Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: A Christmas Carol (1951)

 



One of the greatest movies ever made. 

This movie is a quite faithful adaption of Charles Dickens' classic novel. You all know the story, Scrooge (Alister Sim) is a greedy covetous old man. He has grown cold hearted and has no sympathy for anyone else's misfortune. One night he is visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), who warns him to change his ways before it is too late. He also tells Scrooge he will be visited by three more ghosts. These ghosts show Scrooge, Christmases of his past, present and future, so that Scrooge can see the error of his ways.

There have been more film adaptions of A Christmas Carol than I care to count. Some perfectly fine adaptions have fallen through the cracks simply because while being good movies, they don't stand out among the many adaptions. So, what makes this film so special that it stands as easily the best of these adaptions? This is not an easy question to answer, but for the most part it comes down to excellent filmmaking and an incredible performance by Alister Sim.

For many movie fans, Alister Sim is Scrooge. His performance embodies everything this character should be. Though many great actors have played Scrooge, none have captured the vulnerable and abundantly human side of Scrooge as well as Sim. He can make you feel deeply for the character even when he is at his most despicable. His performance is possibly the only performance of the character that can move me to near tears. You feel sadness when he feels sadness and joy when he feels joy. Yet all this is done without sacrificing the darker and unlikable parts of this famous character. As strange as it might seem today, there was in outcry against Sim playing the character when it was announced. He was a popular actor in Britian at this time but was known mainly for comic roles. Few thought he had the dramatic chops to portray such a character. In fact, George Minter, managing director of Renown Pictures (which made the movie), wrote an article in the magazine, Picturegoer to explain the choice to those who didn't understand. Yet many movie fans cannot read Charles Dickens' classic story without picturing Alister Sim in their heads. 

What this movie also does better than any other film adaption is to capture the balance of darkness and joy that are present in Dickens' classic story. This is a movie that can be equal parts sad, scary and joyous. Yet in no way does this ever feel forced. It goes from each of these emotions in a way that feels perfectly natural and real. Director Brian Desmond Hurst and writer Noel Langley, create the most emotional and powerful film version of this classic story. 

The look of this film is perfect as well, and it is hard to imagine this film without the work of Art Director, Ralph W. Brinton and Cinematographer, C.M. Pennington-Richards. Much of the art direction was heavily based off of John Leech's original illustration for the book. According to the audio commentary on the DVD version, one of Charles Dickens's Grand Daughters visited the set, and said it looked just the book installations to life (Another visitor mentioned was one of my favorite actresses, Bette Davis, who was a big fan of Alistair Sim).

This film has two titles, in Britain, where it was made, it was called Scrooge, however in the U.S. it was called A Christmas Carol. Its U.S. Premiere was meant to take place at New York's Radio City Music Hall at Christmas time; however, the theater management was not happy with the film as they felt it was too dark and grim, and therefore not good entertainment for a family audience. The much more lighthearted 1938 MGM version did premiere there by the way. The film's actual U.S. Premiere was at the Guild Theater on Halloween Night. It did not do very well in the U.S. but was a huge hit in its home country of Britain. Despite this it would still as the years went by grow into being considered a classic in the U.S. as well.

The editor for this film was Clive Donner, who would later direct the 1984 film version of A Christmas Carol, that starred George C. Scott. Two of the actors in this film, Alistair Sim and Michael Hordern would reprise their roles as Scrooge and Marley for the 1971 animated version, directed by Richard Williams (best remembered as the animation director for Who Framed Roger Rabbit).

Resources Used
http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/70899/A-Christmas-Carol/articles.html
DVD audio commentary by Marcus Hearn and George Cole
DVD introduction by Leonard Maltin
Christmas in the Movies by Jeremy Arnold 


Monday, December 5, 2022

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: Star in the Night (1945)


 In the 1930's and 40's Warner Brothers was known for making some of the most hard boiled and cynical films. Rarely did they delve themselves into the sentimentality MGM, so often did. Even the studio's cartoons were rarely sentimental. However there was another idea the studio was known for promoting as well. They were working man films made for the average Joe. This plays a huge part in A Star in the Night, making the short film feel like a Warner Brothers picture while it unabashedly goes into sentimentality. Despite this the sentimentality is extremely effective and heartwarming, making this a must watch for the Christmas season.


Nick (J. Carroll Naish) runs an inn. Everyday he sees people act selfishly and has lost his faith in humanity and therefore Christmas. A hitchhiker (Donald Woods) tries to convince him that deep down people are good and Christmas is therefore an important time. One day a woman (Lynn Baggret) and her husband (Anthony Caruso) come to the inn. They have no place to stay and the woman is with child.


At the time this film was made Jack Warner and Don Siegel were arguing. Jack Warner as a sign for the two to declare peace gave Siegel the opportunity to direct to short subjects. Don Siegel suggested this film, excepting Warner to reject it. However Warner accepted the idea and Star in the Night was made.


Though his name may not be much remembered today, J. Carroll Naish (the star of this short movie) will probably be recognized by fans of movies of this era. He was in hundreds of movies in very small parts. He appeared in such movies as What Price Glory, Elmer the Great, Front Page Woman, Captain Blood, Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Sahara, House of Frankenstein and so many more. In Star in the Night he proves that he could easily hold his own as the lead in a movie. He is fantastic here and a pure delight to watch. He not the only great thing about this short. Saul Elkins' script is fantastic. It is touching and lovely without ever feeling forced. Everything just flows naturally. Life's problems are not just glanced over instead, they are treated as still being harsh. What this movie does show is a basic goodness lying under all our cynical exteriors, and that a bit of optimism and faith can help us make life seem a little bit better. For anyone who has a soft spot for Christmas sentimentality this film is a must watch. However even the greatest cynic may find their heart melting.


This short movie won an earned an Oscar for best live action short subject and I say it is well earned.


Resources Used
http://jbkaufman.com/movie-of-the-month/star-night-1945

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Movie Review: I Heard the Bells

 



Michael's Movie Grade: A-

A wonderful faith-based Christmas film. 

This movie marks the feature film debut for Sight and Sound Theatres, which puts on elaborate Christian themed plays (often with big special effects) often times telling stories from the Bible. This is an especially impressive film debut and simply great movie. Rather than telling a story from the Bible, this movie tells the story of how the poet Henry Longfellow wrote the words to the classic Christmas carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. They adapted to the movies very well. This film never feels stage bound, but instead very cinematic. Rather than staying for a long time in one place this film will move to many different locations over the course of the film. All these locations are given a real authenticity. As well as this the camera does not remain stationary and the cinematography is often excellent. This movie is also less effects heavy than the company's plays. This is very important because while these effects are jaw dropping on a stage, in a time with many effects heavy films, they would just get lost in the shuffle in a movie. These effects also while they would feel at home in many biblical stories, would feel out of place in a film like this. 

Beyond just the technical aspects, this is simply a very moving film. This movie is quite sentimental, yet the sentimentality always feels genuine and never forced. A major reason for this is that we truly grow to care about the characters here. Our main character, his wife and his oldest son are all fully fleshed out characters with many virtues as well as all too human faults. Yet none of these faults ever make the characters unlikable, but only more human and real. All this is helped by a wonderful cast who bring the heart and soul out of each character. The story is also a wonderfully touching one and it is told in a way where every emotion rings through. This movie lightens many of the darker moments with some humorous moments. However these moments are truly funny and seem to come naturally out of the story instead of feeling forced in. They also never take away from the impact of the drama. This film can be a bit of a tearjerker, but it is an incredibly well made one. This movie also does a wonderful job getting across in Christian message. It does this in a way that makes this feel like a film instead of a sermon, but where the message is still just as clear and powerful as in a great sermon. The message comes directly from the story and there is never a moment when the film stops so a character can preach it to us. As a Christian I fully agree with this message and appreciate they intelligent and cinematic way it is conveyed. 

A wonderful movie. 





Cowboy Church #198

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with the medley Remember Whose Birthday It Is/Happy Birthday, Gentle Saviour. There is no problem at all enjoying all of the presents, decorations and movies that come with Christmas (and no one loves them more than me), but we must always remember that Christmas is all about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it is important every Christmas to remember what Jesus gave up by coming down from heaven to be a human here on Earth. Most importantly it is important to remember why he did it. He did it because of his love for us and his desire for us to be able to spend eternity in heaven with him. This wonderful recording comes from Roy and Dale's 1967 Christmas album, Christmas is Always.

Next comes The Louvin Brothers with their 1961 recording of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. The song was written by Edmund H. Sears. This hymn first appeared in Boston's Christian Register, on December 29, 1849 (yes after Christmas). That version has a verse that does not appear in this version, "But with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long; Beneath the angel-strain have rolled Two thousand years of wrong; And man, at war with man, hears not the love-song, which they bring: O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing!" This verse reflects the state if America at the time this song was written. The Civil War was approaching, and Sears found himself concerned with the division in our country. Unlike many Christmas songs, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is not a song about peace on Earth but rather a plea for it. With the division and anger that is so prevalent today, this is a perfect Christmas song for our time. This song has been put to different tunes over the years and the two most prevalent are Carol (by Richard Storis Willis in 1850) and Noel (by Sir Arthur Sullivan in 1878). Carol is the preferred version of this song in the U.S. and is the Louvin Brothers perform here. The tune had been used for other lyrics dating back to when it was written in 1850, and was first used to accompany, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear in 1878.

This is followed by The Stanley Brothers with Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. This is one of my favorite versions of this classic hymn. The boy's harmony here is simply perfect and the bluegrass stylings of this version seem to fit the lyrics and the singing perfectly. 

Afterwards comes Gene Autry with O Little Town of Bethlehem. This lovely rendition comes from an episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show that aired on December 22, 1946. The lyrics to this hymn were written by Phillips Brooks in 1865. He wrote the words this hymn after taking a group of Sunday school children on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem. The music was written by Louis H. Redner, the church organist. There was originally another verse to this hymn, "Where children pure and happy pray to the blessed Child. Where misery cries out to thee, son of the undefiled; where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door, the dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more." However, Redner objected to the words "son of the undefiled." Brooks briefly changed the line to "son of mother mild" before dropping the verse all together. This hymn appeared on a small leaflet in 1868 and in The Sunday School Hymnal in 1871.

Now for Martha Mears and The Sons of the Pioneers with a 1944 recording of Jingle Bells. James Lord Pierpont wrote this song in 1857. Despite being known as a Christmas song today, it was originally written with a different holiday in mind. Under its original title, One Horse Open Sleigh this song was written to be used in a Thanksgiving service at a Church where Pierpont was the organist. The song was so well received that it played again at the Church on Christmas day. For a song written to be performed at a Church, the original lyrics were racier than one would think and would be changed so that children's church choirs can perform the song. This version comes from a 1944 episode of the radio show 10-2-4 Ranch.

Nest is Anne Wilson with I Still Believe In Christmas. This original song written by Anne herself comes from her 2022 Christmas EP, The Manger. I hope that none of us ever stop believing in Christmas. 

Now for The Carter Family with their 1930 recording of On My Way To Canaan's Land.

After this is Third Day with Christmas Like a Child. Christmas is a time of childlike wonder, where even those who are well past childhood can feel like children once again. This makes it the perfect time to come to Jesus, because as Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." So if you have walked away from Jesus and turned your back on him, this time of the year in many ways is perfectly designed for you to come back to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and if you choose to humble yourself and come as a child, the blessings you will receive are plentiful.

Today's musical selection ends with The Charlie Daniels Band with Christmastime Down South. This is the title song for the band's 1990 Christmas album. This song talks about some of the simple joys that make Christmas extra special. I hope this Christmas we can all take some time out of the hustle and bustle to reflect on all the little blessings God has given us that make life extra special.  










































This week's movie trailer is for Andrew V. McLaglen's McLintock (1963). This film was made after John Wayne had lost a lot of money and box-office capital with The Almo (1960). John needed a movie that would help him make up for both loses and that came with this film. This movie was a fun comedy that placed Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew in the old west. Since The Quiet Man (1952), John Wayne had been wanting to work with Maureen O'Hara again and this film gave him that chance. 




Now for a sermon from S.M. Lockridge about John 3:16.




Pslam 27

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked advance against me
    to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.


Thank you for joining me. Come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.
















Saturday, December 3, 2022

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: White Christmas (1954)

 



A simply wonderful musical. 

This film's storyline is incredibly simple. Two men (Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye) meet in the army and form a song in dance team. After leaving the army the two become major stars. One day they catch a sister act (Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen) and fall in love with these two girls and follow them to Vermont. In Vermont they meet their general (Dean Jagger) in the army. The general is running a struggling inn and the two men decide to put on a big Christmas Eve show at that inn to help him. All the while they have various romantic entanglements with the two sisters. 

Within this simple story is an incredible amount of charm. Everything about this film works beautifully. The most obvious praise to give this movie is the great musical numbers. All the songs used in this film were written by the great Irving Berlin and the songs chosen show off the songwriter's work to great advantage. There is not one song here that is not a delight to hear. Yet what is visually happening during these song numbers is just as delightful. Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen's wonderful dance numbers are a definitely highlight and make the two simply light up the screen during these scenes. Not only is their dancing amazing, but they also bring a wonderfully fun energy to each of these numbers that will even put a smile on the face of those who don't normally like musicals. Danny Kaye performing Choreography, especially puts a smile on my face every time I see it. His dancing there is equally parts comedic and impressive, showing off both his dancing and comedic talents to their fullest. The beautiful singing voices of Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney don't hurt at all. The two are in great form and show off why both are such respected singers. To this day there is no one who can sing a Christmas song as well as Bing Crosby. His voice simply fits the season perfectly and when he croons the title song, one gets that unexplainably wonderful Christmas feeling. The final reprise of the title song may be one of the most perfect moments in Christmas movie history. The image of our four main stars in front of a giant Christmas tree decorated in wonderful Christmas outfits with a group of very talented kids dancing and a beautifully snowy backdrop simply feels as warm and cozy as a cup of hot chocolate at home on a Christmas Eve night.  Yet this movie is even delightful beyond just the musical numbers. The storyline may be simple and sentimental but it is the type of sentimentality that really works. We truly care about these characters and want to the romances work out and for the general to see how much he has meant to so many of his men. The humor is also fantastic and there are quite a few wonderfully funny moments. The banter between Bing and Danny Kaye's characters is especially fantastic and can still make audiences laugh to this day. However the biggest comedic highlight is the two main male characters doing their own kidding of the sisters' Sisters musical number. If you look at Bing Crosby's face during that scene, you can see Bing trying not to break into laughter. This film being directed by the legendary Michael Crutiz (Casablanca (1942), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)), it is wonderfully paced, giving a warm nostalgic feel while never feeling too slow. 

To make a movie revolving around the song White Christmas was a natural idea. The song had been a major hit since it premiered in the movie, Holiday Inn (1942). In fact, that is in understatement. To this day Bing Crosby's version of the song is still considered to be the highest selling song of all time. In fact Bing Crosby had already reprised the song in another feature film, Blue Skies (1946). This movie was originally indented to not only reprise the most popular song from Holiday Inn but it was meant to be a reunion of the two stars of that film, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Both stars turned down the picture. Bing Crosby would change his mind though Fred Astaire did not. Fred's role was then given to Donald O'Connor (who would have been great in this movie). However Donald became very sick before production began so the role was given to Danny Kaye. Danny Kaye luckily was a wonderful choice for the role. Rosemary Clooney would later state that the Sisters number worked because she couldn't dance and Vera-Ellen couldn't sing, but together they could pull it off. Vera-Ellen's voice in this number is actually dubbed in by Rosemary Clooney.

This is simply a wonderful piece of old-fashioned entertainment that will simply put a smile on any movie fan's face. 

 The following is a 1955 article from TV Radio Mirror where Rosemary Clooney talks about Bing Crosby. If you have any trouble reading the following pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.













Resources Used

Christmas in the Movies by Jeremy Arnold

https://mediahistoryproject.org/ 





Some Cartoons for Saturday Morning #202

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another selection of classic cartoons.

Today's cartoon selection begins with a wonderful Christmas themed Donald Duck cartoon, Toy Tinkers (1949). This movie is a personal favorite of mine and in my opinion is the best of the cartoons were Donald faces off against Chip and Dale. The film has some wonderful cartoony gags that could have come from a Looney Tunes cartoon of the same time, and I love that. The telephone gag is especially wonderful. I have always loved the really cartoony side of Disney and movies like this that show off that side have a special place in my heart. This cartoon would make its TV debut on a 1958 Christmas episode of Walt Disney Presents. That version starts with some new animation featuring Chip and Dale telling Jiminy Cricket how they celebrate Christmas. 









Variety, 1943



Next comes one of the Sylvester and Hippety Hopper cartoons, Hoppy Days (1961). All of these films were directed by Robert McKimson and followed the same basic formula of Sylvester mistaking the baby kangaroo for a giant mouse. There were 13 of these films and this was the next to last one. 



Now for a delightful Betty Boop cartoon, PArade of the Wooden Soldiers (1934). The following are some exhibitor's reviews from the Motion Picture Herald, "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers: Betty Boop: A clever short subject and fine for children. - C.A. Pratt, Texas Theatre, Smithville, Texas. Small Town Patronage." " PARADE OF WOODEN SOLDIERS: Betty Boop Cartoons — One of the best Betty Boop cartoons. The musical score by Rubinoff is splendid. Running time, nine minutes. -A.B. Jeffries, New Piedmont Theatre, Piedmont, Mo. Rural and small town patronage." 






Up next is Christmas Night (1933). This cartoon comes from the delightfully underrated cartoon series, Van Bueren's Little King cartoons. These films are full of the type of surreal cartoony gags that 
I simply love and this movie is one of my favorites in the series. 




Now it is time for a commercial break. 
















Now for a classic Mickey Mouse film, Mickey's Rival (1936). The titular character is a mouse named Mortimer. Those of you who know your Disney history will know, that Mortimer was a name that was considered for Mickey. This was Mortimer's first appearance though he bared more than a little resemblance to Mr. Slicker a character that appeared in the Micky Mouse comic strip. Though Mickey's Rival was his only appearance in a theatrically released short film, it was not his only appearance in animation. He became a reoccurring character in the television shows, Mickey Mouse Works (1999-2000) and House of Mouse (2001-2003). He also has a role in the direct to video feature film, Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999) and has appeared briefly in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006-2016) and Mickey and the Roadster Races (2017-present). Outside of animation he has been used very often in the Disney comic strips and began to appear in them around the same time he made his debut in movie theaters. Mortimer's design is said to be based off of Walt Disney and those who have seen pictures of a young Walt, will find this easy to believe. The ending to Mickey's Rival has Mickey and Minnie simply shaking hands. However it was originally planned for Mickey to have a buzzer on his hand to play a Mortimer type prank on Minnie. Though this would have been out of character for Mickey at this time it would have fit perfectly in with the Mickey Mouse of the late 1920's. A review in The Motion Picture Herald stated "The subject is less complex than many of the recent Disney fabrications but wholly entertaining." The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "Mickey's Rival: Mickey Mouse - We find that the bad characters often frighten our small children and they go out into the foyer until it is passed over. - Harland Rankin, Plaza Theatre, Tilbury, Ontario, Canada, General Patronage." The following is another exhibitor's review from the Motion Picture Herald, "Mickey's Rival: Mickey Mouse—Played this the second time as it is one of the best of the Mickeys. — C. L. Niles, Niles Theatre, Anamosa, Iowa. General patronage." A review in The Motion Picture Daily stated, "Clever animation and fast-moving, but there have been better Mickey's. For instance 'Alpine Climbers.'" The following is from a 1936 issue of The Film Daily, "United Artists' latest Walt Disney release, 'Mickey's Rival', introducing Mortimer Mouse, will open at the Radio City Music Hall with 'Swing Time' on Thursday, and at the Rivoii Theater with 'The Last of the Mohicans.'"




Next comes a delightful Christmas treat from Famous Studios with Hector's Hectic Life (1948). This movie was directed by former Disney animator, Bill Tytla (probably my favorite Disney animator). Tytla had worked on some of Disney's finest feature films including Snow White (1937), Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940) and Dumbo (1941) and his animation was often a highlight even in these masterpieces. Though the Famous Studios cartoons he directed might not be as highly praised as his animation for Disney, these films often showed him as a very capable director. This movie is a good example of this. 





Next comes The Pink Panther in Sherlock Pink (1976).



Now let us close with a song.







Thanks for joining me, come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Resources Used

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History by David Gerstein and J.B. Kaufman

Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons by Leonard Maltin

https://mediahistoryproject.org/

https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/The_Disney_Wiki









Thursday, December 1, 2022

Movie Review: Devotion

 



Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent war film. 

This film tells the story of a real-life hero, Jesse Brown, who was a naval aviator during the Korean war. He was the first African American naval aviators and broke many racial boundaries. This movie does a wonderful job painting a portrait of this great man. This is especially true during the scenes that show him dealing with racial prejudice and biases from people, who do and don't realize they are treating him differently. Through Jonathan Majors' wonderful performance, you can always see the pain that this treatment causes him, yet he always holds himself with the utmost dignity and respect, never letting what anyone else says, effect how he feels about himself. While he recognizes himself as a flawed man, he also recognizes himself as a man deserving the respect that he is not always given. Yet the character never feels too perfect, to not feel human and relatable to us. While I never met the real man and can't tell you how close this representation is to the real person, I can say that the character here always felt like a real human being. His relationship with his white commanding officer is especially well handled. The two are great friends and you can feel the warmth between them in every scene, even those where they have disagreements. This is where much of the heart of the film lies, and it works wonderfully. Not only do Johnathan Majors and Glen Powell have wonderfully chemistry, but the script looks at this relationship in a very intelligent way. The commanding officer always tries to stand up for his friend, whenever he experiences any racism. However, he is not always much help and can even make things worse. Jesse prefers to stand up for himself and fight his own battles his own way. This creates a wonderful dynamic that allows us to relate to both characters and fully understand why it might cause some conflict between friends. This is not an action movie by any means, only having two real action sequences. However these action sequences are truly wonderful and exciting. They are wonderfully paced and have a great sense of suspense.   

This movie can be broken into two parts. One is before our characters see conflict and the other is when they are fighting. I admit that the first part felt kind of padded out with scenes that weren't necessary and didn't really add much to the story or the characters. If these scenes were left it, it would have created a tighter constructed film. Unfortunately they can affect the pacing and feel of this first part. This film also has a problem that is common in war movies. There are quite a few characters in the main group and to give time to the main two characters, the rest come off as kind of bland and clichéd.

None of this can take away from the pure emotional punch this movie delivers in its last act. I don't want to go into much more detail (for those who don't know the true story), but the ending of this film is quite powerful and more than makes up for any flaws it had along the way. 

If you are a fan of war movies, I can highly recommend this one. 

Movie Trailer: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3

Movie Trailer: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Movie Trailer: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Silent Film of the Month: A Christmas Carol (1910)

 

Studio: Edison. Runtime: 13 mins. Director: J. Searle Dawley. Based on the short story by Charles Dickens. Main Cast: Marc MacDermott, Charles Ogle, William Bechtel, Carey Lee, Viola Dana, Shirley Mason.

Probably no Christmas story is more familiar to movie fans than that of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This story has been made into countless films, from straight adaptions to parodies to versions with popular characters (Disney cartoon characters, The Muppets, Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, Mr. Magoo, etc.) and this doesn't look like a practice that is going to end anytime soon. This makes it fascinating to go back and look at an early film version of this story that dates back to 1910. This is especially true when that film version is still very entertaining to a modern audience. 

Everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge is a greedy and mean old man. He mistreats his employees and cares little about those who are less fortunate than him. However, around Christmas time, he receives ghostly visits where he sees memories from past Christmases that helped make him into who he is today, present Christmases where he sees how his actions affect others and a future Christmas the consequences of his actions now. After seeing these visions, he repents from his evil ways and receives the true Christmas spirit. This short film follows the story very closely, with one major exception. Rather than seeing multiple ghosts, Scrooge only sees one ghost.

The reason for this change is very understandable and that is the film's length. It was very common in the days before feature films became a major part of the moviegoing experience, to have films that told shorter abridged versions of classic literary stories. Many of these films would simply show highlights from the story, excepting movie audiences to already know the story (back then people where more read, so most probably did know the story). This film applies that type of storytelling, where we only catch brief glimpse of the Christmases from Scrooge's past, present and future. For this, having only one ghost was the simplicist way to frame these Christmas visions.   

Despite the short length this movie does a great job of capturing the spirit of Charles Dickens’ famous story. While understandably many today will prefer the later longer Christmas Carol films, this movie is still quite engaging and a lot of fun. Even in this short time, the themes of the story are wonderfully conveyed and we understand and relate to Scrooge’s character arc. The sets are wonderful and set up perfectly the atmosphere of the story. The special effects are not only really good for the time but hold up quite while today. 

This movie’s director was J. Searle Dawley. He was one of the finest directors the Edison studio had at this time. The same year he made this film, he made a similar short film version of Frankenstein. That film starred Charles Ogle (who plays Bob Cratchit here) as the monster.  His work after leaving Edison is also fantastic. Of special note are his movies with actress Marguerite Clarke, which would include Snow White (1916) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1918). Though he does not get as much attention as he should today, Dawley is a truly remarkable director, whose films are just as wonderful today as they were when originally made. 

For anyone interested, this film can be found on YouTube. 



Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Movie Review: The Fabelmans

 



Michael's Movie Grade: A+

A top-notch Steven Spielberg film. 

Though films that pay tribute to the cinematic artform are nothing new, few of them are as passionate, personal or candid as The Fabelmans. The movie starts with our main character as a small boy taking his first trip to the movies. As he watches Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), he has a look of pure fascination on his face. This is the feeling we get watching this movie. As I watched this, I felt like I was falling in love with movies all over again. Not only is the passion for movies so heartfelt and genuine that we can't help but feel it, but the filmmaking here is simply top notch. Spielberg is a master filmmaker and here he makes his filmmaking feel completely effortless. Though the filmmaking may not call attention to itself, it tells the story perfectly and the scenes with our main character editing or screening the movies he made put us right in the moment with the characters as it is happening. We feel the same movie magic that he feels, and we understand why he feels compelled to make movies. Those who know anything about Steven Spielberg's life will recognize that this film shares a lot in common with his own life growing up. Perhaps that is why this movie perfectly captures the drive, passion and joy our main character feels when doing the thing he loves.  

Yet as much as this film captures this feeling of lighthearted magic, it does not sugarcoat anything. Spielberg also incorporates the less happy times in his own time growing up and the hurt he felt. These scenes feel just as real and powerful as the joyous scenes. The fact that a filmmaker could be so open and candid about these times in his life is simply amazing. Yet he never turns the movie into a way for him to vent about anything that happened in his life. (In fact not a single one of the main characters comes off as an actual antagonist in this film but instead they are simply flawed human beings.) Rather he digs into his own complex emotions and comes out with something beautifully moving from them. As this movie deals with such heavy subjects as antisemitism, choosing between art and those you love, complex relationships with your parents, infidelity, martial hardships, bullying and much more, it looks it them in thought-provoking and emotionally powerful ways. Despite this movie having moments of pure joy as well as heavier moments, these elements don't ever work against each other. Instead, they work together. Life is full of both joy and sorrow and this movie balances those two feelings in a way that makes the film feel completely real and relatable at all times. It also keeps the film from feeling either being joyless or too idealized. 

This is simply put a modern classic and a must see for any movie fan. 

P.S. If you are a film buff, you will love the ending of this movie. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: A Flintstone Christmas (1977)



A fun little movie.

In this film Santa has an accident on top of Fred Flintstone's roof and Fred and Barney take over for Santa, delivering presents all around the world (which is very similar to what happens in the Christmas episode of the TV show). Yet while he is busy helping the real Santa, Fred is supposed to be playing Santa at the Bedrock Orphanage. 


 This is a charming little film. The characters are just as likable as ever and it is always great to see The Flintstones again. This movie also has a nice, warm Christmas-y feeling to it. On the downside this film does lack the amount of laughs the TV show had, and the songs come out of nowhere and don't fit in well. Though this may not be the classic that the Christmas episode of the TV show, or A Flintstones Christmas Carol were, it is fun, and that is just what you want from The Flintstones.


The movie's director was Charles A. Nichols. My fellow Disney buffs might recognize his name because he directed a lot of Pluto cartoons. Charles A. Nichols had also worked as an animation director on the original TV show. Mel Blanc and Jean Vander Ply reprise their roles as Barney and Wilma. Jean Vander Ply even is still the voice of Pebbles, even though Pebbles is older and can talk now. However, Fred and Betty's voices have been taken over by Henry Corden, and Gay Autterson, both would voice the characters many more times in the future. This film even features some of the original Flintstones animators like Ed Barge and Hugh Fraser. The song Hope was used earlier in the Hanna-Barbera Christmas special A Christmas Story (1972) and later reused in the made for TV movie Yogi's First Christmas (1980). 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Cowboy Church #197

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

With Christmas not being too far off, I am going to start incorporating Christmas music into these posts. First up is a favorite for me Roy Rogers singing Silent Night. This recording comes from 1940 and it is part of a session he did with The Jimmy Walley Trio where they recorded a few Christmas songs together. 

Next comes Charley Pride with They Stood in Silent Prayer. This version of the song comes from Charley's 1970 Christmas album, Christmas in my Hometown.

Now for Tennessee Ernie Ford with It is Well (With My Soul). Though this is a hymn of hope and peace it was written in a time of great sadness. The song was written by Horatio G. Spafford in 1873. He had planned a European trip for himself, his wife and four daughters, however because of his work he was unable to go, and he let his family go without him and after he finished his work, he would meet them there. However, the ship was hit and quickly sank. Though his wife was saved all four of his daughters had gone down with the ship. Amazingly he wrote this hymn when approaching an area near where his daughters had sunk. 

Afterwards comes Willie Nelson and his sister Bobbie Nelson (on piano) with Are You Washed in the Blood. This hymn was written by Elisha Albright Hoffman (Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, Glory to His Name) in 1878. It first appeared in his book, Spiritual Songs for Gospel Meetings and the Sunday School. Yet it was strangely dropped from later versions of this book. This version of this classic hymn comes from Willie and Bobbie's 1996 gospel album Just as I Am. This album consisted of hymns and gospel songs that the two have known and held dear to them since they were small kids. 

Then comes The Carter Family with their 1932 recording of Church in the Wildwood. This hymn was written in 1857 by a music teacher named William S Pitts. On a stagecoach ride to meet his fiancé, he stopped in Bradford, Iowa. While there he took a long nature walk. Seeing an especially beautiful valley near Cedar River, he began to picture a church building here. The idea became engrained into his mind and even after he was back home in Wisconsin, he still couldn't stop thinking about it.  He later stated that only after he had written this hymn, was he at peace with himself. In 1962 the songwriter and his now wife, had visited the spot and found a church right there, even the same color he mentioned in the song.  

Now for Anne Wilson with O Holy Night. This hymn was written in 1847. The lyricist for the song was Placide Cappeau. Cappeau was a poet who rarely wrote about Christian subjects, however the local priest asked him to write a poem for Christmas mass. He didn't know what to write so he looked at the story of Jesus' birth in the book of Luke and tried to place himself there. He then asked his friend Adolphe Charles Adams (who had composed over 80 operas) to write some music. This hymn would gain controversy in France, when the church learned of its writers. Cappeau had left the church and joined the socialist party. Adams was not Christian, but rather Jewish. The idea that neither of the writers of a Christian hymn were in fact Christian, upset many church leaders. These church leaders denounced the song and deemed it not fit to sing in a church. Yet despite this the hymn was one of the most popular Christmas songs in France at the time. 

Gene Autry continues the musical selection with his 1956 recording of Everyone's a Child at Christmas. This song was written by Johnny Marks, who also wrote Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a song that Gene would help turn into a Christmas classic. 

As today's musical selection ends, The Sons of the Pioneers ask the theological question, Will There be Sagebrush in Heaven in a classic 1947 recording. 



































Today's movie trailer for Hop-Along Cassidy (1935). This is the first of 66 films in which William Boyd, would play the famous cowboy character. The last of these films would be Strange Gamble (1948). To say this movie series became a major success is a huge understatement. Hop-Along Cassidy movies would become a sensation, capturing the hearts and imaginations of all red-blooded American boys. Though the character had existed since 1904 as the star of a series of books written by Clarence E. Mulford, from this point on the character would be associated mainly with William Boyd. As if playing the character in 66 movies wasn't enough Boyd also played the character in a radio show that ran from 1948 to 1952 and a TV series which ran from 1949 to 1952. Boyd's version of the character owed little to the book character. Boyd's version was much more clean living and a role model for young kids. Few of these movies, radio episodes and TV episodes borrowed anything from the books for story material. 






If you have a hard time reading the following page, click on it and use your touch screen to zoom in. 



The International Photographer, 1937

Now for a sermon from S.M. Lockridge. 





Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah Psalm 3:8

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:1-2

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” Joshua 10:25

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 



















Saturday, November 26, 2022

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: The Bishop's Wife (1947)

 


One of the best Christmas movies ever made. 

This film has a storyline that is simply hard to resist. Around Christmas time a bishop (David Niven) is spending all his time focusing on building a new church. The stress and overwork are making him increasingly unhappy and distant from his beautiful wife (Loretta Young). In a time of desperation, he says a prayer for guidance and an angel (Cary Grant) appears to help him. However, when the angel makes his wife the happiest, she has been in a while, he starts to suspect the angel is trying to steal her away from him.

This film did not come about easily. The original director was William A. Seiter, who my fellow Laurel and Hardy fans might know as the director of the classic Sons of the Desert (1933). However Samuel Goldwyn did not like how the film was progressing and replaced him with Harry Koster as the director. The angel was originally going to be played by David Niven, and the Bishop by Dana Andrews, and Tersea Wright as the wife. However Tersea Wright had to leave due to pregnancy. The wife was to be played now by Loretta Young. However she was under contract to RKO. Dana Andrews was traded to RKO in order for MGM to get Young. The Bishop part was given to Cary Grant. However it was discovered that Grant would work better as the angel, so Niven and Grant traded roles. On top of all this the preview did not go well. Goldwyn was unhappy with Leonardo Bercovici and Robert E. Sherwood's script, so Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett were hired to refine the script, both without receiving credit. The film did well with critics, but less so with an audience. Because of this the title was temporary changed to Cary and the Bishop's Wife. Adding Cary Grant's first name to the title somehow did increase the box office results somewhat.

Even with all those issues to overcome, this turned out to be a near perfect movie. Everything in this film works near perfectly. The fantasy element is wonderful and this whole movie comes off as a wonderful Christmas themed fairy tale. The film only gets more magical as the more times you watch it. The romance is simply wonderful. This may be one of the most touching romances in movie history. The chemistry between all three leads is fantastic and there is never a single scene about the romance where it is not 100% believable. The humor is delightful. While the film may not always be laugh out loud funny, it does always keep a smile firmly on your face. There are also a few really good laugh out loud moments. What really makes the movie work though is the little moments that are simply charming. There is such a sweet an irresistible charm to scenes like the ice-skating scene and the choir scene, that gives one that heartwarming Christmas feeling. 

This is a film that always gives me a great feeling of joy every time I watch it. 



Some Cartoons for Saturday Morning #201

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. Once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

Today's cartoon selection begins with Sylvester the Cat in Tree For Two (1952). This short film introduced the two dogs, Spike and Chester. They would only appear in two classic theatrical shorts (the other being Dr. Jekyll's Hyde (1954)), but the popularity of these movies has made the characters make cameos in many post-golden age Looney Tunes projects. This short would later be edited into the feature film, Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island (1983) and be remade as The Dogfather (1974), the first short in The Dogfather series of short films. 




Santa's Surprise (1947) is an especially delightful Christmas cartoon from Famous Studios. This cartoon is best remembered as the first cartoon to feature the character of Little Audrey. Little Audrey was an original character for the studio and also a replacement for Little Lulu, who the studio had made a series of cartoons with, in the past. Little Lulu was not created by the studio but was the star of a comic strip by Marjorie Henderson Buell. When Paramount decided not to renew the license for Famous Studios to use that character, Little Audrey was created. The character was designed by veteran Disney animator Bill Tytla (possibly my favorite Disney animator), who was now a director at Famous. This short's lead animator was Myron Waldman, who specialized in cute animation (often shining his best in the studio's Casper series). Myron would later remember this cartoon as one he was especially happy with.




Now we join Mighty Mouse in Goons from the Moon (1951). I love that since this movie was made for Terrytoons, the town in it is called, Terrytown. 









Disney cartoons have long been associated with sentimentality and cuteness. Yet this wasn't always the case. The early black and white Mickey Mouse films were mostly pretty much the opposite. They focused purely on the gags and jokes and with keeping the comic momentum going. A perfect example of this is Mickey's Orphans (1931). This movie has all the makings for a sentimental cartoon. It takes place at Christmas time and the involves Mickey adopting a bunch of orphans. Yet all of this is play strictly for laughs and some of the kids can be a little sadistic. A review in the Motion Picture Herald stated "The youngsters will get a real kick out of this short, and the oldsters will extract a bit of enjoyment." A review in The Film Daily gave the same sentiment stating "It will delight all children and get many a laugh from their elders." An issue of The Film Daily (Dated February 7, 1932) stated "In addition to El Brendel in person this week's show at the Roxy is a special treat for the kids. The presentation includes four scenes based on 'Mickey's Orphans,' the Mickey Mouse cartoon that was held over for three weeks at this house. The characters of Mickey and Minnie are portrayed by the Arnaut Brothers, popular pantomimists. Patricia Bowman, Fred Waring's orchestra in a novelty entitled 'Dancing Melodies,' and the Roxyettes also are part of the proceedings. In the Mickey scenes, the Roxyettes and ballet group are made up to represent kittens, musical notes and animated furnishings in Minnie's boudoir." This movie was reissued to theatres in 1934. 


    




Now it is time for a commercial break.













Now we join our good friend Pooch the Pup in Nature's Workshop (1933). The last few moments of this movie are completely insane and I love them.




If you have trouble reading the page below click on it and use your touch screen to zoom in. The page has an extra little bonus for fans of Universal Monster movies. 



Universal Weekly, 1933

Up next Donald Duck once again battles Chip and Dale in Chips Ahoy (1956). Unlike other Chip and Dale, shorts, this cartoon was directed by Jack Kinney instead of Jack Hannah. While it is not as crazy as some of Kinney's other films, this cartoon still features all the delightful slapstick you could want. This movie predates the cookies with the same name. 




Now for Bugs Bunny in Prince Violent (1961). This film would later be renamed, Prince Varmint for TV airings, because I guess seeing the word violent written out would make kids want to be violent. 





Today's cartoon selection ends with The Simpsons in Simpson Xmas (1988). This was one of the Simpsons shorts on The Tracy Ullman Show before the family got their own TV series. 


Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for another selection of animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 


 












Thursday, November 24, 2022

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: Toyland Premiere (1934)


Note: The reason this review is going up on Thanksgiving Day, is because it features Santa Claus taking part in a parade to tell everyone that Christmas is on its way. It is obvious to me that this is a Thanksgiving parade. 

 With Disney gaining the rights to the character luckily many people today now know about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character that was not that well know not that long ago. Many also know the basic history of his early years. He was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and starred in various silent cartoon shorts. These shorts were very popular on their release. At this time producer Charles Mintz was hiring away Walt's crew behind his back. Mintz then told Walt that he would either make these shorts on a much smaller budget or he would not be able to work with the character anymore. This was because despite creating him, Walt never owned the rights to Oswald. Walt refused and he would co-create a brand-new character again with Ub Iwerks called Mickey Mouse. This is where however the history most Disney fans hear seems to end, but Oswald's cartoon career continued for a while afterwards. At first Charles Mintz made a few cartoons with Oswald using the crew that Walt had been using. However soon Mintz would lose the rights to make Oswald when Universal (the studio distributing these shorts) would start its on cartoon studio and put Walter Lantz in charge of the character.

By 1934 when this Christmas cartoon was released, Lantz was making two different series of animated shorts. These were the Oswald shorts and the "Car-Tune" shorts. The difference between these two series was pretty much the same as the difference between Disney's Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies series. The Oswald shorts would star Oswald and the Car-Tune shorts would feature miscellaneous characters. Toyland Premiere was a tiny bit of an exception. This Car-Tune short would feature Oswald in it; however, Oswald does play a smaller role here and the real star of the film is Santa Claus.

Santa is the star attraction of the Toyland parade. After the parade is over Oswald invites Santa to a party at his department store. Also attending the party are various Hollywood stars including Al Jolson, Shirley Temple, Bing Crosby, Boris Karloff, Johnny Weissmuller and Laurel and Hardy. Oddly enough Laurel and Hardy are made the cartoon's villains, as they try to steal a chocolate cake made for the party. This ends up causing a food fight that Santa enjoys very much.

This is a very charming cartoon and a delight to watch. The animation while not up to Disney standards is quite good. This is animation above the usual standard of Lantz cartoons at this time. The early scenes at the North Pole may remind Disney fans of the 1932 Disney Silly Symphony, Santa's Workshop. I have no proof as to if they were inspired by that film, this is just an observation. The whole cartoon also moves a brisk pace and has a nice Christmas-y feeling to it.

Cartoon buffs may be interested to know Santa Claus in this film is voiced by Tex Avery. Before he became a director and revolutionized the Warner Brothers cartoons, Tex was an animator at Lantz studio, and with his boisterous laugh it was only naturally for him to voice Santa. This by the way was not the last time he would voice Santa. He would return to voicing the character for a brief gag in a 1943 cartoon he himself directed called Who Killed Who.


Thanksgiving with Tony and Janet

 Ever wonder what it would be to spend Thanksgiving with Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and little baby Jamie Lee Curtis? Well wonder know more. Just read the following article from a 1960 issue of Modern Screen magazine. If you have trouble reading the following pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.   


















Classic Short Film: Tom Turkey and his Harmonica Humdingers (1940)

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The New Super Friends: Sinbad and the Space Pirates (1978)

 




A fun little superhero adventure.

In this episode an evil pirate captain, named Sinbad of course, and his crew are traveling in their flying space pirate ships and robbing various cities around the world. The Super Friends come to stop them. 

I have always liked stories where superheroes are placed up against criminals without superpowers and yet those characters can come off as legitimate threats to our heroes. This episode does a very good job at providing such a story. These space pirates are not in any way typical super villains, yet the technology they have makes them completely believable as threats to our heroes. This even allows us to have some really fun action sequences. The scenes with these pirates up against Batman and Robin and with Aquaman especially stand out. The whole episode moves at a fast speed and never once loses the viewer's interest. Besides just being a non-superpowered threat, Sinbad is a great villain in quite a few ways. He has a wonderful design and a perfect voice. He is also very smart and the ways he uses his technology to stop the super friends are delightfully clever. This episode also includes some wonderful design work, both of the various cities around the world and of the space pirate ships. I also love that this episode allows us to see Superman briefly as Clark Kent. It is rare in Super Friends to see any of the superheroes in their secret identities and even if this is only for a brief moment, it is a nice little moment. However, the best thing about this episode is that Gleek the monkey is barely in it. 

This is simply put a really fun episode. 

Movie Review: Bones and All

 



Michael's Movie Grade: A-

A wonderful film that is equal parts creepy and beautiful. 

Making a love story about two cannibals is something that very few filmmakers would ever try. Luckily Luca Guadagnino is not most filmmakers. What he creates here is a very unique and powerful thing. It is brilliant how this movie turns the characters that in most horror films would be the bad guys into the most sympathetic and relatable people. You truly get to care about our two main characters and see them as human beings rather than monsters. This is done heavily with how the characters don't eat people out of malice but instead because they have an unquenching desire to devour fellow human beings Our heroine desires nothing more than to simply be normal. She constantly feels guilty about this and constantly wonders if she is in fact a good person. Yet in the scenes where we see her feeding are indeed disturbing, making her both frightening and lovable at the same time. To think about whether or not she has a right to be happy and live a normal life is a huge question this movie brings up. As the movie goes on we have many complex emotions about this and the more complex these emotions get the more it leaves us unable to answer this question. Because of this, you leave the movie theater with a lot of food of thought and genuinely both emotionally and intellectually affected by what you just saw. Despite the dark and gruesome nature of such a film, there is a surprisingly sweetness behind the main romance. Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet have wonderful chemistry and the romance between them always feels completely real and believable. Yet this is not to say that the movie does not have any real scares. Some of the scenes in this film are truly scary. Some of the scariest scenes have to do with Mark Rylance's character. Every scene with this character pushes this movie completely into the horror realm. Mark Rylance is one of my favorite current working actors, however I have never seen him play a role like this before. He plays it incredibly well and makes each scene with him simply terrifying. Even in the scenes where he is not eating other people, we feel a sense of uneasy that makes us truly shiver. 

What truly makes this film wonderful is how well it can go from genre to genre. It can go from horror to romance to family drama to art film, while feeling completely natural the whole time. 

A truly great, one of a kind movie.