Take 3: Easy to Wed Review

As the dawn of August arrives, so does the Esther Williams blogathon! Like last year, I have decided to review another movie from Esther’s filmography. But this time, I selected the 1946 title, Easy to Wed! Similar to the previous year, Easy to Wed was recommended to me. However, this film was suggested by a reader named Becky. That’s not the only reason why I’m reviewing the movie. I’m also participating in The Sixth Van Johnson Blogathon. Since Van happens to star in Easy to Wed, this is a good segue to that event. In the 1946 film, the characters’ trip to Mexico contained the “summer vibes” one would expect from the season. This is an interesting coincidence, as the movie I’m reviewing for the Van Johnson Blogathon is In The Good Old Summertime! My readers will have to wait a little while for that review. For now, though, it’s time to talk about Easy to Wed!

Easy to Wed poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s Inc.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In Easy to Wed, Esther portrayed Connie, a socialite who is wrongly accused of stealing another woman’s husband. Before she meets Van’s character, Bill, the employees at the New York newspaper that accused Connie label her as “spoiled” and “arrogant”. But when Bill meets Connie, he, and the audience, sees she is the complete opposite. In fact, Esther’s on-screen personality was very sweet! I enjoyed watching Connie and Bill’s interactions. The gentle sweetness of Connie’s personality and the charming yet cunning personality of Bill worked, as opposites attracted. Connie’s wittiness also helped this relationship’s favor. One of my favorite scenes is when Bill is riding on an inflatable raft in Connie’s pool. In an attempt to get him to join her in the pool, Connie tries to deflate the raft. Since she wants to catch Bill off guard, she deflates the raft with her foot during their conversation. Not only do Esther’s and Van’s acting abilities add to this on-screen relationship, so does their on-screen chemistry!

When it comes to Lucille Ball’s filmography, I’ve, so far, stuck with I Love Lucy. Therefore, I had an idea of what to expect in her portrayal of Gladys, the fiancé of Warren. Expectations aside, Lucille’s performance was enjoyable to watch! Not only did she work well with the other cast members, she used comedy to her advantage. During Bill’s stay in Mexico, he learns how to use a duck call whistle. While attempting to make a duck call, Gladys opens the door to Bill’s main sitting room and loudly yells “Happy New Year”. Personally, I found this scene hilarious, as the moment itself was unexpected. Speaking of Warren, let’s talk about Keenan Wynn’s performance. His portrayal reminded me of a more dramatic version of “Rooster” from the 1982 adaptation of Annie. What I mean by that is Warren was a cunning man who had a way with words. Another scene I liked was when Warren visited Bill about the newspaper’s libel suit. Because of how cunning both Warren and Bill are, they went toe-to-toe with each other, never missing a beat. What also helped was the quality of both Van’s and Keenan’s talents!

Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe: I loved Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe in Easy to Wed! However, there were three outfits that absolutely stole the show! Lucille wore the first outfit in the aforementioned duck call scene. A shiny gold top was covered by a velvety blue suit jacket. Deep blue slacks match the jacket, with the outfit complimented by shiny gold shoes. The blue and gold color palette paired beautifully with Lucille’s red hair and blue eyes! During a hunting trip, Connie wore fishing boots over a pair of black pants. A gray turtleneck shirt is under a red and orange plaid jacket. Finished with a maroon cap, the outfit is a classy ensemble that reminded me of the fall season. A few scenes later, Esther wore a light green sweater with cattails on them. A medium length black skirt compliments the cattails on the sweater, as well as Esther’s headband. A pair of brown boots helps pull off a look that would look great during fall or winter.

The “Boneca de Pixe” musical number: Toward the end of Easy to Wed, Connie and Bill perform in a musical number at a party. This number reflected their time together in Mexico. Both Esther and Van sung in Portuguese, dancing alongside each other and a large ensemble of dancers. The dancers’ costumes are so vibrant and colorful, boasting shades of red, yellow, and green. A small orchestra provided the sound, teaming up with Ethel Smith on the organ. Leading into this musical number, Ethel performed an organ solo that was fun to watch! This solo added the energy and excitement this piece needed. Overall, this number made me wish Easy to Wed was a musical.

The Third Esther Williams Blogathon banner created by by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out conflict: Easy to Wed’s conflict revolves around Warren and Bill’s plan to prevent the libel suit from going to court. While it was interesting to see this plan unfold, it was drawn out for most of the story. In fact, this conflict was drawn out for so long, its resolution was delivered in a rapid-fire style within the last ten minutes of the movie. Had this script been a little bit tighter, the resolution’s delivery could have been more satisfying.

An inconsistent use of music: As I’ve said before, music can elevate the mood or tone of a given scene. It can also help make a scene more memorable. The film’s first half featured less music than its second half. Because of this, the memorability of some scenes was weaker. One example is when Bill is hosting a dinner party in his hotel’s sitting room. If music had been playing in the background, it would have heightened the anticipation of Connie’s arrival. The accompanying melody would highlight the growing feelings Bill and Connie have for one another as well. Instead, the scene felt mundane, slogging along to the next part in the story.

No subplots: Like I already mentioned, the conflict in Easy to Wed was drawn out for most of the movie. There are no subplots in this film, as the script focuses on the aforementioned conflict. Personally, I wish the story received a subplot. It would have given the audience additional intrigue to carry them through the film. The newspaper’s photographer could have formed a romantic relationship with the female organist. Maybe his camera goes missing and he has to find it. To me, the lack of subplots felt like a missed opportunity.

Since I loved the outfits described in this review, I decided to share screenshots of them, so my readers could see how great these outfits are! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

In my opinion, Easy to Wed is a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are things about the movie I liked. The acting was strong, the “Boneca de Pixe” musical number was great, and I loved Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe. On the other hand, the script could have been stronger. Tighter writing might have helped the conflict reach a satisfying resolution. The conflict could have also been paired with at least one subplot. As I watched Easy to Wed, I was reminded of another movie with a drawn-out conflict: Anchors Aweigh. Because that movie’s musical numbers were more consistent, the audience had something to occupy their time until the conflict could be resolved. As I mentioned in this review, the music was inconsistent in Easy to Wed. Therefore, parts of the story felt longer than necessary. So far, I’ve seen three of Esther Williams’ films. Out of those titles, Easy to Wed is my least favorite. Hopefully, the next picture of Esther’s I watch will be better.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any of the Esther Williams’ films? Are you looking forward to my review of In The Good Old Summertime? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: The Love Triangle is Finally Over

I have been very vocal about how I dislike When Calls the Heart’s love triangle. When several people from the show claimed it would end in season eight, I was hoping they were telling the truth. But as this chapter of the show is coming to an end, I can honestly say that the love triangle is officially over! Other good news comes from a commercial at the end of the episode announcing season nine! While I’m not surprised by this announcement, I am happy to see the show taking a new step forward. Overall, I’d say this season has been, for the most part, good. Yes, it did have its flaws. However, these can become areas of growth for the next season. It is amazing how far Hope Valley has come. From a town that was broken by sorrow and uncertainty to a place filled with hope and brighter days, Hope Valley has grown beyond expectations. Now, as the door of season eight comes to a close, let’s re-cap this episode of When Calls the Heart!

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

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

Season: 8

Episode: 12

Name: The Kiss

Major stories:

Elizabeth feels guilty about the way she has treated Rosemary. She immediately apologizes to Rosemary, who ends up forgiving her. Elizabeth tells her friend all about her relationship troubles with Nathan and Lucas. Rosemary reminds Elizabeth how she needs to choose a man that she can see herself spending a lifetime with. These words are taken to heart as Elizabeth visits Nathan to tell him that she loves him, but she is not in love with him. She also tries to tell Lucas how she feels, but is interrupted by Wyman at the café. In this episode, Landis is still in Hope Valley. He continues to believe that Angela’s educational needs will interfere with the educational opportunities of Elizabeth’s other students. However, Elizabeth insists that she wants Angela to attend the Jack Thornton School. Minnie becomes doubtful due to Elizabeth’s job being in danger. But she still allows her daughter to make her own decision. Elizabeth tells Rosemary how Landis threatened to shut the school down if the students and their parents refused to attend because of Angela becoming a new student. Rosemary agrees to publish the story in Hope Valley’s newest version of their newspaper; The Valley Voice. This plan worked, as every student agrees to walk the Canfield family to the school building on the first day of a new school year. The act shows Landis how kind and supportive the Jack Thornton School is. He tells Elizabeth he will find a way to help her keep her job. On Robert’s first day as Jack Jr.’s new babysitter, Elizabeth gives him a note that needs to be given to Lucas. Later that day, however, Elizabeth notices the note in Robert’s hands. He says the saloon was closed and that Lucas was gone. When Elizabeth goes to the saloon, she sees Robert was telling the truth. She asks Rosemary and Lee where Lucas went, with Lee pointing toward the road leading out of town. Even though Elizabeth runs down that road, she knows she missed Lucas. Consoling a broken heart on a bridge, Lucas happens to show up. They share a passionate kiss, making their relationship official. Lucas also notices Elizabeth isn’t wearing her wedding ring anymore. Toward the end of the episode, Lucas and Elizabeth have a private date at the library. On this date, Elizabeth plans to read some of her final manuscript, which was sent to Elizabeth from Helen earlier in this episode.

Preparations are being made for Hope Valley’s race for mayor. Mike sits outside Ned’s Mercantile, collecting names of potential nominees. The only people who express interest in running are Bill, Mike, and Fiona. Mike shares with Fiona that he not only told Henry about his plans to connect a pipeline to the train depot, but Henry also agreed to make this plan a reality. To Mike’s surprise, Henry gives him complete leadership over the petroleum plant. Henry decides to leave Hope Valley in an effort to find what makes him happy in life. As Henry looks at the café’s sign, it is to be assumed Henry is trying to locate Abigail. As Rosemary is busy writing her first newspaper and organizing information, Lee has difficulty figuring out his purpose in life. While talking to Joseph about his worries, Joseph tells Lee two of life’s most important moments are when someone is born and when that person discovers why they were born. These words lead to Lee’s decision to run for mayor. After Lee shares this news, Rosemary says she would like to acquire a better printer press and an official staff if she is to take her new occupation seriously.

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:

Faith is sad to see Carson’s packed bags at the Infirmary. But she doesn’t stop him from leaving. Carson and Faith share one last moment together, where all they do is hold each other. When it’s time to leave, Carson is met with most of Hope Valley’s residents waiting by the stagecoach, as they wish to send him off. This causes Carson to be pleasantly surprised. As he boards the stagecoach, Clara and Lee find the engagement ring that was missing in the previous episode. However, Carson still chooses to leave Hope Valley. Faith is disappointed, as she hoped Carson would change his mind. While helping Nathan with a minor injury, Nathan tells her how she’ll make a good doctor. Faith says that, like an injury, it will take time to heal. During Carson’s send-off, Nathan brings Jesse back to Hope Valley. Clara and Jesse are excited to see one another again. Lee gives Jesse some time off of work, which Clara and Jesse use as a second honeymoon. Ned also returns to town, explaining to Florence what has been happening. He has been trying to acquire a patent for an adhesive bandage he created.

Adhesive bandage image created by aopsan at freepik.com. Background photo created by aopsan – www.freepik.com

Some thoughts to consider:

  • While the majority of this season has been good, the season premiere and finale were fine. They met their requirements instead of going above and beyond. I wish the Hope Valley mayor race was saved for season nine and not shoehorned into season eight’s last episode. This way, the dynamic between the candidates could be explored throughout the season.
  • The references to Abigail this season were not only random, but the amount of references made the creative team’s wishes a little too obvious. Even though some people from the show have expressed interest in working with Lori again, the network made the ultimate decision to distance themselves from her. In my opinion, I don’t think Abigail will ever be seen on the show again. When Calls the Heart is one of Hallmark’s most successful programs, so I doubt the network’s leaders would risk tarnishing their crown jewel in any way.
  • I really hope Henry returns to Hope Valley. His story has been one of the best from season eight, as he received more character development and growth. As I have stated in a Sunset Over Hope Valley re-cap post, I hope Bai Ling considers joining the main cast of the show. If she does, maybe her character could form a relationship with Henry. That way, he might find someone new to make him happy.
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 When Calls the Heart‘s season finale? What would you like to see in season nine? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For Review

Since I happened to see Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For right after I saw the latest episode of When Calls the Heart, I felt that I needed to write a review for this movie. Also, it’s been two months since I last reviewed a mystery film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, so it was time for me to get back to talking about mystery movies. I remember when this project was first announced at Hallmark’s Winter TCA Event last year. At the time, I wondered how this series would be any different from the other mystery series that had already been established. In a Word on the Street story last August, I talked about how the movie was about to go into production. This led me to speculate whether the film would be released in Fall of 2018 or early 2019. It looks like I was right in one of those predictions, as this movie premiered in early March. Did this movie stand out from all the other mystery movies on the network? The only way to solve this mystery is to read my review of Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For!

Crossword Mysteries -- A Puzzle to Die For poster
Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For 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+A+Puzzle+to+Die+For.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I thought the acting in Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For was good! Ever since this project was first announced, I was excited to see Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott star in another movie together. This is because I’ve enjoyed their performances in other Hallmark projects. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, both Lacey and Brennan did a really good job portraying their characters! Their performances display a sense of believability and emotionality that is required in a mystery story. They also had a good amount of on-screen chemistry. I also think the supporting cast did a good job in their acting performances! I’ve always enjoyed watching Barbara Niven’s performances in other Hallmark productions. So, it’s no surprise that I found myself applauding Barbara’s portrayal of Tess’s aunt, Candace. Her versatility helped make her character seem as realistic as possible. Even though Candace was only on-screen for a limited amount of time, I’m hoping this character can play a bigger role in future movies.

 

  • The incorporation of crossword puzzles: Every mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has their own unique identity, even though almost all of them focus on solving murder mysteries. Having crossword puzzles associated with this story was a creative and unique way to set this series apart from the other stories on the network. Having the puzzles correlate with the mystery worked really well for this movie. I also liked the idea of the Crossword Puzzle Tournament that was featured in the film. With the way this type of competition was portrayed in the movie, it kind of reminded me of spelling bees or chess tournaments. However, the competition itself felt like its own unique event.

 

  • The big city landscape: In most of the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the primary location of the story is in a small, sometimes fictional, town. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, the story took place in New York City. This was a nice change in scenery which worked well of this particular story. Seeing the different businesses and facilities within this film was very interesting! One of my favorite locations in this movie was the Ping-Pong Hall, where Tess was playing a game of Ping-Pong with a friend. Not only is Ping-Pong rarely seen in Hallmark movies, but I’ve never seen a facility like this in any other Hallmark production. I hope a mystery can place at this Ping-Pong Hall in another Crossword Mysteries film!

newyork4
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:

  • A slow pace: Throughout the film, the overall pace was slower than in most of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films. This caused the story to feel drawn out. It also made some scenes drag on longer than they might have been intended. The issues relating to the film’s pace definitely took away some of the film’s excitement.

 

  • A lack of suspense: In most mystery films, there is a good amount of suspense that helps the audience stay invested in the story. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, the suspense was not as abundant as in other mystery movies. While there were suspenseful moments within this narrative, the film’s total amount of suspense was not fluid. This aspect did affect my overall enjoyment of the film.

 

  • A confusing story element: While watching this movie, there was one part of the story that really confused me. During this film, Pierre was the lead organizer of the annual Crossword Puzzle Tournament. He was planning on retiring and handing the title over to Tess. However, when the Tournament arrived, it looked like Pierre was competing in the competition. No one in the film seemed to notice that this could have been a conflict of interest. I don’t know if I just missed an important plot point or if the screenwriters forgot to include significant details into their script. But I found this part of the film to be very puzzling (no pun intended), even after I saw the film.

sunday-s-crossword-1238083-1279x852
Crossword puzzle image created by jaylopez at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/JayLopez.”

My overall impression:

Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For was just ok. It didn’t impress me, but it didn’t make me feel like I wasted my time. However, I do think this movie has the potential to start a strong and entertaining series. This movie has the pieces to lay out the foundation for a series that can be intriguing and engaging. The cast did a good job with their performances, there were creative elements found within the narrative, and the mystery itself was well written. At Hallmark’s Winter TCA Event last month, it was announced that there would be three more Crossword Mysteries movies, which will premiere in October. It will be interesting to see how this series continues, especially since there’s only so much that can be done with crossword puzzles. When October finally comes around, I do want to see what these films have in store and if this series can stand on its own.

 

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

 

Have you seen Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For? Are you excited for the rest of the Crossword Mysteries films to premiere? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen