tools-pack_835368.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>.  <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/paint”>Paint vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out story: One overarching narrative of Never a Dull Moment revolves around a group of gangsters planning to steal a valuable painting. While an important component of any heist is the preparation stage, this part of the process lasted longer than it should have. Only one scene is dedicated to highlighting the plans for the heist. But the rest of that time was spent focusing on things not related to the heist. One example is Melanie Smooth attempting to relive her glory days as a famous figure skater. Moments like this had nothing to do with the heist and caused the overall story to feel drawn out.

Little sense of urgency: Heist films are usually fast paced, as there is a sense of urgency to carry out the heist. But, in Never a Dull Moment, the amount of urgency within the story was small. For most of the film, Jack hangs out at Leo Smooth’s mansion. This part of the movie was mundane, as little to no excitement was taking place. Even the gangsters’ activities didn’t feel out of the ordinary. A good example is when Leo is painting in his office. While the overall level of excitement picked up when the heist started, the build-up itself was not exciting.

A dull first half: With a title like Never a Dull Moment, you’d think the movie as a whole would be intriguing and action-packed. However, that is not the case for this film. I found the first half of the movie to be dull. This is the result of the story being drawn out and a small amount of urgency. Even though a part of the overall narrative focuses on a heist, this aspect of the story seemed to be an afterthought within the film’s first half. The heist itself took place in the second half of the movie. But this doesn’t make up for the weak nature of the previous segment.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As of late June to early July 2020, I have reviewed four live-action Disney films from the ‘60s. Three out of four of these movies have been ok or “middle of the road”. Never a Dull Moment was one of them. I will say this is a better heist movie than Logan Lucky. However, it wasn’t as exciting as I had expected it to be. The film is titled Never a Dull Moment, but the first half of the story is just that: dull. It also doesn’t help that there was a small amount of urgency. But the movie did contain elements that I did like. Some of them includes the acting and the set design. As weird as it sounds, Never a Dull Moment doesn’t feel like a Disney movie. It’s understandable for a studio to try new things and think outside the box. Never a Dull Moment, however, seems like belongs to a different studio. Like my Follow Me, Boys! review, I can’t fully recommend this movie, but I’m not going to dissuade anyone from watching it either.

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

Have you seen any of Dick Van Dyke’s films? Which live-action Disney film from the ‘60s do you like or dislike? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Audrey Rose Review

For June’s Genre Grandeur, the chosen theme is “New York Films of the 70’s”. After searching through a list on Wikipedia, I selected Audrey Rose as my submission! This is a film I have heard about in passing, but have never seen. What caught my attention is how the movie was classified as a horror film. I don’t always review movies in this genre, as a portion of them are too dark for my liking. However, I do try to go out of my comfort zone every so often. The synopsis also intrigued me, as I wondered where the story would go. Mysteries are a staple on this blog, so I was looking forward to helping the characters solve the case. Is Audrey Rose worthy of being included in Genre Grandeur? Keep reading my review so you can solve the mystery too!

Audrey Rose poster created by Sterobcar Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Audrey_Rose_movie_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: One of Anthony Hopkins’ most iconic roles is Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. Through his performance, he brought to life a character that was eerie and unsettling. In Audrey Rose, Anthony’s portrayal of Elliot Hoover was also unsettling, but for different reasons. During the events of the film, Elliot seemed to have power over the situation. This is because he had the answers Ivy’s parents were desperately looking for. Unlike Hannibal, Elliot was never meant to come across as scary. Anthony’s facial expressions, body language, and the way his character interacted with others supports this claim. When it comes to stories focusing on young characters, it’s important for a creative team to cast a young actor or actress who can carry a character’s emotional weight. Despite appearing in the film for a limited amount of time, Susan Swift impressed me with her portrayal of Ivy Templeton! It was heartbreaking to watch Ivy experience one of her nightmarish episodes, as Susan’s performance was that believable. However, that level of emotionality added to the captivation of this character.

The Templeton family’s apartment: I’ve seen a variety of apartments in television and film. But the Templeton family’s apartment in Audrey Rose is one of the best! An aspect that immediately caught my eye was the grand, wood staircase. This design feature is usually found in on-screen homes from the suburbs or wealthier neighborhoods. So, seeing this staircase in an apartment was unique. Speaking of woodwork, the fireplace in the living room was adorned with fine detailing. It shows how the apartment’s woodwork can compliment the space’s interior design. The showstopper of this living environment was the paintings on the ceiling! Exquisite is the word I would use to describe the art itself. I would be willing to guess that pictures and videos would not do it justice. Whoever created the apartment’s interior design should be commended for their work!

Elemental consistency: Throughout this movie, there were two elements that had a consistent presence. When Elliot first enters the Templeton family’s lives, the weather is very rainy. This is also the case when Ivy is experiencing nightmarish episodes. The incorporation of rain reminded me of The Crow, as this element served as symbolism in Audrey Rose. Not only did rain highlight sadness, it also showed how some situations should run their course. Fire is the other element that was consistently featured in the story. This was present during a tragic event and it emphasized how ignoring some situations only allows them to manifest. These elements created visual interest as well provide depth to the narrative.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Not a horror film: On Wikipedia and IMDB, Audrey Rose is classified as a “horror” film. Even the film’s poster gives the impression that someone is coming back from the dead, which is a classic horror movie concept. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Two traits that have defined the horror genre are stories where characters get away from or get rid of something bad. None of these traits are found in Audrey Rose. The primary focus of this movie surrounded the idea of reincarnation. This idea is presented in a positive way, as a course that needs to run on its own term. While horrifying things happen to Ivy, in the form of nightmarish episodes, it was caused by fearing the unknown. Even though this aspect can be found in horror films, it can also be found in other genres. Audrey Rose is a film that I, personally, did not find scary.

A drawn-out story: Like I already said, the story of Audrey Rose revolves around the idea of reincarnation. While this provides the overall narrative with an interesting debate, the majority of the story focuses on whether reincarnation is legitimate. A solution to the Templeton family’s problem wasn’t found until the last thirty minutes of the film. This drawn-out story was the result of an almost two-hour run-time. Had about twenty or thirty minutes been shaved off of this production, the story would have gotten straight to the point sooner.

Scenes that felt like padding: Because Audrey Rose has a run-time of an hour and fifty-three minutes, there were a few scenes that felt like padding. One example is when Ivy is trying to talk to Audrey Rose through a mirror. This scene didn’t have a strong need to exist within the story. It also didn’t fit the overall flow of the film. If anything, this particular scene felt like a weak attempt at making the movie feel like it belonged in the horror genre.

Rose illustration image 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.

My overall impression:

Horror movies are not often found on 18 Cinema Lane. This is the reason why I chose Audrey Rose for June’s Genre Grandeur, as I try to explore various genres. Unfortunately, this was not the horror film I expected it to be. The project itself was interesting, exploring a topic in the form of a debate. But classifying it in a genre where it doesn’t belong is misleading. I can describe Audrey Rose in two ways. The first is a medical/spiritual mystery, similar to Lorenzo’s Oil. The second is a debate presented in the form of a movie, like Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Sweet Nothing in My Ear. The idea behind this film makes it worth watching. However, don’t go into this movie expecting a story with spooky atmospheres and sinister tones.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen any ’70s films set in New York? Which movies do you think are incorrectly classified? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Rich Kids Review (Youth-Led Film Double Feature Part 1)

Welcome to the first part of my Youth-Led Film Double Feature! This review will contain spoilers and here is the link to the double feature’s introduction:

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

Rich Kids poster
Rich Kids poster created by Lion’s Gate Films and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rich_Kids_(film).jpg

1. In your double feature’s introduction, you mentioned the fact both Rich Kids and Over the Edge were released in 1979. Is there anything from this time period that could have influenced these films?

The film, Rich Kids, explores how wealth does not make an individual or a family invincible, as well as how money does not solve every problem. These morals can also be found within the Getty kidnapping case, which was showcased in the movie, All the Money in the World. Wealth could not prevent John Paul Getty III’s parents from divorcing or experiencing personal conflicts. Money doesn’t take away the trauma John Paul Getty III likely dealt with as a result of the kidnapping incident. Because this situation took place on July 10th, 1973, six years before the premiere of Rich Kids, I would guess the creative team behind Rich Kids absorbed these messages, contemplated on their importance, and wove a fictional, dramatic story around them.

 

2. In this introduction, you also mentioned how you originally thought Rich Kids “was a documentary style film about a group of rich kids growing up over a period of time”. Despite being different than what you expected, were you able to find some enjoyment in this film?

Rich Kids is a character-driven character study. When a film’s creative team decides to adopt this kind of story-telling, it’s important they create a cast of characters that the audience wants to spend their time with. Because these characters were well acted and written, it encouraged me to stay invested in their stories and journeys. In my opinion, I think it’s better that Rich Kids wasn’t the story I was expecting. Since this group of characters was smaller, it allowed the audience to not only become familiar with them, but to also truly know them. Had this film been about a group of children over the course of several years, it might have felt like they were competing against each other for attention.

 

3. Do the socio-economics of each film’s world affect the characters or the story?

While there was wealth being flaunted within this film, it didn’t happen as often as I thought it would. Rich Kids’ creative team places the wealth in the story to simply show it exists. But their primary focus is to present their characters as human, flawed, and inexperienced in life. When Franny visits Jamie at his father’s apartment for the first time, she is entranced by the magnificence of its existence. Even though she questions the cost of everything within that environment, her initial reaction is representative of how most people would react when entering a fantastical looking space. In reality, the characters influence the wealth, not the other way around.

 

4. Do you agree or disagree with Siskel and/or Ebert’s views on these films? Why?

In their review of Rich Kids, both Siskel and Ebert agree that the overall film should have kept its focus on the children. I second these opinions, as I found Franny and Jamie’s story to be more interesting than those of the adults. Because the divorce of Franny’s parents was inevitable and because Jamie’s parents were already divorced, there was no sense of intrigue from that part of the script. However, I do disagree with Siskel and Ebert on their views of the adults in this film. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “boobs” (Gene’s words, not mine), but I would say they are uninvolved in the lives of their children. They are so caught up in their own problems and stress, that they easily and quickly lose sight of what is really important.

 

5. When it comes to both films, Siskel and Ebert agreed on their views of the adult characters in each story. Did these characters have any significance within their respective movie?

As I said in answer number four, these adults were so caught up in their own issues, that they lost focus on their most important priorities. This part of the story highlighted the importance of young people having a parent, guardian, or mentor that maintains a healthy amount of involvement in their lives. Because these adults weren’t involved in the lives of their children, both Franny and Jamie lacked the guidance that they desperately needed. They ended up finding guidance and life lessons elsewhere.

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6. Besides having young actors as the leads, do these films share any similarities?

I haven’t seen Over the Edge yet, but based on Siskel and Ebert’s review of that movie, I can confidently say that one similarity between these films is the frustration the young protagonists feel about not being heard or understood by the adults. In one conversation, Franny tells Jamie how they have few rights because of their young ages. This statement makes them feel powerless and limited in their abilities and resources. Both Franny and Jamie are twelve years old, an age when most adolescents want to be seen less as children and hope to achieve a little more independence. Through their behavior and choices, these aspects of growing up are incorporated in Franny and Jamie’s story, as they are trying to form their own identities.

 

7. Did you develop any thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?

I don’t have any questions, but I did come up with two thoughts while watching Rich Kids. The first is how I loved the set design of Jamie’s dad’s apartment! From the tropical inspired oasis which is the first room characters encounter to the eccentric and eye-catching media room, these sets were both imaginative and impressively caught on film. My second thought revolves around the psychological well-being of the children. During one conversation, Franny confesses to Jamie that she named her dog after an imaginary world she created in her mind. The more she visits Jamie at his dad’s apartment, the more she uses that space to materialize her imaginary world. Later in the film, Franny shares with Jamie that prior to the start of their friendship, she lost her sister due to medical issues. I wish this script would have left some room to talk about how divorce and even a death in the family can affect a child’s psychological state, especially since Jamie’s stepdad was a psychologist. But I guess there’s only so much you can do in an hour and thirty-six minutes.

 

8. Is there anything about this movie that you liked or didn’t like?

Like I said in answer number two, I thought the characters were well acted and written. Because of these components, it felt like the audience took a glimpse into the lives of real-life people. This script also gave these characters a chance to come across as relatable. As Ebert said in the Rich Kids review, the conversations of the children “have a ring of truth to them”. I feel this way not just with Franny and Jamie’s conversations, but with every person in this project. The characters and their journeys were one of the strongest parts of this film!

 

As for what I didn’t like about this movie, I was not a fan of how Franny’s parents didn’t explore other options before deciding to get a divorce. At one moment in the film, Franny’s father’s lawyer suggests that Franny’s parents attend marriage counseling. They don’t even bother thinking that idea over and choose to treat divorce as the “end all, be all” of their problems. Like I’ve said on more than one occasion, I feel that ending a romantic relationship is a decision that shouldn’t be chosen lightly, especially if children or those who are dependent on the couple are involved. While this story is about how children deal with divorce, I think Franny’s parents should have discussed other options first.

 

9. Is there any aspect of either film that could be seen as relevant today?

An overarching theme that I noticed in this movie was the idea of knowing you’re not alone when dealing with a serious issue. Throughout their relationship, Jamie helps Franny deal with her parents’ inevitable divorce. Because his parents divorced prior to the start of their friendship, Jamie is able to use his experiences to show Franny that she is not the only one who has traveled down that road. They both become a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear for each other. This idea is definitely just as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1979.

 

10. After watching Rich Kids, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?

The biggest takeaway for me is how everyone experiences hardship, no matter who you are or what your economic status is. But as Rafiki from 1994’s The Lion King said, “you can either run from it, or learn from it”. In Rich Kids, Franny and Jamie try to handle their problems the best they realistically can. They do this by relying on one another and providing insight when necessary. Because of this, they are able to temporarily escape their issues and build a lasting friendship.

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Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver Review

Last October, I had planned on reviewing Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver. But, as I talked about in an editorial, Hallmark decided to postpone the movie until January 2020. Now that the beginning of the year has come, it means the film has finally arrived! The most exciting part of this movie appeared to be the use of magic. Also, the idea of a facility that specializes in magic is something that has never been featured in a Hallmark film before. These are the things that made me look forward to this installment! This is now the third movie in the Crossword Mysteries series that I’ve not only watched, but also reviewed. As I said in my reviews for the first two movies, I thought they were ok. But I was always interested in seeing how this series progressed. With a combination of magic and crossword puzzles, I wondered how it could raise the bar for the series. Well, since I recently saw the film, we can finally receive an answer to that question!

By the way, I have a new posting schedule where I will regularly publish articles on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays!

Crossword Mysteries Abracadaver poster
Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Crossword+Mysteries+Abracadaver.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because most of the main cast in this movie has also appeared in the first two entries, it helps maintain the consistency of the acting performances. Another factor that added to these performances was the quality of the cast’s acting talents. Once again, Lacey and Brennan did a really good job with the material they were given. It allowed the versatility of their acting abilities to shine through. They also had good on-screen chemistry with each other and with their co-stars. Speaking of co-stars, I liked watching the performances of the supporting cast! One supporting actor that caught my attention was Steve Belford. In this movie, Steve portrays Reed, a new employee at the New York Sentinel. Despite the fact he’s in the film for a limited amount of time, Steve did a great job at bringing charisma to his role. This helped him create a character that was more memorable than I expected!

 

The Magic Manor: Half of this movie took place at the Magic Manor, a facility that hosts magic classes and magic shows. The most impressive aspect of this location was the architecture and design. The overall structure appeared to be Victorian, featuring impressive woodwork and beautiful stained-glass windows. What also made this location so memorable was the various rooms and hallways featured within the manor’s walls. It elevated the mystery aspect of the story, adding to the suspense and intrigue a plot like this calls for. I always looked forward to seeing this place on screen because of its photogenic qualities. I’m not sure what this facility is in real life, but I’d love to see it appear in another Hallmark production!

 

The editing: For the most part, films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have pretty good editing. But Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver had editing that was very well-done. One example was scene transitions. When Tess is on the phone with Logan, there were two scenes featured: Tess and Logan talking on the phone in their separate office spaces. The way these scenes were edited gave them a smooth transition. It also appeared flawless, like the movie itself did not miss a beat. The editing definitely helped make this project visually appealing!

Magician icons set
Image of magic show essentials created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/card”>Card vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The absence of crossword puzzles: In my review of Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, I talked about how the insignificance of the crossword puzzles was one of the film’s biggest flaws. In Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, crossword puzzles barely make an appearance. This took away a large portion of the series’ identity. Also, there were missed opportunities to use these puzzles as clues for the mystery. Like I said in my review of the previous film, the lack of crossword puzzles makes the film’s creative team see their idea as too niche for sustainability. It is also starting to make me wonder why this series is called “Crossword Mysteries”?

 

Some scenes being drawn-out: About half of the scenes in this film are dialogue heavy. While the dialogue itself was necessary for the story, it made these scenes feel drawn-out. Because of this, it also made the film’s overall pace seem slower than most Hallmark mystery movies. Personally, I think there should have been a balance between action and dialogue heavy scenes. That way, the film’s sense of intrigue would never be in danger of faltering.

 

The “don’t-get-involved” cliché: While this cliché is not always featured in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films, I find that it doesn’t work outside of the first or second movie in a series. This is the case for Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver. Tess’s aunt and Logan constantly tell her not to bother trying to solve the mystery. I understand that they had Tess’s best interests in mind. But these warnings were being spoken after she successfully solved two mysteries. If this series does receive a fourth movie, I hope this cliché is dropped from the story.

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My overall impression:

Like I said in the introduction, Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver is the third film in this series that I’ve watched and reviewed. In my opinion, this movie is the strongest of the three! While it does have flaws, the film also has elements that elevate the material. There were even aspects of the story that could help maintain the series’ consistency. In recent years, I’ve noticed that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has taken their films more seriously. They also are more likely to try new things when it comes to story-telling. Things like this make me prefer movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries over those from Hallmark Channel. Even though Hallmark’s main network has made some good films, it seems like they are comfortable telling the kinds of stories that are more “tried-and-true”. Since Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver is the first movie I’m reviewing in 2020, it looks like my year is off to a good start!

 

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

 

Do you like the Crossword Mysteries series? Are there any series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries that you’re looking forward to? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder Review

Yes, I know Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder has already premiered. But since I haven’t reviewed a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film since August and since I reviewed Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, I thought that a review for the second movie should be in order. In my review of the first film, I said that it had potential to start a strong and entertaining series. Even though the movie had its flaws, there were things about it that I enjoyed. Now the sequel has arrived! In this review, it’ll be interesting to see where this series has improved, where it still needs to grow, and if it has what it takes to be a long-lasting series. Who knows? Maybe September or October could become Crossword Mysteries Month! Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start this review of Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder.

Crossword Mysteries Proposing Murder poster
Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=986&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Crossword%20Mysteries%20Proposing%20Murder&IsSeries=False.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Just like in the first film, the acting was one of the highlights of Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder! Both Brennan and Lacey seemed comfortable in their roles, based on how natural their portrayals came across on screen. What works in their favor is how they’ve worked together in other Hallmark productions. This helped them build a believable on-screen relationship. In years past, I’ve enjoyed Kimberly J. Brown’s performances in films such as the Halloweentown series, Ellen Foster, and My Sister’s Keeper. Seeing her appear as Logan’s sister was such a pleasant surprise! Though her time in the movie was very limited, she still found a way to shine in this project. I hope she can receive a lead role in a Hallmark production some day!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Like I just said, Lacey and Brennan worked together on other Hallmark projects prior to the creation of this series. This aspect helped them have good on-screen chemistry! Throughout Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, the characters of Logan and Tess had a relationship that felt realistic and convincing. It also seems like their friendship was progressing from where it started in the first film. Watching Logan and Tess’s relationship grow provides one of the lighter moments of this movie.

 

An incorporation of history: While this element was only brief, I thought it was interesting how history was incorporated into the story. I’m not going to spoil anything if you haven’t seen this movie yet. What I will say is I found this to be more educational than I was expecting. The element of history also made sense with what was happening on screen. History isn’t always included in films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. It’s inclusion in Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder added something unique to this movie!

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Wedding cake image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/enjoyable-wedding-card_953556.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

What I didn’t like about the film:

Limited amount of suspense: In any mystery film, there’s a certain amount of suspense that can be found within the story. But in Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, I found very little suspense in the narrative. While a few suspenseful moments were presented, it wasn’t enough to be consistent. Because of this, it made the threat seem not as significant as in other mystery stories. It also felt like the characters kept their distance from any real sense of danger.

 

The pace: As I’ve talked about before, mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries usually have a faster pace. Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, however, ended up having a slower pace. This caused the film to feel drawn out and not as engaging as it could have been. The film’s slower pace prevented the project from being thrilling and exciting, components that make a good mystery story. Add the limited amount of suspense, this movie is a few steps away from being a typical Hallmark Channel movie.

 

Crossword puzzles being insignificant: In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, crossword puzzles played a huge role when it came to solving the mystery. This time around, these puzzles were featured for only a short amount of time. Also, they weren’t used to solve the movie’s overarching mystery. The idea of having these puzzles be clues in a mystery is not a bad idea. But their limited appearance makes it seem like the series’ creative team is starting to realize how niche this concept really is.

sunday-s-crossword-1238083-1279x852

Crossword puzzle image created by jaylopez at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/JayLopez.”

My overall impression:

Just like the first movie, I found Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder to be ok. Sure, it had its strengths, such as the acting and inclusion of history. But the movie had some of the same flaws that its predecessor did. If Hallmark wants this series to be successful, the creative team behind it needs to improve upon these things. The next movie in this series is Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, a film that I’m looking forward to! Magic isn’t always found in Hallmark films, so this project has the potential to be something interesting. The idea of a facility that houses magic shows seems fascinating, as a location like this has never been featured in any Hallmark production. Mystery and magic could go hand-in-hand, especially with Halloween approaching. I just hope that its better than the first and second film.

 

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

 

Have you seen the films from the Crossword Mysteries series? Which series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is your favorite? Share your thoughts 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.

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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: Little Nellie Kelly Review

I know that it’s been two weeks since I last wrote a movie review. Because I was out of town around that time, I chose to reschedule several of my planned blog posts to later dates. But, when it comes to posts relating to blogathons, I always try my best to be a blogger of my word and publish my lists, reviews, or editorials within the blogathon time-frame. When I signed up for the 2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon, I knew, right away, that I would be reviewing the film, Little Nellie Kelly. Before this review, I had never seen or heard of this movie. Plus, the synopsis on Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website said that this film is about “the daughter of Irish immigrants patches up differences between her father and grandfather and rises to the top on Broadway”. Because I knew that Judy Garland was the star of this production, I figured that I would, at least, find some enjoyment in this movie. Was my prediction correct? Was there enjoyment to be found in Little Nellie Kelly? Please keep reading if you want to find the answer!

Little Nellie Kelly poster
Little Nellie Kelly poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Poster_-_Little_Nellie_Kelly_03.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: Something I’ve noticed about Judy’s films (specifically the ones that I’ve seen) is that she surrounds herself with a talented cast. This is no different for Little Nellie Kelly. Charles Winninger’s portrayal of Michael Noonan was such a pleasant surprise! He brought so much emotion to his performance that it ended up being effective. Judy’s performance was also great to watch! Her emotions and musicality helped her portrayal of Nellie Kelly be as strong as it was. I also liked George Murphy’s performance as Jerry Kelly! His acting talents helped carry this film alongside his co-stars.

 

  • The comedy: In Little Nellie Kelly, there were comedic moments that I truly found to be hilarious. One scene has Nellie telling her father that she’s going to get married to Jerry. As soon as her father hears this, he unexpectedly spits out his coffee and makes a big mess. This moment made me laugh out loud! As I watched the film, I noticed that the majority of these comedic moments were caused by Charles’ character, Michael. Because of this particular actor’s quality of talent, it made the film’s comedy stick the landing.

 

  • Some of the montages: There were two montages in Little Nellie Kelly that I really liked. The first one was when Jerry, Nellie, and Michael go through the process of becoming citizens of the United States. When it comes to cinematic stories about people immigrating to the United States, this aspect of the narrative is rarely explored. The second montage I liked showed the process of Jerry becoming a police officer. In film, when a character chooses to be a police officer, they are usually shown either before or after they accept the job. Like the first montage, this process is not always featured in cinematic narratives. Even though these montages didn’t last very long, I’m glad they were included in this story.

2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon banner
The 2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/announcing-the-second-annual-broadway-bound-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • An inability to hold an accent: Because some of the characters are from Ireland, hearing accents from them is to be expected. While Charles Winninger did a good job when it came to carrying the accent, I felt that Judy and George’s ability to carry an Irish accent wasn’t as strong. When I watched Little Nellie Kelly, I never heard Jerry talk with an Irish accent. Meanwhile, the only time Nellie spoke with an Irish accent was when she sang “A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow”. Because of Judy and George’s inability to carry an accent, this prevented a sense of continuity to exist amongst the characters.

 

  • A limited amount of musical numbers and comedy: Even though I liked the comedy in this film, there were very few comedic moments to be found. Throughout this one hour and thirty-eight minute picture, there were more dramatic moments than comedic ones. In this movie, there were a total of about four to five musical numbers. That’s a lot less than I was expecting. The film’s opening credits said that Little Nellie Kelly was based on a “musical comedy”. But, if anything, this project felt more like a “dramedy” (a combination of comedy and drama), with an emphasis on drama.

 

  • Judy Garland portraying Nellie Kelly Sr. and Jr.: In the movie, Judy portrays two characters; Nellie Kelly and her daughter. While different hairstyles helped, a little bit, to differentiate between the two characters, this creative decision still baffled me. I understand that MGM wanted to utilize Judy’s talent as much as possible. However, I still think that Judy should have portrayed only one character. Because this movie is called Little Nellie Kelly, Judy could have portrayed the daughter, while another, slightly older actress could have portrayed Nellie Kelly Sr. That way, Judy could have still been the leading star of the movie, while the other actress could also receive a significant amount of recognition.

233200-P2SBE6-483
St. Patrick’s Day image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/st-patrick-s-day-background_1640464.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

My overall impression:

I like Little Nellie Kelly for what it is. There are elements to the film that make it enjoyable, such as the musical numbers and the acting. However, I found this movie to be somewhat misleading. As I said in the introduction, this synopsis said that the protagonist “rises to the top on Broadway”. Not only was this location never mentioned in the film, but Nellie never aspired to be an entertainer. What makes this even more frustrating is how few musical numbers there were and how little comedy there was in the film despite it being called a “musical comedy” in the opening credits. From what I’ve heard, this movie is based on a pre-existing Broadway musical. Because I have never seen the stage version of this story, it’s difficult for me to say if the movie was anything like the play. This kind of reminds me of how I felt about Edward, My Son. Both of these films were based on plays and made me felt like I was misled. I can’t fault the creative teams behind these movies too much, since their job was to adapt their respective plays to the screen. However, a good amount of honesty should have been included into each film’s synopsis.

 

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Judy Garland’s movies? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen