Take 3: Stepping Out Review

Shelley Winters is an actress that I was familiar with before joining The Shelley Winters Blogathon. I’ve seen The Diary of Anne Frank, What’s the Matter with Helen?, and Lolita. But out of those three movies, her most memorable role is Helen from What’s the Matter with Helen?. Shelley was able to bring a very haunting element to that character, giving the audience a reason to feel uneasy toward her. As I searched through her IMDB filmography, I came across a film called Stepping Out. When I read the synopsis, it sounded like a very sweet story. Because of this, I choose the 1991 picture for my entry in the blogathon. When it comes to blogathons, I rarely have an opportunity to review musical films. In fact, the last movie musical I reviewed was Summer Magic for A Month Without the Code back in August. I also learned that Stepping Out was based on a pre-existing play. If I hadn’t watched a Youtube video where Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert talk about their least favorite films of 1991, I wouldn’t have discovered this valuable piece of information.

Stepping Out poster
Stepping Out poster created by Paramount Pictures. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SteppingOutFilmPoster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in my I Remember Mama review, every actor and actress is expected to bring the best of their acting talents in an ensemble cast. With confidence, I can say that all of the actors and actresses in Stepping Out did a fantastic job in their roles! The chemistry between all of the characters was strong, making their relationships feel believable. Andi, portrayed by Sheila McCarthy, and Geoffrey, portrayed by Bill Irwin, are a perfect example of this. During the duration of the film, Andi and Bill develop a friendship that survives outside of the studio setting. Their interactions give the audience the impression that they truly care about one another. Though her role in this movie was smaller than in other movies, Shelley Winters had a memorable on-screen appearance! Her performance was consistent and her sense of humor was subtle yet effective. I also liked hearing her singing performance when she shared, in one scene, that it was Irving Berlin’s birthday. Despite her limited amount of screen-time, Shelley still found a way to make a big impact in this story!

 

The film’s sweeter moments: Throughout the film, there were sweet, light-hearted moments that I enjoyed seeing. Anytime Mavis encouraged her students and tried to help them become the best dancers they could be, it was very refreshing to see a teacher figure with realistic goals. Even when there were obstacles within the dancing lessons, the students were able to find moments of positivity and humor. One example is when there was a mix-up with their costume hats. It was also nice to see the students trying to help each other outside of the studio environment. When Maxine offers Rose’s son a job, it shows the team dynamic that Mavis strives for during the movie. It also displays how the characters are able to put the needs of others before their own.

 

The dance numbers: Seeing the dance numbers in Stepping Out was a highlight! Since the story revolves around Mavis and her students, all of the dance numbers are performed by them. Despite this, they are all entertaining! Whether it was Mavis’ solo or the group numbers that appeared toward the end of the film, these dance numbers were well choregraphed. It also helps that a good percentage of this cast had Broadway experience prior to appearing in Stepping Out. Their experience and performance related knowledge worked in their favor, as it brought a sense of realism to the dance numbers.

12 size
Masks of comedy and tragedy images 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:

Some characters receiving more character development than others: In Stepping Out, I found that some characters received more character development than others. Two examples are Andi and Mrs. Fraser. This story gave Andi a fully developed back-story. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fraser’s back-story resides in only two sentences. There are even some characters that don’t receive any character development. Dorothy, portrayed by Andrea Martin, is one of them. I understand that in an ensemble cast, it’s not easy providing a story and character development to every character. But, for me, it left more to be desired.

 

Some under-utilized actors: I noticed within this cast that some of the actors were under-utilized. One of these actors is Geza Kovacs, who I talked about in my editorial, “Why Jiggy Nye is Not an Effective Villian in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure”. In his role as a club manager named Jerry, he did a good job with the material he was given. However, he was only in the film for two scenes. I know that this particular character didn’t provide as much to the story as other characters did. But I find it frustrating when talented actors and actresses aren’t given an opportunity to fully utilize their talents.

 

A weaker second half: While watching this movie, I felt the second half was weaker than the first half. This is because some parts of the story were drawn out more than others. A good example is Andi’s story. As I stated before, Andi is a character that received a well-developed back-story. However, it was drawn-out longer than it should have been. To me, this issue is the result of the run-time and a script that wasn’t as tightly written. Even though the film’s second half contained two very entertaining dance numbers, the story itself could have been stronger from start to finish.

Shelley Winters Blogathon banner
The Shelley Winters Blogathon banner created by Erica from Poppity Talks Classic Film and Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews. Image found at https://poppitytalksclassicfilm.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/announcing-the-shelley-winters-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

Stepping Out made me feel the exact same way that Moulin Rouge! did. The film had sweet moments and other factors that I liked. But the story as a whole could have been stronger. Some of the downfalls include select characters receiving well-written backstories, some under-utilized actors, and a script that’s not as tightly written as it could have been. However, these elements did not make this movie one of the worst I’ve seen this year. Even though this project had its flaws, the cast, as a whole, shines in the spotlight! This is especially true for Shelley Winters! When we think about actresses who’ve graced the silver screen, Shelley, to me, seems like one of the underrated ones. I don’t hear her name being added to the conversation as I do for other starlets, such as Audrey Hepburn and Bette Davis. But during my year of blogging, I learned that this is the reason why blogathons exist. These events provide a platform to talk about almost anything and everything, so it’s great to see blogathons take the time to give lesser known stars and other movie related topics their “standing ovation”.

 

Overall score: 6.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Shelley’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to check out the video that I referenced in this review, type “SISKEL & EBERT: The Worst Movies of 1991” into Youtube’s search bar. Just to let you know, there is some language and suggestive topics discussed in this video. The segment about Stepping Out starts at 6:55 and ends at 8:33.

Take 3: The Sky’s the Limit Review + 135 Follower Thank You

Thank you to all of my followers that helped 18 Cinema Lane reach this milestone! If it weren’t for you, this blog would have never reached 135 followers in only one year! So, like before, it’s time for another blog follower dedication review! This time, I’m going to talk about a film that was released in September of 1943. The Sky’s the Limit is the only film from this time period that I was able to rent, so that’s the film that I have chosen. I have a confession to make: up until this point, I have never seen a movie where Fred Astaire made an on-screen appearance. I am familiar with who Fred is as a performer, so it’s hard to believe that this is the first of his films that I’ve seen. Choosing this film seems fitting for this particular review.

The Sky's the Limit poster
The Sky’s the Limit poster created by RKO Radio Pictures. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036363/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like I mentioned in the introduction, this was the first film of Fred Astaire’s that I’ve seen. Despite this, I was very impressed with his performance! His presentation was very natural and believable, helping him bring a certain amount of charm to his character. Before watching The Sky’s the Limit, I had no idea that Fred could sing. His singing and dancing talents added uniqueness to his on-screen presence. Another performance that I was impressed by was Joan Leslie’s! Joan made her character well-rounded because of the various emotions and behaviors she adopted. I was also pleasantly surprised by her singing and dancing abilities! By incorporating those elements to her role, it made her performance that much more enjoyable!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Not only did Fred and Joan deliver good performances individually, they also presented good performances as an on-screen pair! Throughout the film, their characters appeared to truly like each other. Moments where Fred and Joan spent time together represent the sweeter parts of the movie. While the relationship of the characters gradually developed, this aspect was portrayed in a way that felt believable. The fact that Fred and Joan’s acting talents were similar worked in their favor. It made their performances complement one another!

 

The dance numbers: Whenever Fred Astaire is cast in a movie, it’s almost guaranteed that there will be, at least, one dance number. In The Sky’s the Limit, Fred performed one dance solo and two dance duets with Joan Leslie. These performances were very well choreographed, appearing flawless and captivating. All of those hours of practice seemed to pay off. Fred and Joan also looked like they having fun during their performances! When a dancer looks like they’re enjoying what they’re doing, it helps the enjoyment factor of the dance number!

Six designs of military airplane
Military plane image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by brgfx – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The plot: You’re probably thinking, “If you didn’t like the plot, then why did you watch this movie?” The plot itself wasn’t bad, but it was too straight-forward for my liking. Before watching The Sky’s the Limit, I assumed that the protagonist would face one hilarious situation after another in order to resolve the conflict. However, no efforts were made to find a solution to the conflict. There were very few humorous moments in the film as well. This story took itself more seriously than I think it should have. It seemed to forget that “comedy” was a part of its identity.

 

The limited amount of dance numbers: When I found out that Fred Astaire would be starring in the film and that it was classified as a “musical”, I was expecting the movie to be filled with singing and dancing. In this hour and thirty-minute picture, there were only three dance numbers, with the first one appearing about forty minutes into the film. When a movie’s creative team hires an actor with more than one talent, they should help that actor use their talents to the fullest extent. This is especially true when the movie is labeled as a “musical”. If this doesn’t happen, it makes the actor appear under-utilized.

 

No consequences: As I said in the introduction, The Sky’s the Limit was released in 1943. This means that the film premiered during the Breen Code era. But when Fred Astaire’s character never faced any consequences for his actions and choices, I was shocked that the people behind the Breen Code would find this part of the story to be acceptable. One example is when Fred’s character is upset over a break-up. This causes him to destroy a restaurant’s bar by breaking drinking glasses and throwing a bar stool at the mirrored background. All that happens is Fred paying for his drink and acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Because he never owned up to his mistakes, I found it difficult to root for his character.

Dancing Pairs 2 Retro Cartoon Templates
Couple performing the waltz image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I can’t believe that I hadn’t seen any of Fred Astaire’s movies until now! That’s a great thing about this blog, as it gives me an excuse to introduce myself to films that I might not have seen otherwise. Now that I’ve shared what I liked and didn’t like about the movie, I can now tell you my honest opinion about it. Personally, I found the film to be just ok. It’s definitely not one of the worst films I’ve seen this year. But, it’s not one of the best films I’ve seen this year either, as it hasn’t aged as well as other projects from that decade. Despite this, I’m still glad I gave this movie a chance! Something that I have said before was how you never know if a film will be good or bad unless you watch it. This is certainly the case for my experience seeing The Sky’s the Limit. Once again, thank you to all of my followers! If it weren’t for you, this review wouldn’t exist.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on my review? Are you looking forward to my next movie review? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Broadway Melody Review + 90 Follower Thank You

This week, I received 90 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! To all my followers, thank you for helping me reach this accomplish! In honor of this achievement, I’m going to review a film that was released 90 years ago (in 1929). While looking through Turner Classic Movie’s (TCM’s) schedule one day, I found a film titled The Broadway Melody. Because this film turned 90 years old this year, I chose to review this movie for this special post. Before this review, I had never heard of The Broadway Melody. So, I was looking forward to expanding my cinematic horizons. Was this film a show-stopper or stumble over its own dancing shoes? Keep reading my review of The Broadway Melody if you want to find out!

The Broadway Melody poster
The Broadway Melody poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Broadway_Melody_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: As a whole, the cast of The Broadway Melody was good! Anita Page and Bessie Love both gave a memorable performance as the singing and dancing duo, Hank and Queenie! What was so great about these characters is how they displayed their own distinct personalities. While Hank was out-spoken and spunky, Queenie was a quieter individual with a sweet personality. I also liked Jed Prouty’s performance as Uncle Jed! His portrayal of this character came across very believably, making Uncle Jed feel like a real person. Having him stutter was an interesting choice, as this is not common amongst characters in cinema. However, I thought that this component was incorporated well from both an acting and writing perspective.

 

  • Use of title cards: At some points in the film, title cards were used as scene transitions and location indicators. This choice was not only creative, but also interesting. Since The Broadway Melody was the first movie musical to be “all-talking”, I felt this was a good transition from silent films to talking pictures. These title cards also added a unique stamp to the overall project.

 

  • The musical numbers: One of the strongest aspects of The Broadway Melody is, definitely, the musical numbers! My favorite group routine was “Wedding of the Painted Doll”, as it was really well choreographed and performed! There was so much going on in that number, but it was all great to look at. Throughout this film, the best solo performance came from a ballerina who performed a tap dance on ballet pointe. Her routine was incredible and I had never seen anything like it before! This was absolutely the best dance solo in any movie musical I’ve ever seen!
The Broadway Melody poster card
The Broadway Melody lobby card image created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/12482/The-Broadway-Melody/#tcmarcp-173805.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Large spaces between musical numbers: While I enjoyed seeing the musical numbers in The Broadway Melody, it seemed like this movie had far more dialogue-focused scenes. In my opinion, a good musical finds a way to balance the dialogue and music-focused scenes, creating a film that tells an interesting story and provides entertaining content. Throughout The Broadway Melody, however, there were only seven musical numbers. The ratio between the musical numbers and dialogue-focused scenes was weaker than I had expected.

 

  • The run-time: Before I watched this movie, I was surprised to find that it was almost two hours long. Looking back on this specific production, I don’t think this story needed to be an hour and forty minutes. Because of this run-time, it caused the movie to feel longer than intended and some scenes to feel too drawn out. There was also the inclusion of scenes for the sake of satisfying the run-time. This movie would have worked better with a run-time of an hour and twenty or thirty minutes.

 

  • A “slice of life” story: It seems like the more movies I watch, the more I don’t like “slice of life” stories (unless they have intriguing plots). The premise in The Broadway Melody felt like it was following a year in the life of the Mahoney sisters. I did not find this type of story-telling very interesting. This story also contained petty drama that I really didn’t care about. Because this drama lasted for a good portion of the film, it caused the plot to feel drawn-out.
Note_lines_horizontal1
String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

The Broadway Melody was an ok film. I can see why this movie received the honors that it did in its time. However, I think there are movie musicals that are stronger than this one. While, the story wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped, the musical numbers were the highlight of this film. They were very enjoyable and fun to watch. I found myself rewinding my recording of The Broadway Melody in order to re-watch some of the musical scenes. “Wedding of the Painted Doll” was such a great ensemble routine and the tap dance on ballet pointe solo was fantastic! With its merits and flaws, I’m still glad I chose to review this film.

 

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

 

What did you think of my review? Which movie musical is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

What makes a Shirley Temple movie a “Shirley Temple movie”?

When I came across the Made in 1938 blogathon last November, it sounded like something I would want to participate in. As I was searching the internet for films with 1938 release dates, I discovered that Shirley Temple starred in three movies within that year: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner. Because a goal of mine is to watch every single Shirley Temple film ever made, I figured that talking about these three films for this blogathon would be a good way to take one step closer to my goal. Prior to seeing Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner, I had seen some of Shirley’s other films. This means that I had an idea of the components that would make up these three films. So, in this post, I will be exploring and analyzing these six components that are usually found in a “Shirley Temple movie”. Now, when I say “Shirley Temple movie”, I mean the films where Shirley starred in the movie as a child actress. However, when it comes to Shirley’s movies, I will only be discussing the three films that were released in 1938. So, now that I’ve finished these necessary introductions, let’s answer this question of what makes these films a “Shirley Temple movie”.

Made in 1938 blogathon banner
Made in 1938 blogathon poster created by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Robin from Pop Culture Reverie. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/announcing-the-made-in-1938-blogathon/ and https://popculturereverie.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/announcing-the-made-in-1938-blogathon/

Shirley Temple’s involvement in the film

When I watched Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner, I wanted to see whether Shirley was given legitimate roles to portray or if the film was treated as a way to, simply, include Shirley in the movie just for the sake of having Shirley star in the film. In these three films, Shirley’s roles seemed like they were well-written characters, each given their own characteristics. There are some similarities that these characters had, such as being, to a certain extent, independent. Each character; Rebecca, Penny, and Betsy, were either an orphan or had at least one parental figure in her life. Because of the specific conflict each of these characters face, they all find a way to solve their particular problem. One example of this is in Little Miss Broadway. When her family’s hotel is in danger of closing for good, Betsy becomes friends with the nephew of the hotel’s landlord and helps him put on a show in order to save the hotel and help the residents keep their home. These characters also have their differences as well, such as how they solve their problems. In Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Rebecca is forced to perform in a radio commercial for her greedy and selfish step-father. In order to get out of her living and working situation, Rebecca pretends to lose her voice, tricking her step-father into thinking that she is no longer employable for radio entertainment. Rebecca came up with this plan all by herself compared to how Betsy from Little Miss Broadway and Penny from Just Around the Corner resolve their conflicts.

After watching these films, I think the best role that Shirley portrayed was Betsy in Little Miss Broadway. Because the film centered around performers living in a hotel, this role highlighted both the acting and performing talents that Shirley had to offer within the movie. It made it feel like this role was created just for Shirley, while also complimenting the talents of the other actors and performers in the film. While I liked Shirley’s portrayal of Rebecca in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, I felt like the creative team behind this movie put a little too much emphasis that Shirley was cast in their film. At one point in the film, Shirley says that she used to have curls all over her head, possibly referencing her earlier roles, such as her role in Curly Top. Shirley also mentions the songs “Animals Crackers in My Soup” and “On the Good Ship Lollipop”, not only referencing Shirley’s previous movies, but making it feel like the movie’s creative team assumed that the audience had seen Shirley’s other movies prior to watching Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I also liked Shirley’s portrayal of Penny from Just Around the Corner. But, as I’ll explain later in this post, she wasn’t given many opportunities to perform as a singer and dancer within the context of the film.

 

The Cast Surrounding Shirley

For this component, I wanted to see if the cast surrounding Shirley were also given legitimate roles to portray or if these actors’ involvement in the film were just seen as everyone being Shirley Temple’s extras. When I reflect on Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner, I can honestly say that the cast surrounding Shirley were also given characters that were well-written. What I liked about these three movies is that the characters seemed so unique and interesting from one another. One of these characters is Samuel Henshaw from Just Around the Corner. While Samuel, at times, comes across as a grumpy individual, it seems like he has a sense of goodness to him, caring equally about his career and his family. This character is very different from Pop Shea from Little Miss Broadway, for example. While both characters appear to be around the same age, their personalities are very different, helping to give a sense of variety among the characters within these three films. Another thing I liked seeing was the variety of talents that was shown within each film. Bill Robinson’s involvement in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Just Around the Corner is a good example of this. Not only is Bill a good actor, but he’s also a good dancer. When it comes to the acting within each film, I think that everyone did a good job with the acting material they were given.

rebecca of sunnybrook farm poster
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0030657/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The Story

While looking at each story from each film, I wanted to find out how much they relied on Shirley’s involvement in the film. Before I reveal my assessment, let me share a brief synopsis for each film. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is about a radio executive and his assistant searching for the perfect candidate to perform in their radio commercial. Just Around the Corner is about a young girl who tries to help her father find employment and Little Miss Broadway is about a hotel owner trying to save his hotel as well as the home of several performers. While all of these stories do, to a certain extent, depend on Shirley’s involvement, these stories can stand on their own. If you take away the fact that this is a “Shirley Temple movie”, these stories could work with other actors and different characters. An example of this is Just Around the Corner. If this movie were not a musical, I could see almost any child actor being cast in the role of Penny. Other than the musical numbers, it doesn’t really seem like Shirley’s involvement is essential to the story overall. This is the same for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. You could either have almost any child actor or any singer in the lead role and it really wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Out of these three stories, I liked the plot from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm the most. Not only was the conflict within the plot interesting, but the “behind-the-scenes” aspect of radio entertainment was, to me, fascinating. This part of the film reminded me of two Hallmark movies that I really like: This Magic Moment and Cooking with Love. Because of this, it made me enjoy Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm even more. I liked the story from Little Miss Broadway. But, after the primary conflict is resolved, it feels like other conflicts were invented in the story just to keep the movie going. This made the movie feel a little bit tedious. The story for Just Around the Corner was fine. But, because of the limited amount of musical numbers, it made the story feel drawn out and a little bit longer than intended. Despite the flaws that these stories may have, all of these stories were well-written.

 

The Messages and Themes

Like most family-friendly films, Shirley Temple’s movies have no shortage of messages and themes that can be found within the film’s narrative. For the most part, these messages and themes are relatable and can be shared with audiences of all ages. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner contain more than one message/theme. In Just Around the Corner, the story is very reflective of the time period that the film was released in. Because the movie premiered in 1938, messages and themes relating to The Great Depression can be found within the film’s plot. Financial prejudice, social class, and maintaining a positive attitude no matter what the circumstance is are themes that I found within the movie. Even though Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Little Miss Broadway were also released in 1938, the messages and themes in these movies are relevant for both the late ‘30s and the late 2010s, focusing less on direct references to The Great Depression. In Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, the two biggest messages that I could find was how success can be found almost anywhere and how important it is to surround yourself with people that truly have your best interests in mind. As a movie blogger, I can relate to the first aforementioned message. Movie bloggers come from all over the world, with several movie bloggers finding huge success. This particular message has definitely stood the test of time. Little Miss Broadway’s two biggest themes in its story were how far kindness can go and getting to know someone before you judge them.

When I watched Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner, I also noticed that some of the songs within these movies contained important messages and themes. The song, “I Love to Walk in the Rain” from Just Around the Corner re-emphasizes the theme of having a positive attitude in almost any situation. Other examples include “How Can I Thank You?” from Little Miss Broadway promoting the idea of taking time to express gratitude to those around you and “Come and Get Your Happiness” from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm stressing the idea of trying to find happiness wherever you are. Sometimes, these songs were sung more than once, as if the creative team behind these movies wanted to remind their audience of the importance of these messages and themes. For example, in Little Miss Broadway, the song “How Can I Thank You” is sung by Shirley more than once. As I’ve already mentioned, this song focused on promoting sharing gratitude with the people around you. Overall, the messages and themes that are found within these three films add a layer of depth to each story and make the movies feel like time was well spent.

little miss broadway poster
Little Miss Broadway poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LittleMissBroadway1.jpg

The Musical Numbers

No Shirley Temple movie would be complete without at least one musical number. All three of these movies had their fair share of singing and dancing. However, it’s important to compare the big musical number from each film to see if they effectively represent their respective film. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Miss Broadway, and Just Around the Corner each had a large musical number that was featured toward the end of their film. These musical numbers equally incorporated singing and dancing into the production. Since I’ve already talked about the song “I Love to Walk in the Rain”, I’ll talk about the musical number from Just Around the Corner first. Toward the end of Just Around the Corner, Penny performs a musical number that reminds the movie’s audience about keeping a positive attitude in almost any situation. The way this theme is presented in this musical number is by showing how happy Penny is to be outside while it is raining. Out of these three films, “I Love to Walk in the Rain” is my favorite musical number. Not only does it stress a major theme from the movie in a creative and memorable way, but the actual musical number itself is very entertaining. All of the dancing is choreographed in such a way that it gives the audience the illusion that Shirley and Bill are actually talking a walk. The special effects that are showcased within this musical number are also very impressive. From the rain effect through the number to the props of moving birds, all of it came together to create a musical number that, I think, represents the film as a whole.

 

The other two musical numbers I will be talking about are “Little Miss Broadway” from Little Miss Broadway and “The Toy Trumpet” from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. In Little Miss Broadway, Betsy and Roger, the nephew of the hotel’s landlord, perform “Little Miss Broadway” in an attempt to prove to the judge that all of the performers residing in the hotel are worthy of hosting their own show on a regular basis. I liked this musical number quite of bit. The choreography was really good and the special effects of the New York City skyline made this musical number such a spectacle to watch. However, I felt that this musical number was only representative of its respective film to a certain extent. Yes, the musical number is reflective of how far optimism and kindness can go, as well as how happy and exciting Betsy’s new environment is to her. But, Broadway itself is never mentioned in the movie until that very musical number. Plus, the majority of the story takes place either in the hotel or in the landlord’s apartment. I also liked “The Toy Trumpet” from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The choreography and the number itself reminded me of the toy soldier dance that the Rockettes perform during Christmas-time. But, when it comes to representing the movie as a whole, this musical number doesn’t really do that. If anything, “The Toy Trumpet” feels random when it’s placed within the context of the story. Toy soldiers are never mentioned in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and the musical number does not incorporate any of the film’s themes or messages into the performance. Because Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm focuses a lot on radio entertainment, there is a greater number of performances that only involve singing. However, I just think that the big musical number within this film should have either been farm themed or showcased at least one of the film’s themes or messages.

 

The Overall Film

For this final category, I was curious as to how well these films held up 81 years later. Did any of these movies stand the test of time or are they just products of their time? I can only speak for myself, but I think Just Around the Corner, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Little Miss Broadway stood the test of time just fine. Because each film has a certain amount of simplicity to them and are relatable to a certain extent, these three movies can be enjoyed by many people. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is the film that I liked the most because of its interesting plot and creativity. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, the “behind-the-scenes” look at radio entertainment was something that added interest to the story for me. Also, I was glad to see the creativity that can be found within this film. A perfect example of this was the scene where Rebecca sings “An Old Straw Hat” on the farm. During this scene, Rebecca and Aloysius, the family’s farm hand, not only perform a short dance on the pathway, but they also pick berries to the tune of the song. I thought Little Miss Broadway was a decent film. However, as I’ve also mentioned, the story felt, at times, tedious because the conflict was resolved a little too early. To me, Just Around the Corner was just ok. The biggest issue that I had with this film was that it wasn’t as much of a musical as I had expected. Just Around the Corner only had three musical scenes, one toward the beginning of the film and two toward the end of the film. For the rest of the movie, this limited number of musical scenes/numbers causes the story to feel drawn out and longer than intended. If these movies had received a traditional review on my blog, the scores they would receive are a 7.7 (for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm), a 7.1 (for Little Miss Broadway), and a 6.2 (for Just Around the Corner).

just around the corner poster
Just Around the Corner poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0030302/?ref_=nv_sr_2

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen