Movie Review of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tom Hanks is at his best as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a touching movie based upon the true story of an Esquire reporter whose life was altered after interviewing Fred for an article.

Fred, the creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was a prosperous TV star whose focus was the well-being of children and everyone, no matter what their life’s station. Though I’m certain a great deal of artistic license was employed in the development of the film script, the real life reporter’s comments in Maxwell King’s biography of Fred Rogers, The Good Neighbor echoes the spirit of the character in the movie who portrays him.

I was delighted to learn that “Old Rabbit” a toy of which the character shares memories, was a part of the real life reporter’s childhood. (In both reality and the fictional story, Fred prompted the journalist to recall a stuffed friend from childhood, a type of memory common to most of us.)

Interviews included in the special features section of the DVD detail the positive experiences of those involved in the making of the movie. Fred’s wife believes the real life Mister Rogers would have approved of this film in his honor.

Not many of us can remain authentic to our natural personas through all of our business dealings, but Fred managed to do so. This feel good film continues his mission. It inspires us to do our best, to make amends with others, to focus upon their feelings, figure out what makes them tick, help them if we can do so, something both Mister Rogers and the real life person who portrayed him consistently did.

This review is sounding more like my personal impression of Fred Rogers, but that’s what the movie intended, it seems. To trigger an appreciation of the spirit of this versatile, authentic gentleman, talented pianist, skilled swimmer, open-minded Presbyterian minister who respected all faiths, a humanitarian whose mission in life was to improve society by helping children identify their talents and deal with difficulties so they can grow into helpful, thoughtful citizens.       

I didn’t watch the show when I was young, but this movie makes me realize I missed out on something special. I highly recommend a viewing to everyone in need of inspiration; a bright spot in these trying times. 

Memorable Movie Review of A Hole in the Head

This 1959 flick, A Hole in the Head, starring Frank Sinatra and Edward G Robinson is a fun, sometimes comic, sometimes heart wrenching story of a father, played by Frankie and his son Ally.

Set in Miami, at The Garden of Eden Hotel, in the city’s heyday as a vacation paradise, the film is a great two hour escape.

Ally is the more mature of the father and son pair, though he’s only a young boy. Frankie has big plans to get ahead, but at the moment is broke, (not poor, there’s a difference, he declares).

Frankie’s character’s brother, played by Edward G. Robinson decides to loan him the money he needs, but only if he agrees to an arranged marriage.

When Frank’s character declines to wed, though he’s obviously grown fond of the lady, Edward’s character and his wife plan to take Ally home to New York to be raised in a more responsible manner.

Ally is having none of it. He loves his father too much. The surprise ending, after a bit of worry about the outcome from those who care about the characters, (which is likely the majority of the film’s viewers), is classic Frank Capra.


Petite Petals of Lovely Lobelia

Lobelia always reminds me of calico printed, 100% cotton dresses; summer afternoons spent watching my grandmother can tomatoes. There’s no cooler, more comfortable fabric on a hot summer day than pure, soft cotton. Yet, today, lightweight cotton blouses and dresses aren’t always easy to find.

Lobelia is a plant I discovered through a friend. Now I can’t live without at least one every summer; for the memories it triggers of fabrics and friends, and its own special beauty.

Movie Review – The French Connection

“What the heck – it might just work,” said the filmmaker who took a chance on this screenplay that had been previously rejected by many.

Another great example of a hit that nearly didn’t make it – but the creator finally found someone who believed in it and the show’s success astounded everyone.

I’d long heard of this film made when I was a kid (in 1970, I believe) but I hadn’t, until recently, seen it.

The car chase of the century, had me on the edge of my seat. The ending did leave me hanging, but it’s sometimes a good thing to imagine the conclusion one thinks is most convincing.

A well-made film if I’ve ever seen one, I can’t imagine that they filmed much of it live amid the reality of New York City traffic.

I often skip the interviews with actors and producers contained on DVDs but the stories of the cast, the real cops the show was based upon, and the behind the scenes stories of the film’s making were fascinating.

So Now We Know – James Bond Lives in Ohio and Shops at Krogers!

Really. And he drives a Buick?

Spotted this attention grabbing vanity plate when shopping at a local market before Christmas. I’ve never been able to quite follow the plots of these iconic spy movies, though I am a fan.

My favorite Bond is Roger Moore, perhaps only because he played the role in the first one of the series I saw.

I’m curious. Are any readers fans of 007 flicks, and if so, who is your favorite actor who played in the starring role?

Mister Rogers and Tom Hanks Two Thoughtful Educator-Entertainers

Can’t wait to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Haven’t gone to the movies in years, but this one should be worth a step out into the chilly autumn weather.

When I picked up Parade Magazine the other day, I thought I was looking into the face of Fred Rogers, but it was actually a very well made up Tom Hanks. What better personality to portray the icon of children’s TV programming?

Parade asked Tom to name five things he learned from studying the life of Fred.

Slowing down was the first thing Tom mentioned. Movie making is normally highly frenetic. That’s contrary to what Mister Rogers was about.

Tom commented that the show was indeed designed for kids. It addressed difficult ideas of physics and of human relationships in a manner to which children could relate.

The cardigan sweater, the Converse or Sperry topsider tennis shoes, reflect the fact that Fred was comfortable in his clothes and in his own skin, it seems. He took on difficult issues of race and marital relationships with simplistic, yet poignant words and acts.

I was surprised to learn he was from a wealthy family, though I suppose I shouldn’t have been. Thoughtful individuals with the confidence and freedom to follow their goals find it easier to get their messages across. Think JFK.

Fred’s health tips include:

Rising at five am to a glass of hot cranberry juice – to answer every piece of mail he received from young viewers.

A daily 20 minute swim.

And here’s my favorite take away:

A framed quote from Fred Rogers:

“That which is essential is invisible to the naked eye.”

That’s true in any neighborhood.

Have you seen the movie? Did you watch Mister Rogers as a child?

I haven’t yet seen it and admit I only watched Captain Kangaroo as a kid, though I did see clips of Mister Rogers, and heard of his shows from others.

I have to see this movie at some point, and I plan to look for DVDs of the shows.

Memorable Movie Review – Double Indemnity

This noir film from 1944 was no doubt a bit risqué for it’s day.

Double Indemnity is sizzling with innuendo made intense by the talented staging and acting necessary for effect in a black and white flick, this film is filled with excitement and suspense from the first scene, where Barbara Stanwyck’s character appears clad only in a towel, to the closer when two friends must part ways in a simple but poignant scene.

Stanwyck plays a wife who connives to kill her neglectful, businessman husband. Fred MacMurray fine tunes her plan, making it foolproof, he believes, based upon his experience in the insurance business.

His friendship with the company’s examiner – the one who reviews each claim for signs of fraud, both strengthens and complicates the plan which MacMurray helps Stanwyck carry out.

Don’t pass this one up just because it’s black and white. You’ll be on the edge of your seat.

Movie Review of Gidget: The Complete Collection

Loved the original Gidget story. A fun, colorful tale of a young girl (played by Sandra Dee) near the dawn of the nineteen sixties finding her way in the social scene as she learns to surf with the guys instead of competing for their attentions with her shallow friends.

She nearly “gets into trouble” with an older man, the free spirit of the surfing community, but his good sense prevents the unwise conquest before things go too far.

The surprise ending was so much fun, so idealistically romantic.

I must say I have still to see Gidget Goes Hawaiian and Gidget Goes to Rome – the further adventures of the cool sixties surfer girl. The beginning of the Hawaiian movie was so honestly annoying, with different actors portraying Gidget and her family in quite a different manner than I had expected, that I had to turn it off.

There was also a TV show entitled Gidget starring Sally Field, later of Flying Nun fame, Smokey and the Bandit . . . Norma Rae . . . I barely recall that Gidget from when I was very, very small.



Movie Review: On a Clear Day

I had doubts about this one, but loved it in the end. A British made movie about a man laid off from a lifelong career at a company building boats for the military.

He and his wife both seek fulfillment in individual ways. A unique group of supportive friends, and a truly heartwarming end to the movie make it a feel good flick.

I highly recommend it, especially for those facing mid-life in a changing world.

Movie Review of Oklahoma

Oklahoma Ok! This line from the film mirrors my impression of the movie. What a tremendously positive motion picture. Filled with action and drama too. Something to please most everyone.

There’s a spring to my step and I’m actually singing “Oh, what a beautiful morning . . .” something that doesn’t happen too often.

Sure it’s a bit cornball, but who cares. The colorful costumes of the ladies, and the song and dance routines executed with feeling more than make up for the simplicity of the basic theme – two girls who can’t decide between beaus.

Shirley Jones, of Partridge Family fame for later boomers, shines in this film. So does Eddie Albert, later star of the sixties Green Acres sitcom. Eddie plays a character quite like Mr. Haney, the peddler in Green Acres.

The one dark spot for me was the fate of the hired hand who couldn’t stop his efforts to possess the character played by Shirley Jones, though she was having none of it. Always rooting for the underdog, I was hoping he would win her hand, until he became vindictive.

This show is a bit of a history lesson too, about the settling of the plains states and the rivalry between farmers and ranchers for land. The wide vistas, changing scenes, and talented horsemanship kept me focused every minute.

A new old fave film for me. Worth watching again, or for the first time. For more info or to order, click the link below: