"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Monday, August 10, 2020

Presenting...What's My Line: Esther Williams

Good day to all my readers!

Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood is hosting a blogathon in honor of one of her favorite Hollywood stars, Esther Williams! I'm a day late and a dollar short, due to technical difficulties, but I'm still joining!
I had some difficulties choosing what to write about. For a long time I've been wanting to talk about one of my favorite old TV game shows, What's My Line, here on my blog and today has granted me the perfect opportunity to start! Michaela was very gracious with my indecision, so thanks to her!


Okay, now you must be wondering, what is this game show? What's My Line was a 30 minute game show that ran from 1950-1975. This is how it worked:
A panel of four judges try to guess contestants' "lines" (jobs) by asking yes or no questions. The host/panel moderator, John Charles Daly, guided them and helped rework questions to fit the correct format. Anytime there is a solid "no", a card is flipped and the contestant earns five dollars. When all ten cards are flipped the contestant wins!
L to R: The three regular panelists, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, and Dorothy Kilgallen, & the panel moderator, John Daly.
Now, this might sound boring, but I assure you that it isn't! The occupations are so unique, the panel has a hard time. Plus, the highlight is that after two contestants there is the mystery guest! This guest is a celebrity and would be recognizable, so the judges wear blindfolds and with yes or no questions have to guess who it is.
For ages I would always just skip to the mystery person, but once I started watching full episodes I realized how much I was missing. The celebrity is how I'm connecting it back to my blog. The plan for this series is to talk about all of certain celebrities appearances. To me, I think that you can tell a lot about a person based on the way they acted here.

It is time to start! Will you come in mystery challenger, and sign in please...
What's My Line? - Esther Williams; Martin Gabel [panel] (Sep 6, 1959)


Esther appeared on What's My Line on three different occasions. I'll list the date and panel:

January 16th, 1955: PANEL: Dorothy Kilgallen, Robert Q. Lewis, Arlene Francis, & Bennett Cerf.


July 27th, 1958: PANEL: Dorothy Kilgallen, Dick Clark, Arlene Francis, & Bennett Cerf.

September 6th, 1959: PANEL: Dorothy Kilgallen, Martin Gabel (Arlene's husband), Arlene Francis, & Bennett Cerf.
Her third time around the panel (note, Bennett) were starting to catch on to who this could be.


She was such a great contestant to watch! Some people just sit there and answer yes or no, but she was made such great comments with all of the answers! Contestants sometimes try to disguise their voices so they wouldn't be recognized and Esther had some great ones. Her first episode she sung. In the second I felt so sorry for her because she had laryngitis and whispered all the answers (the panel was not helpful, always saying, "What did she say?" They sounded like a bunch of old people). The third time she used a hilarious Southern accent. She was a harder contestant than usual, because of her amazing swim talent! The panel could usually figure out that she did something else, but they would get stuck focusing on singing and dancing. Her energy was so contagious, John and the panel would start doing whatever she was doing.
Having a "secret conference with John Daly
Here are some of my favorite moments:

Esther after being asked about her hair color: It's terribly chic!

Dorothy: Are you in some branch of the entertainment world?
Esther (singing): I try!
Arlene: Pretty hard, too.

Arlene: Would you consider yourself a leading woman?
Esther: What do you consider yourself?

Bennett: Do you also have a conspicuous talent outside of your thespian ability?
Esther: Mr. Daly, what's he referring to?
Mr. Daly: He's referring to the fact, ma'am, that you are very well known for something besides being an excellent actress in movies.
Esther: I pride myself on being many dimensional.
(She actually used that line in two shows and I'm surprised that the panel didn't catch on sooner...)

I could just sit here and type out the whole dialogue of all three shows, but I'll let you watch it for yourself.


Thanks a million to Michaela for hosting! Check out the other entries HERE.

Thanks to everyone else for reading! Let me know if anyone else has seen What's My Line. If not, it's available on Youtube. Hint, I really like watching it while doing the dishes.

Wishing you all the best!

MovieCritic

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Movie Review: Go Chase Yourself (1938)

Greetings to you all!

I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy! Today I'll be reviewing a little screwball comedy that I watched last year. I wasn't doing anything that day, and sat down to watch this one because of a name that I recognized. Who was this person? Read on to see!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. This is spoiler free! (Not that there's anything to spoil...)

"Gentlemen, I hate to raise my voice, but LET'S TALK THIS OVER QUIETLY!"


Go Chase Yourself (1938):
A bank clerk finds himself in luck when he wins a new travel camper in a raffle. His luck begins to fall through when robbers decide to hitch up and pull his camper across the country, with him still in it! Things get worse when the police believe that he was to one to rob the bank. This camping trip is already unlike others, but will it turn out alright?
Genre: Screwball comedy.
Length: approx. 70 minutes.
Costumes: 7, just regular clothes.
Script: 10, no bad words!
"Need I remind you that you are talking to a lady and not a mortgage?"
Crew: Directed by: Edward F. Cline. Written by: Paul Yawitz, Bert Granet, & Walter O'Keefe.
Starring:
Joe Penner as Wilbur Meeley.
Lucille Ball as Carol Meeley.
Richard Lane as Nails.
June Travis as Judy Daniels.
Fritz Feld as Count Pierre Fountaine de Louis-Louis. "I'm just a simple humble nobleman."
Tom Kennedy as Icebox.
Granville Bates as Halliday.
Bradley Page as Frank.
George Irving as Mr. Daniels.
Arthur Stone as Warden.
Jack Carson as Warren Miles.
Frank M. Thomas as Police Chief.
Cinematography: 7, nothing really remarkable, though an interesting approach with having so much driving involved.
Cinematography by: Jack Mackenzie.
Music: N/A
Quotes: 8, funnily enough I actually say the "indescribable" quote (that I'll talk about later) to myself a lot.
"Copper. I don't like that word."
Content: 9, just one suggestive thing, but besides that perfectly clean!
Originality: 8, I'll admit, there are not a lot of comedies involving camping trailers, so that was a neat aspect, especially as this was made right when they were new.
Good For: Any Lucille Ball fans, any screwball comedy fans.
Age Range: It's good for any ages, and the younger the person is, the more funny they might find it!
Overall Score: 8!
"The end of the line, please!"
Bonus thoughts:
I've found that I'm very picky when it comes to comedy. Somethings are not funny enough, somethings are not serious enough. What can I say? Screwballs usually are good for me, but something about this one didn't click. I got annoyed at everyone picking at Wilbur constantly, then I got annoyed at Wilbur. But, fear not, it was not a waste of time! There were indeed parts that I liked, most of them involving the star that I watched it for who is...

Lucille Ball!
This is my entry in the We Love Lucy Blogathon! It would have been her 109th birthday. I haven't seen her in many films as I am mostly just a solid I Love Lucy watcher, but this was one where I decided to see more with her. She was very funny, and my favorite scene was with this quote:
'"Indescribable."
"Oh, that's the best way to describe him."'


Want to check out more posts celebrating Lucy? Check HERE! Thanks to Carissa for hosting this blogathon in her honor!

Thanks for reading! What is your favorite thing that you've seen with Lucy? She was a hoot!

MovieCritic

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Mini Movies Reviews: July 2020 (#CleanMovieMonth2020)

Hello, one and all!

July 2020 was when Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (PEPS) hosted #CleanMovieMonth2020 where the challenge was to watch only American films made from 1934-1954. I am glad to say that I did it! Well, pretty much. I didn't watch a movie from any years outside of that range. Today I will be writing mini reviews for all of them.
All these films are Code films (learn more about the Code at their website). All movies in these years had to be approved by the Motion Picture Production Code, and its purpose was to provide clean movies that anyone could watch. This is what PEPS specializes in! The writers behind this blog, the Brannans, have realized that like all things, some are wonderful examples and some are below par. They have come up with a system of classifying all of the Code films which follows (For more detail, please go HERE):

Non-Code film - How could this have even gotten approval!? It has a core problem that isn't Code compliant.
Poor Code film - Might have a core problem in addition to lots of surface problems.
Fair Code film - No core problems, but some surface ones.
Good Code film - Absolutely acceptable in all ways!
Perfect Code film - This goes beyond a Good Code film because it either has a wonderful message to teach the audience, or it deals with a hard topic in a very good way.

In these mini reviews I'll be saying what Code film rating I would give it. Note, some of these PEPS may have already reviewed and given a rating, so if mine is different you should probably go with theirs.

Any reviews with an asterisk (*) means that it was a rewatch. If I have reviewed it fully, there will be a link to it. New feature: If it is underlined I'm thinking about fully reviewing it but haven't decided yet. Help me decide! If it sounds like something you want to read my thoughts on more fully, let me know!


I watched and reviewed this for Olivia de Havilland's birthday. I was so sad to hear that she passed away on Sunday the 26th! She will be sorely missed. This movie really showed her talents.
Code Rating: Good
As I said in my review, everything is shown very properly!


Beyond Tomorrow (1940) 
My sisters and I have been wanting to watch this for years! It was my younger sister (who doesn't even like "old" movies) who suggested it ages ago, and finally we watched it this month. A very sweet movie!
Code Rating: Perfect.
It shows the dangers of greedy ambition instead of appreciating and growing your talents. It shows respect for life and makes you think about all that you do.


The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
My dad saw this a few months ago and really liked it. This month I decided to watch it with him! Now, I don't like John Wayne movies, but his acting in this one was so good! I think that fellow Lord of the Rings fans would agree that there is one part that is very similar to The Return of the King, which I was surprised about.
Code Rating: Good/Perfect
It shows how wrong revenge and grudges are, in addition to showing why it is so disastrous to kill another human.


Bringing Up Baby (1938)*
Ah, this is one of the funniest movies of all time! Do you know how rare it is for my whole family to watch a movie together? This is the order of most to least likely of movie watching in my family:
1. My sisters and me together. 2. My sisters, dad, and me together. 3. My dad and me. 4. My dad by himself. 5. Two sisters together or alone. 6. My mom by herself. 7. My mom and my sisters and me. 8. My parents, one of my sisters, and me. 9. All of us together.
Do you see how rare that is? Well, for the first time in ages my whole family watched this together. My younger sister had never see it before, so it was her first! This is honest to goodness fun!
Code Rating: Good
Absolutely nothing objectionable!


Watched and reviewed this for what would've been Yul Brynner's 100th birthday.
Code Rating: Good
The Code's influence really was obvious to me in this one, because though it's a crime film and people are murdered and whatnot, it was always off screen. That didn't lessen the horror of why it was a bad thing though! It wasn't like, "Oh, killing is fine." It said it was bad, but you didn't have to experience it, you know? I was impressed.


Unconquered (1947) 
Just my dad and I watched this together. What can I say? I'm not a Gary Cooper fan. There are only two movies of his that I've seen that don't annoy me. It also turns out that Paulette Goddard annoys me as well. I just didn't like this at all, but I'll try to stay unbiased while rating it.
Code Rating: Poor/Non-Code
A few core problems in addition to numerous surface problems. I can't really think of anything to say that is good about this. After three hours of this you are really ready for something else.


I watched this for PEPS's Code Classics Blogathon! Read about my thoughts in that review. It's a pretty good article, if I do say so myself...
Code Rating: Good


My Man Godfrey (1936) 
William Powell is so much fun to watch even when he basically plays the same character in every film. I really was enjoying it until the end. Endings can make or break a film for me, and this one broke it! I was not satisfied.
Code Rating: Fair
Eh, I guess it's alright, but just a few surface problems of the family's that knocks it down to Fair.


Made For Each Other (1939) 
Before July I had never seen a Carole Lombard movie, and now I've seen two, but I'm not interested in anymore. I mean, her death was so tragic and I wish that she had been able to make more as her talent matured! Anyway, this movie wasn't a total loss because it had Jimmy Stewart and he makes everything lovely and wonderful. In fact the ending surprised me with how much I enjoyed it.
Code Rating: Good


Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)*
I had seen this before, but it had been so long that I remembered nothing but this: Theodore Roosevelt, some Frankenstein like guy, and "I'm not a taxi driver, I'm a coffee pot!". If you are ever looking for a weird movie, look no further than this, but it is absolutely hysterical! So much fun and confusion and laughter.
Code Rating: Good/Fair
Um, the story it's self would probably be Fair, but everything is handled so well that it might be Good. I'm not sure, but I'm still cracking up just thinking about it.


His Girl Friday (1940)
Wowza, everyone talks so quickly in this one, you have to stay on your toes! 1940 must have been Cary Grant's year for playing ex-husbands. Quick question: Does anyone know why in the world it is called "His Girl Friday"? It bothers me when titles are never explained.
Code Rating: Fair
It opens with a bit of a disclaimer, stating that it's good that these "dark days of newspapers" are past, which I thought was an interesting way of stepping around the things that happen. This film is past it's prime, and would probably offend people especially in this year, 2020. But, I am glad that I've seen it.


Going My Way (1944)*
It had been ages since I'd seen this! I'd mixed it up a lot with its sequel The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), so now I'm looking forward to rewatching that as well. I had totally forgotten the Mule song, but my sister was prepared because apparently she heard it at her job all the time. This film won Best Picture at the Oscars for 1944!
Code Rating: Good/Perfect
There are some very good messages about religion in here! There are actually a ton of good things in here, and I cried, if that tells you anything.


*muffled screaming*
I'm trying to keep myself calm, but I just love this movie so much! This is my third time watching it this year, and I made my older sister watch it as well. She really liked it, too! I'm feeling triumphant now that I've made another fan, but I want more people to talk to about this, so if you haven't seen it, please do!
Code Rating: Perfect!
It has wonderful messages about faith, humility, courage, and hope! I don't remember the last movie that has had this much of an effect on me. All the details are handled so perfectly, it is incredible.


Pygmalion (1938)
Now, this is what I mean by the beginning of my post by "pretty much". My family has always watched My Fair Lady (1964) and we really enjoy it. When I learned about this earlier version of the play, I knew that I wanted to watch it! I saw that it was 1938, so Code years, and decided to save it for #CleanMovieMonth2020. I watched it yesterday, July 31st, to finish with a bang! About 3/4 of the way through I began to notice that they were using some forbidden words an awful lot. I know that the self regulators sometimes allowed words like that to be used to enforce characters, so I didn't pay any heed to it. All of a sudden it struck me: One of the first allowed uses of that word was in Gone With The Wind, which was Rhett Butler's exit line, but that was made in 1939, the year after this! I realized that I had made the mistake of choosing... a foreign film! I looked it up afterwards and yep, it was made in the United Kingdom. Why is this a bad thing? Now, I love British films, but the Code only applied to American films, therefore this doesn't count. That being said, I'm counting it anyway because I had good intentions towards it.
If it was in Code the rating would be: Fair. The language that I mentioned in addition to one or two other things, but from what I've heard about Shaw's plays, this sounds very mild.



That wraps up my mini reviews! Once again, if you want me to fully review any of these, let me know! I had a good time with these days 4 movies.

One more thing before I go, PEPS is not done yet. They have named August #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020, so we can compare non-Code movies to all the ones that we just watched. I'll also be taking part in this and you can see my post at the end of this month.



Thanks for reading! Now it is your turn to tell me all about the films that you saw in July and if you've seen any of these! I want all your recommendations and warnings.

MovieCritic 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Snow White Author Interview with Rachel Kovaciny

Howdy, y'all!

Today I am participating in the blog book tour for Rachel Kovaciny's new book, One Bad Apple, which released yesterday!
I'm so thrilled about this, and my copy is supposed to arrive any day now, but in the mean time I'll be interviewing Rachel. Enjoy reading all her awesome answers to my questions!

(This is obvious, but I'm in bold or red, and Rachel is in standard type. Also, all links are to the reviews on Rachel's blogs if applicable.)


Welcome to my blog, Rachel! Thanks for being my first interviewed author on my blog! (Woop woop! Exciting day for us both). Here are my questions for you:

When did you start writing stories and when did you know that you wanted to be an author?

I've been telling stories for as long as I can remember.  Once in a while, I would scribble one down, but it wasn't until I was 14 that I said, "I want to learn how to write better stories."  So I started writing short stories, mostly based on favorite TV shows, though I didn't know that fanfiction was an actual thing at that time.  I shared them with my parents, my brother, and sometimes visiting grandparents.  But I didn't have my sights set on being an author, I was just having fun doing something new.  When I was about 16, I took high school chemistry and realized I didn't want to be a veterinarian after all.  I'd loved biology, but chemistry?  Nope.  So I started trying to figure out a new answer to the "what are you going to be?" question I was getting a lot at that age, and I settled on Journalist.  I wrote a few pieces for my local newspaper and went to college confident I would be a journalist.

And then I realized I hated talking to strangers still, even though I was technically an adult.  So much for journalism.  But by then, I loved writing fiction, so I joined the campus writer's group, took creative writing courses, and graduated with a degree in Liberal Arts with concentrations in English and History.  Somewhere in all that, I decided that yeah, I was going to get published some day.

Not to put you in a hard spot, but what's your favorite thing that you've written?

It might be Dancing and Doughnuts right now, but I think when I have a little more distance from it, One Bad Apple may end up being my favorite.

What was your introduction to Westerns?

My parents took me to the movie theater to see The Man from Snowy River (1982) when I was two years old.  I've loved anything involving cowboys and horses ever since.  It's still my favorite movie.

What is your favorite Western book or movie?

Well, I just answered with the movie above, The Man from Snowy River (1982), though that takes place in Australia.  My favorite movie that takes place in the American Old West is The Sons of Katie Elder (1965).  My favorite western book is Shane - by Jack Schaefer, which I've read three times and do not tire of.

How did you come up with the idea of writing fairytale retellings without magic?

I am not a big fan of world-building.  As in, creating a made-up world that makes sense.  It's HARD.  This is a big part of why I don't write fantasy or sci-fi.  I would rather research how things actually worked in the past (or present) than make it all up.  So creating a magic system within an Old West setting never appealed to me.  Also, I have a lot of Christian friends who don't read books with magic in them because it conflicts with their beliefs, and many of them were sad that a lot of fairy tale retellings are kind of off-limits to them as a result.  I wanted them to be able to read my books, so that really confirmed my desire to find non-magical ways to retell them.

What is the first fairytale that you remember hearing/reading?

I had this collection of Disney records with storybooks when I was really small, starting when I was probably three, and my parents gave me an old turntable to play them on.  I had Cinderella, Snow White, the Brave Little Tailor, and Jack and the Beanstalk, so one of those was probably the first.  No idea which one anymore!

What was your first experience with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves?

Definitely the Disney read-aloud book + record.  Although I also had this other record of stories for kids that didn't have a book with it, but it had a lot of songs.  I remember one from their version of Snow White went something like "We're seven little men, no bigger than your thumb, tweedly-dee, tweedly-die, tweedly-dum-dum."  I remember being annoyed that the illustration on the record's sleeve showed the dwarfs being a LOT bigger than Snow White's thumb and being annoyed by the song because it wasn't accurate.

How many versions of Snow White have you seen and read?

Let's see... I've seen the 1937 Disney animated film (which I don't like much), Mirror Mirror (2012) (funny and silly), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) (only worth it for Chris Hemsworth and the aesthetic), and Ball of Fire (1941) (modern-day retelling that's awesome).

(I happen to have seen all of those and I agree with those shorts thoughts!)

As for books, I've read the Grimm version in several different forms, the wonderful collection Five Poisoned Apples (ed. by Anne Elisabeth Stengl -- my favorite is "Falling Snow" - by Skye Hoffert), January Snow - by Hayden Wand (quite cool), "Hart Spring" - by Meredith Leigh Burton (very sweet, from her Blind Beauty collection), Death be Not Proud - by Suzannah Rowntree (also cool),  and the graphic novel Snow White - by Matt Phelan (fantastic!).

What are your favorite versions of Snow White?

"Falling Snow" by Skye Hoffert is my #1 favorite.  She sets the story in a magical circus during Prohibition, and it is dark and brave and delicious.  I've read it four times.  I also love the movie Ball of Fire, another one set in the twentieth century, in which Snow White is a nightclub singer and the dwarfs are professors writing an encyclopedia.  It's so, so funny.

How did you feel being one of the judges/readers for Five Poisoned Apples?

It was wonderful!  A lot of work, but wonderful.  I learned a lot from it about things that really work in a retelling and things that... really don't.  I read almost twenty stories for it, and it was so cool to see how many ways you can retell the same story and make it all different and fresh.  It was an honor and a thrill.

Have you read the fairytale Snow White and Rose Red? Thoughts?

I have!  I had a picture book version of it as a kid, and the daughters were really pretty, but there was this extremely creepy ogre that had a necklace that freaked me out, so I only read it very occasionally.  But anyway, the story is a good one, very different from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."  I like that it has a sister dynamic to it, because sibling relationships are one of my favorite things to explore.

If you were a fairytale character, who would you be?

Probably Cinderella.  Just doing my thing, getting my work done, trying to be kind and keep up my courage.

Who is an author who inspires you?

As far as sheer beauty of the way he puts words together, Raymond Chandler.  I always reread one of his novels when I'm in the last stages of polishing one of my own because he focuses me on descriptions like no one else can.  As far as being able to make ordinary people and normal, everyday life shine, L. M. Montgomery is a continual inspiration.

What is your favorite writing quote?

"Every time you write, something valuable will occur." -- SARK

And finally, what advice would you give to writers who are struggling with part of their story?

Refill your creative reservoir.  Go watch a movie, read a book, go to an art gallery (or visit one virtually), watch a play.  If you keep your reservoir filled, creativity will spill out of you.

Also, be okay with trying something that might not work.  You can always rewrite it and find what does.  And rewriting a story does not mean you told it badly the first time!  It just means you have found a way to tell it even better.  When I decided to enter the Sleeping Beauty contest for the Five Magic Spindles collection, I wrote a whole story, about 20K.  Gave it to my best friend, and she said, "This is nice, but kinda boring.  What if you told it from someone else's point of view?"  I sulked.  I fumed.  For like a week.  Then I rewrote the WHOLE THING, start to finish, going from telling it in third person from the gunfighter/prince's POV to telling it in first person from the midwife/good fairy's POV.  And it transformed the story.  It won the contest.  Rewriting doesn't mean you did something wrong, it just means you're finding an even better way to tell your story.

Finally, write what you love.  People say "write what you know," but you can learn about anything with a library card, internet connection, and patience.  Write what you love because, if you're successful and get to write a lot of it, you'll get tired of it if you don't love it.



This is back to MC again. Thanks to Rachel for her awesome answers! By now you are probably wondering, "What is One Bad Apple even about? Would you care to share, MC?" I'm happy to oblige:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs… reimagined.

When a wagon train of Black pioneers rescues the seven orphaned Dalton cousins from the side of the trail, it seems like an answer to their prayers. As they roll west toward Kansas, fourteen-year-old Levi Dalton is dazzled by the beautiful Mrs. Mallone. She's a healer, and her knowledge of medicines and herbs inspires Levi to want to become a doctor. Maybe then he can stop people from dying of fevers and illnesses like his folks did. 

But Mrs. Mallone's stepdaughter, Hopeful, warns Levi not to become too attached to the healer. Levi dismisses her warnings and his own misgivings until the day he sees something dreadful. 

Levi knows he needs to tell someone what he’s seen before it’s too late. But will anyone believe the story of a fourteen-year-old orphan? Will anyone stand up to evil, no matter how beautifully it’s packaged?


Want to join in the release party fun? Well, Rachel is acting like a fairy godmother and hosting a giveaway! Check out the awesome goodies that she has HERE or HERE.


Want your own copy of One Bad Apple? Buy it on:


Author info:


This blog tour is loaded with reviews and interviews! To read all the posts as they come out, check HERE.

Congrats to Rachel for publishing One Bad Apple! I can't wait to read it.


Thanks for reading! Who else loves the fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? Have you seen or read any of the versions that Rachel talked about?

MovieCritic
"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles