The Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party Tag 2021

When Heidi, from Along the Brandywine, started her Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party, she also published an official tag! As I’ve already posted my entry for the event, a review of the Hallmark Hall of Fame picture, The Love Letter, I thought it’d be nice to answer the tag questions. As I said in that review, period dramas are not regularly covered on 18 Cinema Lane. However, I did try to answer each question as best as I could. If you’ve visited my blog before, you’d know this isn’t my first blogathon tag. Last year, when I joined the Legends of Western Cinema Week, I published my answers relating to the western genre. This time around, I’m answering questions about this blogathon’s theme: period dramas!

The Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.
  1. Your current three (or up to five!) favorite period dramas?
  • Swept from the Sea
  • The Enchanted Cottage
  • Ben-Hur (the 1959 version)
  • Nicholas Nickleby (the 2002 version)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

2. What would you recommend to someone who’s never seen a period drama as a starter?

Definitely Swept from the Sea! It was the best movie I saw in 2019 and I wish more people knew about it. Here’s the link to my review:

Take 3: Swept from the Sea Review (A Month Without the Code — #8)

3. A favorite couple that wouldn’t be included in answer #1 (cause I’m figuring those are already top favorites ;)) and/or a favorite secondary character romance? 

I really like both couples from Anchors Aweigh! Even though the movie is a musical, there are romantic elements that work well in the overall story. Without giving much away, it shows how subverting expectations can be a good thing.

4. What do you consider foundational qualities for a healthy romance?

Consent and communication. Two years ago, I wrote an editorial about how Lestat and Akasha’s relationship in Queen of the Damned was not healthy. Their lack or consent and communication serve as two reasons why. I’ll leave a link to the article if you want to read it:

Toxic Valentine: Why Lestat and Akasha’s relationship is very problematic in Queen of the Damned (2002)

5. Worst villain/antagonist?

I’d say Nicholas’ uncle, Ralph, from Nicholas Nickleby. Like my answer for question number three, I won’t give the story away. But I will say that Ralph is one of the reasons why Nicholas and his family experience hardship in that movie.

6. A favorite proposal scene?

I’m not sure if this would count, but I liked Nicholas and Madeline’s conversation, from Nicholas Nickleby, where they reflect on their pasts. It has a good message of strength that came across as genuine. Nicholas and Madeline also look like they truly care about one another.

Heart image created by Dashu83 at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundimage created by Dashu83 – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/happy-valentines-day-and-heart-card-with-happy-valentines-day-and-heart_1747001.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

7. Favorite period drama characters based on a real life couple?

I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I’ll choose The Young Victoria. From what I remember, I liked Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s relationship. Similar to Nicholas and Madeline’s relationship in Nicholas Nickleby,Victoria and Albert looked like they truly loved each other. In a film about royals in the 19th century, I found that part of the story refreshing!

8. Any classic b/w period dramas you like? and 9. Most mature romance in a period drama? (mature as in age and/or characters who are consciously and wisely ripened by life experience, etc.)

For this answer, I combined questions eight and nine. This is because I think The Enchanted Cottage fits both of them. Not only is this movie presented in black and white, but there is maturity within the protagonists’ relationship. Because Robert Young’s character, Oliver Bradford, is a World War II veteran, there are discussions of trauma and self-worth. Inner beauty and self-perception are also explored between Oliver and Laura, portrayed by Dorothy McGuire.

10. Most excruciatingly long, slow burn romance in a period drama?

The first one that comes to mind is Elizabeth and Jack’s relationship from When Calls the Heart. For five seasons, fans were waiting for these two characters to get married. While they eventually tied the knot, Jack was sent away on a Mountie mission, only for him to die at the end of the fifth season. This means that the fans barely got to see Elizabeth and Jack as a married couple.

11. A story that has multiple film adaptations where you love more than one of them?

After thinking about a double feature I wrote, I’ll pick The Secret Garden. Out of the three adaptations I’ve seen, I like the 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation and the 1993 film. If you’re interested, I’ve posted the links to the aforementioned double feature and its conclusion.

My Bonus Double Feature Has Arrived!

The Conclusion to My Bonus Double Feature

12. A book you think needs to be made into a film (or a new adaptation)?

Last year, in my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List, I talked about how I’d like to see To Stand On My Own: The Polio Epidemic Diary of Noreen Robertson and Zlata’s Diary receive film adaptations. Instead of repeating myself, I’m sharing the link to that list, so you can read why I feel this way.

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2020

Because this tag is about period dramas, I thought this photo would be fitting. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What are your thoughts on this tag? Do you like watching period dramas? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Royal Wedding Review (Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Double Feature Part 2)

As I said in my review of Teenage Rebel, I haven’t seen many films from Fred Astaire’s filmography. In fact, the only two movies of Fred’s I’ve seen so far are The Sky’s the Limit and Funny Face. When I joined Crystal and Michaela’s blogathon, I knew which Fred Astaire picture I wanted to write about. Last month, I was recommended the 1951 film, Royal Wedding, by Heidi from Along the Brandywine. She suggested this film because of its use of split screens. Since I don’t have many Fred Astaire titles on my movie recommendation board on Pinterest, this was my first choice for this double feature! It is interesting that Royal Wedding is the last movie I’m reviewing in 2020. Musicals from the Breen Code era are usually seen as happy, up-beat productions. This is a contrast to the type of year 2020 ended up becoming.

Royal Wedding poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: A similarity I’ve noticed among Fred Astaire’s roles in The Sky’s the Limit, Funny Face, and Royal Wedding is how confident he comes across in each film! Speaking specifically about Royal Wedding, his character, Tom Bowen, had the showmanship you’d expect from a stage performer. Even though he was performing a duet in the movie’s opening number, “Ev’ry Night At Seven”, he had a stage presence that demanded the audience’s attention. This is because he had complete control over his part of the performance as well as experience leading other musicals. Fred also appeared comfortable as one of the leads in this film. Jane Powell’s on-screen personality in Royal Wedding was very sweet! Her character, Ellen Bowen, was also flirty without overdoing it. What worked in Jane’s favor was how she was able to keep up with Fred in their musical duets as well as hold her own in her solos. It definitely showed how strong of a performer she is! Because I’m not familiar with Sarah Churchill as an actress, I wasn’t sure how a Fred Astaire and Sarah Churchill on-screen pairing would work when I first saw them together. But as the film went on, I realized they had better on-screen chemistry than I expected! As an individual performer, Sarah gave her character, Anne, a sophisticated independence that never made her seem snobby or self-centered. In one scene, as she’s recalling to Tom how she came to be a dancer, Anne is so sure of herself when she talks about it. In scenes like this, you can tell that Anne has a healthy amount of self-confidence, partly because of Sarah’s captivating performance!

The musical numbers: When I watch musicals from the Breen Code era, I can’t help but notice the creativity that comes from some of the musical numbers! One example is Fred’s solo, “Sunday Jumps”. On paper, the idea of Fred dancing with a hatrack and exercise equipment might sound silly to some audience members. But because of the choreography and Fred’s dancing talents, that idea becomes a thoroughly entertaining one! Another solo of Fred’s, “You’re All the World to Me”, also showcases creativity well. In this musical number, Tom Bowen can be seen literally dancing on the walls and ceiling, as to visually represent what his heart is feeling for Anne. The number itself is also ahead of its time, as this particular idea wasn’t common in films from this era. I loved how a bright color palette was used in “I Left My Hat in Haiti”! It provided the musical number with an energy and personality that nicely contrasted the toned-down atmosphere of London. The musical number also did a good job at utilizing its ensemble.

The dialogue: Because of the Breen Code, screenwriters had to think and write cleverly when it came to expressing ideas that wouldn’t be allowed on film. That mentality can certainly be found in Royal Wedding’s script! After their performance, “Ev’ry Night At Seven”, Ellen complains about the theater’s lack of air conditioning due to the theater manager wanting to save money. Frustrated by that decision, Tom tells his sister how the theater manager will need a fan for one specific place. Subtle references like this one respect the audience’s intelligence and gave the screenwriters a chance to think outside the box when it comes to language. There were also memorable quotes within the script. During Anne and Tom’s conversation, Anne told him that dancing made her happy. She also said that she wanted to dance when she was happy.

The Third Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood.

What I didn’t like about the film:

No major conflicts: In Anchors Aweigh, Clarence “Brooklyn” Doolittle and Joseph “Joe” Brady help their new friend, Susan, get an audition with a well-known composer at a movie studio. This served as the main conflict for the film. With Royal Wedding, there was no main conflict to be found. Instead, the story focuses on the two relationships between Ellen and John and Tom and Anne. Even when sub-conflicts were introduced in the movie, they are resolved rather quickly. Having one overarching conflict would have added some intrigue to this story.

Too many boyfriends: At the beginning of the movie, Ellen is shown having multiple boyfriends. This was to highlight the point of Ellen having difficulty ending these relationships. When Ellen’s boyfriends are interacting with one another, I had trouble keeping track of who was who. I understand this creative decision was made on purpose, to emphasize the aforementioned point. But this gave the audience unnecessary confusion.

The titular royal wedding as an afterthought: When a film is titled Royal Wedding, most audience members would expect the wedding itself to play a significant role within the plot. Because the story focuses on the relationships of Tom and Anne and Ellen and John, the royal wedding is treated as an afterthought. Sure, the characters casually bring it up from time to time. But there is little to no excitement in London just days before such a historic event. When a pre-wedding parade is passing by Tom and Ellen’s hotel suite, the scene places more emphasis on John and Ellen’s conversation, preventing the parade from being shown on-screen. The day of the wedding appears in the last twenty minutes of the film, but even that part of the story is overshadowed by the previously mentioned relationships.

Princess tiara image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/ornamental-princess-crowns_1109199.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:

Royal Wedding is the type of movie where the acting performances and musical numbers make up for the weaker story. While the plot isn’t bad, it could have benefited from having a major conflict. If the creative team behind this movie wanted their story to be more interesting, it would have contained a mistaken identity. Ellen Bowen would switch places with the princess and fall in love with the prince, while the princess is mistaken for Ellen and eventually forms a romantic relationship with Tom. With this conflict, the wedding itself would have a greater presence in the whole story. It would also create a series of hilarious hijinks. Personally, I’d recommend Anchors Aweigh over Royal Wedding. The former has a stronger story and, in my opinion, is a more enjoyable film overall.

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

What are your thoughts on Royal Wedding? Which movie is your favorite out of the ones I’ve reviewed this year? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

When Creativity is Squandered: The Wasted Potential on Hallmark’s Good Witch

If you’ve read my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time, you would know that Good Witch: Spellbound is in the Top 3. I disliked this movie so much, that I chose to stop watching the Good Witch television show. But something caused me to tune in to the most recent episode. What was this, you ask? Well, it was the inclusion of a royal character. This was the first time when a royal character has ever been featured on any of Hallmark’s television shows, so I was curious to see who would portray this character and what kind of subplot they would be given. However, I was hesitant about getting my hopes up. The third season of Good Witch and Good Witch: Spellbound left a bad taste in my mouth, due to the screen-writing that, in my opinion, was terrible. Still, I gave this episode a fair chance and hoped that the creative team behind this show would do something special with this particular “first” in Hallmark history. There were even factors leading up to this episode that led me to believe that this aspect of the episode would be handled with special attention. As you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering why I would talk about this, despite the fact that I no longer watch Good Witch. I feel that my experience is one that can be relatable among my readers and followers. We’ve all felt disappointed, at least once in our lives, about “wasted potential” within a creative project. This post is about just that; me being disappointed about the creative decisions found in this episode of Good Witch. Because this is not an episode re-cap, I will only talk about the subplot involving the royal character, which will include spoilers. I will also document the factors that made me believe that this specific story would be handled better than it was. Now, let’s discuss this episode and the royal disappointment it was.

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In this screenshot that I took on my cellphone, there were only four cast members listed on the official cast list for Good Witch’s episode “The Prince”. The cast list was featured on IMDB. This screenshot was taken on June 21st, two days prior to the episode’s release date. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Recently, when I was visiting Hallmark Channel’s website, I saw an advertisement for the latest episode of Good Witch on their main page. My level of excitement came to fruition when I saw that this episode was called “The Prince”. As I’ve already stated, this was the first time a royal character had ever been featured in any television show from Hallmark. So, I was looking forward to watching Hallmark Channel history in the making. In the commercial for this episode, the actor who was to portray the prince was nowhere to be found. I figured this was because of one of two reasons: a.) because the story would be an afterthought compared to the other stories within the episode or b.) the actor portraying the prince was such a big deal, that the creative team behind Good Witch wanted to keep his identity a secret in an attempt to surprise their audience and fans with their choice of casting. I chalked this decision up to the latter, especially considering the factors that I’m about to share. Leading up to the episode, the actor portraying Henry, who is the titular prince, was not listed on Good Witch’s IMDB cast list. This actor’s name was also not mentioned in the episode’s official synopsis that was featured on Crown Media Family Networks’ website. Speaking of the synopsis, whenever Henry was mentioned in the episode description, the statement was always brief. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

 

From the official Good Witch episode guide on Hallmark Channel’s website: “Cassie plays host to Henry, a dashing stranger…”

 

From the Crown Media Family Networks’ website: “Cassie hosts a guest with a surprising secret”

 

“When shocking news emerges about the visiting royal, though, he risks hurting someone he’s grown to care for”

 

Based on everything I’ve just said, I predicted that Henry’s “secret” was that he was Cassie or Abigail’s long-lost brother. That way, the show could have introduced a male family member to the Merriwick family and Grace could have had a new uncle become a part of her life. If this was where the story went, it, possibly, would have encouraged me to give Good Witch a second chance. But, if you remember what I said in the introduction, I was disappointed by the “wasted potential” that was actually featured in this episode.

20190623_2200281.jpg
In this screenshot that I took with my cellphone, the official synopsis that is featured on Crown Media Family Networks’ website discusses the various subplots within this episode. As you can see, the actor portraying the prince was not mentioned in this synopsis. Meanwhile, other actors featured in this episode have their names listed next to their character names. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Because of the screen-writing associated with Good Witch’s third season and Good Witch: Spellbound, I had a feeling that the screen-writing in “The Prince” would probably be less-than-stellar. I also predicted what would likely happen on the episode. However, I was hoping that the creative team behind this show would prove me wrong. I watched this entire episode with an open mind and I gave it the fairest of chances. When Henry and his story were introduced on-screen, however, I was, unfortunately, proven right. Everything about this story was a blatant rehash of every single royal themed movie that Hallmark has ever made up until this point. You had the same generic British guy from the same generic, fictional European country that has a name ending with the letter “a”. You also had the same generic, romantic relationship between generic British guy and small-town, American woman. As for Henry’s “secret”, it was the same kind of secret that has been included in almost every Hallmark royal themed film: he’s a prince who didn’t want to be treated differently because of his royal title. There was even a part of the subplot about Henry wanting to go against tradition because he fell in love with a woman that’s not from a royal family. As disappointed as I was by this lack of creativity, I honestly can’t say that I’m surprised. This story felt lazily crafted, like the creative team behind Good Witch didn’t even try to apply any amount of creativity or imagination to this story. The entire execution of this concept was very poor, especially considering that this was a “first” in Hallmark television history.

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In this screenshot from my cellphone, the official episode synopsis is featured on Good Witch‘s official page on Crown Media Family Networks’ website. From the first line, it’s clear that this sentence about the prince’s subplot is very brief. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
I love Hallmark, hence the reason why I talk about it on 18 Cinema Lane. I want their movies and shows to be the best that they can be. However, when a Hallmark project doesn’t reach its full potential, I will be honest about my feelings and opinions related to that project. This was my intention for bringing up my experience of watching this episode of Good Witch. Henry and his story could have been really good, with the potential for this story to be revisited in future episodes. Unfortunately, all of the potential this particular story had was wasted on a script that was poorly written. It also doesn’t help that it was also competing with about five other subplots. This example of “wasted potential” represents a pattern that has been common among Hallmark’s various projects. It’s understandable that Hallmark has an image that they’d like to uphold. But it feels like Hallmark puts so much focus on upholding this image, that they’re afraid of taking creative risks and thinking outside the box. I’m hoping that the disappointing results of this subplot from “The Prince” encourages the various creative teams at Hallmark to go out of their way to go against the grain and move out of their comfort zone. This doesn’t have to be frequently done, but enough to keep stories on Hallmark interesting and engaging.

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Royally Ever After Review

Because I haven’t reviewed a Hallmark Channel movie in two months, I decided to review Royally Ever After. 2018 has become the year of the “royal” movie. Whether to commemorate Harry and Meghan’s wedding or to keep up the network’s success with the ratings, Hallmark continues to create fairytale-esque stories set against a contemporary backdrop. Royally Ever After is Hallmark’s fourth “royal” themed movie for this year. This breaks the record for most “royal” movies released on Hallmark in an individual year! Since 2011’s Smooch, “royal” themed movies have become a staple on Hallmark Channel. Out of the twelve “royal” themed movies that Hallmark has made in this seven-year time-frame, I have seen nine of them, with most of these movies being really good. So, where does Hallmark’s newest “royal” story rank among these movies? Find out in my Royally Ever After review!

Royally Ever After poster
Royally Ever After poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Royally%20Ever%20After&IsSeries=False.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: The entire cast of Royally Ever After was great! Everyone gave a performance that felt so believable and convincing. However, Fiona Gubelmann’s performance was the one that shined the brightest! Not only was her portrayal of the character of Sara believable (like the rest of the cast), but it was also very genuine. Fiona’s performance was such a joy to watch and I hope she continues to be cast in Hallmark movies.

 

  • The on-screen chemistry: Torrance Coombs, like Fiona Gubelmann, gave a good performance in Royally Ever After. Though this was Torrance’s first role in any Hallmark movie, he proved that he, just like Fiona, has what it takes to lead a Hallmark production. Together, both Torrance and Fiona gave such a great performance, that their on-screen chemistry was convincing. In fact, I feel that Torrance and Fiona had the best on-screen chemistry in any Hallmark movie this year (so far)! Both of them came across as if they truly got along. The other couples in Royally Ever After also had good on-screen chemistry! Sara’s parents (portrayed by Fiona Bell and John Guerrasio) and Daniel’s parents (portrayed by Carmen du Sautoy and Barry McGovern) appeared as if they truly belonged together.

 

  • The scenery: Royally Ever After was filmed in Ireland and the country’s beauty really shows in this movie! The natural landscapes were magnificent to look at and a highlight in the film! Hallmark does not film in Ireland enough, so I hope more Hallmark productions get filmed there in the future.

 

  • Not relying on “Hallmark royal movie” clichés: One of my issues with these “royal” movies is that they, more often than not, lack difference between the films. They almost always follow the same beats and patterns, sometimes making me wish Hallmark would retire from the fairytale-esque storytelling. Royally Ever After, however, broke away from most of those clichés and felt like a “breath of fresh air”. One example of this is having the prince’s sister trying to sabotage the protagonists’ relationship instead of the prince’s mother. These creative choices made me enjoy Royally Ever After even more!

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Princess tiara image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/ornamental-princess-crowns_1109199.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.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • As I reflect on this movie, I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about the film. To me, this is the closest to being a “perfect” Hallmark movie that I’ve seen in a very long time.

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

My overall impression:

I really loved Royally Ever After! In my opinion, this is the best “royal” movie Hallmark has ever made! I felt so happy after watching this film, feeling that this was time well spent. I would love it if this story continued through sequels, possibly with the first wedding themed “royal” movie that could be titled “Wedding Ever After”. If you get the chance, I would highly recommend Royally Ever After!

 

Overall score: 10 out of 10

 

Have you seen Royally Ever After? What’s your favorite “royal” movie from Hallmark? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen