Anne of Windy Poplars

Almost as Good as Anne of Green Gables

Delightful follow up to Anne of Green Gables (1934 version). The acting by all concerned was very effective, especially the luminous Anne Shirley as…Anne Shirley, and Joan Carroll as the child Betty. Marcia Mae Jones, usually seen as Shirley Temple’s nemesis is perfectly cast as Jen Pringle. Well worth searching for. One of the last “lost” movies on my want to see list. It is not available on DVD and even the Anne Shirley marathon of TCM did not show it. I found it by means of a link which downloaded it to my computer. You can find it as a link on You Tube posted by an angel named Susannah.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

August 29, 2020

Unexpected Uncle

Very Misguided and a Waste

Very bad romance starring the lovely Anne Shirley, the very handsome James Craig, and the always delightful Charles Coburn. The problem is that Craig plays a spoiled and entitled alcoholic whom Anne falls head over heels for. I don’t know why, because when he is not trying to control and manipulate her he rudely ignores her and is mean to her. He treats her like crap. Instead of Coburn, The Unexpected Uncle, talking some sense into her and finding her a sweet humble boy for her to love, he actually helps him get her back when she finally sees the light and leaves him. Turrible.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

August 29, 2020

Saturday’s Children

Just Kind of Fades Away…

This well-written as far as dialogue and character but the plot was pretty lame. I tuned in for the always delightful Anne Shirley and to see the charismatic John Garfield in something a little lighter. Unfortunately he struggled in some of the lighter bits. There is a reason, it turns out, why he was cast in tense noir dramas. Claude Rains is great as her father, a rather lame character. He is charming and wise but lazy. But then feels bad because he is not more of a success. His dramatic scheme to help his daughter makes no sense. My main problem with the plot is that it did not have any resolution or closure. Instead of going after his dream of developing silk from hemp, a process of his own invention, he fell for Anne who encouraged him to marry her by making him jealous instead of accepting a promising job in the Philippines. They struggle financially. After she gets pregnant, he turns down a second chance for the life-changing job, and they will continue to struggle with no hope on the horizon. I would have liked to see him take that job in the Philippines with or without her, or have one of his many other inventions pay off. Perhaps one which will help with the coming war effort which actually is only a year away.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

August 29, 2020

Twice Blessed

Interesting Variation of the Parent Trap plot, with None of its Charm

The appeal for this movie is its similarities and differences from Parent Trap. In this case the twins know each other and their non-custodial parents even though they rarely see them. So we miss the emotional epiphanies when the two discover each others existence. In this movie, the mother is an uptight famous child psychologist engaged to a Senator. The dad is scruffy newspaper man. The twins are 16 or 17 years old when the movie starts, so teen romance does play a large part of the plot. Mom’s daughter is a conservative intellectual genius, Dad’s is a dumb blonde and a jitterbug queen. Hilarity ensues when they decide on impulse to change places. Sounds pretty good, right? It would have been very good indeed had this movie had the great stars and performances (and charm) of either the Hayley Mills led project or the Lindsey Lohan vehicle. But no. All of the players are pretty pedestrian, and so is this movie. Oh well, glad I saw it anyway. Can’t believe I was unaware of this until I saw it listed on TCM. I’m a huge Hayley Mills and Parent Trap fan. I read the book (Lottie and Lisa) when it was finally re-issued in English in 2015.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

June 2, 2019

Child of Divorce

If Your Parents get divorced, Don’t Sulk, or else!

A very unusual film for its time. It’s theme is how traumatic divorce is for children. The message is effective because their are no good guys or bad guys in the film. The mother cheats on the husband, but the husband was neglectful of his wife. It is made clear that they were never passionately in love. Her lover, whom she marries, is a good guy, and tries his best to win over his stepdaughter. The father eventually also gains a fiancée, who also seems very nice. But he continues to be away from home too much due to his career. The two parents both love their daughter very very much, but due to her disruptive attitude (not bad, just disconcertingly unhappy and unaccepting of the two new people in her parents’ lives) they put her away in a nice boarding school on the advice of her doctor. It is made clear that though everyone loves little Roberta this solution is a relief to both parents. The last scene is Roberta pretty much getting the scoop on what her future with her parents is going to be from her more experienced roommate, another child of divorce. Both of the little actresses are wonders in this film. Sadly, the message to the children seems to be, If your parents get divorced, pretend to be happy, or else. Everything is pretty much left unresolved, and there is no closure provided. Realistic, yes, but Not what I prefer in a film.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

June 2, 2019

A Letter for Evie

Cyrano de Bergerac a la World War II

Why wasn’t Marsha Hunt a bigger star? What a sweetie! And what a smile! Really well written take on the mistaken identity romantic comedy. The scene with the great Spring Byington where Johnny’s identity was finally revealed went from laugh out loud funny to sad and touching. And the scene with Evie on the bed weeping her confusion when she finally learns the truth was equally well done: both by script writer and Marsha Hunt. Hume Cronyn was perfect. Who would have thought the actor so often cast as a weaselly villain could be such a romantic hero? I loved the last scene where Johnny heroically tries to “Tell her what she wants to hear” ends at last with the romantic resolution. By the way, that scene at the rest home with the friend of the dead soldier added a bit of depth not usually expected in such a generally frothy romance. Another example of how well this was written and played. **9 stars out of 10**

January 10, 2015