Take 3: The Clown Review

I would like to reminder everyone that the winners of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards have been announced! You can discover who won at this link:

 

The results of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards are finally here!

 

Before I signed up for The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon, I had no idea who Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld Jr. was. But during my two years of blogging, I’ve learned that the most important aspect of blogathon participation is having something interesting to say. For me, my contribution is talking about the 1953 film, The Clown. This was the first film I saw when I looked through Zoe’s list of film recommendations. What caused me to choose this movie was discovering Red Skelton was the lead actor. I am familiar with who Red is as an entertainer. However, this is the first film of his I’ve ever seen. So, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally watch one of Red’s comedic performances!

The Clown poster
The Clown poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Clown_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Over the years, I’ve noticed how comedic actors have had a successful experience transitioning to dramatic acting. This is certainly the case for Red Skelton. Even though this is the first movie of Red Skelton’s I’ve seen, I know he is known for his comedic work. But I think Red did a good job with the dramatic material he was given! His portrayal of Dodo was so effective, there were times where I felt like I could empathize with him. One example was when Dodo was upset by the idea of his son leaving his custody. Speaking of Dodo’s son, I really liked Tim Considine’s portrayal of Dink, as he did such a good job for an actor so young! Because of the quality of Tim’s performance, the audience was able to see how Dodo’s choices affected Dink without completely breaking his spirit. In the scene where Dodo promises another fishing trip, you can see that Dink is disappointed. However, he never stopped loving his father and wanting the best for him. Despite having a limited on-screen presence, Jane Greer’s performance was memorable! She effectively portrayed the mannerisms and behaviors you’d expect from a mother. A great example is whenever Jane’s character, Paula, tried to give Dink a hug. Even though she barely knew Dink, she still put his best interests before her own.

 

The messages and themes: An overarching theme in The Clown is how everyone is prone to experience troubles in their life. While some people’s issues are greater than others, an individual’s personal situation has the ability to affect the people around them. In this movie, Dodo struggles with alcoholism and a gambling addiction. These struggles not only affect Dodo’s ability to hold a job, but it also affects Dink’s life. No matter how hard he tried to turn his life around and despite all the chances he was given, Dodo had difficulty escaping his demons. Dodo’s story shows viewers how we still have to deal with the darkness in our lives, even when we finally find a light. His story also shows viewers how important it is to put family first. In one scene, Dink visits the office of Dodo’s agent, Goldie. Dink makes this choice because he cares about his father’s well-being and wants to see him succeed.

 

The ballet lesson: In a flashback, Dodo is shown attending a ballet lesson because he lost a bet. Out of all the comedic scenes, I found this one to be the funniest! It wonderfully showcases Red’s comedic talents, which fall in line with the slap-stick style. What’s also great about this scene is how the dancers at the studio contributed to the comedy. During the lesson, various dancers pass along a sticky candy wrapper in an attempt to get rid of it. As someone who appreciates dance, I liked how Red’s comedy was paired with something that I’m interested in.

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:

An emphasis on drama: Prior to watching this film, I knew it would contain some dramatic elements. However, because this film is called The Clown and because Red Skelton is the film’s lead, I expected the picture to have more comedy than it did. The movie put more emphasis on drama, with some comedic elements added to the script. This means that moments with comedy were used sparingly. While this creative choice prevented the story from becoming too light-hearted, it did a disservice to Red’s comedic talents. He wasn’t given as much creative freedom to do the kind of performances he is known for.

 

The “tell, don’t show” approach: Throughout the movie, various characters praised Dodo for being a Ziegfeld performer. Goldie, Dodo’s agent, recalls what caused Dodo’s down-fall. A local store-owner treats Dodo’s watch, that he received from Ziegfeld, better than any military medal. But we, the audience, never get to see Dodo during his hey-day. No flashbacks are dedicated to this time period and we never truly get to witness the start of Dodo’s downward spiral. Everything that was said about Dodo’s time in Ziegfeld’s performing company feels like hear-say.

 

A misleading title: As I’ve said before, this film is called The Clown. The film’s poster also features Red Skelton wearing clown makeup. While Red’s character, Dodo, performs comedy sketches, he doesn’t really adopt a clown persona or dress up as a clown. Yes, Dodo portrayed a clownish character in the movie’s first scene. But that was the only scene where this was the case. It causes the title to seem kind of misleading.

The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon banner
The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon banner created by Zoe from Hollywood Genes. Image found at https://zestyz.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/announcing-the-great-ziegfeld-blogathon-2020/.

My overall impression:

During this film, Dodo says that fame can go up and down faster than an elevator. There is truth to what he said, especially in an age where social media exists. Movie reviewing can also go up or down. Sometimes, you find a winner. Other times, the film just misses the mark. When it comes to The Clown, I thought it was fine. There were elements within the film that I liked. However, the overall project was more dramatic and sadder than I expected it to be. Because of Red Skelton’s involvement, I thought there would be more comedy in the story. I feel the limited use of comedy held Red back from pulling off the types of performances that made him well-known in the first place. He did a good job with the film’s dramatic material, but Red is not a dramatic actor. If you are a fan of Red Skelton’s comedy, don’t go into this movie expecting Red’s comedic work to be heavily emphasized.

 

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Red Skelton’s acting work? If so, which piece is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Unfinished Dance Review + 190 Follower Thank You

For this blog follower dedication review, I was originally going to pick a movie to recognize Earth Day. However, after watching the true crime video titled ‘Holly Maddux and the Unicorn Killer | #TrueCrime’, I’ve gained a new perspective of the April 22nd date. Instead, I will use this review to not only thank my 190 followers, but to also commemorate the memory of Holly Maddux. This is the reason why I have chosen a 1947 release for this post, as that was the year Holly was born. In the aforementioned video, Alanda, the creator of that video as well as her Youtube channel, The Recovering Hunbot, indicated Holly was a dancer. So, I thought a musical would be an appropriate choice. While searching through titles, I discovered one called The Unfinished Dance. I had never heard of this film prior to this review. But I have seen the 1949 version of The Secret Garden and Meet Me in St. Louis, so I figured I’d see another good performance from Margaret O’Brien.

The Unfinished Dance poster
The Unfinished Dance poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s, Inc. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Unfinished_Dance.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in my review, I’ve seen Margaret’s performances in the 1949 version of The Secret Garden and Meet Me in St. Louis. Her portrayal of Meg in The Unfinished Dance was different from her other aforementioned roles. This is because there was more dancing involved and it was much darker. However, Margaret executed her performance very well! Before watching The Unfinished Dance, I was familiar with who Cyd Charisse is as a person. But this was the first time I had ever seen one of her film performances. This movie highlights how wonderful of an actress and dancer she is! Whether she was dancing onstage or performing in a scene without dancing, she was so captivating to watch! Another first performance I saw came from Danny Thomas. To me, Danny will always be known for his philanthropic work, especially when it comes to the creation of St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I enjoyed watching his portrayal of Mr. Paneros, as it showed how great of an actor and singer Danny is!

 

The dance scenes: All of the scenes involving dance were one of the best parts of this movie! The dancing itself was well-choreographed, allowing dancers of all ages to showcase their talents. The set design surrounding the dance numbers was also great to look at, as the space was effectively used. On-stage sets that are sometimes shown during performances were colorful and appealing to the eye. Music also helped elevate the dance numbers, as they added emotion to the performances. These dance scenes were mesmerizing and there was always something interesting to watch!

 

The use of mirrors: In two scenes from The Unfinished Dance, mirrors were used in creative ways. The first scene revolves around Karin Booth’s character, La Darina, practicing for her upcoming performance. At certain moments in this scene, Karin’s performance was captured through the view of nearby mirrors. The second scene shows mirrors covering the floor of the stage. These mirrors were used to create a “lake” and give the audience the impression swans are gliding across it. I have never seen some of these techniques before, so, for me, it brought visual interest to the film.

Getting ready
Image of ballerina preparing to dance created by Pressfoto at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People photo created by pressfoto – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Dance emphasized more than story: Like I previously mentioned, I really liked the dance scenes in this movie. However, there were times when it felt like these scenes were emphasized more than the story. This is the case in the first half of the movie, where the build-up to Meg’s act is kind of glossed over. While I did think the story itself was interesting, it seems like the dance numbers sometimes overshadowed the narrative.

 

Karin’s limited appearance: In The Unfinished Dance, Karin Booth’s character, La Darina, is in select scenes due to a particular circumstance. Because of this, Karin was given few opportunities to perform. She is a very talented actress and dancer! But, compared to Cyd, Karin only received three dance numbers. She, unfortunately, did not have much material to work with.

 

A mysterious red tint: There were some scenes in The Unfinished Dance where it looks like the camera captured them using red film. This causes the characters to look red-ish pink. It also causes locations to give off a red hue. In my opinion, these scenes appeared very strange because of how unnatural they looked. It was jarring, as this wasn’t a consistent occurrence.

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 Unfinished Dance does a good job exploring what happens when truth disappears from the world. It also shows how the ideas of ambition and dreams can easily get in the way of what’s really important. While this film had flaws that prevented it from being great, I still think it is a good, solid picture! Besides the intriguing story, the movie offers several dance scenes that are captivating and entertaining! The acting performances also help maintain the audience’s attention, as a wide range of emotions were used in a variety of situations. Once again, I found a hidden gem that I want to share with my followers. The same followers that helped me achieve this recent milestone. Thank you to everyone who continue to support my blog! Your interest in 18 Cinema Lane really means a lot to me!

 

Overall score: 8.2 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Margaret O’Brien’s films? Which movie featuring dance is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you would like to learn more about the Holly Maddux case, you can visit Alanda’s Youtube channel, The Recovering Hunbot. If you watch it, there are sensitive topics that are brought up in the videos.

TIE-BREAKER: Crowning the Best Movie and Story of the 2020 Gold Sally Awards

Toward the beginning of this year’s round of polls for the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards, I posted the first two polls; the Best Movie Award and the Best Story Award. After these rounds were over, I discovered there was a tie in both divisions! To determine a winner, I have brought back both polls! You’re allowed to vote for more than one nominee. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, April 10th, and ends on April 16th.

Hand holding trophy
Hand holding gold trophy 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.

https://linkto.run/p/HQ2WZ3TN

What is the Best Movie of 2019?
Avengers: Endgame
Ben-Hur (1959)
Kubo and the Two Strings

 

What is the Best Story of 2019?
Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy
Mystery 101: Words Can Kill
Created with poll maker

 

Have fun voting!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: To Kill a Mockingbird Review

Before I start this review, I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, April 9th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Supporting Actor of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The next poll will be posted on the April 10th! Here is the link to the poll:

 

Now it’s time to choose the Best Supporting Actor of 2020’s Gold Sally Awards!

 

Originally, I had planned on reviewing To Kill a Mockingbird for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s A Month Without the Code Blogathon. Since The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon was given an April participation date and because I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird at the time of the event’s announcement, I decided to review the film adaptation a lot sooner than I expected. For years, I had heard great things about the novel. The now famous quotes have been plastered all over the internet, sounding deep and thought-provoking against backgrounds of characters’ pictures from the film. No literary list would be complete without To Kill a Mockingbird’s inclusion. What caused me to pick up a copy, and eventually see the movie, was the trial where Atticus defends Tom Robinson. This situation taking place in a time that is very different from today brought up a lot of questions. How would Atticus approach the case? Was Tom innocent? How different was the court system back then? For a while, this book was sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for the day when it would be read. Because of this blogathon, the day to read the book and see the movie has finally come!

To Kill a Mockingbird poster
To Kill a Mockingbird poster created by Brentwood Productions, Pakula-Mulligan, and Universal Pictures. Image found at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:To_Kill_a_Mockingbird_(1963_US_theatrical_poster).jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In my review of Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, I talked about how the characters in that movie appeared as if they came from real-life. This is partly the result of the quality of the actors’ performances. The aforementioned strengths are shared by both films. While watching To Kill a Mockingbird, I noticed how all the performances felt realistic. The actors brought enough emotion and animation to their roles, in order to bring their characters to life. I enjoyed watching the performances in this film. However, the two standouts came from Collin Wilcox Paxton (who portrayed Mayella Ewell) and Brock Peters (who portrayed Tom Robinson). Even though they appeared on screen for a limited amount of time, they were able to bring so much emotion and power to their roles. These elements allowed Collin and Brock to elevate their characters as well as the source material.

 

How the source material was presented: Looking back on the book, the story itself was 20% about the trial and 80% about the “slice of life” perspective Scout offers to the readers. This imbalance is what caused me to not enjoy the book as much as I had expected. The film’s creative team makes an effort to create a balance between these two ideas by removing scenes that would have felt like padding. In the book, the majority of a chapter is devoted to the Halloween carnival/play and what caused that event to take place. The movie, however, only shows Jem and Scout arriving and leaving the school. The way some scenes were presented in the movie highlighted Atticus’ abilities as a lawyer more effectively than in the book. When Atticus to talking to Scout about compromises and trying to see things from another person’s perspective, the scene places more emphasis on Atticus himself delivering the message, showing the values he follows as a lawyer. In the book, it feels like these lessons are rehashing information most readers already know.

 

Moments of suspense: There were some scenes containing suspenseful moments that were periodically placed in the film. One of these moments takes place in the scene when Atticus visits Helen Robinson for the first time. While Jem is sitting in Atticus’ car, Bob Ewell drunkenly approaches the vehicle. Because this is the first time Bob is introduced on screen and because he is presented in a disorderly state, Bob’s decisions and actions are very unpredictable. Scenes like this one maintained the overall story’s intrigue. It maintained my investment in the film as well. These scenes featuring suspenseful moments also allowed the creative team to adopt story-telling elements like the use of shadows and dramatic music.

Classic Literature On Film Blogathon banner
The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon banner created by Paul from Silver Screen Classics. Image found at https://silverscreenclassicsblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/16/announcing-the-2020-classic-literature-on-film-blogathon/?wref=tp.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The trial taking place at a later time: As I said in the introduction, the trial where Atticus defends Tom Robinson is what made me want to read the book. When I did read it, I was disappointed to discover the trial itself took place sixteen out of thirty-one chapters into the story. In the movie, the trial appears at the halfway point. In this case, I fault the source material more than the film’s creative team. Even though I had to wait an hour for the trial to be presented on screen, the creative team did try their best to get to that point as soon as possible.

 

Some unclear details: Some details in this movie were unclear, especially if someone didn’t read the book before they saw the movie. In the book, Jem and Scout are introduced to Reverend Sykes when they attend Mass at Calpurnia’s church. When the trial takes place, they agree to sit with Reverend Sykes in the balcony section of the courthouse. Because the church service was omitted from the movie, there’s no clear explanation provided for how Jem and Scout know Reverend Sykes. It might have helped if details like this one were given some context.

 

The voice-over: The book is told from the perspective of an adult reflecting on their childhood. However, the movie presented the events as if they are taking place in “present-time”. Because of this decision, it allows the events to speak for themselves. This makes the voice-over seem like an unnecessary component. The voice-over was also not consistently included in the movie, causing its presence to not feel justified.

Law Justice Isometric Composition Icon
Courtroom image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/isometric”>Isometric vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

There are very few times when I feel a film adaptation is better than its literary source material. In fact, the two previous instances that I can think of are Hallmark’s Hall of Fame’s The Beach House and Hallmark Channel’s Rome in Love. After watching To Kill a Mockingbird, I have now found a third adaptation to add to that list. I’m not a fan of “slice of life” stories, hence why I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I had expected. While these aspects of the “slice of life” story were incorporated in the movie, the creative team’s main focus was about getting straight to the point a lot sooner. The visual nature of film worked in the favor of certain elements from the source material. Suspenseful moments in certain scenes are one great example. Reading about those moments in a book does cause a level of uncertainty. Watching them take place on screen makes those moments seem real and intensifies that uncertainty. If I known my feelings about this movie before reading the book, I honestly would have skipped the book and gone straight to the movie.

 

Overall score: 8.1 out of 10

 

Have you read any classic literature? If so, did you see its film adaptation, if it has one? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Dracula (1931) Review + 180 Follower Thank You

Before I start the introduction of this review, I want to remind everyone that Thursday, February 13th, is the last day to cast vote in the first poll of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The second poll will be posted on Valentine’s Day! Here is the link to the poll:

 

The First Poll of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards has begun!

 

In the past two years, I have reviewed a Valentine’s themed Hallmark movie on February 14th. But since this year’s polls for the Gold Sally Awards are taking place on Fridays and because Hallmark has chosen not to air a new Valentine’s themed movie on Valentine’s Day, I decided to do something different in 2020. Five days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 180 followers! For this review, I chose to talk about Dracula for three reasons. 1. This movie was released in February of 1931. 2. The movie premiered on Valentine’s Day. 3. Valentine’s Day is a time when we show appreciation to those who have helped us along the way. My followers have definitely done that during my two years of blogging. With that, I have dedicated this special blog follower dedication review to all my followers in honor of Valentine’s Day! As I discuss this film, I realize Dracula is the fifth vampire movie I’ve reviewed on my blog! Who knew that vampires in cinema would be a recurring topic at 18 Cinema Lane?

Dracula 1931 poster
Dracula (1931) poster image created by Universal Pictures. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dracula _-_1931_theatrical_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: For years, I have heard great things about Bela Lugosi as an actor. Even though this is the first film of Bela’s I have seen, I can understand why people give him this amount of praise! His portrayal of Dracula was commanding and captivating, effortlessly directing the audience’s attention towards him. Bela was very expressive through his facial expressions and body language. But the emotions in his eyes are what elevated his performance! Great examples of this are whenever Dracula appeared in front of his victims. Another expressive performance came from Dwight Frye! The character of Renfield was executed really well because of the versatility of Dwight’s acting abilities. Before and during his stay at Dracula’s castle, his demeanor was calm and collected. After becoming Dracula’s victim, his persona changes to being paranoid and on-edge. I was also impressed with Helen Chandler’s portrayal of Mina! Her on-screen personality was likable and sweet. Similar to Bela Lugosi, her eyes provided the emotion for her performance. A great example is when Mina is looking intently at her fiancé toward the end of the film.

 

The set design: I really liked seeing the overall set design in Dracula! It was constructed really well and fit the world the film’s creative team was trying to bring to life. Dracula’s castle and the Abbey in London were the two best locations in this movie! These places were grand in scale and felt larger than life. For Dracula’s castle, elements like spiderwebs and trees growing through broken windows created an unsettling environment. In the Abbey, a large, winding staircase was impressively captured on film. The locations in this movie were grandiose and had a sense of style to them!

 

The lighting: The way that lighting was used in this film was very interesting! Even though parts of the movie took place at nighttime, enough lighting was used to show what was taking place on screen. The times when Dracula is waking up from his coffin are good examples. Another creative way that lighting was used was anytime Dracula approached his victims. His eyes are the only things captured by the light, highlighting one of Bela’s best qualities as an actor. It also indicates how intense the power of his eyes is on humans. The lighting in Dracula helped make the project visually appealing!

Dracula Lobby Card
Dracula (1931) lobby card image created by Universal Pictures. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/73563/Dracula/#.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Limited amount of music: The power of music can be very influential when it comes to film. Music can be used to set a tone for a particular scene or enhance the events happening on screen. In Dracula, however, music was used sparingly. Only two scenes and the opening credits is where music could be heard. The rest of the movie is music-free. Had there been orchestral music during moments when Dracula is in the presence of his victims, it would have brought a certain intensity toward those moments. It also would have highlighted the fear that can come from such an event. Sadly, music in this project felt underutilized.

 

Treading on familiar territory: It has been said that Nosferatu is the story of Dracula. But because of copyright laws at the time of the film’s creation, direct references to Dracula had to be removed. While watching the 1931 version of Dracula, I could tell that certain patterns in story-telling mirrored the 1922 silent film. In fact, certain events almost followed the predecessor beat-by-beat. Since I saw Nosferatu prior to seeing the 1931 picture, I feel like I knew what would happen, leaving little to no room for any surprises. While this movie did have some differences from the 1922 film, it wasn’t enough to create its own identity.

 

The run-time: Dracula is a one hour and fifteen-minute film. After Renfield meets Dracula in his castle, the movie kind of drags on, making it feel longer than its run-time suggests. Some moments felt like they were included to provide padding, such as the “woman in white” story. Personally, I think this film should have been less than an hour. This story is pretty straight-forward and has a recognizable character. If it were eighty or ninety minutes, the film could get straight to the point sooner.

217423-P10C89-771
Valentine’s Day rose image created by Freepik at freepik.com <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/flat-valentine-s-day-background_1618951.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:

Dracula is a film that I found to be decent. There are aspects within the project that I liked, such as Bela Lugosi’s performance. However, the script played it safe when it came to the story. The creative team behind the movie didn’t really take any chances or try to think outside the box. In the end, the final product failed to create its own identity from its predecessor, Nosferatu. What I can say about this film is if you’ve seen Nosferatu, you’ve already seen Dracula. Compared to the other vampire movies I’ve reviewed, this movie would be placed around the same range as Queen of the Damned. While I liked both films for what they were, I think they could have been stronger. Before I end this review, I’d like to thank my followers for helping 18 Cinema Lane get this far! This blog has thrived every day because of you!

 

Overall score: 7 out of 10

 

What you do think of this special blog follower dedication review? Are you looking forward to seeing what I review when I receive 185 followers? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: High Society Review

I interrupt my Youth-Led Film Double Feature to bring you my review for The Wedding Bells Blogathon! One day, as I was searching Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) schedule, I came across a film called High Society. Through its description, I learned it was a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story. Since I have enjoyed that movie, I figured there was a good chance I might like this picture from 1956. In my review of Marriage on the Rocks, I mentioned I would be reviewing the movie later this month. I also said in that review that I did not like Marriage on the Rocks. High Society is now the second film of Frank Sinatra’s and Grace Kelly’s that I’ve seen! While I knew that Frank and Bing Crosby had musical talents, it would be interesting to see what Grace had to offer to a movie musical. Now, as you’re waiting for the wedding to start, please take a moment to read this review of High Society.

High Society poster
High Society poster created by Sol C. Siegel Productions, Bing Crosby Productions, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/78008/High-Society/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: It’s no secret that Grace Kelly is one of the most versatile actresses to ever exist! Her performance in High Society helps her maintain that reputation. Grace has the ability to adapt her emotions to any scene. When Grace’s character, Tracy, is talking with her father by the pool, she can go from angry to crying with sadness within a matter of minutes. Because of her experience working with various actors and actresses, Grace never had difficulty keeping up with her co-stars. Speaking of co-stars, I have seen Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby in at least one film prior to watching High Society (Frank in Marriage on the Rocks and Bing in scenes from White Christmas). Similar to what I said in my Marriage on the Rocks review, both Frank and Bing appeared at ease in their respective roles. This allowed them to bring a natural charm to their characters, C. K. Dexter-Haven and Mike Connor. What also helped was how their singing talents complimented their acting talents. Even though he portrayed himself in the film, Louis Armstrong did a good job with the material he was given. He had a delightful on-screen personality and great musicality. These things made me enjoy Louis’s presence in the movie!

 

The sets: In High Society, the sets were absolutely gorgeous! Not only did they fit the environment the film’s creative team wanted to create, but these sets also looked magnificent on film! The great part about them are the textures, colors, and materials that were used in each space. In one of the Lord family’s sitting rooms, the sea green walls worked really well with the white wood paneling and crown molding. Another great set was Tracy’s uncle’s library. While the dark wood walls and bookshelves were beautifully crafted, it’s the hidden bar within the bookshelves that steals the show. The sets in High Society certainly made the movie visually appealing!

 

The musical numbers: For the most part, I enjoyed the musical numbers in High Society. They sounded pleasant and were, more often than not, lively. My favorite musical number is “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, as it was one of the funniest scenes in the movie. In this number, Frank and Celeste Holm, the actress who portrayed Liz Imbrie, had really good on-screen chemistry and comedic timing. Frank and Celeste’s singing voices also sounded great together. I was pleasantly surprised by Grace’s singing abilities in the duet, “True Love”. She sounded excellent alongside Bing Crosby and the song itself sounded nice. I’m not sure how much singing experience Grace had prior to being cast in this movie. But it’s nice to see her trying different things and going out of her comfort zone.

Jewels sparkle in the golden wedding rings lying on the leather
Fancy jewelry image created by Freepic.diller at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/wedding”>Wedding photo created by freepic.diller – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Unacknowledged commentary: In my Rich Kids review, I shared that one of the film’s messages was how wealth didn’t equal invincibility. This message can also be found in High Society, as Tracy shows Mike various houses in her neighborhood that are either boarded up or for sale due to homeowners no longer affording them. While this commentary added something interesting to the story, there was no room in the script for it to be explored or discussed. I understand there’s only so much you can do in an hour and fifty-one minutes. However, it was disappointing to see this commentary get ignored.

 

Few dance numbers: When I learned that High Society was a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story, I was excited for the song-and-dance fest that would take place. But, as I was watching the movie, I discovered it only contained two dance numbers. These numbers were a short solo performed by Frank and a short duet performed by Frank and Grace. Since White Christmas premiered two years prior, I’m surprised Bing wasn’t given at least a waltz with Grace, especially since that film featured both singing and dancing. Personally, I had expected more dance sequences in High Society. But I’m guessing there was no room in the budget to recruit a choreographer.

 

Dialogue-heavy scenes that felt a little drawn out: Within musicals, dialogue-heavy scenes are meant to give the audience a break from the high energy that can sometimes come from the musical numbers. However, in the case of High Society, these scenes felt a little drawn out. The scene where Mike and Liz meet the Lord family is one example. The pace of the scenes feel slower than I hoped. It also caused the film’s overall pace to seem uneven. Issues with pace and length of scenes are some reasons why I think this script was weaker than it could have been.

Wedding Bells Blogathon banner
The Wedding Bells Blogathon banner created by Annette from Hometowns to Hollywood. Image found at https://hometownstohollywood.com/2020/01/03/the-wedding-bells-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

High Society is a fine, enjoyable film! While it’s not one of my favorite musicals, I certainly liked it for what it was. It was also far more entertaining than Marriage on the Rocks! Because High Society is a remake of The Philadelphia Story, there are bound to be similarities between the two. However, there are also differences that give each movie their own identity. For the 1956 picture, this was the incorporation of the message that even wealthy people can experience hardship. Combined with the song, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, the film tells its audience to count their blessings and to focus less on what they don’t have. This shows that the film’s creative team not only wanted to bring something new to the story, but also respect the source material that came before it. As I end this review, I’d like to quote Louis Armstrong by saying “end of story”.

 

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

 

Which movie musical is your favorite? Are there any you’d like me to review? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: In Name Only Review

One of the reasons why I love participating in blogathons is because it gives me the opportunity to watch films I might have never seen otherwise. In Name Only is a fantastic example! Before signing up for The Carole Lombard Memorial Blogathon, I had no idea that this film existed. After searching Carole’s filmography on IMDB and discovering the ability to rent the movie, I felt that In Name Only was a good choice for this review. Even though I had heard of Carole Lombard before, I had never seen any of her films. My participation in this particular blogathon gave me the opportunity to finally check out her acting work! Another surprise I discovered was that the film is based on a book! The source material for the project is Memory of Love by Bessie Breuer. Similar to my discovery of the film, I was not aware of this book’s existence before I watched the movie. Maybe in the future, I’ll check this story out! But, for now, let’s check out this review of In Name Only!

In Name Only poster
In Name Only poster created by RKO Radio Pictures. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:In_Name_Only.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like I said in the introduction, this is the first film from Carole’s filmography I’ve ever seen. Despite this, I was impressed with her performance in this film! Her portrayal of Julie Eden showcased an on-screen personality that appeared down-to-earth. Whenever her character was frustrated by the divorce process, her performance became heart-breaking. Carole’s sad demeanor created the opportunity for audience members to sympathize with Julie. Prior to watching In Name Only, the only film from Cary Grant’s filmography I’d seen was The Philadelphia Story. Because that movie was a romantic-comedy, it gave me the chance to see Cary take on a more dramatic role in this picture. Throughout the story, Cary’s character, Alec Walker, embodied the serious and charming nature of a gentlemen. For more sad and heart-breaking moments, his performance was very captivating to watch. A great example is when Alec is staying at the hospital. Since his health is deteriorating, his mental health is also affected. This is portrayed very well by Cary, as he adopts a distant stare and disjointed speech pattern that reflect his character’s state.

 

The on-screen chemistry: I enjoyed watching the on-screen performances of Carole Lombard and Cary Grant! One reason is their on-screen chemistry. Every time they appeared in a scene together, there was always a sense of genuine sweetness between them. This allowed their characters to appear like they truly loved one another. It also makes viewers want to see this on-screen couple resolve their issues. For me, the quality of Carole and Cary’s on-screen chemistry helped me stay invested in their characters and their relationship!

 

How the topic of divorce was handled: In my review of Marriage on the Rocks, I talked about how the movie’s view on divorce made me feel uncomfortable. This was because of the one-sided perspective the movie presented. When it comes to In Name Only, the topic of divorce was handled with maturity and reverence to all the parties involved in the film’s story. While there was an antagonist, this creative choice was meant to show the audience that divorce can sometimes become messy and complicated. Unlike Marriage on the Rocks, In Name Only treats divorce as a realistic yet difficult situation. I’ve never read the book this movie is based on. However, I’m hoping the book handled the subject of divorce as well as the film did.

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When I saw this postcard, I knew it had to make an appearance in this review! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out conflict: I understand the divorce process can be very time-consuming. But within the context of the film’s story, this conflict was drawn-out for the majority of the run-time. It got to the point where I could see audience members becoming just as frustrated as the protagonists were. Now, I’m not sure if this shared frustration was intentional on the screenwriter’s or author’s part. However, I do know that because of this creative choice, it didn’t leave a lot of room for a pay-off.

 

Under-utilized characters: As I was watching this film, I came across some under-utilized characters. Maida’s friend, Suzanne, is just one example. The actress who portrayed this character, Helen Vinson, did a really good job with the role she was given. But her character wasn’t able to do much in the story. This caused Helen to have very little material to work with.

 

Run-time that was a little too long: IMDB says that In Name Only is an hour and thirty-four minutes. However, I feel some minutes could have been shaved off. Had this movie’s run-time been an hour and fifteen or twenty minutes, certain events in the movie could have happened sooner. It also could have gotten rid of scenes that felt like time-wasters. One of these scenes, to give you an example, was when Maida was talking to her in-laws during a car-ride.

Carole Lombard Blogathon banner
The Carole Lombard Memorial Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood and Vincent from Carole & Co. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/announcing-the-carole-lombard-memorial-blogathon/

My overall impression:

Even though In Name Only is the first film of Carole Lombard’s I have seen, it is a film that I did like! There are aspects of the movie that could have made the overall project stronger. However, its merits overshadow them. The biggest highlight is how the story handles the subject of divorce. Throughout the story, I could sense the creative team knew exactly what they were doing. The screenwriting provided a sense of realism to the narrative, giving the characters thoughts and feelings that might emerge from a situation like this. The divorce itself was also taken very seriously. If you’re interested in watching a film about this topic, please pick In Name Only over something like Marriage on the Rocks. As I’ve said before, I feel that starting or ending a romantic relationship is not something that should be taken lightly. In Name Only not only recognizes that, but highlights that through the interactions of the characters.

 

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

 

Have you ever seen Carole Lombard’s movies? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen