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.

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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: Jersey Boys Review + 115 Follower Thank You

Before I begin this review, I would like to thank all 115 of my followers! I achieved this accomplishment two weeks ago! However, I wasn’t able to publish this post as early as I had wanted to. That’s because I started my Clean Movie Month reviews and was participating in a few blogathons. But I fortunately found the time to share this blog follower dedication review with the people who have helped my blog grow and thrive! For this post, I have chosen a movie that was released in June of 2014. Even though I talked about a musical in my previous blog follower dedication review, I chose the film, Jersey Boys, for this particular post. I was familiar with the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, so I could appreciate the songs that appear in this film. When it comes to the band itself, I didn’t know much information about them. This movie was, to a certain extent, educational. That’s because this film explores the history of The Four Seasons. It also talked about how some of the songs were created, as well as who the members of the band were. So, let’s learn more about Jersey Boys through this review!

Jersey Boys poster
Jersey Boys poster created by GK Films, Malpaso Productions, and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/jersey-boys/.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: One of the strongest components of this film is the acting performances! From what I’ve heard, the cast consisted of actors and actresses who also starred in the Jersey Boys stage play. I feel that this was a good decision because this means that before film production began, they already knew their characters. This shows in all of the acting performances, as the actors and actresses appeared to be comfortable in their roles. Something I noticed while watching this film was the accents. As I’ve said before, accents in movies can be hit or miss. In Jersey Boys, however, the accents sounded authentic enough to be satisfying. This goes back to the fact that the cast is from the original stage play, as they had plenty of time to perfect that part of the performance!

 

The aesthetic: I really liked the world that was created in this film! Everything looked and felt like the time period in which this story took place in. Even the cinematography correlated with the previously mentioned time period. This showed how much the creative team behind this movie cared about the details that went into their project. It also made the movie feel immersive, like the audience themselves are visiting that world. The locations and settings of Jersey Boys were visually appealing!

 

The music: Because this movie is about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the majority of their music is featured throughout the story. Since I like their music, I found these parts of the film to be enjoyable. Jersey Boys was a stage play before becoming a movie, as I’ve said before. This aspect worked in the performers’ favor because they were familiar with the music prior to the film’s production. All of the actors in the band sounded close enough to the original group to keep me, as an audience member, satisfied. It added to the authenticity of their collective performance!

music sign
Music and stage image created by Topntp26 at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/music-sign_1179519.htm’>Designed by Topntp26</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage image created by Topntp26 – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Breaking the “fourth wall”: At certain points in the movie, some members of The Four Seasons told their story directly to the audience. While this was an interesting idea, it didn’t work as well as it could have. This is because the “fourth wall” was broken so infrequently, it ended up feeling out of place. Only three members of the group get to break the “fourth wall”. The only time Frankie Valli gets this kind of moment was toward the end of the movie. The fact that more than one person was trying to tell the story made it difficult to decipher who the key narrator was supposed to be.

 

Scenes that don’t mesh together: When it comes to movie musicals, the segments of story and music are supposed to work together to create a cohesive narrative and propel the story forward. One example is when Mother Abbess sings “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” in The Sound of Music. But I never felt that the story segments and musical segments meshed together in Jersey Boys. Anytime a musical segment appeared in the film, it felt like the story segments were paused for the sake of presenting the musical segments. This disrupted the flow of the narrative.

 

The run-time: Jersey Boys is a two hour and fourteen-minute film. Because of this run-time, the movie felt longer than it was intended and some scenes were too drawn-out. Having the film set at one hour and thirty or forty minutes would have worked better for the overall production. Drawn-out scenes could be shortened to a length of time where that part of the story could get straight to the point. If the “fourth wall” moments that I mentioned earlier were reserved for the end of the movie, this would shorten the run-time as well.

61511-OANU9Y-551
Diner image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/american-vintage-restaurant-hand-drawn_902205.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/food”>Food vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

At best, Jersey Boys is an ok film. I can definitely see how this project could work as a Broadway stage show. However, this particular story would have worked better as either a documentary or as a mini-series. There was so much interesting content to this narrative, that I actually learned more about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons than I had expected. But, because of the set run-time, there was only so much material that was discussed. Even though I learned a lot about this particular musical group, I feel like I could have discovered this same information on the internet. When it comes to movie musicals, Jersey Boys is not the worst of them. But there are movies within this genre that are better than this one.

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Do you like that music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons? Which movie musical do you like? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Stowaway Review (Clean Movie Month — #1)

For the first time ever, I am participating in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month! Every July, participants are encouraged to watch and write about films that were released within the Breen Code era. This era started in 1934 and ended in 1954. On 18 Cinema Lane, I will be reviewing a Breen Code era film every week during this month! These reviews will be released in the chronological order of the film’s premiere. For my first Clean Movie Month review, I have chosen the Shirley Temple film, Stowaway! Earlier this year, I wrote an editorial about my thoughts on all three of Shirley’s films from 1938. As I said in that editorial, my goal is to watch every single Shirley Temple film ever made. So, if I have a chance to watch a Shirley Temple movie that I haven’t seen before, I will definitely make an effort to do that. So, let’s sail away in Clean Movie Month with 1936’s Stowaway!

Stowaway poster
Stowaway poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Film_Poster_for_Stowaway.jpg.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: One of the great things about this movie was Shirley’s performance! Like I said about Shirley’s role, Betsy, in Little Miss Broadway, her role in Stowaway felt like it was created just for her. Not only did this role compliment Shirley’s acting abilities, but it challenged her as an actress. At certain moments in the film, Shirley’s character, Barbara/Ching-Ching speaks Chinese. This means that Shirley had to learn her lines in English and learn a new language that she was probably not familiar with before. Shirley was surrounded by a cast of actors and actresses that were just as talented as her! Everyone’s acting talents were equally showcased in this film, helping each performer receive their moment to shine!

 

  • The humor: A pleasant aspect of Stowaway was the humor within the story! One of the funniest scenes in this film was when Ching-Ching is trying to find Tommy Randall while wearing a dragon head. What made moments like this so hilarious was the screen-writing. The way that the dialogue and actions were written was not only innocent, but clever as well. An example of this is when Tommy and Ching-Ching are at a restaurant. While ordering food off of a menu that’s written in Chinese, Tommy tells Ching-Ching, “It’s all Greek to me”. She then replies, “But it’s in Chinese”. This type of humor is what made Stowaway an enjoyable story!

 

  • A unique location: I am not an expert on Shirley Temple’s filmography. But, out of the films that I’m aware of, it seems like most of her movies take place in the United States. Stowaway, however, mostly takes place in China and on a cruise ship. These locations provided a unique look and feel to the overall production. It was interesting to see the Chinese culture playing an influential role within the narrative. The language, music, and even some proverbs could be found in Stowaway. Seeing the various areas of the cruise ship was interesting as well. This backdrop worked really well for the story!
316988-P9JAM8-876
Traditional Chinese dragon image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design”>Design vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • A limited amount of musical numbers: Earlier this year, when I talked about Just Around the Corner, I said that there was a limited amount of musical numbers in the movie. This made the story feel drawn out and a little bit longer than intended. Similarly, there was a limited amount of musical numbers in Stowaway. Throughout the whole film, there were four musical numbers. However, the first musical number doesn’t appear in the film until after the first thirty-seven minutes. Personally, I think that the first musical number should have, at least, started at the fifteen-minute mark. That way, the audience could get quickly invested into the musical aspect of the movie.

 

  • No Chinese influences in the music: I liked how the Chinese locations, as well as the culture, were incorporated into the film! But I was surprised that there were no Chinese influences in Stowaway’s music. Every song that Shirley sang sounded like the typical musical melody, the usual sounds that are found in Shirley’s films. Even though Shirley spoke Chinese in the movie, none of the lyrics were in Chinese. I feel that the creative team behind Stowaway missed a special opportunity to expand the musical horizons of both the studio and the audience. Who knows? Maybe this could have encouraged someone to learn another language.

 

  • Shirley’s limited involvement in the film: Most of Shirley’s films involve a subplot that allows Shirley’s character to play an important role in the film. While Ching-Ching was a significant character in Stowaway, she didn’t play as big of a role as Shirley’s other characters. It felt like most of the story was about the characters who were adults. In fact, it seemed like Shirley had the least amount of screen-time out of all the performers in the starring cast. While it’s understandable that Shirley was the youngest cast member in this film, it kind of felt like Stowaway wasn’t Shirley’s movie compared to her other titles.
Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

My overall impression:

For my first Clean Movie Month review, we’re off to a decent start! Stowaway, in my opinion, is better than something like Just Around the Corner. But there are films in Shirley’s filmography that I think are stronger than Stowaway. The most memorable part of this film was the Chinese locations as well as the cruise ship backdrop. They were very unique for a film starring Shirley Temple, especially since most of her films take place in the same continent. The setting of Stowaway provided an interesting component to the story, influencing how the characters interacted with each other and how they accomplished their goals. I can’t say much about the content of the film, since it was approved by the Production Code Administration (as the logo was featured in the bottom left hand corner of the opening credits) and it was released two years after the start of the Breen Code era. It’ll be fascinating to see how this movie compares with the other movies I’ll review during Clean Move Month!

 

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

 

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

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Moulin Rouge! Review + 110 Follower Thank You

In my review of Sister of the Bride, I mentioned that I would be reviewing Moulin Rouge! for my 110 follower dedication review. Since I did promise that this review would come soon, I made this post one of my top priorities for this week. As I said in my Jurassic World review, I have a new system for choosing movies for these specific reviews. If you want to learn more about this system, you can read the introduction of my Jurassic World review. Because I received 110 followers on 18 Cinema Lane last month, I chose a movie that was released in the month of June. But the year of its release was 2001. My last movie review about a musical was Little Nellie Kelly back in June. So, I decided to pick Moulin Rouge! for this particular review! This is a movie that I’d heard of, but had never seen. Now that I’ve seen this film, it’s time to share my thoughts on it with the help of this review!

Moulin Rouge! poster
Moulin Rouge! poster created by Bazmark Productions and 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/moulin-rouge.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I was very impressed with the cast in Moulin Rouge! Every actor and actress in this film surpassed my expectations when it came to their performance! Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman did a great job bringing their characters to life, providing a sense of depth and authentic emotion to their roles. The on-screen chemistry between Ewan and Nicole felt real, helping me to stay invested in Christian and Satine’s relationship. Richard Roxburgh also gave a good performance as The Duke of Monroth! The emotions and reactions that were brought to this character were truly unsettling. However, this made The Duke of Monroth be the unlikable character that he was meant to be. What helped was Richard giving everything he had, talent wise, into his portrayal of this character. His dedication to his performance is what made The Duke of Monroth so memorable!

 

  • The set-pieces: For musicals featured on film, one of the most important aspects of the production are the set-pieces. This part can make or break a musical. The set-pieces in Moulin Rouge! were exquisite, especially those within the Moulin Rouge nightclub! The colors were very vibrant and paired really well with the metals of silver and gold. A key ingredient to set-pieces is how immersive they make the world within the musical/movie feel. Set-pieces found in Moulin Rouge! made the world in the movie look and feel like it actually exists. The level of detail in these set-pieces added to the magnificent nature of them. It shows that the creative team behind this film put a lot of effort into making the set-pieces the best that they can be!

 

  • The transitioning animation: When scenes were transitioning from one part of the story to the next, the animation that was used in these transitions was unique. The best examples I can give to what this animation looked like are the television show, Angela Anaconda, and the “moving newspapers” in the Harry Potter film series. What I mean by this is most of the animation was in a black-and-white/gray tone, with a few hints of color to keep the images looking interesting. This type of animation is rarely seen in entertainment, so I like that the creative team behind Moulin Rouge! was thinking outside the box.
3 paris
Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The editing: One of the most distracting aspects about this film was the editing. Quick-cuts were commonly used in the movie, especially within the first half. As I mentioned, Moulin Rouge! had gorgeous set-pieces. But because of these quick-cuts, it was sometimes difficult to see these set-pieces on screen. In at least two scenes, there was “shaky cam” that didn’t need to be there. This aspect of the editing felt very out of place.

 

  • Some of the songs: I wasn’t a fan of some of the songs that were featured in Moulin Rouge! It’s not that the songs themselves were bad, they just didn’t fit within the world that the film created. For example, toward the beginning of the film, Christian sings “The Sound of Music”. If you know musicals, you would know that this song is from the movie and stage play, The Sound of Music. Because of this and the story of the aforementioned production, the context of this song feels out of place in Moulin Rouge! Another thing I noticed was that a large portion of the songs came from other movies or artists, music that was created prior to the film’s release. If this musical was advertised as or had a reputation of being a “jukebox musical”, having pre-existing songs incorporated into the narrative would make sense. But since Moulin Rouge! is not known for being this kind of musical, it just felt like the characters took a break from the story to sing karaoke.

 

  • Some of the humor: There was some humor in this movie that I did not like. That is because it was too crude and over-the-top for my liking. I understand that this humor was meant to represent the values and beliefs of the patrons associated with the Moulin Rouge nightclub. But that doesn’t mean I found this type of humor to be entertaining. In fact, some scenes that featured this kind of humor made me feel uncomfortable. One example is when Christian and Satine meet for the first time.
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:

I’m glad I gave myself a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to movie musicals! On 18 Cinema Lane, this genre doesn’t get talked about often. So, choosing Moulin Rouge! for this review was worth it! As for the movie itself, I thought it was just ok. There are things about it that I can appreciate, such as the quality of the acting performances. What held this movie back from making it greater than it was are the editing and some of the songs. Because some of these songs came from other movies and artists, they kind of took me out of the film. As for the editing, this part could have been better executed. Moulin Rouge! is definitely not one of the worst musicals I’ve ever seen, but I’ve also seen better. Before I finish this review, I want to thank all of my 110 followers! Also, thank you for your patience when it came to the release of this review. It means a lot to me that I have followers that are supportive and understanding.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

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

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Little Nellie Kelly Review

I know that it’s been two weeks since I last wrote a movie review. Because I was out of town around that time, I chose to reschedule several of my planned blog posts to later dates. But, when it comes to posts relating to blogathons, I always try my best to be a blogger of my word and publish my lists, reviews, or editorials within the blogathon time-frame. When I signed up for the 2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon, I knew, right away, that I would be reviewing the film, Little Nellie Kelly. Before this review, I had never seen or heard of this movie. Plus, the synopsis on Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website said that this film is about “the daughter of Irish immigrants patches up differences between her father and grandfather and rises to the top on Broadway”. Because I knew that Judy Garland was the star of this production, I figured that I would, at least, find some enjoyment in this movie. Was my prediction correct? Was there enjoyment to be found in Little Nellie Kelly? Please keep reading if you want to find the answer!

Little Nellie Kelly poster
Little Nellie Kelly poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Poster_-_Little_Nellie_Kelly_03.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: Something I’ve noticed about Judy’s films (specifically the ones that I’ve seen) is that she surrounds herself with a talented cast. This is no different for Little Nellie Kelly. Charles Winninger’s portrayal of Michael Noonan was such a pleasant surprise! He brought so much emotion to his performance that it ended up being effective. Judy’s performance was also great to watch! Her emotions and musicality helped her portrayal of Nellie Kelly be as strong as it was. I also liked George Murphy’s performance as Jerry Kelly! His acting talents helped carry this film alongside his co-stars.

 

  • The comedy: In Little Nellie Kelly, there were comedic moments that I truly found to be hilarious. One scene has Nellie telling her father that she’s going to get married to Jerry. As soon as her father hears this, he unexpectedly spits out his coffee and makes a big mess. This moment made me laugh out loud! As I watched the film, I noticed that the majority of these comedic moments were caused by Charles’ character, Michael. Because of this particular actor’s quality of talent, it made the film’s comedy stick the landing.

 

  • Some of the montages: There were two montages in Little Nellie Kelly that I really liked. The first one was when Jerry, Nellie, and Michael go through the process of becoming citizens of the United States. When it comes to cinematic stories about people immigrating to the United States, this aspect of the narrative is rarely explored. The second montage I liked showed the process of Jerry becoming a police officer. In film, when a character chooses to be a police officer, they are usually shown either before or after they accept the job. Like the first montage, this process is not always featured in cinematic narratives. Even though these montages didn’t last very long, I’m glad they were included in this story.
2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon banner
The 2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/announcing-the-second-annual-broadway-bound-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • An inability to hold an accent: Because some of the characters are from Ireland, hearing accents from them is to be expected. While Charles Winninger did a good job when it came to carrying the accent, I felt that Judy and George’s ability to carry an Irish accent wasn’t as strong. When I watched Little Nellie Kelly, I never heard Jerry talk with an Irish accent. Meanwhile, the only time Nellie spoke with an Irish accent was when she sang “A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow”. Because of Judy and George’s inability to carry an accent, this prevented a sense of continuity to exist amongst the characters.

 

  • A limited amount of musical numbers and comedy: Even though I liked the comedy in this film, there were very few comedic moments to be found. Throughout this one hour and thirty-eight minute picture, there were more dramatic moments than comedic ones. In this movie, there were a total of about four to five musical numbers. That’s a lot less than I was expecting. The film’s opening credits said that Little Nellie Kelly was based on a “musical comedy”. But, if anything, this project felt more like a “dramedy” (a combination of comedy and drama), with an emphasis on drama.

 

  • Judy Garland portraying Nellie Kelly Sr. and Jr.: In the movie, Judy portrays two characters; Nellie Kelly and her daughter. While different hairstyles helped, a little bit, to differentiate between the two characters, this creative decision still baffled me. I understand that MGM wanted to utilize Judy’s talent as much as possible. However, I still think that Judy should have portrayed only one character. Because this movie is called Little Nellie Kelly, Judy could have portrayed the daughter, while another, slightly older actress could have portrayed Nellie Kelly Sr. That way, Judy could have still been the leading star of the movie, while the other actress could also receive a significant amount of recognition.
233200-P2SBE6-483
St. Patrick’s Day image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/st-patrick-s-day-background_1640464.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

My overall impression:

I like Little Nellie Kelly for what it is. There are elements to the film that make it enjoyable, such as the musical numbers and the acting. However, I found this movie to be somewhat misleading. As I said in the introduction, this synopsis said that the protagonist “rises to the top on Broadway”. Not only was this location never mentioned in the film, but Nellie never aspired to be an entertainer. What makes this even more frustrating is how few musical numbers there were and how little comedy there was in the film despite it being called a “musical comedy” in the opening credits. From what I’ve heard, this movie is based on a pre-existing Broadway musical. Because I have never seen the stage version of this story, it’s difficult for me to say if the movie was anything like the play. This kind of reminds me of how I felt about Edward, My Son. Both of these films were based on plays and made me felt like I was misled. I can’t fault the creative teams behind these movies too much, since their job was to adapt their respective plays to the screen. However, a good amount of honesty should have been included into each film’s synopsis.

 

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Judy Garland’s movies? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know 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