The Enchanted Cottage – Movie Review

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Fairy Tales have left their mark on pop culture in various ways. Many start with a phrase that is incredibly inviting – “Once upon a time” –  referring to a time and place of fantasy with little to no true existence. But then there are those fairy stories that feature a modern angle – which seem to not stick as strongly with viewers, including yours truly.

Sure, I love the work of Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) more than I do most things, yet typically when filmmakers do fairy tales that are set in some sort of realism, my fantasy itch never feels fully scratched. But somehow, even with that in mind, I found myself (mostly) falling under the (slightly dated) spell of 1945’s The Enchanted Cottage.  Continue reading “The Enchanted Cottage – Movie Review”

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A Busy Few Months, and Some Movies to Catch Up On

Hey there, Cinema Lovers —

It has been quite sometime since the Faded Reel last open the movie theater curtain. There have been holidays that have passed by, and tons of other interesting moments, but don’t think I was forgetting about this place – no way!

So what has been happening with me, outside of working on a bunch of crazy TV shows and writing quite a bit for SlashFilm? Well I have a classic film fanatic update of sorts – I joined TCM’s Backlot fan club! I even have a fancy shirt (that will be arriving in the mail shortly) to prove it.

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So what does this mean exactly? Well aside from finding an easier way to listen to the late Robert Osborne’s amazing voice on a daily basis, I can be even more active in the classic film fan community, which is incredibly exciting! Hopefully, it’ll also allow me to gain even more classic film knowledge than I’ve ever had before. So look forward to reviews specifically tied to the fan club, and other TCM related content (since they’re my favorite TV channel and it is hard not to fangirl about them.)

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I also snagged the BluRay release of Intermezzo – the classic Black and White 1939 film starring Ingrid Bergman and (one of my classic movie stud muffins) Leslie Howard. I’ve never seen this movie (nor any version of this story on the screen) and I’m incredibly excited to do a review of the film itself and this new home release edition. So you can look forward to that big of fun.

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Clearly, with spring coming and some incredibly awesome Movie anniversaries (including 1938’s Marie Antionette) around the bend, make sure to stay tuned to all things Faded Reel. Also, comment below with all your new classic movie updates! What films have you just seen for the first or hundredth time? I’d love to know!

Until then, see ya at the movies!

Opening Up The Chocolate Tin #1: Random Harvest

So here’s an important question for ya – have you figured out what to do for the big Chocolate Appreciation Day? Well, to celebrate this Wednesday (aka Valentine’s Day) I thought it was time to give some major attention to some forgotten romantic adventures in cinema. Sure, there’s Funny Face, Casablanca, and all the other lovely usual suspects – but what about the unspoken champions of all things Valentines from film’s past? Here’s a movie you might want to discover this week while you enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and someone to snuggle with (even if that is your Clark Gable shaped pillow.)

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Random Harvest was one of the Grandparent Approved movies of my childhood. Whenever anyone had the bright idea to pop it into the VHS player, it usually resulted in french bread pizza’s being made in the oven, and a bottle of grape juice being poured for yours truly. It was a movie I never really understood during my youngest years, but regardless, I appreciated every bit of the mush it had to offer.

The film stars Robert Colman as a British officer (known to the audience as John Smith) who (during battle) is gassed and eventually becomes shell shocked – losing his memory to a very large degree. This results in him being marked as an unidentified man, and being the new resident of an asylum. One night he sneaks away from his confines, and ends up in running into the woman that will change his life – Paula (played by the enchanting Greer Garson.)

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Paula’s profession revolves around theatricals – she sings and entertains many happy individuals as she tours with her theater group. But after her company gets involved in some rough events, Paula and “Smithy” run away to a remote cottage in the country side, where they fall madly in love and marry. “But that can’t be the whole story” you are likely saying – oh no dear friends, it definitely isn’t even close.

You see, the fact that John doesn’t remember his identity is a very large part of this tale, and to dive anymore into the rest of the story would be spoiling the best parts of Random Harvest. Because what makes this one a classic amongst its more famous cinematic romances is the element of surprise – the audience never knows when or if John will remember his past life and what that would do to his relationship with Paula. Could it be disaster? Could it be fate? You never know, and the skilled direction of Mervyn LeRoy always keeps you on your toes.

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Random Harvest would go onto become a hit in 1942 amongst fans, but not so much critics. Yet during the Academy Awards that year, the film would be nominated for seven awards – including Best Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, and Best Picture. Garson was also considered, but was unfortunately not allowed to be nominated twice, since she had already been so for her performance in Mrs. Miniver.

Though Random Harvest might have not been the ideal programming of most nine year olds, I always wanted to return to its story for the mystery of Smithy, but also to see Paula. She’s a fantastic heroine, whose optimism is infectious, and Greer brings so much magic to what is written on the page. The fact that she falls for this stranger and takes him into her fold might seem a bit out of sorts in 2018 (especially if say this happened online) – but there’s this bit of innocence to the tale that makes it unabashedly charming.

Personally, I’m not sure I could (in my modern state) go out with a guy who doesn’t have any memory and can barely communicate – but Random Harvest exists in a time that was much more fantastical about love and where to find it. Maybe that isn’t for everyone, but on such a day as Valentine’s Day, it is always rewarding to see that true love can concur anything – even bombs and poisonous gas! (:::confetti:::)

If you’re looking for more Valentine’s Day content, be sure to watch out for most posts in the coming days! Until then, see you at the movies! 

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Movies for Winter Comfort

Though you likely are looking to spend this time of year looking at pine trees and Christmas lights, there is something else you should shift your gaze towards…. movies! Sure, there are tons of (now) classic films that celebrate this joyous season, and they all have their place in the grand cinematic landscape. But if you were to ask this cinephile what gets her “in the spirit”, the selections may surprise you. Interested?

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Let’s start with a good palette cleanser of sorts. Disney’s Once Upon a Wintertime is right up there with the The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as my favorite shorts in the studio’s animated legacy. Some will argue it tells a very basic tale of boy ruins date with pretty girl – but it does it with such whimsy, well crafted comedic timing, and typical Disney magic, it’s near impossible to not fall for its charms.

It also proudly showcases the artistic brilliance of concept artist Mary Blair, covered in her signature pastel shades and curvy lines. Every shot captures that warm and cozy feeling of the season, and embodies the delicate touches of a vintage Christmas card.  Though a bit silly in its depictions of dating by modern standards, it is one of the studios most under appreciated creations, and deserves much more recognition as the years have gone by.

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If you’re looking for something that gives you a more mature version of the cozy feeling (even if it isn’t specifically set in Winter), I’d highly recommend The Barretts of Wimpole Street. Though the 1957 version has its pluses, the original 1934 film starring Norma Shearer and Fredric March is incredibly powerful. With beautiful cinematography by William Daniels, director Sidney Franklin brings a wonderful energy to a very by the numbers play-to-film adaptation of the Broadway hit.

Why most people remember this particular rendition of the love story between real life poets Robert and Emily Browning is the outstanding performances. As always, my #1 crush (March) is wonderful here, but it is Norma Shearer who steals the show, and was nominated for Best Actress at the 1934 Academy Awards. And though she and the film were both beat out in the end, Barretts still carved its place in cinema history.

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Another forgotten little classic is The Shop Around The Corner (1940), which inspired both the 90’s rom-com You’ve Got Mail and the Tony winning musical She Loves Me. Set amidst the Christmas season, this film spins a familiar tale of a boy and girl who (in person) can’t stand each other, but don’t seem to realize that they are madly in love with one another via a Lonely Hearts Club pen pal service.

With the brilliant pairing of Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan, director Ernst Lubitsch paints a whimsical portrait of characters in many sorts of melancholy situations. Some feel unfilled in their lives, their loves, marriages, roles – but somehow are all rescued by those around them. And though I personally find She Loves Me to be the most compelling and electric version of this tale, Shop Around The Corner remains a classic because of its wit, boldness, and charm in every frame.

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If you’re looking for a film that has as much mystery as it does yummy food for your winter season, there’s always the Oscar winning Mildred Pierce (1945) to solve all your cravings. This masterpiece (which won Joan Crawford her first Best Actress Academy Award) tells the story of Mildred, a woman who finds out her second husband was just murdered. Through a series of stories, we learn of how the title character changed from a sad housewife, to successful single woman, finally back to a now powerful second wife. Plus how crazy the people in her life (especially her first daughter) are.

But what most people tend to remember about Mildred Pierce is the completely delicious drama, and with almost every scene being borderline meme worthy, it is hard not to find something delectable. Couple that with the twist and turns within the story, and you got yourself a successful recipe for a classic.

So, what classic films or shorts do you watch during the winter? What makes you feel comfy as the snow falls, or whatever weather you have to do deal with during this time of year?

One Ticket, Please!

So, you’ve stumbled onto a dusty old cinema. As you enter the doors, the cobwebs dash to the side, and the glimmer of the theater shines. Everything inside and on the screen comes alive. This is the home of The Faded Reel. 

Welcome to this silly little project of mine, in which I hope to give you a welcoming into the world of classic cinema. And if that little intro above sounded at all enchanting, then you are in the right place. In fact, that mirrors the way my mind felt the first time my grandparents showed me many of their favorite classic films. Gigi, the famous Vincent Minnelli MGM musical film, was one of my true gateway “drugs” into this world. It featured lavish costumes, sets, and incredible moments left and right. It felt like magic, and I hope that within the content of The Faded Reel, you can feel that similar enchantment take over you.

Soon you will find articles, reviews, rankings, and links to the main show – a YouTube channel for the series of the same name. More info on the first episode will be posted soon, so keep on looking on this site. Until then, please follow The Faded Reel on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time, see you at the movies!