Take 3: Ocean’s Eleven (1960) Review

Peter Lawford is an actor I was not familiar with prior to my participation in the 1st Annual Peter Lawford Blogathon. But, like I’ve said in past blogathons, I didn’t let this stop me to joining Kristen’s event! As I was looking through Peter’s filmography on IMDB, I discovered he had starred in the original Ocean’s Eleven. This is the movie I chose to review for the blogathon because of how rarely heist films are talked about on 18 Cinema Lane. Two years ago, I wrote a review for Logan Lucky when I participated in my very first blogathon. Anyone who has read that article would know how I did not like that film. Another point I’d like to make is how Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Cesar Romero (who all appear in Ocean’s Eleven) starred in another movie I reviewed for a blogathon; Marriage on the Rocks. Like Logan Lucky, I was not a fan of the 1965 movie. With my review of Ocean’s Eleven, however, I’m hoping my luck will start to turn around!

Ocean’s Eleven (1960) poster created by Warner Bros. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/18360/Ocean-s-Eleven/#tcmarcp-196918.

Things I liked about the films:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, I have seen and reviewed Marriage on the Rocks. Three of the film’s stars, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Cesar Romero, reunite in Ocean’s Eleven! The 1960 picture allowed Dean and Cesar to work with acting material that was different from Marriage on the Rocks, with their performances appearing more dramatic. Meanwhile, Frank’s portrayal of Danny Ocean contained the same ease he displayed in the aforementioned 1965 movie. Ocean’s Eleven also introduced me to talent that I had never seen before, such as Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. What I liked about Peter’s performance was how he was able to adapt to any situation placed in his character’s path. Even though this was the first time I’ve ever seen Sammy act, I was impressed with the smooth confidence he consistently carried throughout the story! One thing that stood out to me was the on-screen chemistry among the cast! Every actor appeared to work well with each other and compliment their co-stars.

The differentiation among the casinos: In a movie showcasing five casinos, it’s important to differentiate these locations for the audience. This choice avoids confusion and prevents the casinos from blending in with each other. The various New Year’s Eve parties feature creative ways these facilities were able to set themselves apart! At the party in the Flamingo casino, pink balloons served as party decorations. Down the street at the Sands casino, blue balloons could be seen. The costumes of the on-stage performers also highlighted the differences between each location. Dancers wearing burnt orange and white checkered costumes were found at the Desert Inn. Meanwhile, black costumes were worn by dancers at the Sands.

The dialogue: For the most part, the dialogue in Ocean’s Eleven was smartly written and sounded clever! One example takes place during a conversation between Danny’s ex-wife and Sam Harmon. When she is talking about her relationship with her ex-husband, Sam responds by saying how Cloud 9 must have been boring. Another example of smart writing happens when Josh Howard to talking with one of the members of Danny’s group. In their conversation, they talk about bravery. Josh shares that being brave doesn’t make someone invincible. These two examples I shared show how there was effort placed in the script.

The 1st Annual Peter Lawford Blogathon banner created by Kristen from KN Winiarski Writes. Image found at https://knwiniarski.com/peter-lawford-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A dialogue heavy first half: Every heist movie sets aside time to lay out the plans for the heist. While the first half of Ocean’s Eleven does feature these plans, it also included explanations of why the members of Danny’s group wanted to pull off the heist. The first half of the story featured explanations of the characters’ personal issues as well. This caused the movie’s entire first half to be dialogue heavy. If some of these explanations had been shortened or cut, it would have presented the heist sooner.

A “bait and switch” third act: With a movie titled Ocean’s Eleven, the audience expects a good portion of the story to focus on the heist itself. While the planning and execution of the heist was shown, the story transitions its focus to Duke Santos and his investigation after the heist takes place. This creative choice made the third act seem like a “bait and switch”. It also caused this part of the story to drag a little bit, preventing the film from ending earlier than it did.

Too many characters: Despite the film containing an all-star cast, I felt there were too many characters in this story. There were times when I had difficulty keeping track of who was who. The large number of cast members also caused some actors to receive less screen time than others, with Red Skelton being one of them. When I saw his name on a casino marquee, I was given the impression he would perform a comedy sketch on the casino’s stage. However, Red was briefly featured in one scene where he was seen arguing with a casino employee. I wondered why this film’s creative team would recruit such a well-known star for such a small part, especially when Red Skelton’s claim to fame, comedy, wasn’t utilized?

Money image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/bills-and-coins-in-isometric-design_1065328.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Ocean’s Eleven is the first film of Peter Lawford’s I have ever seen. But I have not seen the “Ocean” movies from the 21st century, so I cannot make a comparison. Despite all this, I found the 1960 movie to be a fine first impression! Unlike Logan Lucky, Ocean’s Eleven showcased a heist that was interesting, exciting, and even suspenseful. Clever dialogue and creative set design at each casino were worth seeing and listening. Even the acting was solid, not just from Peter, but from the cast as a whole! However, there are factors that held Ocean’s Eleven back from being a stronger film. While I liked the dialogue, I found the movie’s first half very dialogue heavy. There were also too many characters and the third act felt like a “bait and switch”. But I still thought it was better than Logan Lucky and Marriage on the Rocks. If Kristen brings this blogathon back next year, it’ll be interesting to see what I choose!

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen any of the “Ocean” movies? Which film of Peter Lawford’s would you want to check out? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Release the Tim Pope Cut of ‘The Crow: City of Angels’

In recent days, the news about the release of the infamous “Snyder Cut” of Justice League has taken over the internet. Multiple Youtube videos have covered this story and the discussion of its arrival has been rampant on social media. It has even gone so far as to make Paul Feig consider releasing a new cut of his version of Ghostbusters. But among the articles, videos, perspectives, and comments, there is a cut of one movie that was left out of the conversation: the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels. As you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering “What is the Tim Pope cut?” “Didn’t this film already receive a director’s cut?” In this editorial, I’ll answer those questions. I will also be sharing a list of reasons why now is the perfect time to release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels. This isn’t the first time I’ve brought this subject up. In my Sunshine Blogger Award post from this April, I said that one of my greatest wishes for cinema was for the full version of The Crow: City of Angels to be released. However, I honestly never thought I’d write an editorial about this subject. Since many people are not talking about the Tim Pope cut, I decided to do so. Besides, when life gives you lemons, it’s better to write a blog post about it while everyone else is making lemonade.

The Crow: City of Angels poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Crow_2.jpg.

What is the Tim Pope cut?

Before I talk about the reasons why the Tim Pope cut should be released, I need to explain what the cut itself is. The Tim Pope cut is the 160-minute version of The Crow: City of Angels that was purposefully intended to be different from the first film. Unfortunately, this version never saw the light of day because the movie was heavily affected by “studio intervention”. In a video titled “Exploring The Crow City of Angels,” Cecil, the creator and narrator of the video, explains how the studio’s decisions prevented the film’s creative team from telling the story they wanted. It got so bad that the movie’s director and writer, Tim Pope and David S. Goyer, disowned their project because of the changes. While the film did receive a director’s cut, “it’s mostly just extended scenes,” according to Cecil. The original version of this movie is not officially called “the Tim Pope cut.” Supporters, including myself, gave it this name to make it sound more official.

Image of crow at sunset created by Rayudu NVS at freeimages.com. Photo by <a href=”/photographer/rayudu238-57835″>rayudu NVS</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt;. Image found at freeimages.com.

Reason #1: The “Snyder Cut” Opens the Doors for a Winning Cycle

In an article from The Hollywood Reporter, Borys Kit reported that “a growing movement of fans, rallied around the hashtag #ReleasetheSnyderCut, had called, agitated, petitioned – even bought a Times Square billboard and chartered a plane to fly a banner over Comic-Con – for Snyder’s version to be released.” The reason why people wanted to see Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League is because the director had to leave the project due to a personal situation involving his family. This caused a different director, Joss Whedon, to step in and change Zack’s intended vision. Because of how vocal and passionate these supporters were, HBO Max is finally granting their wish. Borys says, in their article, the streaming service “will debut the project in 2021.” They also state that “whether it will be released as an almost four-hour director’s cut or split into six “chapters” has yet to be decided.”

Since the “Snyder Cut” is going to see the light of day, it opens the door for other films that have been creatively damaged, like Justice League, to receive the proper treatment they deserve. It also sets a precedent for a cinematic cycle where everyone wins. I provide an image of this cycle to give a visual for what I will be discussing. The following bullet-points show each part of the cycle and why its important.

  • Movie’s Creative Team – Given creative freedom, allowed to make the films they want, has option to incorporate fan feedback and source material if IP is used
  • Fans/Audience Members – Greater chance they’ll spend money on movie ticket if creative team and studio respected and listened to them
  • Studio – Will see good financial results on projects where creative team was given creative freedom and fans/audience members are respected
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen

Reason #2: The Person Responsible for The Crow: City of Angels’ Destruction is No Longer in Control of This Film

In the aforementioned video, “Exploring The Crow City of Angels”, Cecil discussed how the film was a victim of “studio intervention.” They mention on several occasions how Tim, David, and even The Crow’s creator, James O’Barr, had always planned on creating a new story for the sequel. This decision was made to show respect toward the predecessor and its devoted fans. After the film had already been finished, “studio intervention” took over. Harvey Weinstein, who was a producer at Miramax at the time, “demanded the film be edited to be more like the first movie,” as Cecil says in the video. This choice single-handedly stopped the creative team of The Crow: City of Angels from making the film they wanted.

In 2005, Harvey left Miramax in order to create The Weinstein Company. This means that he gave up control of the studio. At the time, Disney had ownership over Miramax. It was the result of an acquisition that took place in 1993. Over the years, the studio has changed hands among various companies. On April 3rd, Jill Goldsmith, from Deadline, reported that ViacomCBS “closed on the acquisition of a 49% stake in Miramax.” This allows Paramount, which is owned by ViacomCBS, “an exclusive, long-term distribution agreement for Miramax’s film library and an exclusive, long-term first-look agreement allowing Paramount Pictures to develop, produce, finance and distribute new film and television projects based on Miramax IP.” What this means is Paramount/ViacomCBS is now in control over the potential restoration and release of the Tim Pope cut.

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Reason #3: Paramount has Respected a Pre-Existing Fanbase Before

When Paramount chose to acquire Miramax, they purchased projects related to The Crow. With those projects comes a pre-existing fanbase. However, this is not the first time the studio dealt with a project where a pre-existing fanbase was a part of the equation. Last year, fans of Sonic the Hedgehog were not pleased with the way their favorite character looked in a trailer for a movie based on the famous blue protagonist. After backlash over Sonic’s design, Jeff Fowler, the director of Sonic the Hedgehog, announced plans to change Sonic’s look. In an article from SlashFilm, Ben Pearson shares the director’s tweet, which says “Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be…”. This choice caused the film to be delayed until February of 2020.

When Sonic’s re-design was revealed, fans and potential audience members praised Paramount and the creative team behind the film. Two of those people were Kneon and Geeky Sparkles from Clownfish TV. In a video called “Sonic the Hedgehog is FIXED! Sonic Looks GREAT!”, Kneon and Geeky marvel over Sonic’s drastic change. They also approve of Paramount’s decision to put customers first. Geeky asks, “Look, if it looks really bad and the fans say it looks really bad, you want people to come to your movie, right?” She quickly answers that question by stating “So, um, you’re going to need to, uh, do things that make the fans happy.” Kneon says, “The Sonic fandom is very, very vocal. Ok, they’re a very passionate, vocal fanbase”. He and Geeky express interest in seeing the film due to Paramount’s efforts to make a better product. Because Paramount and Sonic the Hedgehog’s creative team took the time to show the Sonic fans respect, the film went on to, so far, become the second highest grossing movie of 2020! While a part of its ranking at the box office was affected by the Coronavirus, acquiring a domestic receipt of over $300 million is something Paramount should be proud of.

In this chart of 2020’s highest grossing films, Sonic the Hedgehog is currently in the top three. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Reason #4: Fans of The Crow are a Dedicated Group of People

The Crow has a pre-existing fanbase that spans more than a decade. Whether drawn to the comic or a fan of any film, fans who love The Crow are dedicated, vocal, and passionate about their favorite IP. They will find an opportunity to talk about the story and have even pushed The Crow into cult classic status. One of these fans is Lee from the Youtube channel Drumdums. In his video, titled “The Crow: Legacy of a Cult Classic,” Lee says “I have been obsessed with this movie, really, since I saw it, in the theater, opening night, uh, in May of 1994.” He shares his personal experiences with the film, as well as praising the project. He even created a live commentary video dedicated to the movie. Another fan is Pale Writer from the blog Pale Writer. Last Halloween, Pale Writer published a review titled “Rain and Revenge: The Crow (1994).” They say in their article, “I first watched The Crow with my older brother when I was in my mid teens, and I’ve loved it ever since. I was an emo teenager with a love of the gothic, and my brother knew that.” Throughout the article, Pale Writer explores many different components related to the film. Because of how well-written and passionate the review was, it encouraged me to watch The Crow for the first time this year.

Within any fanbase, people have their own perspectives and opinions. The Crow’s fanbase is no different. There are people who are vocal about their love for The Crow: City of Angels. Take, for instance, the video, “1. City of Angels – The Crow City of Angels.” Looking through the comment section will show how fans care about this film. One commentator says “I loved City of Angels.” Another person shares “This is the only sequel I liked.” When talking about a piece of lost media, Jorge from the Youtube channel blameitonjorge, says, “It was something that a lot of people wanted to see.” This mindset is similar to the “Snyder Cut’s” journey. Fans wanted to see Zack’s vision come to life, so their desire drove that campaign. I’ve seen comments from fans of The Crow saying how they wish they could see the original version of the sequel. Even Cecil from GoodBadFlicks expresses an interest in finding it.

The Crow poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crow_ver2.jpg

Reason #5: Studios Can’t Make a lot of New, Live-Action Projects Right Now

2020 has become the year of Coronavirus. Many practices have been put in place to stop the virus’ spread. One of these practices has been “social-distancing.” This has resulted in many businesses temporarily closing their doors, including those from the entertainment industry. Kate Aurthur and Adam B. Vary, from Variety, reported how Hollywood is planning on returning to work. They say that one of the plans is obtaining “medical-grade cleaning equipment and PPE.” This, along with other new procedures and practices “will balloon the hard costs of production.”

A studio like Paramount needs to make money. At the same time, they also want to move forward as safely as possible. While ViacomCBS has generated revenue from their streaming service, CBS All Access, their incoming funds are more limited than normal. The Tim Pope cut could give the studio content to release. There is an audience for it, so fans are willing to pay for this version of the film. Paramount could either place the movie on the streaming service or release it on physical media. No matter how this film could be released, it would give Paramount something to create.

People working on films image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by katemangostar – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Reason #6: People Need More Entertainment Options

As I already mentioned, the Coronavirus has forced people to “social-distance” and “self-quarantine.” Streaming services, cable, and the internet have provided instant entertainment for consumers as they are required to stay home. Because new content is not as common as usual these days, The Crow: City of Angels could become a newer entertainment option. I also mentioned that Paramount could either release this movie on the streaming service, CBS All Access, in a digital format, like Xfinity on demand, or on physical media. Earlier in this editorial, I said that HBO Max was planning on releasing the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League in 2021. If Paramount wants to release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels next year, it gives fans something to look forward to during this stressful time.

On-line movie purchase image created by Makyzz at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/on-line-order-cinema-movie-tickets_1577652.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/technology”>Technology vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

The road to the “Snyder Cut” was met with perseverance, determination, and ambition. While this journey lasted for a few years, the fans’ efforts proved worthwhile. This situation shows how studios, cinematic creative teams, and fans can work together to form a situation where everyone benefits. It also shows that the sky’s the limit for other films that have gone through a similar situation to Justice League. If Paramount doesn’t release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels, it makes the studio look hypocritical. If they could go the extra mile for the Sonic fans, it would only be fair for them to go the extra mile for The Crow fans as well. This is why we need to let Paramount hear our voices. If you are a fan of The Crow, someone who approves of studios putting customers first, support consumer advocacy, want to see creative teams receive creative freedom, someone who loves movies, or want to help set a “wrong thing right” (yes, Sarah’s quote was intentional), then please consider joining the movement to encourage Paramount to release the Tim Pope cut. I created an official image with the hashtag that you are welcome to use. The most important point is to spread the word, so please let others know about this cut. All I ask is to please be respectful while sharing this message.

The image of the hashtag I created. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sources:

Videos:

Paul Feig Thinks Ghostbusters 2016 is Next Snyder Cut from Odin’s Movie Blog (this video contains some language)

  1. City of Angels – The Crow City of Angels from Jared

Exploring The Crow City of Angels from GoodBadFlicks

The Crow: Legacy of a Cult Classic and The Crow LIVE Commentary | “Can’t Rain All The Time” from Drumdums

Lost Media Case Files Vol 1. | blameitonjorge (this video contains some language and sensitive material)

Sonic the Hedgehog is FIXED! Sonic Looks Great! from Clownfish TV (this video contains some language)

Articles:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/justice-league-snyder-cut-plans-revealed-it-will-be-an-new-thing-1295102

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miramax

https://www.slashfilm.com/sonic-the-hedgehog-redesign/

Take 3: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review

For February’s Genre Grandeur, the selected theme was “Animated Comic Book/Strip Movies”. Chosen by Bubbawheat from Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights, this theme required some thought. To search for a possible title, I headed to Bubbawheat’s blog and discovered the list of “every superhero and comic book movie in chronological order”. While scrolling through the list, I came across one movie that I had heard of, but had never seen: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. This cinematic Batman entry has acquired a great amount of praise over its twenty plus year existence. However, it also has a reputation of not performing well at the box office. Any movie fan knows that box office performance does not always equal quality. But what is the quality of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm? Is it truly as good as other people say it is? Has it become overrated through the power of nostalgia? These are the questions I’ll answer in this review!

Batman -- Mask of the Phantasm poster
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm poster created by Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Animation, and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/batman-mask-phantasm/.

Things I liked about the film:

The voice acting: When it comes to animated films, the audience’s attention is so focused on what’s happening on screen, that they don’t think twice about the voice acting. Even though it seems like a small piece of the overall project, it actually can make or break the characters’ and their memorability. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm had an exceptional cast! Each actor brought more than enough emotion to match the facial expressions presented in the movie. These two components felt they were paired perfectly, with the voices themselves feeling like they belonged to that character! The casting itself couldn’t have been better! All of the actors effortlessly embodied their character through their voice talents. They were able to successfully gave life to their roles and enhance their memorability!

 

The animation: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is filled with great animation! Its 2-D style still holds up twenty-seven years later! What works in this movie’s favor is the color palette found throughout the project. Most Batman stories adopt a dark color scheme, to showcase the destruction and dismay that has overcome Gotham City. While Batman: Mask of the Phantasm does feature darker colors, the way lighter colors are paired with them is visually interesting. A great example is when a criminal named Buzz Bronski visits the cemetery. The entire scene is filled with the hues of black, gray, and dark blue. The red roses on a wreath are one of the few light colors that can be found in that scene. This makes the wreath pop with color and forces the audience’s attention toward the flowers. It also gives the film a style similar to movies with a “film noir” label.

 

The music: Another element in animated films that sometimes gets overlooked is the music. For Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a piece of music that really stood out was the official score. Composed by Shirley Walker, this score was powerful and helped the overall production gain its own identity. An orchestral composition and an operatic choir make this piece of music, as well as the overall film, feel grand in scale. This score was used during the opening credits, with similar tunes featured in two climatic moments of the film. Batman movies have historically incorporated orchestral scores into their projects. The score from The Dark Knight is one of the most iconic pieces of music in film history. Shirley Walker’s musical contributions to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm help keep that tradition alive.

 

The writing: I was really impressed by the writing in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, as it was clever and well thought-out! The film’s overarching mystery is a perfect example of this. It’s the kind of mystery that allows the audience to take a journey alongside Bruce/Batman. They get to experience events and situations when Bruce/Batman does. At times when a surprise comes, it catches the audience off-guard, as they are so invested in Batman winning over evil that they don’t see a surprise coming. Despite the movie’s darker tone, there was room in the script for humor to be included. One great example is when a party guest believes that the word “engagement” starts with the letter i. Because of how the joke was written and the delivery of the voice actor’s performance, the joke itself was executed flawlessly!

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

What I didn’t like about the film:

An unclear timeline: Throughout Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it was difficult to determine when this film took place. In a flashback scene, Bruce and Andrea visit the Gotham World’s Fair, mirroring World’s Fairs that have taken place in decades past (for a point of reference, a World’s Fair was featured in Captain America: The First Avenger). That same flashback scene showed Andrea using a car-phone, an invention known for its popularity in the ‘80s. At two separate moments in the movie, Bruce uses a computer to solve the film’s overarching mystery. Batman stories, more often than not, make a conscious effort to ground themselves in reality. Since this film was released in 1993, the story should have taken place in the early ‘90s, in order to reflect its “current” setting.

 

Too many flashbacks: Flashback scenes are meant to provide additional context to the film’s plot. They are placed at certain points in the story, so they can present their full impact on the audience. In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, several flashback scenes were shown, explaining the nature of certain relationships and giving clues to the film’s mystery. However, I feel there were too many of them. More than three flashback scenes existed in this narrative. At times, it seemed like every other scene in the movie was a flashback. It also didn’t help that some of them were a little too long. One example is when Bruce meets Andrea’s father for the first time. I liked the scenes themselves, but they made the flow of the film a little clunky.

2 joker cards
Pair of joker playing cards created by Outanmax at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/2-joker-cards_1127202.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Outanmax – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is not just a solid Batman film. It’s also a solid animated film in general! For my first time watching an animated movie starring the world’s favorite ‘Caped Crusader’, I really enjoyed what I saw! It contained a lot of elements I look for in good animated projects, such as the quality in animation and the story itself. What’s great about this film is how Bruce/Batman was allowed to be a detective within the story. This aspect of the character is not often seen in cinema, as Warner Bros. has usually placed more emphasis on making Batman an action-hero. In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it was nice to see Bruce/Batman use multiple talents to save the day. This is definitely one of the better of the Batman cinematic entries! It has stood the test of time and is an enjoyable picture! I want to thank Bubbawheat and MovieRob for giving me a chance to finally see this film! Looking back on it, I have to wonder, where has Batman: Mask of the Phantasm been all my life?

 

Overall score: 8.4 out of 10

 

Do you have a favorite Batman film? Is there an animated movie you’d like me to talk about? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

My Conclusion to the Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

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It’s now been a week since I published my reviews for this double feature. Since that time, I’ve been able to ponder over the films I have seen and my thoughts on both of them. In the conclusion of my double feature, I will reflect on what I learned, as well as the three questions that I sought to answer. These questions were the following:

 

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

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

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

 

As I was watching Rich Kids and Over the Edge, I was surprised to discover that there was nothing about either film that could hold it back from standing the test of time. No bygone pop cultural references or lingo plagued the scripts. By having each story focus on a simple concept, it helps each film achieve a sense of universality. I was also surprised by how little influence socio-economics had in both films. Before watching them, I thought socio-economics would be an overarching theme. But Rich Kids and Over the Edge put an emphasis on the exact same thing: its characters. Speaking of characters, there were two similarities I noticed when writing my reviews. The first one is how the youth in both films desperately needed guidance in their lives. Because they weren’t receiving any from their parents, they chose to find it somewhere else. The second similarity is how the young characters turned toward their friends for advice and help, showing how youth need to spend time with their peers. After everything is said and done, I ended up liking Rich Kids more than Over the Edge, giving the former 7.1 and the latter 6.1. Despite this, I can now recognize that they share important similarities as well as differences.

Have fun at the movies!
Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to read my articles related to this double feature, here are the links to those posts:

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

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

Take 3: Over the Edge Review (Youth-Led Film Double Feature Part 2)

Take 3: Over the Edge Review (Youth-Led Film Double Feature Part 2)

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

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

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

Over the Edge poster
Over the Edge poster created by Orion Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Over_the_Edge_(1979)_poster.jpg

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

At the beginning of the movie, a series of text appeared on the screen. This text stated that Over the Edge was based on true events. According to this part of the film, 110,000 youth under the age of 18 were arrested for crimes of vandalism in 1978. Also, the text revealed that one growing suburban community had young people under the age of 15 represent about a third of its population. Because of this, neighborhood planners/developers were having difficulty finding a way to deal with the situation. These true events not only influenced the film’s creation, but also gave it a reason to exist.

 

2. In this introduction, you also said you “had never heard of Over the Edge before” you saw Siskel and Ebert’s review. Why do you think this film has gotten very little recognition compared to other films from the ‘70s?

From the way I see it, cinema in the 1970s was about telling stories and doing things on film that had never been done before. Take, for instance, Star Wars: A New Hope and Jaws. Both of those films tested the limits of technology, through the use of animatronics and special effects. The contributions to cinema that were made through these two films helped them become products to remember and stand the test of time. Over the Edge, on the other hand, doesn’t really seem to break any new ground. Movies about youth were not a newer concept at this time. Also, this film had a story that was more grounded in reality. This is different from the previous two films I mentioned, Star Wars: A New Hope and Jaws, that focused on spectacle and creating a sense of escapism for their audience.

 

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

When it comes to Over the Edge, no. It doesn’t. Honestly, money and economic status are barely brought up in this film. Similar to Rich Kids, the primary focus was placed on the characters and how they reacted to and dealt with their problems. Giving these characters a sense of realism was more important to this creative team than talking about dollars and cents.

 

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

There are a few points both Siskel and Ebert make in their review of Over the Edge that I disagree with. When talking about this film, Ebert shared his disappointment over the movie’s “Hollywood ending” which involves “a big, explosive climax” where the kids of the neighborhood lock the adults inside of their school while they cause a night of chaos. I disagree with Ebert’s view on this third act because, to me, it didn’t feel like an ending you’d find in most blockbusters. While explosions made those scenes look visually interesting, I believe the purpose of those scenes are meant to show how bad a situation can get when the discovery of a solution is prolonged.

 

Once again, Siskel calls the parents in Over the Edge “a bunch of boobs”. And, once again, I would go so far as to say that these parents are uninvolved in the lives of their children. Throughout the story, they are so wrapped up in their own issues, that they don’t take the time to listen to and understand their children. Sure, there’s one scene where Richie White has a conversation with his mom during a car ride home. But this scene is brief and the conversation is short. In this review, Siskel also makes the argument that the film’s central message is how the country needs more recreational facilities. My counter-argument is how the film’s message is almost the same as the one in Rich Kids: if young people don’t receive guidance from a parent, guardian, or mentor figure, they are going to find it elsewhere.

 

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

Like I said in my Rich Kids review, the lack of involvement from the parents shows just how much they’re needed in their children’s lives. During the film’s third act, at a meeting in the neighborhood’s school, the adults are trying to figure out the reason behind the recent crimes. Teachers, parents, and even the teen center counselor are blamed for Richie White’s death as well as the poor choices of the youth. What this scene does is highlight my point perfectly. It also shows how they all could have done more to help the youth in their community.

Mountain Road Colorado
Image of Colorado road created by welcomia at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mountain”>Mountain photo created by welcomia – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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

One major aspect of this story was how the young characters stuck together and found more trust in each other than in the adults. In Rich Kids, Franny and Jamie were able to help each other deal with their parents’ divorce. For Over the Edge, these characters faced more than one issue, from the death of one of their peers to the changes in their neighborhood. Like Jamie and Franny, the young characters in Over the Edge try the best they can to figure everything out. They do this by talking to each other about their problems and creating their own ideas of “fun”.

 

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

While I came up with several thoughts and questions while watching Over the Edge, I’ll share just one question and one thought in this review. As I said in answer number four, the children lock the adults inside their school. The room where the adults are in, the auditorium, is located near the main entrance. This main entrance features double doors that have glass windows. Why didn’t anyone think of trying to break the windows in order to escape? To me, this decision not to was baffling, especially since there was a police officer among the group of adults.

 

Speaking of when the children lock the adults in the school, I saw something among those scenes that made me think about a potential plot twist. While the children are causing chaos, one boy is seen riding Richie’s bicycle. For a moment, I thought the script would pull off a plot twist where Richie ended up being alive and had just escaped police custody. However, that’s not the direction the story chose to take.

 

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

Similar to Rich Kids, I thought the acting was one of the strongest parts of this film! Since the majority of this cast was made up of young actors and actresses, they proved they had what it took, talent wise, to carry a movie. One of the standout performances came from Michael Kramer, who portrayed Carl Willat. A memorable scene was when Carl was on the phone with one of his friends, curious about what happened to Richie. When he discovers that Richie died, Carl’s face quickly changes from genuine curiosity to being on the verge of tears.

 

Even though I liked the acting in this film, I think the character development could have been stronger. While I got to know the characters, I feel like I could’ve gotten to know them better. There was always this invisible distance between the characters and the audience. Things they said or did left me with unanswered questions. In the end, this aspect of the movie left more to be desired.

 

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

Throughout the film, the idea of actions leading to consequences was an overarching part of this story. One example is when Richie and Carl decide to run away. They steal Richie’s mom’s car and drive without a license or permit. They also carry a gun with them. As a result of these actions, Carl develops a juvenile record and Richie is killed in self-defense. The idea that I just mentioned reminds the audience of the importance of thinking before acting and accountability.

 

10. After watching Over the Edge, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?

In my opinion, a documentary about the events that inspired this movie would have been more interesting than the movie ended up being. It would be fascinating to hear from multiple perspectives and discover how their lives have changed since then. As for Over the Edge, it seems like the creative team tried to make an elaborate speech out of a simple message. While it can be thought-provoking to a certain extent, it doesn’t really try to do anything new. Over the Edge had so much going on, but at the same time had nothing happening at all.

Sticker design for different generation kids
’70s kid image created by brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by brgfx – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

When Maddy, from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, announced her 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon, I was eager to participate! I had reviewed Edward, My Son last February, so I was familiar with who Deborah is as an actress. Originally, I was going to review Black Narcissus. But due to technical difficulties with my DVR, I chose to write about Marriage on the Rocks instead. The idea of a struggling couple working through their problems in Mexico sounded like an interesting concept for a comedy. I was curious to see what effect this particular location would have on the aforementioned couple and how they would be transformed along the way. Also, I haven’t reviewed a comedy in a little while, so I thought it would be a good idea to expand the cinematic horizons of 18 Cinema Lane. Since this is my first blogathon in 2020, let the review for Marriage on the Rocks begin!

Marriage on the Rocks poster
Marriage on the Rocks poster created by A-C Productions, Sinatra Enterprises, and Warner Bros. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24787/Marriage-on-the-Rocks/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This is the second acting performance of Deborah Kerr’s I have seen (the first was from the movie, Edward, My Son). What I’ve noticed about both performances is how much effort she puts into her roles. Even if the movie itself doesn’t hold up, Deborah still puts every piece of acting talent she has into each of her characters. In her role as Valerie Edwards, she was very expressive with her facial expressions and actions. This added to the memorability of her performance! Marriage on the Rocks is the first movie of Frank Sinatra’s I’ve ever seen. While I am familiar with Frank as a singer, I had never seen any of his acting performances before. The most notable aspect of Frank’s portrayal of Dan Edwards was how at ease he was in this role. His performing experiences related to stage presentations and programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as prior movie experience, seemed to work in his favor when it came to his performance in Marriage on the Rocks! The aforementioned film is also the first time I have seen Caesar Romero act in a movie. I liked his performance because of how lively and energetic it was. It was also consistent throughout the movie, just like the performances from the rest of the cast!

 

Ernie Brewer’s house: The house of Ernie Brewer, portrayed by Dean Martin, was featured in the film on several occasions. Despite the living room being the only shown part of the house, I really liked the architecture within this space! When characters enter the house, they and viewers are greeted by walls and columns of exposed stone. As characters walk into the living room, they will come face-to-face with the room’s most prominent feature: the fire pit in the center of the room. Another fantastic element of this space is the wrap-around deck. While the deck itself is featured in only one scene, it serves the purpose of giving characters and viewers a perfect view of the ocean. Whether this location is a real-life home or a pre-constructed set, it definitely could make almost anyone want those elements as part of their own living space!

 

The opening credits: Sometimes, creative teams will come up with interesting ways to present their film’s opening credits. Marriage on the Rocks is a perfect example of this. Throughout this segment of the movie, stick figure cartoons can be seen next to people’s names and roles within the project. These stick figures were not only given to the cast, but also to the crew. When the director was introduced in the credits, he was given his own stick figure, which presented him sitting in a director’s chair. I found this to be a cute and creative way to grab the audience’s attention before the official start of the film!

2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon banner
The 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon banner created by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Image found at https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/announcing-the-2nd-deborah-kerr-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Comedy that was barely funny: On IMDB, Marriage on the Rocks is classified as a comedy. However, as I was watching this film, I found myself laughing only four times. Like I’ve said before, comedy is subjective. But, for me, I don’t find dysfunctionality to be hilarious. Also, the jokes themselves go on for too long. It feels like the screenwriter was having difficulty finding the punchline. There are also no breaks from the comedy, which made these jokes seem like run-on sentences. Personally, I found this aspect of the film to be an unenjoyable part to my movie-viewing experience.

 

The movie’s view on marriage and divorce: I watch movies to be entertained. While I appreciate a good message/lesson within a cinematic story, that’s not what compels me to watch any particular film. In Marriage on the Rocks, however, the overarching view on marriage and divorce made me feel uncomfortable. I personally feel that starting or ending a romantic relationship should not be taken lightly. This movie would say otherwise, portraying these two aforementioned concepts like they are effortless. Even the way most of the characters talk about marriage and divorce is concerning. One example is how David Edwards sees divorce as a way to manipulate his parents into giving him anything he wants. There were a few characters in this movie whose views were different from the overarching ones the film itself adopts. But, for most of the film, these characters are looked down upon. All the things I talked about made the views of the movie seem one-sided and skewed.

 

Problems that almost never get resolved: While watching Marriage on the Rocks, I could tell the screenwriter was trying to adopt a “comedy of errors” kind of story. But if any screenwriter is going to write a script with this kind of comedy, they need to remember that the errors have to reach a resolution. In this film, the majority of these errors don’t achieve a satisfying solution. In the rare case when one does, other problems arise because of it. The Hallmark movie, Holiday Date, is a great example of how this type of story can be executed well. In the 2019 release, the male and female protagonist experience a series of mishaps while visiting her family for Christmas. Despite this, they always found a solution that made everyone happy. Unfortunately, this never happens in Marriage on the Rocks. If anything, it made the characters’ situations even more complicated.

 

A drawn-out story: According to IMDB, Marriage on the Rocks is an hour and forty-nine minutes. To me, though, it felt like the movie was three hours. The problem here is how drawn-out the story is. This script takes a simple sounding concept and makes a bigger deal out of it than necessary. The narrative of this film could have been either a mini-series or a short film. This would have allowed the necessary plot points to be reached sooner and the script to be tighter. When I look back on it, there were things that happened in this movie just to satisfy the film’s run-time. The ongoing “second honeymoon” joke is a good example of what I’m talking about.

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Colorful travel suitcase image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/beautiful-illustration-of-travel_2686674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When I chose to review Marriage on the Rocks, I thought this would be a comedic version of Expecting a Miracle. While I haven’t seen the 2009 released Hallmark film, I’m aware of what the story is about. Unfortunately, Marriage on the Rocks was not even close to what I expected. Yes, there were things about it that I liked. Ernie Brewer’s house is just one example. But, for me, this movie contained more negatives than positives. As I said in my review, the movie’s view on marriage and divorce is one of the biggest missteps this project took. I didn’t find it to be funny or entertaining, just one-sided and out of touch. Later this month, I’ll be reviewing another Frank Sinatra picture called High Society. Hopefully that one will be more enjoyable than Marriage on the Rocks was. Despite the fact it’s only the beginning of the year, I think I found a contender for worst film of 2020.

 

Overall score: 4.7 out of 10

 

Have you seen Marriage on the Rocks? Do you have a favorite film from Deborah Kerr’s filmography? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Romeo Must Die Review

Before I begin this review, I want to apologize for not publishing this article sooner. I’ve been busy not only preparing for Christmas, but also working on projects that are blog and non-blog related. But I finally found the time to post my review for December’s Genre Grandeur! For this round of the blogathon, the theme is “Shakespeare on Film Movies”. At first, I thought this was going to be a challenge. When I searched for possible titles on the internet, however, I realized that there were plenty of films for me to choose from. Out of all those choices, I picked Romeo Must Die! Over the years, I have discovered that Romeo and Juliet retellings can be hit or miss. While I thought Gnomeo & Juliet was cute, I was not a fan of Romeo + Juliet. When I discovered that Romeo Must Die was a modern adaptation of the famous William Shakespeare story featuring martial arts, it raised my interest in this film. For last month’s Genre Grandeur, I reviewed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If you read that review, you would remember that I enjoyed the film. One of the reasons why was the martial arts choreography. But just because there are martial arts in Romeo Must Die, does that mean I’ll enjoy it as much as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Thanks for joining me for this review, as we’re now about to answer that question!

Romeo Must Die poster
Romeo Must Die poster created by Silver Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/romeo-must-die/.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Last Halloween, I reviewed Queen of the Damned. Aaliyah’s portrayal of Queen Akasha is one of the things I liked about that film. I’m not sure how much acting experience she had prior to being cast in Romeo Must Die. But I was very impressed with her performance! The acting material Aaliyah was given allowed her portrayal of Trish to be versatile and well-rounded. In a scene where she shares a childhood memory involving her brother, I felt sympathy toward Trish and her situation. Before watching Romeo Must Die, I had never seen a movie starring Jet Li. However, I enjoyed seeing his performance in this film! One scene shows his character, Han, being informed of his brother’s death. In that scene, there was so much emotion in his facial expressions and body language, that those things were able to convey a message without the use of dialogue. This whole cast was very talented! Not only were they able to pull off a dramatic performance, some actors even delivered a comedic performance. A great example is Anthony Anderson’s portrayal of Maurice. While there were times when this character could be menacing, there were times when he was hilarious. One of the funniest scenes is when Maurice accidently destroys a CD display.

 

The martial arts choreography: The martial arts sequences in Romeo Must Die brought something special to the project! Because this is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, it helps this version of the story stand out from other cinematic retellings. I wasn’t able to find out who choregraphed these sequences. But whoever they are, they deserve recognition for their hard work and effort! All of the martial arts sequences were choregraphed well. They were fast enough to keep up the film’s pace, but not fast enough to confuse audience members with what is happening on screen. Some of the martial arts were incorporated in very creative ways! One example was when it was used during a football game. Since I haven’t seen something like that before, I thought it was a new and exciting way to see martial arts in film!

 

The modernization of Romeo and Juliet: As I said in the introduction, I’ve seen other modern adaptations of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo Must Die’s take on this story was very interesting and made some improvements to the source material. In this movie, the division between the protagonists’ families is given a better and more clear explanation. Business and cultural/racial differences are what creates a separation for these characters. Also, the protagonists, Han and Trish, are aged up. Having them be of adult age actually helps them play a significant contribution to the narrative, allowing them to make an impact on their families and the conflict surrounding them. This is different from the titular characters in William Shakespeare’s story, where they aren’t given much to do because of their youth.

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Martial arts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/red”>Red vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

What I didn’t like about the film:

No romance for Trish and Han: Romance plays an important role in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In fact, the majority of that story revolves around the relationship of the titular characters. In Romeo Must Die, there was a relationship between the protagonists, Han and Trish. But this relationship was not romantic. This adaptation placed more focus on the division between the rivaling families. Han and Trish’s roles were to solve the mysteries between a series of murders. I understand that the creative team behind Romeo Must Die wanted to present the source material in a new way. But excluding romance takes away an essential part of Romeo and Juliet’s identity.

 

A limited use of martial arts: In my review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I shared that I didn’t like how the film’s martial arts sequences were featured for a limited amount of time on screen. Romeo Must Die has a similar flaw. The 2000 released project is classified as an action movie, so these sequences had a greater presence on film. But it felt like the martial arts were incorporated at select moments. Like I said in my Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon review, a 50/50 balance was not found. Because the story put more emphasis on the rivaling families’ division, there were more dialogue focused scenes.

 

The character of Roth and his business team: One of the story-points in Romeo Must Die involves the construction of a football stadium. This part of the story introduced the character of Vincent Roth and his business team. I think the actors who portrayed these characters did a good job with the acting material they were given. But the characters themselves were under-utilized. Compared to the other characters in the film, Roth and his team didn’t play as significant of a role as they could have. If anything, it felt like these characters were there for the sake of being there.

oakland-96413_1920
Photo of Oakland, California city created by David Mark at pixabay.com. Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/12019-12019/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=96413″>David Mark</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=96413″>Pixabay</a&gt;. Image found at pixabay.com.

My overall impression:

To review or not to review, that is the question (yes, that Shakespeare reference was intentional). Sure, I’m not going to be the first movie blogger to make that reference. But I probably won’t be the last! Adaptations of William Shakespeare’s works have been around since the beginning of cinema. Whether these adaptations are classical or modern, they prove there are various different ways to approach the source material. Romeo Must Die is a great example of this. Because of the creative team’s perspective on the story, they were able to create a project that had its own identity and added some unique elements to the narrative. Because of this, I found the movie to be one of the better cinematic versions of this story! By making this an action movie and featuring a mystery within the script, it created a sense of intrigue and suspense for the project. It also helped me stay invested in the film. While this movie does have its flaws, it also has strong components that I liked about it. When I learned that Romeo Must Die was a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet with martial arts, I was hoping to, at least, get some enjoyment out of it. After watching it, I can now say this idea was well executed!

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Have you ever seen Romeo Must Die? Which adaptation of William Shakespeare’s stories do you like the most? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Conclusion to My Bonus Double Feature

Well, here we are. The conclusion of this double feature has finally arrived! At the start of this project, my goal was to figure out which adaptation of The Secret Garden was the best one. After reading the book, I watched and analyzed three of the most well-known film versions of this story. Now that we’re at the end of this double feature, it’s time for me to evaluate my results!

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I know I’m featuring the photo from the Double Feature Introduction post. But, I figured it would fit appropriately with the context of this post’s topic. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
In the video, “Talking Anne with an E (Spoilers)”, Rachel and Amber, who are also hosts of Hallmarkies Podcast, share their thoughts on Netflix’s adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. During this discussion, Amber was saying how the film or television adaptation of this story is “not the end all, be all of Anne”. What she meant by this was that there is much more to the source material than just the first book, Anne of Green Gables. Other stories and characters from this series are just as important as the content that is considered when it comes to adaptations. Amber’s beliefs can also be applied to my double feature. No matter how many adaptations are made, they should never be a replacement for the source material. Each adaptation has a different creative team associated with it, so the beliefs about which elements are worth including in the movie are going to vary. With that said, I think that both the 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation and the 1993 version are the best adaptations of The Secret Garden! Both of these films have their fair share of similarities and differences. But I found them to be close enough to the book where I was satisfied. As a film, however, I would prefer the one from 1993 over the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. While the 1987 production was good, it felt a little too drawn-out. I also think that Kate Maberly did a better job at portraying Mary than Gennie James did. Since I now found the answer to a question that I’ve wanted to find for years, I can honestly say that my mission is finally accomplished.

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to read the other posts from this double feature, go to these links:

An Introduction to My Bonus Double Feature

My Bonus Double Feature Has Arrived!

If you want to watch the video that I referenced in this post, type “Talking Anne with an E (Spoilers)” into Youtube’s search bar or visit the Youtube channel, Rachel’s Reviews.

My Bonus Double Feature Has Arrived!

Welcome to my Bonus Double Feature! Just to let you know, there will be spoilers within this post. If you want to read the introduction, here’s the link:

An Introduction to My Bonus Double Feature

The Secret Garden 1949 poster
The Secret Garden poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s Inc. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Secret_Garden_FilmPoster.jpeg

  1. In what way is the adaptation like the book?

1949: There were several similarities to the book in the 1949 adaptation of The Secret Garden. One of them was the incorporation of the wind. In the book, the sounds of Colin’s cries blend with the sounds of the wind. Mary quickly picks out the cries from the wind and notices that something isn’t right. In the movie, this aspect sounded just like how it was described in the book. If one wasn’t paying attention, they would assume that the cries were a part of the wind. The other element was the path to Colin’s room. Mary, in the book, enters different rooms and passageways in order to find the source of the crying. In the movie, when Mary attempts to find out where the crying comes from, she travels through various rooms and hallways, which take her to Colin’s bedroom door. While this trip takes place in a shorter amount of time, the visuals of the different places in the house shows just how intertwined Misselthwaite Manor really is.

 

1987: More similarities were found in this adaptation than in the 1949 version. The one that I was pleasantly surprised by was Mary’s characteristics. Despite Gennie James’ inability to carry a British accent, she made up for this by embodying the spirit and persona of her character. Through her emotions, actions, and behavior, Gennie brought the likability and unlikability that Mary Lennox is known for. Two examples are when Mary was more upset about losing her doll over her parents and when she became friends with the robin. While we’re on the subject of this friendship, Mary forms a relationship with a robin that is also very fond of Ben Weatherstaff. By befriending the robin, in both the book and movie, Mary’s transformation from self-centered child to selfless individual begins. As for the character transformations, they were developed very well in the source material and the adaptation. Even though the movie was drawn out, it showed that the transformations of characters like Mary, Colin, and Mr. Craven happened over the course of several months. It also showed that these transformations take time and patience.

 

1993: Similar to the 1987 film, the characteristics of Mary are pretty close to how the character was written in the book. But in this adaptation, the characteristics of almost all the characters seemed like it reflected the book very well. In the 1993 movie, Kate Maberly’s performance was the best portrayal of Mary Lennox! Not only was she able to carry a British accent throughout the entire film, but she also did a really good job at bringing a balance of emotions to her role. During the scene where Martha accidently offends Mary, the angry emotions that Kate brought to her character reminded me of how the character would have behaved in the book. Another good example is when Dickon and Mary are in the secret garden, while they are singing “Mistress Mary Quite Contrary”. Even though she’s happy to be spending time with Dickon, she’s reminded of the painful memories when she arrived in England. Speaking of Dickon, Andrew Knott’s portrayal of this character was the best out of all three adaptations I’ve seen! He did a fantastic job pulling off a Yorkshire accent and brought a sense of likability to his role. The scene where Dickon and Mary meet for the first time is a good example of this.

 

As I just mentioned, Dickon and Mary sing “Mistress Mary Quite Contrary” in the 1993 movie. This song plays a small role in the book. At the beginning of the story, the song is sung to Mary in a manner of teasing. When the story goes on, she reflects on the song’s meaning and questions her outlook on life. Another aspect of the movie that reflected the book was the interior designs of Misselthwaite Manor. Mary’s and Colin’s room are a great example, as tapestry can be seen on the walls. This is an important detail to mention because tapestry was described in the novel.

 

  1. Was there anything in the adaptation that was different from the book?

1949: In the 1949 adaptation, there were just as many differences from the book as there were similarities. One notable difference is how emotional Mary Lennox is. In the film, Mary bursts into tears when she finds out that her parents have died. This is not the reaction that Mary has in the book, as she wouldn’t care what happens to her parents because of her poor relationship with them. Speaking of relationships, Mary’s relationship with Ben Weatherstaff is quite different in the film. Mary, as well as Colin and Dickon, don’t like Ben. They not only keep their distance from him, but they also don’t allow him to enter their garden. In the book, however, Ben becomes the children’s ally. He provides them with plenty of information about the secret garden, such as why it’s closed off from the rest of the gardens. The children even invite him into the garden on a few occasions. Finally, how Mary and Dickon meet is also different in the movie. Mary meets Dickon before she’s even aware that a secret garden exists. In the book, Mary meets Dickon after she’s entered the secret garden. She meets him because he’s purchased some flower seeds for her.

 

1987: While watching this adaptation of The Secret Garden, I noticed fewer differences compared to the 1949 version. Like the 1949 film, the initial meeting of Mary and Dickon happens at a different part of the story. In this movie, Mary meets Dickon before she’s found the secret garden, yet she is aware that it exists. At the beginning and end of the movie, the audience sees that the story is told through the reflections of a grown-up Mary Lennox. Since the book only focused on Mary’s story from when she was a child, this was a creative choice that Hallmark Hall of Fame made. Unlike the book, Mary and Colin are not cousins. I’m not going to reveal the reason for this creative decision because I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen this version. But this choice wasn’t as much of an issue as I thought it could be. Plus, it works within this particular story!

 

1993: Toward the beginning of the film, Mary loses her parents to an earthquake. This is different from the book, as she loses her parents to sickness. The location of the secret garden’s key is also different from the source material. In the movie, Mary finds this key in her aunt’s jewelry box instead of in the dirt. Another difference I noticed was the characteristics of Mrs. Medlock. This character, in the book, was stern but caring. Mrs. Medlock, in the movie, was much stricter. She’s not only against the idea of Mary and Colin spending time together, but she’s also mean to the other members of the staff. I’m not sure if this creative decision was made to include a conflict or to highlight the acting strengths of Maggie Smith.

 

  1. Did you find anything in the movie that you felt improved upon the material more than the book?

1949: While the majority of the film is presented in black-and-white, the only scenes that were featured in color were those that took place in the garden. Frances Hodgson Burnett was very descriptive when writing about the garden. But you can only describe so much without giving someone a visual. The way the garden is presented in this adaptation helps bring the text to life.

 

1987: In a few parts of the film, the element of suspense was incorporated. One good example was when Mary meets Colin for the first time. The build-up to that moment was staged really well, using as little lighting as possible and featuring things like lightening and scary looking statues. Because of these elements coming together, it was better executed in the movie than in the book.

 

1993: During the 1993 adaptation, a transition happens between winter and spring/summer. This transition isn’t just seen through the exterior background. The cinematography and color of wardrobe are other visuals that indicate the changing seasons. An explanation of how Mary and Colin are related is included in this script. According to this adaptation, Mary’s mother was the twin sister of Colin’s mother. No explanations to how Mary and Colin are related were given in the book. All that’s known is that they’re cousins and Mr. Craven is Mary’s uncle.

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This is yet another Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that I purchased. However, I bought it because I wanted to give an honest opinion for this double feature. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

  1. Is there anything from the book that improved upon the material more than the movie?

1949: In the book, the garden itself is written as if it were its own character. Because of this, the garden creates a ripple effect on the characters and their lives. In the movie, however, the garden is treated like a Macguffin. It’s not featured in the film for very long and the progression of the characters happens pretty quickly. We also don’t see the process of the garden’s revival.

 

1987: When I was thinking about this Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, I found it difficult to find anything that the book did better than the movie. This is because the adaptation was pretty close to the source material. It gives people who have read the book, like myself, a reason to find it satisfying.

 

1993: Even though she plays a really small role in the book, Susan Sowerby, Martha and Dickon’s mom, shares her wisdom and advice throughout the story. These things have a small, but significant influence over the events of the plot. Because Susan was nowhere to be found in this film, this part of the story was eliminated from the script.

 

  1. Because each adaptation was released in a different decade, do you feel that the movie itself was affected by the time period in which it was released? If so, how?

1949: MGM’s The Wizard of Oz was one of the first movies to experiment with color imaging. Since the movie was a success for the studio, they were more than willing to incorporate color imaging into their future films. The Secret Garden was released ten years after The Wizard of Oz, so it makes sense that they reserved the color imaging for the titular secret garden. What’s interesting is how little color imaging is included in the movie. It’s only seen on three occasions, after the garden has been fully revived.

 

1987: There’s three key things that I think had an influence on this version of The Secret Garden. The first is the 1949 movie. Because this particular film had an equal amount of similarities and differences, it encouraged the creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame project to make a more faithful adaptation. The second key ingredient was the trend where content in ‘80s children’s/family-friendly entertainment was darker and “creepier”. Since Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Secret Garden was released in 1987, it provided an alternative for those who wanted to move away from the aforementioned trend. The last thing is the concept of home entertainment and video rental stores. One of the most well-known video rental businesses, Blockbuster, opened its doors in 1985, just two years before Hallmark Hall of Fame’s adaptation was released. Since then, the idea of renting or purchasing films has played a huge role in the world of cinema. I’m not sure when Hallmark starting allowing their movies to be sold for home entertainment. But their version of The Secret Garden has been available on VHS and DVD.

 

1993: Two important aspects affected the creation of this specific adaptation. The first one is the previous adaptations of The Secret Garden. This particular version of the story was the first theatrical adaptation since the 1949 film. The Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation was close enough to the source material where readers would be satisfied. Taking these films into consideration, the creative team behind the 1993 movie tried to make a movie that felt cinematic and respected the source material. The second thing is the climate that existed in children’s/family-friendly entertainment in the early ‘90s. During this time, the Disney Renaissance was in the early stages. The box office was also receiving films with Don Bluth’s signature animation style. In the live-action department, films like My Girl and Beethoven were released from their respective studios. The early ‘90s provided variety to children’s/family-friendly entertainment. Since this version of The Secret Garden was released in 1993, the film contributed to the aforementioned climate.

 

  1. If an adaptation of The Secret Garden were made today, how would it be different from the other adaptations?

I think that if The Secret Garden received another adaptation, that film’s creative team would probably try to have the story take place in “modern” times. If this decision were made, the simplistic nature that comes from a historical fiction narrative would be taken away. Another possible change would be the incorporation of an environmental message. This would be unnecessary because the purpose of the secret garden has nothing to do the environment. The garden is included in the story to present the idea of becoming a better person when putting the needs of others before one’s own.

 

  1. What aspect from the movie or book do you think has stood the test of time?

The messages and themes within this story have been relatable and cherished for many years. As I already mentioned, one idea that can be found in both the source material and any adaptation is how putting the needs of others before one’s own can help someone become a better person. Because the protagonist of this story is a child, the narrative evokes reflection on a time when a person’s life could be care-free. It also reminds the audience of how anything is possible when we set our minds on something.

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While I have seen this version of The Secret Garden before, this was my first time watching it as an adaptation. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

An Introduction to My Bonus Double Feature

Back in May, my post called “A Bucky Fan’s Response to one of Looper’s Avengers: Endgame related videos” became my 200th published post! Whenever I publish a hundred posts, I coordinate a double feature where I try to answer a thought-provoking question through the viewing of two similar films. But, around the time when I published my aforementioned post, I discovered that I would soon reach the milestone of 100 published reviews. So, I postponed my Double Feature until that milestone was reached. It was achieved in July when I published my review of Christmas Camp! However, that post was published just before I embarked on an out-of-town trip. So, I postponed my Double Feature until after the trip. But August became my busiest month, as I participated in four blogathons. Because of that, the Double Feature had to be pushed back again. Now that I have set aside some time to coordinate my Double Feature, I can finally announce that it will be published this week! Since I’m celebrating two milestones, I will be writing about three films.

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I am fully aware of the irony that comes with reading The Secret Garden from the Hallmark Gift Books collection before watching the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
If you ask anyone what the best adaptation of The Secret Garden is, most of them will tell you that it’s the Hallmark Hall of Fame version from 1987. For years, I have heard this statement from many people on the internet. In fact, when I asked a search engine which adaptation of The Secret Garden was the best one, the Hallmark Hall of Fame version was the film that came up as the answer. But is this movie really the best adaptation? That’s what I wanted to find out for myself! The most well-known versions of The Secret Garden that I will be watching are the 1949 release, the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, and the 1993 project. I read The Secret Garden prior to watching these films, so I could gain a better understanding of how similar or different each adaptation is from the source material. Because I’m going to talk about three versions of the same story, I will ask myself fewer questions than I did for my Halloween Double Feature. I will also not be giving these films any score ratings because I’m judging them as adaptations. There will be no pre-movie thoughts, questions, or predictions this time because I know what the movies are about before I’ve seen them.

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen