Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Harvey (1972) Review

One of the first movies I reviewed this year was the 1950 film, Harvey. Since publishing my review back in January, that movie has become the most disappointing one I’ve seen this year, so far. Jillian, from The Classic Film Connection, recommended I give this story a second chance by checking out the 1972 Hallmark Hall of Fame production. Since this title is a remake and since I’m participating in The “Take Two!” Blogathon (which focuses on remakes), I found the perfect opportunity to watch this movie! When I reviewed 1950’s Harvey, I questioned what the point of the story was. This is because I was confused by what the movie’s creative team was trying to say through their project. Will I be less confused by the 1972 adaptation? Keep reading if you want to find out!

Harvey (1972) poster created by Foote, Cone and Belding Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, Talent Associates-Norton Simon, and National Broadcasting Company (NBC)

Things I liked about the film:

Changes from the original film: As I said in my review of the 1950 film, there were things about Harvey I didn’t like. One of them was the medical negligence Veta experiences at Chumley’s Rest. In the 1972 version, that specific scene plays out differently. When Veta is being interviewed by Dr. Lyman Sanderson, he notices how distressed Veta appears. Her body language, tone of voice, and tears are noted by the doctor as he listens to what Veta has to say. This leads Dr. Lyman to admit Veta into the hospital for her well-being. The mix-up is presented as an example of good intentions leading to bad results. The film’s dramatic tone also helps elaborate how terrifying Veta’s experience would be.

A sense of magical realism: An element I thought was lacking in the 1950 version of Harvey was a sense of ‘magical realism’. Because the story featured a 6 foot 3 ½ inch, invisible white rabbit, I thought that aforementioned element would be automatically included in the film. In the 1972 adaptation, there was a stronger sense of ‘magical realism’ within the overall story. At the hospital, a hat with two holes on top is found in Dr. Lyman Sanderson’s office. The staff question who this hat could possibly belong to. Since the holes on the hat would allow rabbit ears to stick out, the hat itself implies Harvey does exist. This along with other strange occurrences in the story show how the film’s creative team put more effort into including ‘magical realism’.

The acting: When I reviewed the 1950 version of Harvey, I talked about James Stewart’s portrayal of Elwood P. Dowd, saying it was “laid-back” and “somewhat philosophical”. Reprising this role in the 1972 version of the story, James brought these same elements to his performance. But this time, his portrayal of Elwood reminded me of Mister Rogers from Mister Rogers Neighborhood. What I mean by this is Elwood came across as the type of man you’d want to spend hours having a conversation with. Elwood’s approachable and pleasant persona make him such a fascinating individual. If Elwood P. Dowd existed in the real world, I’d like to think he’d come up with an interesting TED Talk!

Despite appearing in the film for a limited period of time, I liked Madeline Kahn’s portrayal of Nurse Ruth Kelly! Her pleasant on-screen personality allowed her to stand out and give a memorable performance! Her interactions with the other characters also came across as realistic. After Veta was admitted to the hospital, Dr. Lyman has difficulty finding her. In a state of panic, he thinks Veta escaped. Sensing Dr. Lyman’s panic, Ruth becomes concerned. Her face has fallen from the smile she usually carries and her tone of voice contains a sense of dread. There’s even an ounce of timidness to her overall demeanor. Scenes like this one make me wish Madeline was given more on-screen appearances.

The “Take Two!” Blogathon banner created by Annette from Hometowns to Hollywood

What I didn’t like about the film:

Most of the story being rehashed: When creating a remake of a pre-established story, it’s important to do two things: respect the source material that came before your project and bring your own voice to the table. In the case of Hallmark Hall of Fame’s version of Harvey, more emphasis was placed on respecting the original film. While this idea isn’t a bad one, the 1972 movie’s creative team didn’t allow themselves to create a unique identity for their project. The sets in this film looked almost exactly like they did in the 1950 film. The story, more often than not, followed the 1950 movie’s narrative, making very few deviations. While watching the 1972 version of Harvey, I wondered, at times, why this remake exists?

A televised version of a play: In my review of Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Foxfire, I talked about how that title felt more like a televised play. This is because the 1987 film contained a smaller cast and a condensed story. The 1972 adaptation of Harvey also felt like a televised version of a play. Fewer locations are a reason why. In the 1950 version, Elwood is shown taking Harvey to Charlie’s Pub. Elwood simply recalls this experience in the 1972 version. What’s also important to note is how the 1972 story takes place in either the hospital or the Dowd family home.

The underutilization of Betty Chumley: At one point in the 1972 story, Elwood makes plans with Dr. Chumley’s wife, Betty, to meet at Charlie’s Pub and share drinks. But because this trip was never shown on-screen, Betty received one less on-screen appearance. Within the story, she only appeared in two scenes. Personally, I think Betty should have had a stronger significance in the film.

Collection of white rabbit images created by freepik at freepik.com Hand drawn vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

My overall impression:

After publishing my review of the 1950 version of Harvey, Jillian, from The Classic Film Connection, explained how the story’s point was “about the right to be uniquely yourself and live life on your own terms”. Now that I’ve seen the 1972 version of this story, I think the Hallmark Hall of Fame film did a better job at executing this idea. What worked in the movie’s favor was how the story was just a drama instead of trying to be both a drama and comedy. Scenes like Veta’s hospital admittance elaborated how terrifying her situation would be. There was also a sense of ‘magical realism’, something I thought was lacking in the 1950 film. However, the majority of the 1972 movie was a copy of the 1950 movie. In 1993, Hallmark Hall of Fame released the film, To Dance With the White Dog. Based on what I know about the story, it sounds like a version of Harvey. But this time, a man sees a white dog only he can see. Maybe I’ll write about that movie in a future review.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any version of Harvey? Are there any Hallmark Hall of Fame movies you’d like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The New Adventures of Heidi Review

First, it was All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. Then, it was The Cabin, followed by Scarlett. Now, for the fourth So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, I am continuing my saga to find the one movie that can rightfully claim this coveted title! As you can see by the aforementioned films, my track record has been two ‘90s projects that were just ok and one 2011 Hallmark movie that was so bad, it was unenjoyable. This time around, I traveled further back in time to choose my fourth attempt at finding my “so bad it’s good” movie. In my review of The Lion, I mentioned Leonard Maltin’s TV Movies & Video Guide 1989 Edition. This is because that book introduced me to the 1962 title. Through this publication, Leonard introduced me to another movie. That film is 1978’s The New Adventures of Heidi! According to Leonard’s review of this picture, the movie contains the following:

A) A “modern” retelling of a well-known story

B) Musical numbers

C) New York City

D) Christmas

To me, these facts sounded like the ingredients of a “so bad it’s good” project. But has The New Adventures of Heidi finally claimed this sought-after title? Keep reading to see what’s on the other side of the mountain!

The New Adventures of Heidi poster created by Pierre Cossette Enterprises and NBC.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: When it comes to acting performances in made-for-tv movies, it can be hit or miss. But in The New Adventures of Heidi, the acting was stronger than initially expected!  Portraying the titular character, Katy Kurtzman gave a performance that appeared genuine, like the character’s goodness was true all along. Whenever Heidi is with her friend, Elizabeth, you can see they truly enjoy spending time together. Elizabeth meets Heidi after running away from school. Despite knowing each other for a short amount of time, they display a strong camaraderie. This camaraderie was displayed through a down-to-earth personality, pleasant facial expressions, and a kind demeanor from Katy. Executed with consistency, Katy also displayed authentic emotion. When Heidi first learns about her grandfather’s plans to send her away, her emotions effortlessly change over the course of the scene. Happiness turns to thoughtful concern, her eyes intently set on her grandfather. As the conversation continues, Heidi’s eyes grow sadder, eventually leading to shed tears. Because of Katy’s acting strength, her overall performance was enjoyable to watch!

Since I mentioned Elizabeth, I’ll talk about Sherrie Wills’ performance! On the surface, Elizabeth seems like a spoiled child who is rough around the edges. But beyond the surface, she doesn’t seem like a stereotype. Because of Sherrie’s acting abilities, Elizabeth is a character that gives the audience a reason to be sympathetic toward her. A great example is when she and Heidi go Christmas shopping. When they arrive to a toy store, they are overcome with happiness and wonder at the sights of the season. But as soon as Elizabeth sees a carousel music box, she immediately bursts into tears. This is because Elizabeth’s mother, who passed away before the film’s events, used to give her father a music box every Christmas. It is scenes like this one that show how there is more than meets the eye.

Back in 2019, I reviewed Summer Magic, a Disney production from 1963. One of the reasons why I wanted to see that particular film was Burl Ives’ involvement in the project. When I discovered he was cast in The New Adventures of Heidi, I was curious to see how his performance differed from Osh Popham of Summer Magic. Like his previous performance, I liked his portrayal of Heidi’s grandfather! While his acting abilities were expressive, there was a lot of heart in his performance. This heart can be seen during the musical number, “Heidi”. In that number, Heidi’s grandfather is singing about how thankful he is to have Heidi in his life. Throughout this scene, he appears genuinely happy, reminiscing over all the joy Heidi brought so far. A warm smile appears on his face and a pleasant demeanor is heard in his voice. Heidi’s grandfather seems approachable, showing him as a friendly man and lovable parental figure. Even though he was in a handful of scenes, Burl Ives did a good job with his role!

The messages and themes: The original Heidi is known for containing messages and themes of family, friendship, and finding a silver lining. Like the original, The New Adventures of Heidi also features themes and messages that are timeless and relatable! Before Christmas, Elizabeth’s father, Dan, tells his secretary how he’ll be too busy to celebrate the holiday with his daughter. His secretary, Mady, tells him “But no two are the same. And you’ll never have this one back again”. This simple statement reminds the audience how unpredictable time is. Therefore, it is wise to spend that time with those you love. When Heidi comes home, she is upset because her grandfather hasn’t returned. Dan shares with Heidi how even though it’s important to hold on to the memory of lost loved ones, time needs to be made to open hearts for those still living. This message is just as meaningful today as it was in 1978. That could also be said about all the messages and themes in The New Adventures of Heidi!

The scenery: This movie was filmed in California and Colorado, according to IMDB. For the scenes taking place in the Alps, my guess is they were filmed in Snowmass, Colorado. Despite this, the setting looked like a pretty convincing Switzerland! In some establishing shots, large mountains and dark green hills are captured in long to medium shots. A color palette of greens, browns, and white illustrated a natural landscape whose justice likely can’t be done through filmography. Red poppies are sprinkled around Heidi and her grandfather’s home. They can also be seen in expansive green fields. The vibrant hue of the flowers provide a striking component to this landscape. When all this is added together and paired with a bright blue sky, a welcoming and picturesque environment is presented to the audience!

The Fourth So Bad It’s Good Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room

What I didn’t like about the film:

Glaring cases of discontinuity: What makes or breaks any story is its continuity. This component is like a thread, tightly holding each piece of the story together, if strong enough. But when it comes to The New Adventures of Heidi, there were a few aspects that caused this thread to be looser. In the introduction, I mentioned the movie was a “modern” retelling of Heidi. While this statement is true, it looks like Heidi, her grandfather, and Peter didn’t get the memo. That’s because their attire reflects the time period of the original story, which is set in the 1880s. Even Heidi and her grandfather’s home is reflective of an era gone by. During the movie, Heidi’s grandfather begins to lose his eyesight. Because of this, he decides to send Heidi to live with her cousins. But while singing the song, “Let Me Stay/Let Her Stay”, Heidi’s grandfather prays to God to have Heidi stay in the Alps, even going so far as to sacrifice his eyesight just to make his prayer a reality. It seems like he has forgotten that this decision was in his control since the very beginning. This example shows how discontinuity can muddy the waters of character development.

The musical numbers: As I mentioned in the introduction, there are musical numbers in The New Adventures of Heidi. I can tell the film’s creative team wanted to include musical numbers in an effort to give their project its own unique identity. In all honesty, though, I don’t think this movie needed musical numbers. My reason is how weak these numbers were. Some of these musical numbers were performed by Katy and Sherrie. I’m not going to give these actresses too much criticism, as they were children at the time of the movie’s production. But I will say they are better actresses than singers. Sherrie’s voice was flat, unable to reach higher notes. Meanwhile, Katy’s voice was stronger, but she couldn’t reach some higher notes either. This highlighted the actresses’ weaknesses, giving the audience the impression of how Katy and Sherrie were likely not professionally trained singers. Even professional singers couldn’t catch a break either. Burl Ives is a talent who can do no wrong, singing wise. But he was caught up in one major weakness in these numbers: talking throughout the song instead of singing. This happened during the song, “Let Me Stay/Let Her Stay”, where Heidi’s grandfather is speaking his prayer when he’s meant to be singing it. Marlyn Mason also fell into this trap with the song, “That Man”. Because she tried to sing and talk through her lyrics at the same time, she performed the song faster than the music. To me, this felt so jarring, as the music and execution of the lyrics seemed like they belonged to two separate pieces.

A regurgitated story: This film is titled The New Adventures of Heidi. If you take the time to watch it, you’d see how the movie rehashes most of the story points from Johanna Spyri’s original. Take for instance, the character of Elizabeth. In The New Adventures of Heidi, she’s meant to be a Clara representative; a wealthy young girl dealing with her own conflict that Heidi helps to resolve. But instead of dealing with a serious medical situation, Elizabeth wants to spend more time with her workaholic father, especially after the death of her mother. Similar to the original story, there is a medical situation present in The New Adventures of Heidi. But this time, Heidi’s grandfather is losing his eyesight, as I explained in my paragraph about the film’s discontinuity. The longer I watched this movie, the more I questioned what it’s intended point was.

A screenshot of my copy of Leonard Maltin’s TV Movies & Video Guide 1989 Edition. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! The answer to whether The New Adventures of Heidi will claim the title of “so bad it’s good” is…an unfortunate no. The longer I think about this film, the more I see how spectacularly average it is. As I mentioned throughout my review, there were musical numbers included in this production. I also noted how Christmas makes an appearance in the story. But when you look past all the silver and gold decorations (that Burl Ives reference was definitely intentional), the movie is the same story as the original wrapped in pretty Christmas paper. Despite the title boasting “new adventures” with the world’s favorite Swiss mountain girl, the script spends more time repeating history. At the same time, parts of the movie are treated as if the project were a sequel, the creative team expecting the audience to know exactly what is happening on screen. Reflecting on my fourth attempt at finding my “so bad it’s good” movie, I realize a script’s strength can determine a film’s overall quality. In the case of The New Adventures of Heidi, the acting was strong and the film itself did have other merits. But not even Burl Ives himself could save this picture. Bottom line is if a cinematic project chooses to use bells and whistles, that may mean the creative team is trying to make up for a loss in another department.

Overall score: 5.1 out of 10

Do you have a “so bad it’s good” film in your life? If so, what is it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: ‘To Catch A Thief’ Remake and Film about Beanie Babies on the way

When I write a Word on the Street story, I sometimes talk about stories that were covered on the Youtube channel, Clownfish TV. I not only like Kneon and Geeky Sparkle’s commentary, but I also learn about subjects I never would have known about before. So, when I watched one of their newer videos, I figured it would be an interesting topic to discuss on 18 Cinema Lane! In the video, ‘Elizabeth Banks Doing a BEANIE BABIES Movie?!’, my initial assumption was the movie being similar in execution to the 2014 hit, The Lego Movie. But as I watched the video, I learned the film would revolve around the popularity of Beanie Babies in the ‘90s. While analyzing an article from The Hollywood Reporter, Kneon and Geeky share how actors Elizabeth Banks and Zach Galifianakis are going to headline a film based on The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute, a book written by Zac Bissonnette.  According to the original article, the movie will focus on the production and consumption of the classic stuffed animals, including “a celebration of the women who helped power Ty Warner’s success”.

Tiger stuffed animal image created by alesia17 at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/alesia17.”

While watching Kneon and Geeky’s video, ‘Elizabeth Banks Doing a BEANIE BABIES Movie?!’, they brought up a documentary titled Beanie Mania. In this documentary, the rise and fall of Beanie Babies are explored. From “a lot of drama” to “the one woman even has a rap song she wrote” (referring to a rap song dedicated to the Beanie Babies), Beanie Mania presents the perspectives of those heavily affected by the iconic toy. As I watched Kneon and Geeky’s video and listened to their commentary, I couldn’t help but feel Elizabeth and Zach’s project was a re-hash of the HBO Max documentary. When speculating which direction the film was headed, Geeky says “I think their take on it’s going to be very similar, cause I think the one guy that wrote the book they’re basing it on was in the documentary”. With this and everything else said, it makes me wonder what is the point of Elizabeth and Zach’s movie? What can they offer to the conversation that Beanie Mania didn’t? Personally, I’d like to see a documentary about Tickle Me Elmo, the coveted toy that dominated 1996.

Preschool classroom image created by Vectorpocket at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by vectorpocket – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Speaking of re-hashed ideas, this next story I found in Kneon and Geeky’s video, as it was an advertised article on Deadline’s website. According to the aforementioned site, Justin Kroll writes about a “remake of the classic thriller To Catch a Thief” in the pre-production stages. The Paramount Pictures project has recruited Gal Gadot to star in the film and produce it. Eileen Jones will pen the script, with Jaron Varsano and Neal Moritz also producing the movie. Similar to what I said about the Beanie Baby film, I wonder what the point of this remake is? I know you can ask that about any cinematic production. But what can this creative team bring to the table that Alfred Hitchcock and his team hasn’t already? Personally, I think the remake seems unnecessary.

Image of vintage movie camera created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on these movie news stories? Are you anticipating any of the projects mentioned in this article? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sources to articles referenced in this article:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/zach-galifianakis-elizabeth-banks-starring-in-apple-film-the-beanie-bubble-1235073361/

deadline.com/2022/01/eileen-jones-paramounts-to-catch-a-thief-reboot-gal-gadot-1234908113/

Take 3: The Bad Seed (2018) Review

Once upon a time, back in early March, I reported in a Word on the Street post that Lifetime was remaking The Bad Seed. In this post, I did share my thoughts about this movie news story, doubting that a remake of this classic film could work at all. Five months later, I reported in another Word on the Street post the release date for The Bad Seed remake. This time, my opinions about the potential of the film changed after I saw the trailer. I talked about how, based on the trailer, the film looked like it would not only be as dark as the original film, but that this new film would add more terror to the narrative. Now, Lifetime’s remake of The Bad Seed has finally arrived. Since I had a chance to watch this film recently, I can now talk about how I feel about this film. Did The Bad Seed meet or exceed my expectations? Keep reading my review to find out!

The Bad Seed 2018 poster
The Bad Seed (2018) poster created by Lifetime Entertainment Services. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Bad_Seed_2018.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In The Bad Seed, the acting was really good! The biggest highlight of this film was Mckenna Grace’s performance! Even though she was one of the youngest cast members in this film, Mckenna brought so much believability to her role. Mckenna’s portrayal of Emma was so unique from the original 1956 film, with the characteristics of Emma appearing as a combination of the sophistication of Matilda (from the ’96 film) and the cynicism of Wednesday Addams (from the Addams Family films). If there are any upcoming award presentations where The Bad Seed could get nominated, I hope Mckenna receives an acting nomination!

 

The cinematography: I was pleasantly surprised by how good the cinematography was in this film! Some of the shots were beautifully filmed, the use of color adding to the overall appeal of the cinematography. An example of this is any time Emma is in the forest. Her outfits of bright colors provide a really good contrast to the darker colors of the forest. These creative decisions relating to the film’s visuals show how much thought and detail was placed on this aspect of the film.

 

The creative choices: Because The Bad Seed is a remake of the 1956 film, there are differences and similarities between Lifetime’s 2018 production and the original movie. However, the creative choices that the creative team behind this movie made helped this movie feel unique from its predecessor. One of these choices was Emma’s father being a widower. In the original movie, Rhoda’s family consisted of her, her mother, and her father. However, Rhoda’s father was in the military for the majority of the film. This creative choice allows for a new perspective to be told and a new voice to be added to the narrative. In both films, there is a character that suspects, from the beginning, the dangers caused by the child. While this character in the 1956 film was a caretaker at the apartment complex where Rhoda lived, a nanny named Chloe played the role of this skeptical character in the 2018 film. Even though these two characters have the same significance and demise, the differences between the characters themselves highlights the creativity and interesting perspectives that were incorporated into the Lifetime movie.

Terrified friends watching horror movie in cinema
Scared audience image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/terrified-friends-watching-horror-movie-in-cinema_1027311.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

An inconsistent pace: The Bad Seed is known for being a suspenseful story. In the 2018 movie, however, there are more non-suspenseful moments throughout the film. Because of this, it made the pace of the film feel inconsistent, with some scenes feeling slower than others. For me, this didn’t bother me much. But for someone who is a fan of thrillers, it may be a little disappointing.

 

Emma’s father’s relationship status playing a small role: As I’ve already mentioned, one of the creative choices that was found in 2018’s The Bad Seed was Emma’s father being a widower. From a story-telling perspective, I was hoping that this creative choice would play a larger role within the context of the story. Maybe the boy who drowned could have been the son of a single mother who Emma’s father was interested in dating. The idea of the parent figure in The Bad Seed being a single parent was present, but not explored enough in Lifetime’s film.

42381-O3NTX2
Winner’s medal image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/golden-awards-set-with-colors-details_844356.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/gold”>Gold vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Movie remakes can be hit or miss. For me, a good remake has to be able to do two things: 1. Respect the original film and 2. Do something new with the story and provide your own voice to the narrative. Lifetime’s remake of The Bad Seed succeeded in applying both of those steps into their film! As someone who had their doubts about this film, The Bad Seed is just as good as the original. While the voice of the original can definitely be heard, this new voice accompanied that 62-year-old voice in a harmonious duet. I won’t spoil this movie for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but the way this movie ends gives Lifetime the opportunity to create a sequel if they choose to do so. I would, honestly, like to see a sequel to The Bad Seed, as it would allow this story to travel down creative avenues where the original film wasn’t able to go. But, going back to 2018’s The Bad Seed, this is one of the best remakes I’ve ever seen! I would definitely recommend this film, especially if you are a fan of the original movie!

 

Overall score: 8 out of 10

 

Have you seen The Bad Seed? Which version of the film is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen