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Cold Case: A Perfect Day (2005)
Watching did make one wonder how the cold case detectives were so quickly able to trace a victim based only on the injuries without knowing names, from a time when hospital records weren't kept on computers. Would 40-year-old hospital records in a city the size of Philadelphia really be indexed by victim's age, gender, and type of treatment? There was a case like this on "Unsolved Mysteries" (skeleton of an unidentified young girl with something distinguishing about the bones) where they asked anyone who may have performed such an operation to come forward, and it might have been more believable had they found the attending physician that way. Otherwise, excellent ep, kept one riveted which is a rare enough thing these days.
Nice Try, But Falls Short
In this version of "Heidi" one sees a stellar cast, and enough resemblance to the book that it could have been an earnest try, but enough deviations to annoy the true "Heidi" reader. They went to the trouble of casting a girl with beautiful brown hair instead of the ridiculous blond braids too often associated with Heidi, but then don't bother to curl the hair. If they didn't want to have a hairdresser every day, they couldn't give the child a permanent before going on location? They get the exact right color of goats, then get the goats' NAMES wrong! The German names are pretty easy to pronounce, and there are always the English "Little Swan" and "Little Bear," BUT NO! The goats have to be Dusty and Daisy like they live in Wyoming or something! There are also a number of probably well-intended plot deviations, not one of which improves the movie, which is glacially slow paced. It is enough like the book to be tolerable, but not enough like to be enjoyable. Too bad because the acting, costumes, sets, and camera work are great. Foothills, but no mountain peak for this one.
A War of Children (1972)
Unforgettable Viewing Experience
After viewing this film once 34 years ago I have never been able to forget it. Perhaps the reason it isn't aired more often is it is just so heartbreaking and troubling, but it should be better-known! Once seen, images of its incidents are seared forever on the memory. It has an absolutely real, almost documentary feel, giving the impression of looking at true-life incidents. This was a very brave and deeply-felt venture in film-making worthy of award. It should join the classic French film "Forbidden Games" in making an anti-war statement and depicting the effects on war upon the hearts, minds, and souls of children.
The Quiet Man (1952)
Movie Facts and Trivia
Okay, this is by far my mother's favorite film of all time and I was raised on it! First seeing it in black-and-white on TV and being told how much better it was in color. Then seeing it in color and being told how washed-out the color on the print had become and how much better it was in the theater. My sister bought the VHS tape for Mom and we hoped the picture would be restored. No luck there, but at least Mom didn't have to point out everywhere it had been cut for TV (she'd seen it so many times she had practically every aspect memorized.) At last, I bought Mom the DVD and now, finally, it's juuust right!
Get the 50th anniversary DVD with Maureen O'Hara's commentary, in which she'll tell you much of the trivia, including that appearing here, is untrue!
Click here http://raybradburyboard.com/groupee/forums/a/tpc/f/3791083901/m/ 7881075901 for the true story of the composer of the film's main theme and other references to that theme.
The Return of the Psammead (1993)
Psammead Reappears to Grant More Wishes
"Return of the Sand Fairy" was mostly an excuse to reuse the Sand Fairy, on which obviously a lot of effort was expended in the fine adaptation of "Five Children and It." The makers also, obviously, didn't have the funds for the full- scale time travel of "The Story of the Amulet," which was all to the ancient world and so would be horrifically expensive, and they didn't have the gall to rip off Nesbit's title with a simpler story, so they used an easier-to-do time travel story with different characters not totally incompatible with Nesbit's universe-- assuming this story to be taking place sometime between "Five Children and It" and "The Story of the Amulet." The story is "Nesbitesque" rather than being taken from Nesbit, and manages to cover a couple of obvious wishes Nesbit missed. The evil twin would have been my first. My sisters were identical twins. Most of the time they both got away with murder, though once in awhile one was unjustly punished. I always wished both for a twin and to get away with being bad, but the result would likely have been much more like in this story, with the bad twin getting the good one in trouble. The other wish, of course, was invisibility, which Nesbit sort of covered in "The Phoenix and the Carpet." The time travel story in this one was reminiscent of "Tom's Midnight Garden" and the like, with the past events connecting to the modern ones and so on. It wasn't much like the foray into the future in "The Story of the Amulet," but was very good in showing the marvels of the modern age being wonders to Edwardian children. They may have borrowed from other Nesbit works I have not read. I understand "House of Arden" has children visiting a house at different times in its history, including a scene in a kitchen, which this contains. The children are appealing and the adventures entertaining. Not as good as the Amulet, or Tom, but I would certainly watch it again.
Five Children and It (1991)
Magical Sand Fairy Grants Children's Wishes
Four children and their baby brother living in England at the turn of the last century discover a Psammead or Sand Fairy, a magical creature which grants wishes, often resulting in getting the children into scrapes. For this BBC version of "Five Children and It," based on well-meant but clunky special effects in other BBC productions and a description by someone who'd seen it, I was really braced for much worse, and was pleasantly surprised. It was in two parts, but both on one video, just about two and a half hours long. What can I say? So true to the book they listed E. Nesbit as the writer--as if she'd written the screenplay--well-written, superbly cast, and with almost every line of dialogue drawn directly from the page. I thought I'd caught them in just one error when Robert used a safety pin to puncture his grown-up baby brother's bike tires, but looked it up in Webster's and sure enough, the term "safety pin" has been around since 1857, and the book does not specify WHAT sort of pin. The Psammead was surprisingly well-done--not only well-voiced but expressive, reminded me of Yoda, very much a Hensonesque creature and no mere puppet. Special effects budget spent wisely. The movie covered every single adventure from the book with the exception of the "Indian fighting" episode, the least dramatically interesting and least politically correct. The part with the gypsies was left out of "Being Wanted," also no doubt for length and pc-ness. The only other omissions were strictly abbreviations for translating from print to screen, and skillfully managed, too! The set decorators and costumers knocked themselves totally out, especially in the castle sequence. Most or all of the costumes were copied directly from the illustrations with which I was so familiar! The special effect which impressed me most was the floating baby in the castle sequence. This was the most familiar illustration to me, as it was on the spine of our copy of the book, and I was a bit worried they'd botch it; I couldn't have been more pleased. Although not as good as reading the book, this film is highly recommended.
The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963)
A great classic, now sadly neglected. Fine Family Fare.
Complete agreement with everything positive said about this film. Excellent acting on the part of everyone, kids and animals included! Luckily this was part of a children's film lineup at a local theater and my brother-in-law, sister, and I just saw it for the first time since it was on "Wonderful World of Disney" (circa 1970!) and the kids for the first time.
About the plot holes, my niece had questions about the two fires which I had to explain. A tree, struck by lightning, catches fire outside the "witch's" house while Thomasina is there alone, the other animals presumably in a different room or building. To some viewers it may have looked as though the tree struck the house, but it didn't; it burned in the yard. The fire at the circus destroys several wagons away from the wagons containing the animals. The adults then become worried about getting the kids away from the fire and no one sees to the animals. It's up to the viewer to decide what happened to them. This may upset some sensitive viewers but the only group which may really be offended by this film are gypsies!
What struck me most seeing this film again, from child to adult is, that as an adult, the main plots, with the girl and her father, and the father, Andrew, and Laurie/Lorrie/Lori, were not what stayed with me. What really impressed me about the film was the teenage boy, Hughie, and his two younger friends, spreading tales about the veterinarian--mostly not lies, but very selected and slanted facts. To help the circus animals, Hughie must then swallow his pride and approach same veterinarian. Hughie, the one main character between child and adult, has to go from malicious, childish thought and action to brave adult action (afraid of the "witch," he helps Dr. McDhui in the brawl while the younger boys cower.) He is a central character echoing recurrent themes in the film and what most impressed me as a child--how many other kids' movies, in the past or present, could one speak this way about?
I'd like to add that it is a shame to see some classics which were fine as is being remade and other classics neglected while excellent books such as Mr. Gallico's still languish on shelves waiting to be made into films as good as this one!
Superb and faithful adaptation!
Amazingly, this is the fifth film of this novel (BBC TV 1950, 1957, 1967, theatrical film 1970, BBC TV 2000) and Jenny Agutter appeared in three of them (as Bobbie, 1967 and 1970, and as Mother, 2000). I thought nothing could be better than her performance as Bobbie, but she even truly surpassed herself playing Bobbie's mother! In this 2000 production, the BBC has reached the height and pinnacle of perfection, having probably produced the best filmed adaptation of any of E. Nesbit's works to date.
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
The Question of the Dozen
I'll admit to not having read the book or seen the film, but I have been doing some research on the family. My mother is a big fan of the stories but remarked that "something must have been wrong with Mary" because she was never in any of the stories, and family pictures show only eleven children. We thought Mary was a freak they kept locked in the attic, but it turns out she died of diphtheria at a young age. She can't have been much more than six, and some of the younger children were not born at this time. The family felt Mary was still with them in spirit, hence talk of the eleven children being "the dozen." These movie credits raise ANOTHER mystery--someone (Betty Barker) is credited as Mary Gilbreth in this movie! No date of birth is given for Betty Barker, so no telling how old she was in 1950 and whether Mary was portrayed as being the age she was at death or the age she would have been had she lived (shades of "Beloved"!) In either case, if Mary was "in"--WHICH Gilbreth child was "out," and why? (As eight of the twelve are still living, perhaps someone wished to remain anonymous, so Mary was substituted in his/her place.)