Originally, I was going to publish a double feature review of Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken and The Girl Who Spelled Freedom for the American Experience on Film Blogathon. However, I have also been working on another big project that required more time than I expected. Therefore, I was only able to watch one movie, which was The Girl Who Spelled Freedom. Don’t worry, though, because I will coordinate a double feature to celebrate the publication of 500 posts! The 1986 made-for-tv movie had been unknown to me until this year. I stumbled across The Girl Who Spelled Freedom when I was looking through an IMDB list about family-friendly films. After reading the synopsis, I was interested in watching the movie! There aren’t many cinematic stories that feature a spelling bee. In fact, the only one I can think of is Akeelah and the Bee from 2006. I also realize that Disney creates fewer “based on a true story” movies now than they did decades ago. Because a Disney project hasn’t been reviewed on my blog since last December, let’s begin talking about The Girl Who Spelled Freedom!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: As I have stated in the past, it takes a very talented young actor or actress to carry a film. For Jade Chinn, she did such a great job with the material she was given! What made her performance so memorable is how she utilized body language, emotions, and facial expressions to illustrate Linn’s limited use of English. However, these techniques helped address what the character was experiencing. When Linn was traveling on a plane for the first time, she curled up on the floor in fear. The way Linn was behaving showed the audience that cultural differences and language barriers can turn something as simple as a plane trip into a terrifying experience. Another stand-out performer was Mary Kay Place, who portrayed Prissy Thrash! One of her best scenes took place toward the beginning of the film. Prissy and her husband, George, were dealing with the news of how many members are in Linn’s family. Prissy is so overwhelmed, she suddenly bursts into tears. This moment alone displays the emotionality Mary was able to bring to her performance! A heartwarming scene was when George was teaching Linn and her sisters how to count. The performances from the actors in this scene, especially from Wayne Rogers, appeared so genuine. It was also nice to see the dynamic between these characters!
The cinematography: I was pleasantly surprised by some of the cinematography in The Girl Who Spelled Freedom! Even though this is a made-for-tv movie from the mid ‘80s, the cinematography looked like it came from a theatrical production. At the beginning of the film, Linn and her family are crossing a river. One shot is presented as if the viewer is in the water, watching the family moving through the river toward safety. When Linn and her family are staying with the Thrash family, they discover one of the sons is missing. As George and Prissy are searching their home, the camera follows them. This gives the idea the audience are looking for this child alongside the characters.
A balance of heartbreaking and heartwarming moments: With films that deal with emotional material, there are bound to be heartbreaking moments. In The Girl Who Spelled Freedom, there were certainly scenes that were sadder in nature. An example is when Prissy takes Linn and some of her siblings to the park. When the children see a giant statue of the Crucifix, they become scared, as they are instantly reminded of the trauma they experienced. Even though Prissy reminds them that the statue isn’t real, the children are still shaken up by the imagery. At the same time, the film contained light-hearted moments that were heartwarming. At the Thrash family home, Linn accidently walks in on Laura, Prissy and George’s daughter, curling her hair. In an effort to prevent Linn from feeling embarrassed, Laura decides to not only curl Linn’s hair, but also curl Linn’s sisters’ hair. The scene itself was very sweet and showed how a little bit of kindness can make a big difference.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Missing context: The Girl Who Spelled Freedom has the same flaw The Crow did: there are areas of the story that needed context. One strong example is Linn giving sentimental value to a ring. At the beginning of the film, Linn can be seen looking for a ring in the mud. When she is escaping from a group of soldiers in Thailand, she gives the ring to one of the soldiers. In the United States, Prissy gives one of her rings to Linn. Later in the film, Linn is upset when she accidently drops the ring down the sink. The significance of this ring is never addressed in the film. Linn herself never explains why the ring is so valuable to her. If context had been provided to this part of the story, the audience could try to understand why the ring is important to Linn.
A limited presence of the spelling bee: Before watching this movie, I knew there would be a spelling bee featured in the overall story. However, I was expecting a build-up to the spelling bee, similar to Akeelah and the Bee. While we get to see a spelling bee in The Girl Who Spelled Freedom, it was only referenced a few times before the actual event began. Most of the story focused on Linn’s adjustment to life in the United States. Even though watching the spelling bee unfold was satisfying, I wish it had received a little more emphasis in the film.
A few characters receiving character development: In films that feature bigger casts, it is not easy providing character development to every character involved. But when only a few characters receive character development, it can be disappointing. This is what happened with The Girl Who Spelled Freedom. The only characters who are given character development are the members of the Thrash family and Linn. With Linn’s family, the audience becomes familiar with them, but doesn’t get the opportunity to get to know them. This can also be said about other characters, such as Henry Turner, who helped the Thrash family bring Linn and her family to the United States.
My overall impression:
The American Experience is a tricky thing to sum up, as everyone’s experiences are going to be different. This is especially the case if someone is a refugee or immigrant. The Girl Who Spelled Freedom is a perfect example of how unique the American Experience can be. For most of the film, Linn and her family deal with “culture shock”, coming across things and situations that they feel are “unusual”. But over time, they start to create their own American Experience. Linn enters a local spelling bee in 1983. An activity that is typically seen as fun and harmless was seen by Linn as a fight for survival, a view that was shaped by her past experiences. Therefore, she was partially responsible for creating her own American Experience. For a television film from the mid ‘80s, I’d say this is one of the better presentations! While the film does have its flaws, it did feel like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie before the collection moved to Hallmark Channel. After the film, there was an interview with the real-life Thrash and Yann families. Because the audience was able to hear their sides of the story, it added to my enjoyment of the overall project! It’s a shame fewer networks have decided to create made-for-TV films. There are so many stories worth telling, so I hope they are able to get told someday.
Overall score: 7.6 out of 10
Have you seen The Girl Who Spelled Freedom? Are there any television films you’d like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section!
Prior to signing up for Maddy Loves Her Classic Films’ Eleanor Parker Blogathon, I had seen two of Eleanor’s films; The Sound of Music and Return to Peyton Place. However, both titles are ensemble films, leaving Eleanor to act in someone else’s shadow. My entry for the blogathon is a review of InterruptedMelody, a film that allows Eleanor’s acting talents to be the center of attention! The 1955 film is one I had never heard of until this year. Before 2020, I didn’t know who Marjorie Lawrence, the Australian opera singer, was. When I learned Marjorie was diagnosed with polio and overcame her illness, I was interested in seeing this part of Marjorie’s life depicted on film. This is because I, personally, haven’t seen many cinematic stories from the perspective of polio patients. I also don’t talk about Australians in cinema, as I don’t often receive an opportunity to do so. This is another reason why I chose to review InterruptedMelody.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: This is the first movie I’ve seen where Eleanor Parker was the star of the show. I was not disappointed, as Eleanor gave a very strong performance! While Eileen Farrell served as the vocals for the role of Marjorie Lawrence, Eleanor provided the power, passion, and showmanship one can expect from an opera performance. Outside of the opera world, Marjorie experienced several heartbreaks and joys in her life. Through all of this, Eleanor brought forth a portrayal that was emotional, allowing her character to appear and feel realistic. A good example of this is when Marjorie is crawling toward the record player in an attempt to turn it off. One of the key players in Marjorie’s life is her husband, Dr. Thomas King. Portrayed by Glenn Ford, Thomas was her biggest supporter. With a variety of emotions, Glenn also gave a realistic performance! He was able to show the audience how much Thomas cared about Marjorie. Even the supporting actors in Interrupted Melody were strong, which provided strength to the overall cast! Cyril, portrayed by Roger Moore, is Marjorie’s brother and manager. The conversations between him and Marjorie were well performed by both actors, coming across as two siblings having different perspectives on a central topic. This allowed both on-screen personalities to shine as well as showcasing their distinct personas!
The set design: Because Marjorie is an opera star, several opera performances are shown in the film. The movie’s creative team didn’t skimp on the set design within these scenes, as they all felt so immersive. When Marjorie is performing in Madame Butterfly, the stage’s setting is a room from Japan. The window in the background features a large tree, appearing more like a realistic landscape than a painted image. Fine details helped make these spaces appealing to look at. In Marjorie’s first opera, the characters were placed on a Parisian street, with a set of string lights shown over their heads. A detail like this added a three-dimension aspect to the set. Even scenes that didn’t involve the opera looked really good! In one scene, Marjorie and Thomas are on a beach in Florida. While this movie was filmed in Culver City, California, according to IMDB, this was still a photogenic location!
The costumes: In Interrupted Melody, Eleanor Parker wore costumes that were absolutely gorgeous! It also helps that these costumes complimented her so well! In the aforementioned opera, Madame Butterfly, Eleanor’s kimono was light-pink with beautiful embroidery on the collar and sleeves. The embroidery featured flowers, which represented the tree that was featured in the scene’s background. While Marjorie is performing as Carmen in the opera of the same name, her outfit featured a color combination of blue and orange. This was paired nicely with Marjorie’s brown hair. Eleanor even wore some impressive costumes that were not worn during opera performances. Within the film’s second half, she wore a sparkly white gown that was one of my favorites! Eleanor looked beautiful in that dress and I wished she had worn it for a longer period of time.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Missing context: There were areas of the story where I wish context was provided. For starters, how did Marjorie become a singer in the first place? Was this a dream she had since she was a child or a passion she discovered shortly before the events of the film? These questions certainly could have been answered within the script. For a portion of the movie, Cyril disappears from the story. While he eventually appears toward the end of the movie, it isn’t really explained where he went or why he was suddenly absent from the plot. This is something that could’ve been brought up in passing.
More emphasis on the opera world: Since opera played such a huge role in Marjorie’s life, it is going to have a place in the overall story. However, the film put so much emphasis on the glitz and glamour of the opera world, that it caused Marjorie’s polio diagnosis to, kind of, sit on the backburner. This part of Marjorie’s life didn’t come until an hour into the movie. From that point on, it felt like I was watching a highlight reel of Marjorie’s attempts to overcome her illness. I found this disappointing, as I was expecting that part of Marjorie’s story to have a larger presence in the film.
No Australian accents: Before watching Interrupted Melody, I was curious to see if Eleanor could carry an Australian accent. This was, sadly, not the case. In fact, an Australian accent was not consistently used by any of the actors who portrayed members of Marjorie’s family. Toward the beginning of the film, Roger Moore could be heard with an Australian accent. But as the movie goes on, his voice morphs into a British accent. This specific accent was also adopted by the other actors portraying Australians, including Eleanor. While I got used to the lack of Australian accents over time, it is still a flaw I noticed.
My overall impression:
Like I said in my Follow Your Heart review, Interrupted Melody is not the “end all, be all” of Marjorie Lawrence’s story, as one should learn more about her in their own time. However, I do think this movie serves as a good introduction to this particular individual as well as to opera! Through music, set design, and costumes, Interrupted Melody effectively shows the heart and soul that go into this specific form of entertainment. Within Eleanor Parker’s performance, the audience can see just how resilient Marjorie Lawrence was. Speaking of Eleanor Parker, this movie made me appreciate her more! Strong acting talents and a beautiful presence help create a captivating portrayal that was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. An overarching flaw of Interrupted Melody is how the film becomes so caught up in the glitz and glamour of the opera world, it, at times, forgets its original purpose. In the end, though, the movie was a fine picture that I would recommend.
Overall score: 7.4 out of 10
Have you seen Interrupted Melody? Is there a film about a musician you like to watch? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Back in April, I reviewed To Kill a Mockingbird for Silver Screen Classics’ Classic Literature On Film Blogathon. I also read the book earlier this year. When I discovered Rebecca from Taking Up Room was hosting the Atticus and Boo Blogathon, I just had to participate, as it was too good of a coincidence to pass up! Because this blogathon celebrates Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall, I decided to review one film from each of their filmographies. However, I purposefully chose two films that were not only released in the ‘80s, but also had something to do with athletics. For this double feature, I’ll start by reviewing the 1983 movie, The Terry Fox Story. I have to admit I like finding made-for-TV movies from years past. This specific film is an HBO presentation that I watched on Youtube. I will also admit that I knew very little about the true story that inspired the film. So, I was looking forward to being educated on Terry Fox’s story!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I will talk about Robert Duvall’s performance first, as he is one of the reasons why I reviewed this film. In The Terry Fox Story, Robert portrays Bill Vigars, a member of the Cancer Society from Toronto. He doesn’t show up until fifty-nine minutes into the movie, but Robert is given more screen time than he had in To Kill A Mockingbird. With a performance that comes across as natural, Robert made his character feel like a real-life person. One is his best scenes was when Bill gives a pep talk to Terry about ignoring the press. It shows this particular character is trying to look out for Terry’s best interests. Speaking of Terry, Eric Fryer is one of the strongest members in this cast! No matter what scene he appeared in, his performance felt realistic. He displayed the frustrations a patient with cancer might experience, such as when Terry wants to quit his treatments and leave the hospital. There were even times when his character was emotionally guarded, protecting himself from experiencing more pain in his life. Terry stopping people from touching his hair is a good example of this. Despite all the on-screen hardships, Eric brought joy to his role, which helped create happier moments that felt earned. Rika Noda was a part of these happier moments, showing Terry how he can open his heart and allow his personal barriers to be broken down. Portrayed by Rosalind Chao, Rika was an endearing character who, more often than not, brought out the best in Terry. While she gave a good performance individually, Rosalind also had good on-screen chemistry with Eric Fryer. This made me invested in their on-screen relationship and want to see it succeed!
The scenery: Since this movie revolves around Terry’s marathon across Canada, the country’s landscapes serve as photogenic backdrops! When Terry starts his marathon in Newfoundland, he stands on the shores of Cape Spear. With the waves crashing against the rocky shores, this location created a powerful image of a warrior preparing for battle. This waterfront area was also appealing to look at. During his marathon, Terry runs past a city skyline. Behind that skyline was a beautiful sunset. Its pale orange hues illuminated the scene, bringing forth a peaceful picture. A variety of surroundings were featured throughout the marathon. This showed a good representation of the living environments that can be found in an individual country like Canada.
Showing heart-breaking and heart-warming moments: In my review of Nicholas Nickleby, I said one of the strengths of the movie was how there was a balance of despair and joy within the story. The Terry Fox Story had a similar strength, showing both the heart-breaking and heart-warming moments of Terry’s journey. While receiving treatments at the hospital, Terry meets another cancer patient named Bob. Several scenes later, Terry crosses paths with Bob again. This time, the treatments have taken their toll on Bob, making him appear unrecognizable. It was just one example of the ugliness cancer carries, showing the audience a more realistic depiction of the disease. My favorite scene in this film is when Terry’s family and friends are waiting for him to cross the finish line at the seventeen-mile marathon. It was such a heart-warming moment, it made me tear up. This is because it did a good job at displaying what happens when someone believes in another person. It was also a happy occasion that perfectly contrasted the scene’s dark and rainy background!
What I didn’t like about the film:
A rushed beginning: I’m aware there’s only so much story that can be told in an hour and thirty-six minutes. However, the first thirty-eight minutesof The Terry Fox Story was rushed. Important events that led up to the marathon were shown in short segments. It felt like these moments were bullet points within a timeline. It also seemed like the film’s creative team tried to squeeze as much of Terry’s story into the script as they realistically could. Only focusing on some of the events would have benefitted the overall project, as the movie’s flow would be even and certain parts of the story could be fleshed out more.
Terry’s bad attitude: After watching The Terry Fox Story, I read Terry’s family was not a fan of the film “for depicting him as ill-tempered”. In the movie, I saw the character of Terry giving some of the people around him a bad attitude. Toward the beginning of the marathon, Terry complains to his friend, Doug, over the smallest of things. He even calls his friend hurtful names. In the few moments when this happened, it made me briefly question why I was rooting for this character. I know this creative decision was chosen to show how humans can be flawed and have their bad days. Eventually, Terry learns from his errors and apologizes to Doug. But when a movie presents a character they want me to root for and, for any reason, that character makes me wonder why I’m rooting for them, that is not a good thing.
Unresolved or under-resolved story points: There were a few story points in The Terry Fox Storythat were either unresolved or under-resolved. As I mentioned earlier, Bob and Terry shared two scenes together. The second of these two scenes left an unresolved conclusion, as Bob is never seen again for the rest of the film. The story never explains if Bob beat his cancer diagnosis or if he passed away. Before the marathon, Rika and Terry’s relationship was traveling rocky waters. It wasn’t until the one hour and fifteen-minute mark when Rika’s voice-over could be heard, indicating her and Terry’s issues were resolved. While it was nice to receive this resolution, it could have been received a lot sooner in the story.
My overall impression:
Before watching The Terry Fox Story, I only knew the bare minimum of Terry Fox’s story. Now, I feel like I’ve been educated on one of the most important pieces of Canadian history! While there are flaws within the project, the 1983 film did a good job showcasing the human spirit on film. Heart breaking and warming moments influence how people view their world, with the movie effectively showing that. The story also reminds the audience that humans are not invincible, as they all have their own limits. Terry Fox and his marathon teaches us what we are capable of when we believe in ourselves and others. As the character of Terry said in The Terry Fox Story, “it’s about reaching out to people and having them touch you back”. Another good lesson this film teaches is how, sometimes, our best is more than enough. Terry’s single act of attempting to run across Canada helped start a conversation we’re still having decades later. Awareness for various cancers are being raised year after year and multiple organizations have joined the fight against this horrible disease. Even though there’s still more work to do done, I’d like to think Terry’s dream is closer to coming true.
Overall score: 8.1 out of 10
Have you heard of Terry Fox’s story? Which “based on a true story” movie would you like to see me write about? Let me know in the comment section below!
Have fun at the movies!
Here’s the link to the quote I referenced in this review:
Four days ago, my blog received 245 followers! To everyone who helped 18 Cinema Lane become this successful, thank you! None of this could have been a reality without you. BYU-TV recently aired Luna: Spirit of the Whale on their network. Because I don’t get many opportunities to talk about films that feature Native American stories, I felt this film would make a good selection for this blog follower dedication review! The movie is one I had never heard of prior to this year. So, this was also a great chance to expand my cinematic horizons! As I’ve said on multiple occasions, I try to give lesser-known films a “standing ovation”. Luna: Spirit of the Whale is one of those films, as I didn’t see any other blogger on WordPress talk about this movie. By choosing to review this project at all, it will hopefully give this movie a little more recognition than it might be currently receiving.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: While watching Luna: Spirit of the Whale, I noticed strong performances within this cast! One of them came from Adam Beach, who portrayed the protagonist, Mike Maquinna! Throughout the film, Adam did a good job giving his character a wide range of emotions. In one scene, Mike is happy to take a youth named Adam on a short canoe trip. In another scene, Mike is tearfully reflecting on a regret from his past. These emotions helped make Adam’s character well-rounded! Speaking of the aforementioned youth, I also liked Aaron Miko’s portrayal of Adam! A sense of believability is what made this performance enjoyable to watch! With the emotions, facial expressions, and body language, Aaron was able to show the audience that his character had experienced so much in his young life. Prior to watching Luna: Spirit of the Whale, I have seen Erin Karpluk’s performances in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Fixer Upper Mystery series. While she’s in the film for a certain amount of time, the acting material Erin was given in this film was different from the aforementioned series. This is because her performance was allowed to be more dramatic. Erin was able to use that opportunity to her advantage by creating a portrayal that was interesting to watch!
The scenery: As someone who has seen many Hallmark movies, I know that Canada has a reputation for showcasing great scenery! Luna: Spirit of the Whale is no exception to this. Most of the scenery revolves around the water, as the story focuses on a whale. Anytime these scenes appeared in the film, they were appealing to look at! The green hues of the surrounding trees compliment the blues and grays of the water. More often than not, a clear sky enveloped the entire space. Some scenes took place on the shore, an area that was also photogenic! The rocky edge and calm waters set the stage for an inviting place! It really did look like a backdrop you’d see in a Hallmark movie!
The incorporation of Native American culture: Because some of the characters in Luna: Spirit of the Whale are from a Native American/First Nations community, elements of Native American culture are found in this story. The way they are incorporated into the movie is not only educational, but also insightful. These elements are showcased in a reverent and respectful way. During Chief Ambrose Maquinna’s funeral, two men were dressed in wolf fur and crawled on the ground in front of the procession. Before this shot was shown in the film, Mike explains that this particular community believes a deceased chief will have his spirit carried through a wolf (protector of the land) or a whale (protector of the sea). Before any of the canoes go out into the water, a blessing is placed on them, complete with a series of chants. Traditional chants also play a role during the story’s climax.
What I didn’t like about the film:
An unclear time period: According to IMDB, Luna: Spirit of the Whale was released in 2007. Erin Karpluk’s character, Jill, mentions that some people have discovered the story of Luna the whale through the internet. However, all of the televisions in this film look older than 2007. On a canoe trip, one of the youths pulls out a camcorder that appears to have been sold sometime in the 1990s. Everything I just said made it difficult to decipher when this story took place.
A somewhat meandering story: The movie’s main conflict is about a Native American/First Nations community’s attempt to protect a whale they believe physically embodies the spirit of their deceased chief. While this conflict was interesting to see unfold, it didn’t appear until about forty minutes into the film. Personally, I feel this conflict should have been introduced a lot sooner. This not only could have helped the narrative get straight-to-the-point, but it also could have shaved off some of the run-time.
Some scenes that lasted too long: There were some scenes in this film that felt longer than necessary. The scenes where the characters were in the canoes suffered the most from this flaw. Because these scenes emphasized the scenery surrounding the characters, it caused the plot to feel delayed. Scenes like these could have benefited by being shortened.
My overall impression:
Native American stories are not often found in mainstream cinema. This fact can cause movie-goers to look beyond the surface and seek out titles located off the beaten path. Luna: Spirit of the Whale is a part of this discussion, as the film is not well-known. Despite this, I found it to be a fine, decent movie! The elements of Native American culture were incorporated in a reverent and respectful way, while also being educational and insightful. Watching the film’s main conflict unfold was interesting to see, even if it did start later than I would have liked. But if someone were looking for Native American stories told through a cinematic lens, I would recommend Luna: Spirit of the Whale! Finding likable films on BYU-TV is always a treat, so I do appreciate the network’s efforts to introduce their audience to various titles! If I hadn’t came across this film, I might never have discovered it.
Overall score: 7.2 out of 10
Do you have a favorite Native American story told through film? Are there any you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comment section!
1. What is the purpose of Girl Scout fun patches? What is thesignificance of the PB & J patch that you talked about in the introduction?
Girl Scout Fun Patches are created to commemorate experiences where scouts either spend quality time with their troop or learn a new lesson/skill. They can also be earned by completing an activity or reaching a goal. One example is a Lock-In patch, given to a troop or a collection of troops after they spend the night at a local attraction, such as a zoo. The PB & J patch from my introduction is meant to recognize scout members who participate in the creation of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Some soup kitchens, food banks, or homeless shelters will serve these sandwiches to their patrons, with volunteers pitching in to help make the sandwiches and serve them. This experience can teach scouts about playing a vital role in their community and assisting those in need.
2. How did you come across The Last Full Measure?
I learned about The Last Full Measure when I stumbled across several production/behind-the-scenes photos for the movie on Pinterest. I’ve enjoyed watching Sebastian Stan’s portrayal of Bucky Barnes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I was excited to hear he had been given a lead role in this picture. When I read the movie’s synopsis, it sounded like a story that was full of intrigue. I had heard this movie was supposed to be released in October of 2019. For reasons that are unknown to me, the film was pushed back to January of 2020. I was honestly surprised how little attention this project received. It got a small amount of marketing and was in theaters for about less than a month. I’ve also noticed how few movie bloggers have reviewed the film.
3. You elaborated in the introduction how a PB & J sandwich represents acollection of ideas. Can any of these ideas be found in The Last Full Measure?
Absolutely! When reflecting on the story of William H. Pitsenbarger, there are several ideas that come to mind. One of them is how one person can affect the lives of others. Throughout the film, the stories from veterans who fought alongside William are told to Scott Huffman, an employee from the Pentagon tasked with William’s Medal of Honor case. As the movie unfolds, the audience learns how William and his actions impacted the lives of the veterans, as well as William’s parents and Scott’s family. This point is highlighted at William’s Medal of Honor ceremony, where everyone is asked to stand up if they are either a veteran, a family member or spouse of a veteran, or had their life touched by a veteran.
When we think of a PB & J sandwich, it is a singular object that has one purpose: to feed the person that sandwich was created for. When giving the subject more thought, we realize the sandwich itself affects more than the person eating it. There are people who work in the companies creating the peanut butter and jelly. Farmers and agriculturalists grow the wheat to make the bread, as well as the peanuts and fruit to create the peanut butter and jelly. Someone or a group of people make the sandwich, making it whole or cutting it up into separate pieces. If the recipient is given more than one sandwich or has multiple pieces, they can give it to another person. A PB & J sandwich creates an interconnected web where each person plays a role.
4. Are there other patches you can think of that would complement The Last Full Measure?
The most obvious choice would have something to do with veterans. Whether that recognizes sending Valentines to veterans or hosting an Honor Flight, a patch of this nature reminds scouts of a veteran’s importance. Another good choice would be related to history. Events surrounding the Vietnam War are discussed in The Last Full Measure. Age appropriate lessons about a particular war-time era can teach scouts about the event itself and how moments from the past can be applied to the present.
5. Is there anything about The Last Full Measure that you liked or didn’t like?
One element that caught me by surprise was how good the scenery was! When Scott travels to Vietnam to speak with one of the veterans, he is taken to the spot where the battle took place. The place was transformed into a butterfly sanctuary. It was calming and serene to watch, as blue butterflies flew against bright green foliage. The cinematography captured this location well, as soft light radiated within the space. As for what I didn’t like about this film, I found Scott’s part of the story to be the weakest aspect of the narrative. This part wasn’t bad and Sebastian did a good job with the acting material he was given. But I found the veterans’ stories to be much more compelling than what Scott’s story had to offer.
6. Did you develop any thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?
I didn’t develop any questions, but two thoughts did come to mind. When William’s parents are remembering their son’s life, they reflect on small details, like the smell of fresh cut grass on his shoes after he mowed the lawn. This reminded me of when Eric Draven, from The Crow, said that “Nothing is trivial”. When we lose a loved one, little things that may seem insignificant to others are the pieces we use to hold on to that person. On Thanksgiving, William’s parents share with Scott and his wife how they try to keep their son’s memory alive. This reminded me of what Sarah said at the end of The Crow about continuing to love someone after they are gone.
7. As stated in answer number one, fun patches are earned by eithercompleting an activity or reaching a goal. What goal or activity could correlate with this movie?
Because The Last Full Measure is rated R, most scouts would not be able to see the film. However, there are activities that troops can participate in that correlates with the movie. Like I mentioned in answer number four, a troop or multiple troops can organize an Honor Flight. This is a plane ride/trip meant to recognize the military contributions of veterans. Younger scouts can make signs and cheer for the veterans as they arrive at the airport. Older scouts can assist their leaders in the event’s organization, showing them how to build connections in their community and organizational skills.
8. Fun patches are about learning new skills or lessons. Are there any lessonsone can learn from this film?
A major overarching lesson that can be found in The Last Full Measure is how our actions and choices can affect the people around us. During the Vietnam War, William’s choice to sacrifice his life for his fellow soldiers greatly affected those soldiers in that battle. It also affected those same soldiers, William’s parents, and even Scott’s family years after the event occurred. This lesson reminds viewers to put a great amount of thought into the things we do before we act on them.
9. Sometimes, patches are created to tie in with a popular movie or IP (intellectual property). If given the opportunity to create a new patch, howwould a patch for this movie look? What activity or goal would need to bemet?
A patch bearing a picture of William H. Pitsenbarger would be an appropriate choice. Another good choice would be an image of the Medal of Honor with William’s name surrounding it. Any activity involving the recognition of veterans would make sense. It could be a grand gesture, such as the aforementioned Honor Flight or decorating a float for a veteran who is a Grand Marshal at a local parade. The act could be smaller in scale, like raking leaves for a veteran during the autumn season or delivering meals for a veteran who may be home-bound. The patch’s goal would strive to help scouts learn about a veteran’s importance and appreciate their inclusion in society.
10. After watching this film, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?
While I found The Last Full Measure to be a fine, well-made film, I think the story itself would have benefited more in a documentary format. I said in answer number five how the veterans’ stories were the most compelling part of the overall narrative. If this story were presented in a documentary, it would have given the veterans themselves a chance to share their experiences, especially since The Last Full Measure was based on a true story. In my last double feature, I reviewed the film Over the Edge. I stated in that review how the film was based on true events. This is one of the reasons why I felt that story should have been told through a documentary.
This year, I’ve seen several tier ranking videos on Youtube. While most of these videos have revolved around books, there have been a few that focus on films. As I watched these tier lists being created, I discovered how there was no list dedicated to Hallmark’s productions. So, I decided to fill that void by making a list of my own! Because Hallmark has created so many movies, my tier ranking list focuses on all the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I have seen in my life. This article is based solely on my own opinion and is not meant to be mean-spirited in any way. I also created this list to bring unique content to my blog. I was trying to complete this post yesterday, but this project took longer than I expected, so I apologize for its late arrival. For this tier ranking list, there will be five categories; Bottom of the Barrel, Ok, Decent/Fine, Good, and Great. I will give each film a brief, but thorough explanation for why it has earned that placement.
Bottom of the Barrel
Back When We Were Grown-Ups
Anyone who has read my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time would not be surprised to see this movie placed in the Bottom of the Barrel category. To me, this is not only the worst Hallmark Hall of Fame picture, but also the worst Hallmark project ever made. If you’d like to learn more about why I don’t like Back When We Were Grown-Ups, you can check out my list of the Worst Hallmark Movies at this link:
This is another movie I talked about in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list. I’ve only seen Firelight once, but I found it to be so forgettable. When I think about this movie, on rare occasions, I wonder what message it was trying to deliver to their audience? If I, as an audience member, can’t determine what the intended purpose of that specific film is, that likely means something went wrong during the creative process. The rest of my thoughts on Firelight are found in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list at this link:
From what I remember, the overall plot was very lackluster. I also found the premise revolving around a child rarely lying to be unbelievable. A Painted House contains other flaws that prevented me from enjoying this picture. One of them was how a few characters were unlikable for no clear reason. For a stand-alone film, having it end on a cliff-hanger wasn’t a good idea. I haven’t read John Grisham’s novel, so I’m not sure if the film’s creative team adopted any liberties for this project.
While I don’t think Rose Hill is a bad movie, I just wasn’t impressed with the final project. The story as a whole was not the most interesting and Rose herself seemed to sit on the sidelines of her own story. There was a mystery within this script, but that part of the story was poorly executed. This surprises me, as Hallmark Hall of Fame released a film in 1990 with a similar story concept titled Caroline?
My Sister’s Keeper
I liked the first half of this movie, where the audience witnesses the two sisters growing up alongside each other. It provided strong opportunities for each sister to receive character development and the film’s first half felt like it was building up to something bigger. When the second half of the movie arrives and both sisters become adults, the project hits a stand-still where nothing interesting happens. I will say the high-light of My Sister’s Keeper is seeing Kathy Bates riding on an elephant.
I’ve only seen about 50% of this movie. However, based on what I saw, I found the project to be just ok. I didn’t find myself feeling emotionally invested in the story like I did with other Hall of Fame titles. I wouldn’t mind re-watching this one, and maybe even reviewing it, to see if I still hold the same opinion.
When I first saw this film, I thought it was decent/fine. But since its 2013 release, it has been relegated to ok status. The Makeover is a glorified Hallmark Channel movie, complete with the male and female protagonist falling in love with each other. In fact, Hallmark’s first network released a movie with a similar premise the year prior called Fixing Pete. Maybe the first Hallmark Hall of Fame project of 2013 should have been given a stronger story.
Blind Spot was decent/fine upon initial viewing, but is now in the ok category. The film’s cautionary message was given more emphasis than the plot. This caused the movie to feel like it belonged on Lifetime when these kinds of films were in their hey-day. As I’ve said before, Karina Arroyave stars in this Hall of Fame presentation. However, her talents were under-utilized in this picture.
The Magic of Ordinary Days
This is one of the most beloved titles Hallmark has ever made. However, I don’t like or love this project as much as other people do. I found the main plot to be too unbelievable for my liking. Hallmark also glossed over the subject of Japanese internment camps when they could have provided some commentary on how prejudice can negatively affect someone’s perspective. There was one romantic relationship that I knew wasn’t going to lead anywhere, making me wonder why it was included in the first place. The Magic of Ordinary Days is another Hall of Fame movie based on a book, so I don’t know what elements from the novel where translated to the screen.
I reviewed this film for the James Garner Blogathon back in February. On the dvd cover, it is considered “the most-honored television movie of all time”. But, to me, the project is a bit on the over-rated side. I’m not a fan of “slice-of-life” stories, which is exactly what the plot of Promise is. The road to educating the audience about Mental Illness seems like it was paved with good intentions. As I say in my review, it could have been executed better though. You can read my review at the link below if you want to learn more about my thoughts on Promise.
Back in 2015, I felt Just in Time for Christmas was a good movie. After giving it some more thought, I’ve come to see the film as just fine. Like The Makeover, the project is a glorified Hallmark Channel movie. But, unlike the aforementioned 2013 release, Just in Time for Christmas tried to do something different with their creative material. Time travel is rarely incorporated in any of Hallmark’s projects. This release was, I believe, the first time it had been included in a Hallmark Hall of Fame title.
In Love and War
When The World War II Blogathon took place last September, In Love and War is the film I chose to review. As a movie, I liked it for it was. But, as a Hall of Fame picture, it didn’t leave as big of an emotional impact as other titles from this collection have. For a story taking place during World War II, there wasn’t a lot of action in it. There was also an imbalance between the ideas of “love” and “war”. If you want to read my review for In Love and War, you can click on the link below:
I haven’t seen this movie since its 2011 release. From I remember, it was just fine. While I liked the acting, the story was straight-forward. I also found the part about the pregnant teacher working and, eventually, bringing her baby to a compromising environment to be unbelievable. Like I said about Loving Leah, I’m not opposed to re-watching this movie and reassessing my opinion on it.
Front of the Class
This is another picture I haven’t seen in years. However, I thought Front of the Class was a fine film. Similar to In Love and War, it didn’t leave a big, emotional impact on me. But, as I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind watching this movie again and seeing if my thoughts on it have changed.
The Secret Garden
In my Bonus Double Feature last September, I talked about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s version of The Secret Garden. I liked this adaptation, but I found it to be drawn-out. Looking back on this movie, it seems like the creative team placed so much emphasis on respecting the source material, they forgot to bring their own voice to the table. You can check out my thoughts on three different adaptations of The Secret Garden at these links:
I feel The Boys Next Door is one of the more under-rated titles from the Hall of Fame collection. The acting is solid and the perception of individuals with disabilities is mostly positive. My favorite character from this movie is Barry Klemper, but I felt he was under-utilized in the overall story. Also, some of the language toward the four men with disabilities reflects the time period the film was released in. I wonder how different the play this movie is based on is from this adaptation?
The Valley of Light
Despite not having seen this movie since its 2007 release, I remember really liking this film! “She won’t give me my chocolate” is still one of my favorite quotes from a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. This film also contains one of the most shocking plot twists in the history of this collection. I definitely want to re-watch this film and possibly share my thoughts on this movie viewing experience!
As I have said before on this blog, Love Locks is the first newer Hall of Fame title that made me feel like this branch of Hallmark was going back to their roots! Yes, this is the type of story you’d likely find in Hallmark Channel movies. But the way Love Locks was presented made the overall project feel like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. I also like the movie’s original poster, as it is one of the most creative pieces of marketing in Hallmark history! Personally, I think this is a good picture if you want to introduce someone to the Hall of Fame collection!
Love Takes Flight
This is the most recent release from the Hall of Fame collection I’ve talked about, as I reviewed the film last April. Love Takes Flight is a better movie than its marketing campaign made it seem. However, as I’ve noticed with the newer Hall of Fame titles, it lacks emotional depth because it feels like it adopted Hallmark Channel’s “formula”. It also contains other flaws, like having too many plots. Here’s the link to my review of Love Takes Flight if you’re interested in reading it:
The Beach House is another Hallmark Hall of Fame film that was given less-than-stellar marketing. But this didn’t stop it from being better than I expected! As someone who has also read the book, I think the movie did a better job at telling the story than its source material did! I also believe the overall quality of this project is a good reminder of why the Hall of Fame branch exists. This is another title I reviewed, so I’ll provide the link to that post here:
I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Everlasting when it was released in 2018! In fact, the only aspect of the film I didn’t like was the limited on-screen presence Patti LaBelle received, as I expected her to have a larger role in the film. Similar to other Hall of Fame titles I’ll mention, this movie features a mystery within the overall plot. Mysteries are not often found in Hallmark Hall of Fame projects, so I like how Christmas Everlasting helped bring something different to the table. I reviewed this movie as well, so here is the link:
I liked this movie and the book it was based on! The overall execution of this project made it feel like a Hall of Fame production, making this the collection’s first newer Christmas film to make me feel this way. Similar to Christmas Everlasting, The Christmas Train incorporates a mystery into their story. While this element is also in the book, it brings a unique component to Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas line-up. It’s also special in how most of the film’s events take place on a train, which is rare for a Hall of Fame movie!
The Lost Valentine
This is a good, but sad film! While I appreciate the effort that has gone into Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas movies, it’s nice to see other holidays receive recognition within this branch of Hallmark. The use of flashbacks enhanced the overall story, giving context to the events being presented on screen. Because of how sad the film is, the re-watchability rate is on the lower side of the spectrum. But this is a project I would definitely recommend!
A Dog Named Christmas
A Dog Named Christmas is another Hall of Fame Christmas film I genuinely enjoyed! It does a good job at effectively showing how someone can make a difference in their community. Since this movie places a lot of attention on the titular dog, some story elements end up being over-looked. One of them is seeing how the main protagonist lives his life with a disability. I know there’s a prequel to this film called Christmas with Tucker. I haven’t seen it, but I’d like to see how it holds up to A Dog Named Christmas!
Sweet Nothing in My Ear
I saw this movie for the first time in 2020 and it made me miss the Hallmark Hall of Fame films of yester-year. Even though this story revolves around a debate, the overall project was interesting to watch. Both sides are treated equally and are given enough time to present their case. I don’t like the ending, but I can understand why the creative team made that specific choice. Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a unique addition to the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection!
Pictures of Hollis Woods
I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I recall having a good experience watching it. However, this film has flown under the radar for far too long. The acting is good and the overarching message of family is incorporated into the story very well. I also remember one of the characters lives in and owns a movie theater. This was a highlight for me because that is a dream of mine.
As I’ve said before, mysteries are not often found in Hallmark Hall of Fame projects. It is even rarer when the entire plot is a mystery story. The overall quality of the film’s writing is strong and I also liked the acting performances. However, like I said about Blind Spot, Karina Arroyave’s talents were under-utilized in this project. I’m surprised this movie has never been aired on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, as this title fits the network’s brand.
Grace & Glorie
One of the plot points of this film is a woman from a big city moving to a small town. However, it never felt like the project was following a formula. Instead, the story focuses on the friendship between Grace and Gloria. This part of the movie provided interesting opportunities for character development and exploration of certain themes. The movie also showcased wonderful scenery.
Christmas with Holly
In Christmas with Holly, the protagonist and his brothers take care of Holly after she loses her mother. This part of the movie reminded me of Three Men and a Baby. But what’s great about this 2012 release is how it takes a pre-existing story structure and creates a different narrative with it. While there was a romance in this film, it was never heavily emphasized like in other Hall of Fame titles. The overall story felt well-rounded.
A Smile as Big as the Moon
This is one of my favorite Hallmark Hall of Fame films! I was really impressed with the overall quality of the project when I first saw it in 2012. There is so much to like about this movie, from the acting performances to the messages and themes. To me, this is the perfect example of what a Hall of Fame title should be.
I’m not going to lie; I thought the title sounded ridiculous when I first heard it. But the movie was better than I expected it to be! This film does a good job at exploring how childhood cancer can affect a child and the people around them. It also has a genuine sincerity that doesn’t feel too mushy or manipulative. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say this is a good choice to watch around Christmas-time!
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are known for having larger budgets than a typical Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film. The creative team behind The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler used that budget to their advantage. The presentation of this film is so good, it feels like a theatrical release! Everything about the movie feels like it is of the highest quality. I honestly wish Hallmark created more Hall of Fame pictures like this one.
Follow the Stars Home
From the moment I first saw this movie, I knew it would be a winner! But it sometimes feels like this film doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The acting performances from the whole cast are one of the strongest components of this project. This movie also contains one of the most intense scenes I’ve ever seen in a film. Follow the Stars Home does a good job at balancing the lighted-hearted and serious moments of the story.
The Sarah, Plain and Tall trilogy
This series introduced me to Hallmark Hall of Fame as well as Hallmark films in general. I’d say this is one of the strongest trilogies in film history! The overall quality is consistent and it feels like the creative team truly cared about the project they were making. I would like to see Hallmark attempt another series within their Hallmark Hall of Fame branch!
Ellen Foster is an excellent, but sad film! What makes this movie work is Jena Malone’s performance, as she carries the entire project! This movie features one of the few times where a young person is the film’s lead. The story as a whole is an emotional roller coaster ride that makes its audience experience a variety of feelings. I haven’t read the book this film is based on, but I’d be interested in reading how emotionally intense it is compared to the film.
What the Deaf Man Heard
I have fallen in love with this movie since I first saw it! It does a great job showing how far someone will go to show their love for another person. This film also shows how easy it is for people to take things at face value. There are other solid messages in this story, but I don’t want to spoil it. What the Deaf Man Heard is another Hall of Fame title I can’t recommend enough! It’s also based on a book, so I’d like to read it someday!
Even though I’ve reviewed several of the newer mystery films from Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, it has been awhile since I’ve talked about a Hallmark-esque movie. In fact, the last movie of this kind I reviewed was The Carpenter’s Miracle back in March. Since the last two movies that were covered on 18 Cinema Lane were darker, I chose a film that was somewhat lighter. Recently, Up Network aired the 1990 film, A Son’s Promise. Prior to watching it, I had never even heard of this title. However, I am familiar with Ricky Schroder’s acting work, especially his projects from Hallmark. So, I decided to choose A Son’s Promise as my next movie to review! I haven’t heard many people talking about this film, so this review is a perfect opportunity to give an under-rated movie a chance to receive a “standing ovation”!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: A common factor I noticed while watching the acting performances is the amount of sincerity the actors put into their roles. This is definitely the case for Ricky Schroder’s portrayal of Terry. Not only was his performance sincere, but there was also a pure goodness that showed through. In one scene, Terry is sad that he lost his job. As he carries out his tear-filled explanation, you can always tell his heart is in the right place. Veronica Cartwright’s portrayal of Dorothy also contained a genuine goodness to it. She was able to successfully show the gentle nature that humans can sometimes have. No matter what the situation was, Dorothy always remained calm. Donald Moffat did a good job portraying Paw Paw! He brought a sense of believability to his role that was convincing. A good example is when Paw Paw is in the hospital. You could feel the fear and uncertainty of that circumstance because of the quality of Donald’s performance. Despite his limited presence on screen, Donald brought a very memorable role to life!
The messages and themes: Movies like A Son’s Promise are known for containing messages and themes that are important and relatable. In this film, one of the messages relates to dealing with loss. At their mother’s funeral, the youngest son in the O’Kelley family asks if they are leaving their mother in the cemetery. Terry tells him no by telling him and his brothers that they will always carry their mother in their hearts. An overarching theme in A Son’s Promise is trust. When speaking with Dorothy, Terry confesses that he is the only person he can trust. Through Terry’s interactions with various characters, we can see how placing trust in others or choosing not to do so can shape someone’s perspective. This theme also shows how the company we keep can make or break a person.
The scenery: Because this movie takes place in rural Georgia, the surrounding scenery reflects this type of location. Near the O’Kelley family’s house, expansive farmland and rolling hills can be seen. Soft yellows and hints of green make up this location’s official color scheme. Other locations that are shown include a forest and a lake, which boast hues of green and blue. Similar to the aforementioned farmland and hills, these settings are serene and have a peaceful quality to them. Even the cemetery appeared as a tranquil space, with the orange of the fallen leaves set against the gray of the headstones. All of these locations gave the impression that time can stand still and there are places that can make people feel safe.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Some brothers receiving more character development than others: This story is about Terry trying to take care of his six brothers after his mother’s death. Because of the large number of siblings, it is difficult for some of the brothers to receive character development. The movie revolves around Terry, giving the audience an opportunity to truly get to know him as a character. Two of the older brothers are given some character development, while the four younger brothers don’t receive much character development. It also doesn’t help that the four younger brothers were in the film for a limited amount of time. Overall, I felt like I never really got to know Terry’s brothers, but only became familiar with them.
Dorothy’s role in Terry’s life: I liked the character of Dorothy as well as Veronica’s performance. However, Dorothy’s role was under-utilized in this story. When she first meets Terry and his brothers, Dorothy tells them she has more authority than a lawyer and how she has a multitude of resources. But, throughout the film, we never see her professional role in action. Sure, she helps Terry at times. She becomes a shoulder to cry on and provides a listening ear when necessary. However, Dorothy isn’t shown doing much to help Terry’s brothers. I’m not saying Dorothy’s role wasn’t important. I just don’t think its inclusion was effective.
A drawn-out story: The story of A Son’s Promise is centered around Terry trying to get his brothers out of foster care so they can stay together. Since this is the film’s primary focus, it causes the overall story to feel drawn out. I understand this procession would take a significant amount of time in real life. But, in the movie, it makes the project feel longer than its given run-time. Whenever Terry experiences adversity, it felt like the process became prolonged. It got to the point where I heard myself asking “How much longer until Terry finally catches a break”? Because of how drawn-out the story was, some details were glossed over. Throughout the film, a local appliance salesman steps in to help the O’Kelley family. His intentions are never made clear and he also doesn’t provide a reason for wanting to help. The lack of answers for these questions are the result of the drawn story.
My overall impression:
One of the most common types of film that is covered on 18 Cinema Lane is Hallmark/Hallmark-esque films. Not only do I enjoy talking about these projects, but it seems like my readers, followers, and visitors like reading about them. So, I try my best to include these films on my blog. I thought A Son’s Promise was a fine movie. The project contained elements that would normally be found in a movie from the Gold Crown company, such as quality acting and significant themes. But there were also flaws that prevented the film from being greater than it was. One example is how the overall story was drawn-out, causing the picture to feel longer than two hours. What surprised me about A Son’s Promise is how there was no mention of the real life O’Kelley family, despite how this film is based on a true story. In movies like this one, there is, more often than not, a message about the true events and/or a photo of the actual people the project is based on. Maybe the family wanted to protect their identity? If you like Hallmark films, specifically of the Hall of Fame variety, you may enjoy A Son’s Promise. Even though there are movies of this nature that are stronger than this one, its heart is in the right place.
Overall score: 7.1 out of 10
Have you seen A Son’s Promise? Do you like the movies that Up Network has recently aired? Let me know in the comment section!