Hi, I'm Sally Silverscreen!
As long as I can remember, I have loved movies and the movie-going experience. Talking about movies, something dear to my heart, brings me so much joy. I am a fan of Hallmark and do enjoy watching their movies from time to time. When Calls the Heart is one of my favorite television shows and I am proud to call myself a Heartie! I look forward to sharing my thoughts about movies, When Calls the Heart, and Chesapeake Shores with you. To everyone who visits this blog, I hope you have a great experience when you come to 18 Cinema Lane!
-- Sally Silverscreen
Profile picture created by K from K at the Movies
While working on my recent editorial, I came across this piece of movie news on a twitter account called DiscussingFilm. The link featured in the tweet led to an article about the project on Variety. This is probably the most “what the heck” movie news story I’ve discussed this year. But since I saw very few people talking about it, I knew that this would be my next Word On The Street post! In the Variety article, Justin Kroll shares how three different companies are teaming up to make a ‘Barney’ movie. These companies are Mattel Films, Valparaiso Pictures, and 59%, a production company created by Daniel Kaluuya. When asked about the project, Robbie Brenner, from Mattel Films, said, “Working with Daniel Kaluuya will enable us to take a completely new approach to ‘Barney’ that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations”. Robbie also said, “The project will speak to the nostalgia of the brand in a way that will resonate with adults, while entertaining today’s kids”.
After reading the article, I ended up feeling torn about this idea. On the one hand, this project just seems unnecessary. The original ‘Barney’ show was intended for an audience of babies to preschoolers. It seems like audiences are more nostalgic for IPs that were created for older children than for younger kids. A recent example is Dora and the Lost City of Gold, which made its respective studio, Paramount, lose money. Similar to the Dora the Explorer movie, this ‘Barney’ film is in development after the show’s prime. Barney & Friends was taken off the air around 2009 to 2010. This means that the movie has started development about ten years after the show ended. As some people on Twitter have mentioned, a ‘Barney’ movie already exists. In 1998, Barney’s Great Adventure was released in theaters on April 3rd. When that movie premiered, the show was still on television, so creating a ‘Barney’ movie made sense. On the other hand, the creative team behind this film could be using the IP to tell an interesting story. Maybe it will be a biopic about the people who created the show? Perhaps the movie will focus on a specific piece of ‘Barney’ memorabilia, such as the Microsoft Interacts Barney doll? It’s way too early to determine if this ‘Barney’ movie is worth the price of theater admission. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to what this film’s cinematic narrative will be.
What do you think about this ‘Barney’ movie? Which children’s show would you like to see receive a film adaptation? Tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
If you want to check out the references I mentioned in this article, you can visit these links:
If you want to check out the tweet, you can visit the official Twitter account of DiscussingFilm by typing @DiscussingFilm into Twitter’s search bar.
There’s an interesting video that briefly discusses the Microsoft Interacts Barney doll. To watch that video, type “Parents Upset Over Barney” into Youtube’s search bar or visit the official Youtube channel of Chadtronic. In this video, the segment about the doll starts at 3:37 and ends on 5:47.
So, I was originally going to write a review for Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver. Hallmark, however, had other plans. Instead of airing the movie like they had promised, the company decided to start their “Miracles of Christmas” line-up a week earlier than expected. What will happen to the aforementioned mystery movie, you ask? According to the official Hallmark Movies & Mysteries website, the film will premiere next January. I was not pleased by what Hallmark had done. Not only was I looking forward to watching and reviewing this project, but the network had broken a promise they kept with their audience. Other people have already expressed their frustrations on the internet, even one twitter user named Sabrina suggesting that an article should be written about all the times when Hallmark went back on their word in relation to their program scheduling. That comment and Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver’s disappearance is what inspired me to write this editorial. Anyone who has paid attention to the shenanigans would know that this is not the first time Hallmark has done something like this in 2019. In this article, I will discuss some of the drama that has been caused by the network’s choices. For this conversation, I will only be focusing on what has happened in 2019 alone.
Removing Movies from the Schedule
As I mentioned in the introduction, Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver was supposed to premiere on October 20th. This release date was first revealed on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special that aired on August 18th. The release date was featured again in the movie’s official trailer, where the announcer stated that the film would be “the last all new mystery of the year before “Miracles of Christmas” starts”. As I also mentioned, Hallmark chose to skip this movie and start their “Miracles of Christmas” line-up as soon as possible. Many people have speculated that the reason behind the decision was to beat Lifetime at the Christmas movie game. See, because Hallmark has been airing their line-ups earlier every year, the networks have decided to follow their lead. According to Lifetime’s official website, they were planning on starting their Christmas line-up, appropriately called “It’s A Wonderful Lifetime” on October 25th, the same day that both Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries were going to begin their line-ups. Meanwhile, on UP Network, the “Christmas Movie Christmas” line-up starts on October 27th. Every network wants to participate in this so called “game” because they know there are business opportunities to be made in this particular time of the year. They would like a piece of the action too, as well as create a sense of variety in the types of programming that gets released. If one network receives all the power and glory, this is going to hold the other networks back from reaching their full potential.
In 2019, Hallmark Channel has also seen some movies disappear from various seasonal line-ups. The first one to go was In the Key of Love. This movie was featured during Hallmark Channel’s June Weddings Preview Special, which aired May 25th. Not only did this film receive a synopsis, but two scenes from the movie were also presented during the preview special. In the Key of Love was originally scheduled for a June 29th release. But before the end of June, the movie was replaced with Sister of the Bride, a movie that received little to no marketing. As for In the Key of Love, it was moved to Hallmark Movies Now with an August release date. Speaking of June, Megan Stein, from Country Living, wrote an article in early June about how Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries would each premiere a brand-new movie during their “Christmas in July” line-ups. But, similar to what happened with In the Key of Love, A Merry Christmas Match, the movie that was supposed to air on Hallmark Channel, was removed from the schedule and will now be the first movie to premiere during Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ “Miracles of Christmas” line-up. In September, Country Living’s Megan Stein also wrote about Hallmark Channel’s Fall Harvest line-up. In that article, she reported that there were going to be five movies premiering over the course of about a month and a half. However, two of those movies, Love Under the Olive Tree and Country at Heart, mysteriously disappeared and haven’t received alternative release dates. This means that for this particular line-up, fans were given two fall themed movies and one that had nothing to do with autumn.
An Inconsistent Narrative
At the beginning of 2019, Hallmark Channel made an announcement through various commercials that they would be airing a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year. But when we take a closer look at the schedule we ended up receiving, it shows that this statement became another one of Hallmark’s broken promises. The only two new movies that premiered on a Saturday in July were Love Unleashed and Rome in Love. Forever in My Heart was the only new movie to receive a Saturday release date in September. However, it seems like Hallmark Channel is doing a better job at keeping another promise they made earlier this year. Jennifer Aldrich, from Country Living, discussed in February how Hallmark Channel was planning on airing a Christmas movie every Friday night in correlation with the 10th Anniversary of their “Countdown to Christmas” line-up. Hallmark has not only kept this promise, but they’ve also done something similar with Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. To celebrate this aforementioned 10th anniversary, Hallmark’s second network decided to air a Christmas movie every Thursday night. From the looks of it, it seems like if it’s not Christmas related, it’s not worth Hallmark’s time.
Leaving the Fans and Customers in the Dark
Throughout all of this craziness, Hallmark has never issued or even attempted to issue any sort of press release about these changes. Fans who were confused about why In the Key of Love was replaced with another movie had to learn about the film’s new release date from the film’s lead actress herself, Laura Osnes. As for the rest of the movies I mentioned in this article, no explanations have been given about why they moved or why they disappeared. Hallmark claims to be interactive with their fans, from live-tweeting during new movies to creating the “royal court survey”. But when it comes to these recent changes, the network has been silent about what’s been going on. They haven’t even apologized for inconveniencing their fans and customers. One of the reasons why Hallmark has been so successful is the relationship they’ve formed with their fans. Decisions like the ones I talked about could cause this relationship to be severed.
My Thoughts on Hallmark’s Choices
Based on everything I’ve seen, heard, and read, I think that Hallmark’s lack of communication toward their fans and customers is only half of the problem. The other problem, in my opinion, is the network’s singularly-focused obsession with Christmas. In July, when I participated in the Christmas in July Blogathon from Christmas TV History, I shared that because of how big and popular their Christmas line-ups have become, Hallmark puts so much focus on them that their other priorities have fallen to the wayside. These scheduling conflicts and mishaps are just one example of this. No company can survive on one thing alone, which includes Hallmark. They were never intended to be about Christmas only, but about various holidays and celebrations. While both of Hallmark’s networks have found success during the Christmas season, they have gone overboard in their attempt to “win” against other networks and platforms. For a few years now, I have said that Hallmark’s success could ultimately lead to their failure. This is because there will come a time when these Christmas line-ups become too big for the company to handle. If Hallmark wants to protect their long-term success, they need to have better communication with their fans. Hallmark’s fans and customers are the ones who helped make “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” the success it is today because they chose to watch Hallmark’s content. This is something that Hallmark has to remember when making any decision that could affect their fanbase. The other thing that Hallmark needs to do is pull back the reins on their Christmas line-ups. As thankful as I am that Hallmark goes through the effort to make Christmas movies at all, I believe that over twenty movies is excessive. They have to put their attention on making quality films instead of creating more than everyone else.
Have fun at the movies!
Here are all of the references that I included in my editorial:
From Hallmark Channel’s Youtube Channel: “Full Special – June Weddings Preview Special | Hallmark Channel” (the segment about In the Key of Love starts on 22:07 and ends on 24:34)
From Hallmark Channel’s Youtube Channel: “Countdown to Christmas – 10th Anniversary – Friday Nights”
From Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Youtube Channel: “Full Episode – Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special | Hallmark Movies & Mysteries” (the segment about In the Key of Love starts on 6:19 and ends on 9:17)
From Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Youtube Channel: “Christmas Thursdays – Hallmark Movies & Mysteries”
Last week, the Brannan sisters, from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, nominated me for my second Liebster Award! This makes it my ninth award since starting 18 Cinema Lane! I couldn’t be more thrilled to receive this honor! Before I begin this post, a thank you is in order. To the Brannan sisters, thank you so much for thinking of me when it came time to choose nominees. You have always been so thoughtful to me and my blog, which is something I will continually admire. Now, let the Liebster Award post begin! Let’s start with a list the official rules of this award, which are:
Thank the blogger who nominated you.
Put the logo of the award on your blog.
Share 11 facts about yourself.
Answer your nominator’s questions.
Nominate up to 11 bloggers.
For your nominees, provide a series of questions (11 is the recommended maximum)
My 11 Facts
Hand bells are my favorite musical instrument.
I’ve performed in two local theater productions.
I just published 125 movie reviews!
The Hallmark Star of the Year is my favorite award from the Gold Sally Awards.
This summer, I saw the pandas for the first time in Washington D.C.
Once, I slept over at my local museum.
I participated in a fashion show before.
I’ve walked in four local parades.
So far, my favorite episode from Murder She Wrote is “Film Flam”.
One time, I won an essay contest.
I’ve never broken a bone.
My 11 Answers
What famous, beloved, or iconic classic film leaves you cold, even though a lot of other people love it?
Last year, The Birds became the worst movie I saw in 2018. While this film is considered a classic by many, I was not a fan of it. To me, the movie was boring and didn’t build up to anything. I felt it was a waste of time.
What actors are your favorite classic film couple, even if they only made one movie together?
One of my favorite movies is Portrait of Jennie. In that film, Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones had great on-screen chemistry! They also gave a good performance individually and as a pair. I’m not sure if Joseph and Jennifer starred in any other movies together, but this is the answer I’ll choose for this question.
What classic film genre is your least favorite?
For this question, I’ll say the sci-fi genre. Not because I have anything against it, but because, within the scope of classic cinema, this is the genre that I watch the least.
What type of classic movie musical do you prefer, one where people are constantly singing or one in which all the music is logical and in context with the story?
I like musicals that feature music in a logical way that also fits the context of the story. A few years ago, I tried watching the 2012 version of Les Miserables. I ended up turning the movie off after about twenty minutes. One of the reasons was because of how often the characters were singing. It came across as annoying instead of entertaining.
What novel, book, or story do you really wish was made with certain actors in the Golden Era of Hollywood?
One of the most famous lost films is Four Devils. Despite what the title suggests, this story, from what I’ve heard, doesn’t sound sinister or creepy. I would have loved to see this movie receive a remake within the Breen Code era. That way, this narrative wouldn’t be completely lost to time.
What modern film can you most visualize as a classic film with particular actors in the lead roles?
In August, I reviewed I Never Promised You a Rose Garden for “A Month Without the Code”. Because this was the only rated R production that was included in my roster of movies, it would be fascinating to see what this story would look like as a Breen Code film. How different would it be from the movie we ended up receiving? That would an interesting question to answer!
What is your least favorite performance from your favorite actor or actress? Why?
I have two examples to share. The first is Mickey Rooney’s roles in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. While Mickey’s role in the first film consisted of yelling and arguing, his role in the second film didn’t add anything to the story and feels like a product of its time. The second example is Allison Scagliotti’s performance in Back When We Were Grownups. I understand that her appearance in this film took place toward the beginning of her career. However, out of all the young actors that starred in this movie, she was overshadowed the most. Because she’s gained acting experience through several television shows, I think that she would be given a larger role now if she were cast in another Hallmark Hall of Fame project.
What is your favorite performance from your least favorite actor or actress? Why?
Personally, I’m not a fan of Andie MacDowell. This is because, in my opinion, she is one of Hallmark’s weaker actresses. But her performance in Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Beach House was such a pleasant surprise! It felt like that role was specifically created just for her, highlighting her acting strengths and minimizing her acting weaknesses. Andie did a really good job with the material she was given!
What is one movie that made you appreciate an actor or actress you didn’t think you liked before?
For this question, I actually have three examples. The first one is Matthew McConaughey. I have seen some of his films, but it wasn’t until I saw his performance in The Newton Boys that I truly came to appreciate his acting abilities. Matthew’s portrayal of Willis Newton was both light-hearted and dramatic, something that is very difficult to pull off. My next example is Vincent Perez. While I enjoyed his performance in Queen of the Damned, his performance in Swept from the Sea became one of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen in my entire life! As I said in my review for this film, Vincent portrayed his character, Yanko, with such captivation, it came across as heart-warming and heart-breaking. The last example is Jack Turner. This particular actor has appeared in several Hallmark films. Recently, I saw Forever in My Heart and Jack’s performance was one of the best I’ve seen from a Hallmark movie this year, so far! He did a good job when pulling off an Irish accent and his portrayal of Charlie O’Hanlon appeared natural and believable.
Can you name a film adaption of a book that you think was better than the book?
I have two examples for this question. “The Beach House” and “Rome in Love” are books that I read after I saw their respective films. I thought “The Beach House” was ok, but I did not like “Rome in Love”. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Beach House and Rome in Love were both enjoyable movies that I thought were better than their source material. In fact, the latter is, so far, my favorite Hallmark production of 2019!
What is a remake which you like better than the original film? Why?
I will pick the 1996 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I tried watching the 1939 version of this story, but I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe I’ll give it a second chance during next year’s “Clean Movie Month”. However, it all depends on whether I can rent it.
My 11 Nominees
Rich from Wide Screen World
ARJung from ARJung
Agnieszka from Tastes of Health
Neil “The Musical Man” Powell from Thoughts From The Music(al) Man
Quaint Cooking from Quaint Cooking
Rob from MovieRob
Jen from Bookworm
K from K at the Movies
Annette from Hometowns to Hollywood
John from 24 Hour Movie Marathon!
Kristen from Journeys in Classic Film
My 11 Questions
Who do you think deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award?
Which actor or actress would you like to see star in a Hallmark movie?
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Is there a movie you’d like to see a sequel to? If so, which one?
Which book is your least favorite?
Where would you like to spend the day with your favorite fictional character?
Has there been an event you’ve always wanted to attend? If so, what is it?
Did you receive a prized possession since you started blogging? If so, what is that item?
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do you have a wish for a fellow blogger? If so, what is your wish?
Yes, I know Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder has already premiered. But since I haven’t reviewed a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film since August and since I reviewed Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, I thought that a review for the second movie should be in order. In my review of the first film, I said that it had potential to start a strong and entertaining series. Even though the movie had its flaws, there were things about it that I enjoyed. Now the sequel has arrived! In this review, it’ll be interesting to see where this series has improved, where it still needs to grow, and if it has what it takes to be a long-lasting series. Who knows? Maybe September or October could become Crossword Mysteries Month! Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start this review of Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Just like in the first film, the acting was one of the highlights of Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder! Both Brennan and Lacey seemed comfortable in their roles, based on how natural their portrayals came across on screen. What works in their favor is how they’ve worked together in other Hallmark productions. This helped them build a believable on-screen relationship. In years past, I’ve enjoyed Kimberly J. Brown’s performances in films such as the Halloweentown series, Ellen Foster, and My Sister’s Keeper. Seeing her appear as Logan’s sister was such a pleasant surprise! Though her time in the movie was very limited, she still found a way to shine in this project. I hope she can receive a lead role in a Hallmark production some day!
The on-screen chemistry: Like I just said, Lacey and Brennan worked together on other Hallmark projects prior to the creation of this series. This aspect helped them have good on-screen chemistry! Throughout Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, the characters of Logan and Tess had a relationship that felt realistic and convincing. It also seems like their friendship was progressing from where it started in the first film. Watching Logan and Tess’s relationship grow provides one of the lighter moments of this movie.
An incorporation of history: While this element was only brief, I thought it was interesting how history was incorporated into the story. I’m not going to spoil anything if you haven’t seen this movie yet. What I will say is I found this to be more educational than I was expecting. The element of history also made sense with what was happening on screen. History isn’t always included in films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. It’s inclusion in Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder added something unique to this movie!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Limited amount of suspense: In any mystery film, there’s a certain amount of suspense that can be found within the story. But in Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, I found very little suspense in the narrative. While a few suspenseful moments were presented, it wasn’t enough to be consistent. Because of this, it made the threat seem not as significant as in other mystery stories. It also felt like the characters kept their distance from any real sense of danger.
The pace: As I’ve talked about before, mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries usually have a faster pace. Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, however, ended up having a slower pace. This caused the film to feel drawn out and not as engaging as it could have been. The film’s slower pace prevented the project from being thrilling and exciting, components that make a good mystery story. Add the limited amount of suspense, this movie is a few steps away from being a typical Hallmark Channel movie.
Crossword puzzles being insignificant: In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, crossword puzzles played a huge role when it came to solving the mystery. This time around, these puzzles were featured for only a short amount of time. Also, they weren’t used to solve the movie’s overarching mystery. The idea of having these puzzles be clues in a mystery is not a bad idea. But their limited appearance makes it seem like the series’ creative team is starting to realize how niche this concept really is.
Crossword puzzle image created by jaylopez at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/JayLopez.”
My overall impression:
Just like the first movie, I found Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder to be ok. Sure, it had its strengths, such as the acting and inclusion of history. But the movie had some of the same flaws that its predecessor did. If Hallmark wants this series to be successful, the creative team behind it needs to improve upon these things. The next movie in this series is Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, a film that I’m looking forward to! Magic isn’t always found in Hallmark films, so this project has the potential to be something interesting. The idea of a facility that houses magic shows seems fascinating, as a location like this has never been featured in any Hallmark production. Mystery and magic could go hand-in-hand, especially with Halloween approaching. I just hope that its better than the first and second film.
Overall score: 6.3 out of 10
Have you seen the films from the Crossword Mysteries series? Which series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
For this blog follower dedication review, I decided to take a different approach when choosing the next film. Instead of the usual system that I apply to these posts, I chose a film that felt like an appropriate choice for ‘31 Spooks of October’, the event I’ve been participating in. Since K, the creator of this event and K at the Movies, wrote about vampire related short stories recently, I thought that reviewing Vampyr would be very fitting. Last week, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society! In their article, they offered an invitation to their Third Annual Great Breening Blogathon. Because the purpose of this event is to promote the preservation of the Breen Code, I felt that I had an understanding of the kind of entry that the Brannan sisters were looking for, especially since I participated in “Clean Movie Month” and “A Month Without the Code”. Vampyr was released in 1932, so through this review, I will try to determine how the Breen Code could be applied to this film!
Things I liked about the film:
The cinematography: While watching Vampyr, I was very impressed by the cinematography! Because this movie was created in the early ‘30s, some of the visual tricks that the film’s creative team incorporated into their project felt like they were ahead of their time. Throughout the movie, there were shadows that were presented inside an abandoned warehouse and around the grounds of a hotel and a mansion. When the protagonist, Allan Gray, first sees these shadows, one of them is seen digging in reverse. This is something that audiences probably take for granted today, but was revolutionary back then.
The music: All of the music in this movie was orchestral, similar to silent films. It was used to effectively convey the mood of each scene. Whenever there was a part of the film that was suspenseful, eerie music could be heard. There was even sad music that was playing when a sad moment was presented on screen. This film’s music helped explain what was happening even when no dialogue was spoken. It became an integral part of this project.
Audio that could be heard: This film was styled and constructed like a silent film. But what’s different about Vampyr is that the orchestral music wasn’t the only audio that could be heard. Audible dialogue from the actors replaced title cards. Things like knocks on doors and ringing bells could be heard by the audience. At one part of the film, the sounds of a parrot were included with the visual presentation of the bird. In a film that was created in this specific way, hearing all these sounds was a pleasant surprise!
What I didn’t like about the film:
A limited presence of vampires: When a movie’s creative team assigns a particular title to their project, they make a promise to their audience about what they can expect from the movie. With Vampyr, the subject of vampires wasn’t brought up until thirty-four minutes into the film. The very first vampire was revealed in the second half of the movie. In this project, vampires don’t play as big of a role as I expected. This shows that the creative team didn’t exactly fulfill the promise that they had made.
A simplistic story: For a movie like Vampyr, a sense of mystery in the story is to be expected. However, this plot felt too straight-forward. While there was a little bit of mystery, it wasn’t enough to maintain a consistent level of intrigue. It felt like the script put more emphasis on explaining through visuals what was going on instead of letting the visuals present things as they are. One perfect example is when a book about vampires is given to Allan Gray, in an effort to tell him what’s about to happen. It caused the narrative to be more simplified than it needed to be.
Some confusion: During this film, there were times when it felt like some of the mystery was kept at an arm’s length from the audience. Even though these mysteries were solved, it took awhile for the answers to be presented. Throughout the film, there was one character that kept reappearing. The audience didn’t learn who this person was until after thirty minutes. This extended explanation caused some confusion to happen in the narrative.
My overall impression:
Before I share my overall impression of Vampyr, I want to thank all of my followers for helping 18 Cinema Lane reach this milestone! Every success that happens here is because you gave this blog a chance! Speaking of chances, I’m glad I gave this film a chance! While it had its errors, I ended up liking it more than I expected. The creative team behind this project adopted story-telling elements that were creative and interesting. Before watching this film, I learned that Vampyr was restored through the incorporation of two different versions of the movie. In the opening credits, there were a lot of names listed, indicating who was involved in the restoration process. This raises a good point of how many people it takes to restore a film. It makes me appreciate the work that’s involved in a cinematic procedure like this. Because this movie was released in 1932, it means that it wasn’t approved by the Breen Code. If it had been created two years later, these are the things that would need to change in order to meet Breen Code standards:
During the film’s introduction, it was said that the main character, Allan Gray, studies the subjects of “devil worship and vampires”. While the story does contain vampires, the first part of that statement would need to be rewritten.
When the subject of vampires is being explained, there were several references to “The Dark One”. Even though vampires are meant to be villainous in this film, any mentions of “The Dark One”, would need to be rewritten or omitted.
There were two times when God’s name was said in vain and one swear word was included in the script. New word choices would have to be made before production started.
In one scene, a pool of blood was shown on screen. This scene would have to be removed.
A few dead bodies can be seen on screen. These scenes should be rewritten, in order for the deaths to be implied.
Overall score: 7.6 out of 10
Have you seen Vampyr? Is there a film from the 1930s that you want me to see? Tell me in the comment section!
On the first day of The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, it’s the perfect time for me to publish my second review that I mentioned in my post of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Because Hallmark has chosen to premiere their Christmas movies in late October, I thought that reviewing One Christmas would be very fitting. Before this blogathon, I had seen parts of this movie but never the whole thing. Choosing this film for the review gives me a second chance to see it in its entirety. While looking through Katharine’s IMDB filmography, it seems like One Christmas is the only Christmas movie that she starred in. Even though Little Women features the characters during Christmas-time, the story itself isn’t revolved around the Christmas holiday. One Christmas was released in 1994 and created by Hallmark Entertainment, yet it was not a Hallmark Hall of Fame production and Hallmark Channel had not existed at that time. I watch and review Christmas movies from both of Hallmark’s networks, so I was curious to see how Katherine’s movie compared to the kinds of films that Hallmark creates today.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: In One Christmas, the acting was pretty good. Henry Winkler’s role in this film was very different from his other roles I’ve seen. But he did a very good job at portraying Buddy’s father! Seeing Henry go out of his comfort zone and take on a role that is more villainous shows how versatile of an actor he really is. It also made me appreciate his acting talents even more. Speaking of Buddy, T.J. Lowther also did a good job with his acting performance! Through his portrayal of Buddy, he was able to affectively convey skepticism paired with a child-like sense of wonder. T.J. helped create a character that was naïve yet kind-hearted. Because of this, it made the audience want to see his story unfold.
Christmas in New Orleans: In Christmas movies, New Orleans rarely makes an appearance. These types of movies stick to featuring locations that will present a “traditional” Christmas landscape. Choosing to have One Christmas take place in New Orleans was an interesting idea. While the Christmas aspect of this story was briefly shown, it was great to see garland, Christmas trees, and string lights in and around the buildings in this Louisiana city. It also shows that everyone doesn’t experience the type of Christmas that these movies typically try to display. As I said in my review of Christmas Camp, everyone has their own unique and special way to celebrate this holiday. Locations such as New Orleans play a role in someone’s personal idea of Christmas.
Historical accuracy: The story of One Christmas takes place in 1930. This time-period with the backdrop of New Orleans offered an interesting picture that looked and felt authentic. Things like costuming, buildings, and even the automobiles appeared accurate to that particular period in time. There was an airplane featured in this movie that also looked like it came directly from the late ‘20s to early ‘30s. As I’ve said on several occasions, this film’s historical accuracy shows that the movie’s creative team cared about this specific aspect, especially through the amount of detail that was incorporated. It could be something as simple as a business sign on a nearby barn or a piece of jewelry. These things are proof that nothing was left unnoticed when it came to bringing 1930 back to life. The music that was found in this film also reflected sounds and the atmosphere that specifically come from New Orleans as well as the early ‘30s. It effectively fit the overall tone of the movie.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Limited presence of Katharine Hepburn: Katharine Hepburn is one of the reasons why I chose to watch this movie. In fact, she is the top billed actor in One Christmas. However, she only appeared in about five scenes. I understand that this was one of her last films, so she probably could only devote so much time and energy to acting. But to give Katharine the top bill on this movie, yet only allow her to make brief appearances kind of does a disservice to her talents. It also does a disservice to her fans as well as the overall project. When a film’s creative team chooses an actor to be the top billed performer, they make a promise to their audience that this particular actor will be prominently featured in the movie. But in Katharine’s situation, it almost seems that the creative team made a promise they knew they couldn’t keep.
Christmas making a minor appearance: Like I just said, I liked seeing Christmas being showcased in New Orleans. But, in the movie as a whole, this holiday played such a small role. I was hoping to see Christmas traditions and celebrations that are specific to that location, wondering how the project would bring something new to the table of Christmas films. Sadly, Christmas just felt like a glorified extra, with decorations used for background aesthetic and the holiday itself an afterthought. When Christmas Day does arrive, it feels anti-climactic. Because of how little emphasis Christmas was given, it made me question why this story had to take place during this time of year.
A weak conflict: Every Christmas movie contains a conflict that can be resolved within the Christmas season. In One Christmas, however, the main conflict was so complicated and lasted for a long period of time, it seemed like a solution was nowhere in sight. Because this conflict took up the primary focus of the plot, it caused the story to have very few moments of happiness and joy. When the conflict did reach a resolution, it didn’t feel earned or like the story was working up to that moment. Anything happy that ended up happening seemed like it was there just because it had to be there.
My overall impression:
I’m glad that I was given a second chance to watch One Christmas. However, I found this movie to be ok, at best. At worst, though, it was one of the most depressing Christmas movies I’ve ever seen. It put too much emphasis on a conflict that, realistically, would never get resolved in a month’s time. Another major flaw is how Christmas itself is barely featured in a movie that takes place during Christmas-time. For me, Christmas movies are about stories that rely on the holiday to compliment the narrative. They also try to make me feel good about what I had chosen to watch, either through the story or the messages/themes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that feeling while watching One Christmas. The film’s attempt to make me feel good about the project didn’t work either. While I liked it more than It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, I was expecting more from One Christmas.
Overall score: 6.2 out of 10
Have you seen any of Katharine Hepburn’s movies? Are there any Christmas films you’d like to see me review? Please tell me in the comment section!
I was going to publish my second review for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Blogathon today. But since I finished the first book for 31 Spooks of October/Spookathon and Sbooktober yesterday, I decided to post my movie review tomorrow. If you read my article called “I’m partaking in 31 Spooks of October!”, you would know that the first book I chose to read was California Angel. When I published this particular post, I was half-way through the book. Now that I’ve completed the novel, I not only met the four challenges that were associated with California Angel, but I will also share my thoughts on it.
When I read the acknowledgements section that was featured in my copy of the book, the way Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, California Angel’s author, talked about the story made it sound like Touched by an Angel meets a typical Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie. Since those are programs that I like, I thought that I would thoroughly enjoy this book. Sadly, I was mistaken. California Angel ended up becoming the worst book I’ve ever read. Why, you ask? Well here are a list of reasons why I didn’t like this book:
I found the majority of the female characters to be unlikeable. For this post, I’m going to be talking about just two of them. Toy Johnson is one of the worst protagonists I’ve ever read about in literature. She was self-centered, entitled, hypocritical, judgmental, close-minded, and ungrateful. What makes things worse is she used the ideas for selflessness, charity, and even faith as an excuse for her behavior. Let me share a passage from this book to give you an example of how selfish Toy really is. Just to preface, Toy is talking to her husband, Stephen, about how one of her dreams connects to an event that happened within the world of the story.
“No, you’re wrong. It’s something spectacular, something magnificent. Something about me is different from everyone else. I’m being dispatched on missions, like missions of mercy. What else could it be? All these dreams I’ve had. In every one there are children in some kind of grave danger. And I make a difference,” she said proudly, a fanatical fire burning in her eyes. “I feel great. It’s like my whole existence on earth has finally been validated, like I’ve been searching for this all my life”.
You see how often she refers to herself? That’s just one passage, Toy acts like this throughout the entire story. As you read, she is so set in her ways, that she doesn’t allow herself to take other people’s beliefs, views, and perspectives into consideration. A good example of this is her conflict with Stephen. This part of the story felt so one-sided, with Toy making Stephen look like an antagonist just because his way of approaching situations is different from her own. She also has a negative effect on those around her. One of them is Sarah Mendleson, who is the female friend of Raymond, an artist with Autism. Shortly after Sarah meets Toy, she decides to take advantage of Raymond, who is facing one of the lowest points in his life, at that point in the book, by disguising herself as Toy, whose encounter with Raymond left a positive impact on him, even going so far as to dye her hair the same shade of red as Toy’s hair. Sarah does this to trick Raymond into thinking she’s Toy and to try to make him her future husband. The sad part is how Sarah’s plan seems to work, as she becomes his girlfriend by the end of the book. Speaking of Raymond, all of the male characters in California Angel are either villainized because of their profession or are used just to, simply, make the female characters look good. Raymond is just one example. He was my favorite character and I found his story to be interesting. However, Raymond’s story ended up getting taken over by Sarah. After a while, his purpose turns into becoming Sarah’s love interest and standing up for Toy.
About 90% of this story revolves around Toy. Because of how unlikeable she was, it was difficult for me to get through this book.
I found the chapters in this novel to be longer than they should have been. In a typical thriller/mystery book, the pace is faster. This is done in an attempt to keep the audience on the edge of the seat and engaged in the story. But because the chapters in California Angel were too long, this make it difficult to enjoy the book.
In the synopsis listed on the back of the book, it says that Toy, within the story, is accused being a kidnapper and murderer. However, this part of the novel doesn’t happen until the last five chapters. The book had suspenseful moments sprinkled throughout the story. However, it was not a thrilling narrative from start from finish like I had expected.
There are several inconsistencies and flaws in logic that can be found in California Angel. In this book, Toy believes that the only way she can help children is in her dreams, which happen to translate into actual events within her world. However, Toy is a teacher and has provided financial assistance to one of the families that belongs to her school community. Therefore, her actions and choices contradict her argument. When Toy receives letters from all over the world, her mother, Ethel, tells her that the letters were written by “little children” and “older people”. But two pages letters, she references the letters again, saying, “all of them from lovely little children”. So, were children the primary authors of these letters then?
The way that Autism is talked about in California Angel sometimes feels outdated. In at least two parts of the book, Raymond refers to his Autism as an “illness”. After Toy’s encounter with Raymond, that happens in a prologue, it says that “Raymond had simply snapped out of it” and he recovered from Autism. I’m not as educated on this particular subject as other people are. But, based on what I do know, I know that this is not how Autism works. Autism is a neurological disorder that one must live with. Sure, there are ways to manage and even overcome the symptoms associated with this medical condition. However, it’s not something that simply goes away.
While reading this book, it felt like Nancy used her story to try to capitalize on Touched by an Angel and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (which were both released in 1994, a year before California Angel was published) without showing a complete understanding or attempting to show a complete understanding of why people like those stories in the first place. In this novel, there was a courtroom scene that felt like a repeat of the aforementioned Christmas film. Even some of the events leading up to this scene felt reminiscent of that moment from the movie. But the difference between California Angel and Miracle on 34th Street is that Santa, for the entirety of the story, was portrayed as a likable character. This made it easy for the audience to root for him.