Cecilee Linke

I can write you a story, teach you French, sing you a song.

More Retro Sewing Adventures: Advance 9054 (Part 1)

You can thank Pinterest for this latest sewing project.

If it weren’t for someone posting a picture of this pattern on their board, I would’ve never discovered this pattern. I probably would’ve found this pattern without Pinterest (going to Ebay to look at vintage sewing patterns is VERY dangerous…..), but then I wouldn’t have a super cute dress hanging in my closet now!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I absolutely love vintage sewing patterns. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Not only are the styles gorgeous, but since my body type is halfway between a pear and an hourglass, the waist and bust-centric shapes of older patterns work best for my body type. So when I’m looking around at old patterns, if the finished product is shapely and it’s from the 40s through the 60s, I will sew it up and add it to my collection. And I’ll even wear it out and about. There’s something about going to Walmart dolled up in a cute, button-down 50s dress that nips in the waist or going to the mall wearing a cute 40s top.

When I saw a picture of this pattern on Pinterest, I knew I had to have it. This dress has tons of shape to it (gotta love the emphasis on the waist in this one) and it’s got buttons. Other than formal jackets, you just don’t see buttons on clothes anymore. (Admittedly, zippers are easier to install, for the most part)

I also really like Advance patterns. I’ve sewn one of their patterns before. I love the styles every time I see one on Ebay. Unfortunately, the company went defunct long before I was born, so no chance of getting any new patterns from them. Advance was a sewing company that existed from the 30s through the 60s and were sold exclusively at JC Penney’s. (Can you imagine going to a JC Penney store for sewing products?? That would be amazing!) Then they got bought up by another company and the Advance name disappeared. Booo.

At least they left behind some gorgeous patterns. Like this one.

 

If only my hair could be as curly as the ladies in this drawing….. sigh

Lucky for me that this was on Ebay for less than $20. I know some people pay out the nose for vintage patterns, but I don’t go anywhere above $20. (Vintage pattern prices can get INSANE. I once saw a pattern that I loved, but the cheapest I found it was $150. (!))

Then the pattern arrived in the mail (YAY!), I put it in my stash…. Then forgot about it until last weekend.

I’ve been resolving to sew more tops this year, but after sewing mostly tops and even my first jumpsuit for a cosplay, I went, you know what? It’s time I sewed a dress.

And so I did.

Before I began sewing……

The thing about sewing vintage patterns is that until about thirty years ago, you only got one size in the envelope. These days, every commercial pattern comes with multiple sizes in the envelope. Not so with older patterns. This means that you either need to grade up or down to get the size you want (a more advanced trick that even I’m still learning five years later) or try and get a size that’s close to your measurements and hope for the best. (And even then, you might still have to tweak the pattern. But we’ll get to that later.)

The only size available for this pattern was an “18.” Without knowing the bust, waist, and hip measurement for that size (it wasn’t printed anywhere on the envelope, gaahhhhh), I figured if this pattern turned out too big, I could always take it in. Too big is always better to fix than too small. (And I’ve had to fix many a “too small” vintage pattern, especially at the waist; my waist is small but not that small.)

I wish that a simple Google search could’ve told me what the measurements for this pattern size were supposed to be. However, I got several results. One source said an Advance size 18 was supposed to fit a 36” bust. Another said 40”. Gah. So, not knowing what the bust, hip, and waist measurements are supposed to be for this size, I resolved to do something I tend to only do with older patterns that don’t have measurements anywhere on the pattern envelope or pattern pieces: take flat measurements on the pattern pieces at the bust, hip, and waist and calculate them to figure out the measurements this pattern will fit.

You can see the math I did here to figure it out on this pattern:

So what I came up with for this pattern’s size 18 (which includes the ease that’s always built into patterns) was:

Bust: ~42″

Waist: ~37″

I didn’t worry as much about the hip measurement because this dress is supposed to flare out a lot anyway. It was the waist and bust I was worried about.

Based on these flat measurements, I knew that I would have to make some changes to this pattern. To confirm those measurements, I took to my dress form and pinned the pattern pieces on them to look at how they would fit. Sure enough, there was TONS of gapping at the back and front. OK, so I’d have to change this pattern a bit. Whatever. I’m used to doing that by now. Half the fun of sewing is making the clothes fit you, not the other way around!

Not only did I have to make changes at the waist and bust, but also in other ways too.

Next time: what I did to make this pattern fit me and modernize it a bit.


My Musical Production Beginnings: Techno Ejay

Sometime in high school, my mom and I were browsing in a computer store like we always did. I can’t remember the exact store, but I know it’s a chain that doesn’t exist anymore (likely Circuit City or Comp USA). Next to bookstores, computer stores were my favorite places to visit. See, I’d had a computer since I was four years old. My uncle, my mom’s older brother, was a computer engineer in the mid-80s and he convinced my mom to get my brother and me computers because “they are the future”; he was ahead of his time! As a child, I spent hours on my computer typing stories and playing games, so computer stores were some of favorite places to go. You never knew what kind of games or programs you might find.

That day, I saw a program at the store that looked intriguing. It was a music production program called Techno Ejay. I flipped over the box that it came in to read the description.

Drag and drop samples and create your own songs! it said.

Wow, sounded awesome! That easy? Cool!

And only $30? Whoa, I just had to try it!

Mom wasn’t so sure about it, though. She thought it was expensive. (Not really; $30 in 2001 is only $41 now in 2017 …. I’ve bought apps that were more expensive than that.)

But she bought it for me anyway.

 

This is where it all began….. (source: Amazon)

 

Not only was I interested in it because of the price but also the idea that I could create my own music. Especially electronic music. A few years before I got Techno Ejay, I got the soundtrack to the movie Lost in Space. That was one of those movies that my parents took me to see because they remembered the original 60s show. I LOVED the music. So we went to Sam Goody after seeing the movie and I bought the soundtrack on cassette so I could listen to it on my Walkman.

It was one of my top albums of the late 90s. The music on that soundtrack was so different from anything I had heard before. Before I got the Lost in Space soundtrack, I was used to simple four-minute pop songs with lots of lyrics and vocals. My parents switched between soft rock or oldies on car trips. So that’s what I was used to hearing.

But the electronic music on that soundtrack was long and had unknown sounds and free-flowing structures. And minimal to non-existent lyrics too! I’d never heard anything like it. Ever. This kind of music never got played on the radio stations my parents always listened to in the car.

Hearing these songs again takes me right back to listening to this on my headphones on the bus going to the middle school across town. I’d turn these songs up loud, trying to drown out the stupid antics from the other kids on the bus, watching the world go by outside my window.

The Crystal Method – Busy Child

Propellerheads – Bang On!

Death in Vegas – Song for Penny (I used to play this LOUD at home when my parents weren’t home and on my Walkman when I was walking between classes)

When I saw Techno Ejay as a teenager, I was still really into the soundtrack to Lost in Space, so when I saw a music program for creating your own electronic music, I was excited to try it! Who knew that I too could create my own electronic music just like the stuff on that album, with Techno Ejay!

I brought it home, installed it and immediately began using it. I realized that the program was simple to use, just right for someone like me who had never made music like this before in my life. Over three hundred samples on a CD, all categorized by DRUMS, BASS, SPHERES (a.k.a. pads), and even the ability to make your own melodies using a sequencer and save them to your songs! All you had to do was drag and drop the samples into one of sixteen tracks, then control individual track volumes and even whether the track would be panned left or right. It was more about using samples than creating from scratch. Perfect for beginners like me!

Behold, Techno Ejay in all its late 90s Windows glory! 😀

 

These days, I sing over my own music. Back then, I had MAJOR confidence issues with singing, despite being in the choir and taking voice lessons. So rather than singing, I chose to do spoken-word poetry over the music. Since I didn’t have a microphone (hard to believe there was a time when computers didn’t come with built-in microphones!), I used a handheld tape recorder.

To add vocals to my techno compositions, I spoke my vocals into the recorder, then ran an auxiliary audio cord into the computer and played what I had recorded into the computer and used it in my song. At that time, I had a computer program for converting LPs and cassettes to WAV files, so I used that program for getting my vocals into the computer. (Quite a very different setup than what I have now, that’s for sure!) It meant that my vocals were not that fitting with the music, but I wasn’t thinking about that. I was having fun with making my own music!

And have fun I did. I spent hours making my own songs in the comfort of my bedroom. I’d open AOL Instant Messenger and chat with friends while I played with samples in Techno Ejay. Sometimes I stayed up late into the night with my headphones on, dragging and dropping samples into the interface and making my own freely structured songs. I didn’t even thinking about proper transitions and all the other things that I keep in mind when making songs these days. It was all about experimenting and having fun. And isn’t that what creation is all about? Having fun with what you’re doing?

 

Here’s one of the options for dropping in your own samples and manipulating the sound. I never used this one very much but I do this more often now in Logic.

 

 

Where you can control the volume for each track in Techno Ejay!

 

Where you can make your own basslines and sounds within Techno Ejay

 

Fast forward to 2017, almost twenty years later (GAH!!!). Since Techno Ejay, I’ve used GarageBand, Logic Express, and these days, I’m into Logic Pro X, which has way more customization than Techno Ejay does. Logic, after all, is meant for pros. Techno Ejay, however, isn’t. There’s no ability to fade between tracks or do a lot of panning throughout a song (automation is one of my BFFs in recording and producing my own music). There’s no EQing (equalization) of tracks to balance out their places in the mix either. And no way to customize chords for the endless pads they offer in the program. You’re stuck with whatever chords are already there in the sound.

Going back to using Techno Ejay for fun (through an emulator, mind you; I’m a firm Mac girl now!) required me to think a lot more simply! It also made me realize that I’ve moved beyond using samples and that I prefer to do my own stuff from scratch.

And you know what? That’s fine. Because Techno Ejay was meant for people like 16-year-old me who had never produced music before. You don’t want to overwhelm music production newbies with all the settings and options of a program like Logic Pro. I’ve been using Logic for a few years now and I still don’t know everything. There’s a reason people go to school for years and years to learn all about Logic Pro. One of my good friends even has a masters in electronic production and knows her way around Logic. Me, I know what I know by launching myself into it and seeing “hey, what does this button do? Or what about this? Wait, I want to try this other thing, let’s go to YouTube and look for a tutorial.”

I know not everyone is like that, but that’s how I learn. I just get in there and try it. And if I make a mistake, oh well, that’s part of the learning process. I’m like that with sewing. Writing stories. Cooking. Crochet. Anything creative. Because everyone has to start somewhere, right?

And using Techno Ejay was just the beginning of my love of producing music. Wanting to make music was something I’d always wanted to try, but never had the chance to do. I knew it was possible. After all, I was a band and choir kid. So the music we played HAD to come from somewhere. But until I saw that box on the shelf at Comp USA, I never imagined it would be possible to make music. I was a band kid who played whatever was put in front of her. And in choir and in voice lessons, I had to sing whatever was on the page. No changes whatsoever. It never occurred to me to make my own songs or do something creative with music until I bought Techno Ejay.

So thank you, Techno Ejay. Really. I might not be here using Logic Pro X and writing my own songs if it weren’t for you.

And now to end this post with a little something I came up with last night in one hour using Techno Ejay, a composition called Shadows in the Night. I’m pretty proud of this, if I do say so myself. It’s within the constraints of the program, but still has my own dark wave touch to it that I put into most of my own songs!

Enjoy!


Sewing Adventures: How It All Began

What began as a simple “hmmmm, I should learn to sew, it might be easier than learning to knit” thought has turned into a full-blown hobby.

Five years ago, I was trying to teach myself how to knit. But I just couldn’t get it. No matter how many YouTube tutorials I watched, or sitting down with my friend Kailee who knew how to do it, I just didn’t have the patience for it.

Then I saw the sewing machine that my mother-in-law handed down to me about a year before. A simple Janome machine (DC 3050 if you’re wondering), it had been sitting in a pretty, decorative bag ever since she gave it to me. She’d upgraded to a Husqvarna and so she didn’t have the need for that Janome anymore. So I ended up with it.

 

Exhibit A: The Janome 3050 Decor Computer. Who knows how old this is: I’d guess maybe 10-ish or more. It’s a wonderful little machine, seriously. Woot, go me!

My mother-in-law also gave me her serger at about that time. She too had upgraded to a better serger, so guess who got it? Apparently, me!

Now, about that serger she gave me: until recently (read: four months ago), I would look at and get the heebie jeebies. Sergers are sewing machines, but they are a bit more specific than the Janome pictured above. Sergers use multiple (usually four, but some machines can do up to five or even eight) threads to finish off seams (they do what’s called an overlock stitch, where they slice the seam allowance and then wrap it in thread so it doesn’t fray), the long and short of it. I won’t bore you with specifics. They make your clothes look professional on the inside.

I used to be scared to use the serger. This used to be me:

GAH too many threads, no way, I can’t do this.

GAH what if I make a mistake on it?

GAH how would you even thread ALL THOSE THREADS, GAHHHHHHHHH.

Must run and hide from the big evil serger.

Awwwww, so cute! It’s pink! And…. yeah, it’s pink! Can you believe I was actually scared of this thing? But no more. I have conquered it! I rule!

Everything was set up for me to sew. But… to be honest, I wasn’t even sure why she gave me her sewing machines. Except that, well, that’s what parents do when you get older. They start handing off stuff to you that they don’t want anymore so they can clean the house. Or….. something.

The last time I sewed was in eighth grade Home Ec class way back in the dark ages of the late 90s. And before then, I watched Mom make all out Halloween costumes on her late 80s Brother machine (which still works in 2017!). I’d watch Mom cut out all the pieces and then put it together and it looked like fun. I was a creative kid, so I loved watching her work.

But on a whim, at the age of 26, I thought, I should learn to sew. 

My first project, as I love to tell my sewing students, was a so-called “easy” dress. Easy if you know what you’re doing. But NOT easy for “has not sewn since the late 90s and it’s 2012.” That dress had darts, pleats, a zipper, and lining. Talk about jumping into the twelve-foot end of the pool. It took me several weeks to do and multiple visits to my in-laws so that she could help me. At that point, she also taught me an awesome technique for lined bodices and how to make them neat on the inside (I’ll have to do a YouTube tutorial about it later; it saves all the hand-stitching that some patterns call for)

As difficult as that first project was, I’m glad that I jumped in as I did. It makes me overambitious but I feel like I learn a lot more by trying something above my skill level. Then when I do accomplish it, I go, Whoa, I actually did it! Holy crap!

Since then, I have sewn multiple dresses, tops, pants, and skirts. I’ve sewn for myself as well as my husband. I’m slowly getting into fashion design and draping too. I sew mostly vintage clothes from actual vintage patterns. I can do a bound buttonhole (hey, you want to talk about a technique that’s been lost to time, ummmm, yeah…..). I can sew a zipper and make it look good. Hell, I can even sew on SILK for someone else. My best friend’s wedding dress was all silk. HOLY MOLEY was that a project….. 😀

Note that I am completely self-taught. Whatever I have learned has been from “hey what if I tried it this way,” reading books, talking with my mother-in-law and my mom, and that gold mine of information: YouTube. I have never taken a class. I just go in to see what happens and if I screw up, eh, whatever, that’s part of the learning process. And everyone’s gotta start somewhere!

The point is, sewing has become more than just a life skill. It has helped me become even more creative and even to help me figure out what my own style is. And I am CONSTANTLY learning. I’m always telling my students that you never stop learning. And it’s true!


Cecilee: Singer/Songwriter or…. Something Else? That Is The Question

In my area, there’s an annual contest for up-and-coming local singer/songwriters. You sign up, submit some songs, and if you’re chosen, you get to perform your song for judges and you win prizes and all sorts of prestige and yay yay yay!

And every year, I can’t join.

One of the rules of the contest is that you can’t have a commercially available album. I interpret that as “you can’t already have an album available for purchase on Bandcamp/iTunes/some other digital outlet. Doesn’t matter if it’s self-released. If you have any of your music available for people to buy, you can’t join our little club nee ner nee ner.”

So that disqualifies me. I find that rule a little frustrating because it’s not like I’m making my living off my music and I’m not signed to a record label (you can’t walk into FYE and buy my stuff), but OK, whatever.

But even if I didn’t have a Bandcamp page where I sell my music, I still wouldn’t be able to sign up for this contest.

You see, another contest rule stipulates that you can’t use any kind of electronic enhancement. You have to play an acoustic instrument.

Well, you got me there. Because when I’m not being “girl and a piano,” I like to live-mix my songs on my iPad while singing live.

Sure, I could sign up and play piano. But…. well, as much as I love to play piano and sing, I enjoy doing my live-mixing even more. Because it’s different. You don’t see many other people doing what I do, especially singing live on top of it. And it takes a LOT of practice to get your singing and your mixing right. You have to make sure everything flows.

And that’s where we get to a big question.

Am I still a singer/songwriter even though I do electronic music?

Because here’s the thing: I consider myself a singer/songwriter. So does my husband. So do my friends. I do what a singer/songwriter does: I write and sing my own material.

However, listening to my recorded music, you might not think so. When people think “singer/songwriter,” they think of a lonely guy/girl singing and strumming a guitar. Or sometimes playing a piano. However, I can tell you from personal experience that the number of piano players at any given open mic night is far lower than the guitar players. It makes sense, if you think about it. Guitars are easier to carry around. Pianos? Not so much. I’m usually the only piano player at any given open mic night.

And at times, I’m also the only female performing that night. But I digress.

Getting back to that eternal question of whether I’m a singer/songwriter or not, I believe that I am. The only difference is the choice of instruments. I’m not a lonely girl playing guitar on stage. I’m taking that singer/songwriter format of lyric-writing (writing about personal experiences and feelings) and marrying it with electronic music and other influences.

French music.

Sometimes Italian music (but NOT opera; there’s more to Italian music than opera!).

80s synth pop.

New wave.

Even more than that, I like doing something different. Why would I do the exact same thing as someone else?

If a singer/songwriter can’t include people who perform non-acoustic music, then what would you consider someone like Imogen Heap? She writes and performs her own material. I consider her a singer/songwriter then.

What about Charlotte Martin? Her recorded music is electronic like mine. I too consider her a singer/songwriter.

Kate Bush? She writes and performs her own music. So she’s in the club too.

Just a few examples for you there.

And I think that’s probably the biggest beef I have with that contest. How else are we supposed to push the art forward if we aren’t allowing people to do something different with it? By not allowing something different, like me live-mixing and singing live with my iPad, which takes a LOT more talent to do than most people might think, the art of singer/songwriters becomes stagnant.

I wish people would realize that a singer/songwriter can be anyone who’s playing an instrument and singing their own song.

And it shouldn’t matter the instrument.


How I Discovered French Music, or: The Internet is Awesome

For some, their favorite school subjects are the core classes like science, math and English.

Mine were the elective classes. Band, then choir from my sophomore year on, and French class.

I began taking French in eighth grade (when I was about 14 years old) and I continued taking French through high school. Every day at school, I opened my mind to a new culture and language. Most of the time we spent our class time doing grammar drills.

However, my teachers would sometimes play French music in class and let us dissect the lyrics. One of the first songs they ever played was La vie en rose by Edith Piaf, a song that’s apparently just as well known in English as well as French (I prefer the French version of course!):

When we learned the passé composé, a.k.a. the basic past tense, my teacher played Et maintenant, a paean to lost love:

Another past-tense favorite song (if you recognize the melody, there’s a reason why; this was the original French-language version of My Way by Frank Sinatra):

Now, if you’ve clicked on the videos above to listen to these songs, you might notice something about the music my teachers would play for us in class. It was all older music. The other kids in my French classes always talked over the music, not paying the slightest attention to the lyrics on the overhead projector.

I was the weird kid who actually liked those songs. My parents played music from the 50s and 60s in the house when I was a kid, so I preferred music from that time anyway.

Also, I loved those little cultural learning moments. It made the language more than just grammar drills. I was learning what French people know and like. And I was listening to something that I had never heard before.

Before I took French, I had never heard a non-English song in its entirety. You don’t hear a foreign language song on American top 40 stations unless it’s a novelty hit like Gangnam Style or, if you go back a little bit to the mid-80s, 99 Luftballons. The French hear our music mixed with their local language hits. American radio sticks to English-language songs.

One afternoon in high school, I went on an Internet search for other French music. I wanted to know what else was out there that someone my age at that time (the early 2000s) would know. Every culture has their popular songs. What would a French person know?

As it would turn out, a lot!

That Internet search brought me to a young artist named Alizée and her song Moi… Lolita. I’d never heard a modern French pop song before. It was cool. It was in French. And it was DIFFERENT. I’d never heard anything like that song before in my life. I. WAS. HOOKED.

I then found the whole album that song came from and it kept me sane through the last few years of high school. I learned new words. I had a new favorite singer too. Alizée was only the beginning. After I played her first and second albums to death, I sought other French music too. My teachers loved that I was asking them about the various French artists I’d found online. They even gave me some cassettes and I’d dub my own copies.

Another world of music I’d never heard before had opened up to me. It amazed me that someone could be so popular in one country but be unknown in another. French artists like Alizée, her songwriter and fellow French artist Mylène Farmer, Daniel Balavoine, and Indochine were on regular rotation in my Walkman. It became the best learning tool for learning new French words. I also learned how real French people communicate and what those songs are that everyone seems to know.

The Internet helped me find even more French music when I discovered Internet radio. For a time, I listened to NRJ Radio to discover new French music. I stopped listening when I realized I was hearing more English-language than French-language songs, so I switched to Cherie FM. When I was in France for three months, I listened to that station on my portable CD/radio. Then I found MFM, which I sometimes play for my students while they’re working in class because they only ever play French music.

Over the years, I have amassed my own collection of French music. I have everything from Jean-Jacques Goldman, a pop-rock singer famous for writing songs for Celine Dion. If I’m in a thoughtful mood, Francis Cabrel is there with his gorgeous acoustic songs, of which my all-time favorite song is this number:

There’s also the raspy, passionate voice of Florent Pagny, who is one of the current judges on the French version of The Voice (I really need to get into more of his music):

One of my favorite French voices is Nolwenn Leroy, who possesses one of the most beautiful, rich voices I’ve ever heard in my life OMG…..:

And lastly, I can’t forget about Zazie (speaking of the French The Voice, she is also a judge on that show). Her wordplay has influenced a little of my own French writing:

That love of French music that began in a dusty high school classroom in 2002 has never left me. I have happily passed on to my students, who love hearing me play real French music for them in class. What I love about French music is not just the exotic quality of listening to a foreign language song you’d never hear on the radio in the US. It’s connecting with another culture and realizing that music is universal. Even if you don’t know any French beyond “bonjour” and “au revoir,” you can hear the song and like the beat and the emotions of the singer. The words become another instrument in the mix. That’s probably what our music sounds like to every non-English speaker!

Case in point, this Dominican radio show that featured a caller looking for a song called, in Spanish, Are those Reebok or those Nike (in reality, the song he wants is The Rhythm of the Night):

To close this out, I will leave you with another Alizée song, one which I played almost as much as Moi..LolitaL’alizé, a playfully written song about Alizée’s often overemotional state and how her moods change like the alizé, a Mediterranean trade wind:


Originals and Remakes – Adventures in Babysitting (1987) vs. Adventures in Babysitting (2016)

After putting together our list of originals and remakes, Andrew and I realized that it had turned into quite a long list! Some of them are going to be too hard, maybe even impossible, to find (the original French version of True Lies, called La Totale!) and others will be interesting to watch in general because without even watching the remake, I can tell things will have changed drastically for one reason or another.

In the case of the remake and original I’ll be talking about today, I actually had no idea the remake even existed! So these two movies were not on our list to start with. Andrew and I happened to be walking in to our favorite local video store earlier this week when I saw the poster for the remake in the window.

“They’re going to remake Adventures in Babysitting?” I remember asking, for some reason not registering that they probably already remade it, hence the poster.

“Umm, I think they already did,” Andrew replied.

Not only did they remake this classic 80s movie, but it was a Disney made-for-TV movie. I could tell by looking at the back of the DVD case. The cutesy images and the Disney logos gave it away.

Hmmmmm……

Curious about the remake, I added it to our list and our pile of movies to rent that day. When I mentioned that I was looking forward to seeing this remake of an 80s movie, the video store clerk remarked that he hadn’t seen either one yet, but that he wasn’t holding out hope that the Disney version would be that great. Not because it’s a made-for-TV movie (there are some awesome made-for-TV movies out there!) but because Disney was involved. And this guy does NOT like Disney. Cue anti-Disney rant from him as we checked out our movies.

I wasn’t holding out much hope either that the remake would be that great. I love the original in all its zaniness and 80sness (the hair! the music! the “Family Truckster” style car that Chris, the main character drives!). It’s definitely a ridiculous movie, but it’s fun to watch. A bit dark in places (it’s PG-13 for a reason!), but hey, that stuff doesn’t bother me. Realizing that Disney had remade this hard PG-13 movie, I imagined something aimed way more at younger kids than the original, which was clearly aimed at older kids. And since the remake is aimed at younger kids, I expected this newer version to be so squeaky clean that it could shine (no subplot about Chris, the main character, resembling that month’s Playboy Playmate of the Month, no jokes about homeless people shooting up, no instances of the “f” word, or one of the kids getting a knife in the foot).

I was right.

You can probably tell already which version Andrew and I liked better. Nonetheless, here’s what we thought of the original and remake. Because it is interesting to note the differences, since one was a rated PG-13 theatrical movie and the other was TV-G made-for-TV.

Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Adventures_In_Babysitting

I saw this for the first time in late high school during my big 80s phase. It wasn’t an enduring favorite but I did enjoy it for the sheer ridiculous but at least logical (well, sort of; far more logical than the remake!) plot.

Elizabeth Shue (best known now for playing on the original CSI) plays Chris Parker, your typical 80s teenager. She’s got the teased hair, long tan coat with shoulder pads, and a boyfriend. Speaking of the boyfriend, Mike, he bails on their anniversary dinner, so she takes a last-minute babysitting job with the Andersons and their two kids Sara (a major Thor fangirl who wears a winged helmet throughout the movie) and Brad. Brad is supposed to stay at his friend Daryl’s house for the night, but when he finds out Chris is babysitting, he stays at home because he’s got a major thing for Chris. Chris expects this to be an average night of babysitting, until she gets a call from her friend Brenda, who has run away from home, and is freaking out because she has no more money and she’s stuck at a Greyhound station in a bad area of Chicago. Brenda begs Chris to pick her up, so she gets the kids and Daryl, who’s come by the house, in her mom’s car and drives to the city.

Except she gets a flat tire on the way.

The tow truck they stop after they get a flat tire, driven by a “Handsome” John Pruitt, offers to drive them to his garage to help them fix the car. Then, John makes a detour to his house when he gets a call from his boss that his wife is “with that guy again,” so he can confront the guy. Pruitt accidentally shoots the windshield of Chris’ mom’s car when he was aiming for his wife’s lover. Chris and the kids hide in a nearby Cadillac, which is being carjacked, so they get taken to a garage and they discover a national stolen car ring. They’re detained in an office, from which they end up escaping, but not before Daryl swipes an issue of Playboy from that office, and then finding themselves in a blues club and having to sing before leaving, and then….

They end up in an L train with a gang (where Chris utters the immortal line “don’t $^&#*^ with the babysitter!”) and Brad gets a knife to the foot.

There’s a young Vincent D’Onofrio reminding Sara of her idol Thor.

They also end up at a frat party.

Oh and then the very party that the Andersons are attending, yet they are somehow never seen.

Chris and her boyfriend break up.

And they still make it back in time after picking up Brenda for the parents to arrive home.

Sure, the plot is a little ridiculous with everything they get into, but it’s fun to watch! It’s fun to watch these people try and figure out how they’re going to get home, all without the modern technology of using PayPal to get money for their car repairs or calling AAA to get towed, etc. And it is definitely rated PG-13 for a reason. Not that it really bothers me, but it should be noted, especially when you compare this to the remake. Characters joke about how much Chris resembles that month’s Playboy of the Month. Brenda is stuck with the dredges of society at a downtown Chicago bus station, so we see her verbally spar with a homeless guy who tells her to “get out of [his] house” while she’s talking to Chris in a phone booth. She also loses her glasses and thinks that a sewer rat is a kitten until some custodians tell her otherwise. All of it is told in a very 80s style, complete with the hairstyles, big cars, and not taking itself too seriously. If I had to use one word to describe this, it would be goofy. But goofy in a non-childish way.

Not an absolute new favorite but in terms of 80s movies, it’s up there.

Which brings me to the remake…..

Whoooo boy…..

Adventures in Babysitting (2016)

Adventures_in_Babysitting_2016_Poster

 

What I find most interesting about this remake in comparison to the original is that the 1987 original was the eighth PG-13 movie to be released by a Disney film division (Touchstone Pictures). So Disney had a hand in putting out that movie to people. They even wanted Chris Columbus, the director, to remove a line from the movie to make it more family-friendly. Yet it still came out as PG-13 to movie theaters.

I find that interesting because this remake, done entirely by Disney, was made even more family-friendly, much to the detriment of the story.

This remake was clearly TV-G. And you could tell.

It was as I feared.

Not as bad as I thought, but still, it was bad.

Like the original, you still have a set of zany adventures in the big city involving a babysitter and her charges. The kids get everyone home just in time. That part hasn’t changed.

However, everything else is different.

This time, we get to know two babysitters, Jenny Parker and Lola Perez, who are both rivals for a photography internship. Yes, in this remake, we have two babysitters to take Chris Parker’s place. Somehow they switch phones (this is 2016 after all) and Helen Anderson calls Jenny’s phone, begging for a last-minute sitter. Lola answers and is about to explain the mistake but when she gets a parking ticket, she figures she could use the extra money. Meanwhile, Jenny goes to the Coopers’ house to babysit and when they realize they’ve switched phones, Jenny travels to Lola to get her phone back. By then, one of the kids, Trey, has gone missing. He’s snuck out to a Psychic Rockets concert despite being grounded. So the girls team up to find him and they journey to a sketchy pawn shop to track him down because that’s where he bought the scalped tickets. One of the kids, Bobby, accidentally lets loose a rare ferret, which the girls take a picture of, and which sets into motion these pawn shop owners who spend the movie chasing them down because they could expose their illegal animal smuggling ring.

Many of the things they get into from there are even more ridiculous versions of the original. In a nod to the original, the girls and their charges end up on stage at a club and can’t escape without doing something musical. But instead of singing the blues, they have to engage in a rap battle. A scene that would’ve made sense if they had walked into a rap battle along the lines of 8 Mile instead of what it was: a typical EDM club. Everyone was listening to bland EDM music, not rap music. So making them rap at an EDM club made no sense except that the writers were bound by squeaky-clean Disney rules so they couldn’t have them walk into a rap battle, since rap battles are not family-friendly.

Since we have two babysitters in this version, we also get two sets of kids. Which makes things even more confusing because there are so many kids that you can’t tell who’s who. At least I couldn’t. And you don’t get to know them very well either. I did like that one of the younger kids Bobby is an aspiring chef and therefore loves to cook. But the others, I couldn’t tell you one from the other. They all have one thing to define their personality and nothing more. One of them loves to wear her mother’s jewelry (she also looks creepily like Jon Benet Ramsey). Another is a typical Hot Topic goth. And all of them get involved in all sorts of slapsticky antics that feel childish rather than goofy.

Speaking of slapstick, perhaps if this remake had not been released by Disney, this might’ve been better. But as it was, the writers seemed bound by two things:

1) This is a Disney movie so we need to make this as family-friendly as possible;

2) This is made-for-TV

Since this was Disney, the villains were turned into bumbling, cartoonish idiots that you weren’t scared of for one second. They reminded me of Horace and Jasper from 101 Dalmatians. They also included tons of slapstick gags with people always slipping and falling and the parents being too stupid to understand what’s going on. The writers seemed so bound by making it squeaky clean and making it a TV movie that the movie felt way too restrictive and it lost the goofy charm of the original movie. Instead, it was made ridiculous with way too many elements (there’s a subplot about Jenny’s crush, another about a cute dog who has to be kept as stress-free as possible, and a police officer who takes a liking to Lola).

Not a total waste of time, but it left me groaning more than laughing.

Andrew and I will take the original any day over this.


Originals and Remakes – The Reluctant Debutante (1958) vs. What A Girl Wants (2003)

Some movie remakes are very similar to the original movie but different enough to warrant a viewing. How many versions of King Solomon’s Mines did I see at the Naro earlier this week (Three, if you’re wondering)? And from what I remember, Miracle on 34th Street 1947 and 1994 were pretty similar too, just in a different time period. I’ve yet to see The Preacher’s Wife to be able to compare that with the Cary Grant-starring The Bishop’s Wife, but that’s a Christmas-themed movie, so we’ll be watching and comparing those later this year!

Other movie remakes have loose connections to the original source material. The basic story of Freaky Friday 1976 and 2003 remain the same (a bickering mother and daughter switch bodies for a day to literally live in the other person’s shoes), but how they switch places, among other changes in the newer version such as a larger subplot with the mom getting remarried and the tribulations of high school are a little different. Jamie Lee Curtis as the mom doesn’t have to take a typing class in school, like in the original, for example.

I bring this up because the next two movies that we watched for this originals and remakes project are definition loose adaptations, such as Freaky Friday ’03. However, at least Freaky Friday ’03 has some similarities to the original. The Reluctant Debutante and What A Girl Wants, the loose adaptations in question? Not so much. In fact, so many changes were made between the original and the remake that it’s almost not worth it to call the newer version a remake.

More like an “inspired by.”

I had no idea going into this other movie project that What A Girl Wants was a remake of anything. When I saw it on the Wikipedia list of movies and their respective remakes, I gave it a double take. What a Girl Wants a remake of a Sandra Dee movie from 1958? Hmmmm, interesting. Certainly the plots sounded sort of similar on Wikipedia when I clicked through. Both involve a young American girl in Britain and debutante balls. Hmmmm….

So what did I think of a teen movie from the early 00s and its original “incarnation,” a Sandra Dee movie from the 50s? And which version did we like better?

Let’s find out!

The Reluctante Debutante (1958)

196841-The-Reluctant-Debutante-Posters

The big question after watching this movie:

Why is this movie not considered an absolute classic???

First and foremost, you have Rex Harrison doing a “why are people acting silly about a stupid ball” kind of character (man does he play those kind of world-weary characters so well!). His character steals the show for me. His “I couldn’t care less about these stupid social conventions” attitude had both Andrew and I laughing throughout the movie.

There’s also beautiful cinematography (set in London but shot in Paris due to Rex Harrison’s tax issues that prevented him from being in England) and equally beautiful dresses.

A dry sense of humor running throughout the whole thing that pokes fun at social conventions.

Sandra Dee playing a teenager as a teenager (though she does look to be about twelve years old in this; a bit weird for a character who’s supposed to be seventeen).

A young Angela Lansbury starting to look more like the Angela Lansbury I remember from Murder, She Wrote reruns.

Oh and did I mention Rex Harrison?

The movie opens with Jimmy Broadbent (Rex Harrison) and his new wife Sheila (Kay Kendall, who became Rex’s real-life wife just prior to filming) going to the airport to pick up his daughter, Jane Broadbent (our lovely Sandra Dee) who’s been living in America. Jane is going to be living with her father, who is exceedingly wealthy. And since she’s now living with them, Sheila takes it upon herself to introduce her stepdaughter to society. Cue the endless array of fancy balls and equally fancy dresses while Jimmy hangs out at the bar and gets as drunk as possible, to our amusement.

Jane isn’t interested in her stepmother’s social activities. She attends the balls, but is bored by all the guys she meets. That is, until she meets a drummer, David Parkson, who has a reputation of “leading girls astray,” a reputation that turns out to be unwarranted. Despite David P’s reputation, Jane falls in love with him, much to her stepmother’s chagrin. Sheila tries to keep the two apart, but it doesn’t work. Meanwhile, another David (last name Fenner) has fallen for Jane, but she openly dislikes him.

I found this to be an absolutely delightful movie. Not only was the dialogue witty and interesting, but also the cinematography, as mentioned before, was gorgeous (I LOVED the Broadbents’ apartment!) and the characters were all interesting people who I actually cared about. I would be very interested to see this on stage in its original stage-play form. The lack of frequent cut scenes and the abundance of dialogue led me to wonder, within the first few minutes of the movie, if this was an adaptation of a play. And I was right (thank you, Internet!). Some people might be bored by the incessant talking, but I was not. I did find it hard to hear in places, but that also was the quality of the DVD. Which I will get to in a moment.

If you enjoy movies with elements of farce, older movies, and/or interesting characters, definitely give this one a look!

However, be aware that this movie is harder to find.

To find this movie, you will have to either visit your local video store, if you still have one in your area, go on Amazon, or get it straight from Warner Brothers’ website, which is probably where the Amazon listing gets this movie anyway. This movie is only available on a manufacture-on-demand basis. Meaning what you’ll get is a burned DVD-R that’s purple on the bottom rather than a clear DVD like what you can buy at Wal-Mart. Not saying that burned DVDs are bad, but it just means that the menu will be pretty sparse (no captions were available, sad for me, because I definitely had trouble hearing some of the dialogue) and it may or may not work in certain players, as was the case with me. I had to play the DVD on my laptop because it wouldn’t play in my regular DVD player.

But at least I got it to work!

And at least burn-on-demand is even available for more obscure movies like this. Better to keep it alive in some way so that other people can see it!

So what about the remake, What A Girl Wants, which is decidedly easier to find than The Reluctant Debutante?

Well….. Ummmmm…..

What A Girl Wants (2003)

Whatagirlwants

It’s been ages since I last saw this movie. I watched it as a teenager some time after it had been released and while it wasn’t a new favorite, I didn’t hate it. I preferred John Hughes movies back then, since I was super into 80s music and culture (and still am!). Not to mention I thought they were better made than the teen movies that were being made when I was a teenager (I still think that!). But I digress.

What you have here is your basic fish-out-of-water story. Daphne Reynolds (Amanda Bynes), an American who grew up with only her mom, flies on a whim to see her father, Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), whom she has never met. Since she’s a young American, all sorts of plot points happen when she tries to get used to British life. Her father’s soon-to-be mother-in-law tells her no hugs because “I’m British.” Daphne doesn’t understand why everyone is so uptight, especially when she has to go to several coming-out parties for the teenagers in her father’s social circles. Also, her father is trying to get ahead as a politician, and the existence of this previously unknown daughter on his doorstep is more than a little surprising for him and the press. All the while, Daphne has fallen in love with Ian Wallace, an aspiring singer/songwriter that she met on her first day in London, and her dad’s fiancée is anything but pleased about having Daphne, a loud American teenager, running around the house.

This version sort of begins like The Reluctant Debutante. A young girl of about seventeen comes to Britain to live with her rich dad. Sure, we get a backstory on her and why Daphne doesn’t live with her dad, a backstory that doesn’t exist in The Reluctant Debutante (Daphne’s mom and dad married on a whim when they met in Morocco, then Daphne’s mom left him because she didn’t fit into his world and his secretary, unknown to Henry, makes her leave, then after she left him, she realized she was pregnant, so she raised Daphne by herself and never contacted the baby daddy again). But in those first fifteen minutes, we get some similarity to the original. Also, Daphne meets a musician, though this time he’s a guitarist, and they start to fall in love. She also comes out to society and has a debutante ball held in her honor.

So far, similar, right?

Well…. that’s about all this movie has to do with The Reluctant Debutante.

Everything else about this movie is on a different planet than its original source material.

The dad who thinks all these social conventions are silly? Nope. The dad is very much into the social conventions of his rich position as a politician running for a position in the House of Commons so that he can become Prime Minister one day.

The American girl? She’s still seventeen, but she’s a 2003 teenager, so she’s into the teen pop music of the day, dresses in jeans and spaghetti strap tops, is loud, and, for some reason, the writers decided to make her super klutzy. Seriously. What is it with teen stories making their female characters klutzy?

The musician she falls in love with is still a musician, but he plays guitar and there is no indication that her mom and dad don’t want her to hang out with him.

I still don’t consider this a favorite. Some might say I disliked this movie because I’m out of the target demographic. No, I don’t think that’s the case. Come on, I write Young Adult fiction, so I’m in the heads of teenagers all the time. It has its sweet moments, like the bonding scenes between Daphne and her dad, but for the most part, I found this to be only OK. The writing wasn’t very good in parts, which is what really did it for me. I felt like the writers relied too much on the stereotype of the “loud American” and the “cold Brit” to really make it a good movie. There wasn’t much to these characters to make them truly interesting. And the plot holes. Why did Daphne’s mom spend so much time pining away when she could’ve just called Henry? Daphne and her mom live in a tiny apartment in New York City and don’t have much money, but somehow, Daphne can afford to do a spur-of-the-moment trip to Britain?

Compared with The Reluctant Debutante, this movie is very teen-oriented, much more than the original play/movie that this was based on. Faster editing. Modern pop music. More informal conversation. I only saw vague connections with this movie to the original source material. I would call it a stretch to consider this a remake.

And of these two movies, our favorite was The Reluctant Debutante by far!


Originals and Remakes – Sparkle (1976) vs. Sparkle (2012)

A few weeks ago, Andrew and I came up with another movie project idea. Why not put together a list of movies that have been remade and their originals, and compare the two?

At the top of the list was a movie from the 70s that was redone earlier this decade and is known for many things, namely that it was the last movie Whitney Houston did before she passed away. I didn’t know that Sparkle was a remake until I looked more into it, and, curious, I added the original and remake to our list.

So how do both movies compare? And which one did we like better?

Let’s find out!

Sparkle (1976)

First, we watched the original Sparkle, which came out in 1976, starring Irene Cara, who would go on to sing the title songs for both Flashdance and Fame in the early 80s, and Philip Michael Thomas, better known as Tubbs from Miami Vice. She plays the title character, the youngest, as mentioned above, in a family of three sisters. She’s not the most gregarious character. That honor goes to the lead singer of the family band, Sparkle’s older sister Sister (seriously? You guys couldn’t have come up with a better name?). The girls live in Harlem in the 50s and it is suggested to them, by Stix, a.k.a. Philip Michael Thomas, Sparkle’s boyfriend, that they should form a girl group. He offers to be the manager.

OK, sounds like your typical music movie so far. And that’s what it turns into. The rest of the movie shows the girls gigging around town, working their way up, but then breaking up with Sister gets involved with a guy named Satin, who gets her hooked on drugs and beats her. She dies, so the group breaks up, and Sparkle attempts to, well, sparkle on her own as a solo artist. And we end the movie with Sparkle’s first performance as a solo artist.

While the movie was well-shot and had that gritty look it was obviously going for, I didn’t care one iota for any of the characters. They were all so one-dimensional that it was hard for me to be drawn into the story. I didn’t care what happened to any of them. The girls were all led around by the men, never making decisions on their own and actually growing as people. And the men were all bad, sleazy characters with nothing else to them other than “drug dealer” or “shady guy trying to exploit the young girls’ sexuality.”

That and I could see where the plot was going from a mile away.

Perhaps the most uninteresting character of all was Sparkle herself, which I found rather disappointing.

Sparkle’s name is the title of this movie. So you’d think she’d be the most interesting character. Far from it. Sparkle in the original movie is a very flat and not interesting character. She’s led around by everyone else. Everything that happens (there are other subplots involving Stix’s drug shenanigans) is because of someone else doing things for Sparkle. She doesn’t seem to do much for the movie itself except stand around.

“Oh my boyfriend wants my sisters and me to form a band and get famous. Guess I”ll join them, sure, I have nothing else to do.”

“My sisters want to sing this song but I don’t really want to. But I’m going with it because I have nothing else to do.”

“My sister is obviously being beaten up. Oh well. I won’t do anything about it.”

“My boyfriend wants me to sing this song. I don’t really want to. But I’ll do it.”

While I appreciated its cautionary tone (here’s what happens when you try and get famous: you’ll get hooked on drugs and be involved in all sorts of bad things), I just didn’t like the movie as a whole. Meh, whatever.

On to the remake:

Sparkle (2012)

 

We come to the remake, done almost forty years after the original version. And the basic plot is still the same. A rags-to-riches tale of an aspiring girl group who runs into trouble on their way to the top, they break up, and the title character breaks out on her own. Woo. There are still drugs and abuse, but…. somehow it feels different.

There’s something lighter in the tone. Maybe it’s the music in all its catchy late-60s glory. Or all the camera angles that don’t feel so dark and sinister, like in the original. You get more of a sense of “wow, wouldn’t it be great to be famous” rather than “No, you don’t want to be famous because look what can happen to you.” Also, it should be noted that instead of Harlem in the 50s, we get 60s Detroit. OK, I get it. Motown. You guys are playing off of that. Fair enough.

More than that, the sisters are very different. As in, way more modern. They know what they want and they go for it. They aren’t letting people just make decisions for them. Yes, Sister still takes abuse, but in this version, the abuser is stood up to.

Sparkle is also a far more interesting character in this version. In a major difference from the original, this movie makes her into a singer/songwriter. The movie opens on a night when Sparkle and her sisters, including Sister (they STILL couldn’t have given the older sister an actual name?) are performing a self-penned song at a local open mic-type event. It later comes out that she wants to be famous and write songs for people, which is why she writes all the songs that they perform. Way to go! Seriously! You’ve actually, you know, given her something to do. She has a much more take-charge attitude, as does Sister, and the girls all go for what they want.

Unfortunately, their mother, played by Whitney Houston, does NOT approve of her daughters seeking fame and fortune as performers. A big difference from the original, where the mother did approve of her daughters’ budding music careers. In this version, their mother Emma was once a famous singer (one has to wonder if this was put in the script on purpose as a nod to Whitney’s own career as a famous pop star) and she has cautioned the girls from a young age to not go into show business. As she says at one point, “Wasn’t my life enough of a cautionary tale for you?” Truer words were never spoken.

Since the mom doesn’t approve of the girls singing, the three of them sneak out and sing their songs at various events around town. And they become famous, getting involved in all sorts of scandals and even Sister marries Satin, who this time around is still a druggie and abuser, but he is killed by one of the other sisters in self-defense when the sisters come to Sister and Satin’s house to help her pack her things so Sister can leave him. Sister takes the fall and goes to jail, so the group breaks up. Another big difference from the original. Sister doesn’t die in this version.

We still get Sparkle trying to make it on her own, but it’s more on her terms. She is desperate to be signed, so she stands around everyday waiting for the head of the record label to see her, and when he does see her, she lays out exactly what she wants. You go! Also, she is writing the songs, which suspiciously don’t sound very much like late 60s music at all, but I digress. At least Sparkle actually does things in this version. Also we get to know the mom more in this version too, since she’s played by Whitney Houston. And we also get to see Whitney Houston sing, since, well, Whitney is in a movie and she’s known for her voice, so let’s have her show that off. She serenades us with a rousing if raspy (she was known in her later years for chain-smoking…..*sigh*) rendition of “His Eye is On The Sparrow.” I was never a big fan of Whitney’s music, because it’s just not my thing musically, but man, watching that scene of her singing just made me sad. Cautionary tale indeed.

While the basic story was the same, enough was changed in this version that it stands on its own. In fact, between the two, I much preferred the remake. I know Andrew did too. We both liked how they developed Sparkle’s character, though the music was not quite our thing musically. The characters were better developed, the editing and overall movie work was much better, and the story was just far more enjoyable than the original.

Still not a new favorite of either of us, but certainly worth a look.

And the remake all the way!


Best Picture Winners #18 – The Lost Weekend (1945)

Almost two hours of watching an alcoholic going through a major bender. Hence the title. 

You can probably tell from the way I started this review that I was not the most enthusiastic viewer of this movie. 

In fact, I’m going to be keeping this review short. 

I know this movie was probably harrowing at the time, when alcoholism wasn’t discussed or understood. But did they really have to put in such overly dramatic music? Or have everyone overacting to the point of parody? I felt like I was watching a Kirk Cameron movie. All we needed was dialogue that dropped Jesus and God every few lines. 

Big meh in this one. 

As my husband put it, after this movie, I need a drink.

Two stars out of five

Next time: a post-World War Two drama from 1946 called The Best Years Of Our Lives


Best Picture Winners #17a – Gaslight (1944)

There are some years when it seems the Academy should’ve chosen a different Best Picture. I know some people like How Green Was My Valley but really, The Maltese Falcon was the better movie in 1941. Same with The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938. I know some people like You Can’t Take It With You, but I’m not one of them.

I get that it was the middle of World War Two. So people probably wanted something happy to forget about the world for a while. But between Going My Way, an overlong drama not-musical-but-claims-it-is, and something mysterious, dark and extremely well-done like Gaslight, Gaslight should’ve won.

Not only is it the better movie, but also it kept me riveted to the edge of my seat the entire time. Can’t say that about Going My Way. Even when I could see what was going on and how it was going to end, I was drawn in and had to know what was happening next.

Plus, we got a cool expression from this movie’s title.

For those who may not know, gaslighting refers to someone being manipulated into thinking they are losing their sanity. Moving objects around to disorient the victim. Denying that previous events ever happened. The name comes from this movie, where the main villain, Gregory Anton, dims the gas lights in the house while he’s using the lights in the attic in search of missing jewels. When his wife, Paula, accurately notes the lights dimming, he tells her it’s just her imagination.

Paula (played by Ingrid Bergman; hey, wait, we know you from last year’s BP winner!) is an orphan. Before the movie began, Paula’s mom died in childbirth, so she went to live with her aunt, a world-famous opera singer. When Paula was a child, she walked in on her aunt being strangled, then the perpetrator ran away and the case went cold. So she’s in Rome learning to sing, following in her aunt’s footsteps. And when it comes to her aunt, she seems to have a mild case of PTSD. She becomes very uncomfortable and upset when her aunt is mentioned.

While in Rome, after spending many years there developing her voice, Paula falls in love with a man named Gregory Anton. They have a whirlwind courtship. After they get married, Paula and Gregory return to her aunt’s home, which was left to Paula, in London. This is where Gregory’s manipulation of Paula begins. See, Gregory is not all that he seems. He has a secret to hide from her and he will keep it from her any way he can. Even if it means making Paula feel like she’s going mad.

It’s harrowing to watch as Gregory undermines his wife. At a public music concert, he makes her think she’s taken his watch and she’s humiliated in public when she cries. He tells the servants that she’s not all there. He forbids other people from seeing her. I wanted to do to Gregory what I wanted to do to Rob Titchener, a character from the British radio soap The Archers, who has been using the same techniques on his wife in the last two years of the show: reach through the screen and strangle him.

A movie should make you feel for the characters. And that’s exactly what this movie did for me. It was intense even over seventy years later and, definitely, a new favorite.

Four stars out of five

Next time: The 1945 Best Picture winner, The Lost Weekend, an alcohol cautionary tale. Hoooo boy….