Tiffany’s Entry For The Play To The Whistle Blogathon

This review comes to you from Tiffany at the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Thank you Tiffany for getting involved – it was good to read about your film and to have you take part.

Angels In The Outfield

Many films are centered around sports. Others are centered around religious, supernatural elements such as angels. However, have you ever heard of a movie about sports and angels? There is such a film, and it is Angels in the Outfield from 1951 with Paul Douglas, Janet Leigh, and Donna Corcoran. I will review Angels in the Outfield in terms of the sports involved, the supernatural elements, and Guffy McGovern’s transformation.
As the name implies, this film is centered around baseball; it is a story about the Pittsburgh Pirates and their manager, Guffy McGovern. The Pirates are in a slump, and their losing streak has lasted for months. A cute reporteress named Jennifer Paige is assigned to write an article about the Pirates. She may not know anything about baseball, but she does know about proper behavior and comeuppance, so she is certain that the Pirates are losing because of their disagreeable manager’s behavior. There is a lot of interesting footage from actual baseball games which would be interesting to sports fans. The Pirates start in seventh place in the National League, and they soon move to eighth, the lowest possible position. However, after Guffy begins to reform his behavior with a little angelic intervention, the team begins to rapidly improve. Soon they are in third place with hopes for winning the pennant. After being hit in the head with a ball, Guffy dizzily reveals his conversations with angels. Further evidence leads to a trial regarding his sanity relating to talking with heavenly beings. This trial comes right before the final game that will determine the pennant, but the kind old judge says that Guffy is sane. However, because he started fighting with his reporter nemesis in the courtroom, Guffy is on his own. The final game is going shakily without heavenly intervention, and the pitcher is Guffy’s tired old friend, Saul Hellman, a man who was a great player years ago but now is wavering under the strain. Guffy’s angel told him that next year Saul would no longer be playing ball on earth, so he decided to give Hellman one last chance to be a star. Even though all the fickle fans are yelling for Hellman to be taken out, Guffy gives him a final chance, and his confidence in him makes him succeed. They win the game and the pennant.
The name also tells us that angels are involved in this movie; everything changes for the Pirates when Guffy becomes acquainted with an angel. One night, while trying to find his good luck piece on the dark field after a game, Guffy is cursing because he can’t find his missing token. A voice tells him to shut up; at first, Guffy is sure someone is playing a joke on him over the loud speaker. It takes a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning bursting the calm night for him to realize that the voice is really an angel’s. This angel tells him to stop swearing, fighting, and bullying. If he obeys, the angels who play baseball will help him win some games. The very fanciful notion of angels in this film is the following: someone has been praying on Guffy McGovern’s behalf, so Gabriel, the archangel, has dispatched a personal angel to reform him and pull the Pirates out of their slump. This particular angel, who sits at Gabriel’s right hand, is a member of an angelic baseball team called the Heavenly Choir. This team is comprised of deceased baseball players who are receiving their reward in heaven, where they still play baseball and occasionally assist their mortal brothers in the game. The idea is that they stand behind the Pirates when they need help and assist them, wearing long white robes which are sort of like uniforms and bear the initials HC for Heavenly Choir; I understand they are not encumbered by their wings. Mind you, no angel is ever seen on the screen. The information comes from Guffy’s conversations with his unseen angel and a little girl’s description of them. You see, little Bridget White, a Catholic orphan with a lot of faith and a great fondness for Guffy and the Pirates, is the only person who can see the angels. Whenever they start helping the Pirates during a ballgame, she sees them very clearly.

It seems that nothing less than a miracle could transform Guffy McGovern from an irreverent, foul-mouthed bully into a kind man, but a child’s prayers, a woman’s love, and an angel’s intervention manage to reform him. Guffy is ruthless to his players, rude to reporters, and insulting to the umpire. His speech during and after games is often very blue, but this film uses a brilliant tactic to imply swearing without allowing one forbidden word to be said. Paul Douglas yells and talks, but several recordings of his voice are played at the same time, so his words sound like nonsense. I don’t know whether the idea came from Clarence Brown, the director, or Joseph Breen, the head of the Production Code Administration, but the Code administrator must have approved of this delicate technique. Guffy is thrown out of almost every game for his fighting with the umpire. After an angel warns him to stop fighting and swearing, he struggles, so the angel suggests that he learn Shakespeare to diversify his vocabulary. The whole team is stunned and nervous because of the coach’s change; he is kind, courteous, even-tempered, and well-versed in the language of the Immortal Bard.  When Bridget White sees the celestial beings with whom he has been conversing, Guffy pays the sweet little orphan a visit; at the orphanage he encounters Jennifer Paige again, since she too is curious about the child. Jennifer writes an article about the girl’s supposed angel siting, but she soon realizes that it causes a lot of trouble. She brings Bridget to another baseball game, hoping that she won’t see angels when she sits out of the sun, but she sees them again. As Bridget recovers from a stomach ache caused by two many hotdogs and Eskimo pies, Guffy and Jenny visit her. Soon, the three are fast friends. For the first time in years, Guffy realizes that there is more to life than baseball. He realizes that a man can get a lot of joy and satisfaction from the affection and care of a young woman and little girl. He begins to make plans for adopting Bridget, but he will need to marry Jenny to give her a happy, normal home. At the end of the film, he has won the pennant, but more than that, he has won the love of a future wife and daughter.
Having reviewed Angels in the Outfield in terms of the sports involved, the supernatural elements, and Guffy’s transformation, we see that it is a heartwarming story that mingles America’s favorite pastime with a whimsical outlook on heaven and its angels. There is a lot of interesting footage of baseball games which will please sports fans but also be entertaining to people like me who don’t like sports. Although it presents a very fanciful view of angels, this movie has a charming if not realistic depiction of heaven and the way it helps humans. The experience with the angels makes Guffy realize that clean speech, peace-making, and respect and kindness for other people make life fulfilling and rich, since a man needs more than baseball in his life. Watch this movie soon to see how MGM charmingly mixed baseball and angels in 1951.


The Exorcist blew out the cobwebs nicely

When a young girl becomes seemingly possessed by a whole other entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests in a desperate bid to save her daughter.Actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is taking up temporary residence in Washington D.C. and has her fair share of problems. The movie she is currently making has a script with no bite; her ex and the father of her adolescent daughter Regan (Linda Blair) is rarely heard from; and the attic of the house she is staying in is occupied by rats. Things get a whole lot worse, however, when Regan begins to display some brutal changes in behaviour. At first, Chris feels the changes could be a result of the unstable lifestyle her daughter has been forced to lead, but as Regan becomes more violent, she becomes convinced that her behaviour has to be down to something more. No medical doctor is able to provide a sound diagnosis, and with her outbursts worsening and becoming more frequent, it would appear that Regan is in need of help that lies outside the boundaries of medicine. Chris thinks her daughter is possessed, so seeks the help of an exorcist.
So, I finally got brave and watched The Exorcist, although I have to admit I was nowhere near as disturbed as I thought I might be by it. In fact, apart from the projectile vomiting, none of it really bothered me if I’m honest with you. Like with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I can’t see why the age rating hasn’t been dropped in recent years, but unlike with the other film, I can understand why The Exorcist was so controversial, and banned as a result of the controversy it caused.

There is one performance that had everybody talking, and that would be the one put on by Linda Blair as the possessed Regan. Blair was very young at the time the film was made and provided audiences with a very impressive show that was nominated for an Oscar. I would imagine that it would be quite a challenge enacting a possession that could be taken seriously and potentially scare people anyway, but for someone who is essentially still a child to be one of the first ever to do something like this in film should be considered quite an achievement if you ask me.

As I’ve already mentioned, this film raised many eyebrows and was subsequently banned in a number countries it’s release, and remains banned in a few to this day, I suppose with the time it was made, The Exorcist could be seen to be poking fun at the Catholic Church, and forty-odd years ago, religion was still a big thing for a to of people. I would also take a punt on it being quite a shock for 1970 audiences for a young girl to be dropping the C-bomb, but I wouldn’t say it was due to the horror element that the film was banned, because I wouldn’t personally class it as a horror film, more like a supernatural detective thriller.

The plot line for the film was alright, but I must confess that in the extended version I saw, the Iraqi prologue’s relevance to the rest f the film did go over my head a bit. Other than that, though, I found it all to be quite watchable.

On the whole, The Exorcist did leave me slightly underwhelmed, but when I look at it more as a thriller than a horror film, I do rate it slightly more. I wasn’t scared out of my wits, nor was I left sleepless for a few weeks because of what I had seen, but it was entertaining enough to sit through from start to finish and not want to absolutely savage it with my review as was done with The Hills Have Eyes, whose sequel will be review next.

My Sunshine Blogger Award nomination

Earlier this week, as I informed you all yesterday, I was lucky enough to be nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Becky over at FilmMusicCentral. Now, as a result of being nominated, I must myself nominate a further 11 bloggers for the same award. The rules are as follows –

  • Post the award on your blog
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions they set you
  • Pick another 11 bloggers (and let them know they are nominated!)
  • Set them 11 questions

My 11 questions to answer –

Star Trek or Star Wars?

I have a confession to make – I haven’t seen a single film in either franchise so can’t say I have an opinion on the matter. Sorry!

What upcoming movie are you most excited to see?

Until a few days ago, it has been Suicide Squad, but since the reviews have been coming in, I’m starting to think it could be a waste of money, but I shall be seeing it all the same. Beyond that, I’d probably go with War Dogs or The Maginificent Seven.

Favourite film soundtrack?

Can’t say I have a definitive favourite, but I love OST for The Blues Brothers and I think some of the music in Reservoir Dogs is brilliant!

How do you feel about movie reboots? Do you like them or should they go away?

It very much depends on whether I’ve seen the originals – generally the first version you see of a film is the one you prefer, or at least that’s what I find personally. This is a matter that I’m certainly on the fence about.

Favourite Disney movie?

MONSTERS INC.! 100%, no doubt about it 🙂

How long have you been blogging?

Since March 2015, so just under a year and a half.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go?

Ireland – it’s not too far, but it’s where my roots are.

Who is going to win the Game Of Thrones?

I don’t know as I haven’t watched the series and I’m only half way through the first book.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I’m not really sure, I quite like the sound of flying though…

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Enough said.

If the Justice League met the Avengers in an all-out fight, who would come out on top? (Making reference only to the film versions)

They have Thor *wink* so I’m going to say the Avengers 😉

My 11 nominees are –

  • MovieRob
  • Drew’s Movie Reviews
  • Clintington
  • RileyOnFilm
  • MovieReviews101
  • Niche Film Reviews
  • The Critical Eye
  • The Good, The Bad, Then There’s What I Think
  • ContentForYouBlog
  • MotionPictureBLog
  • Film Nerds Unite

And my 11 questions to you are –

  • What is your favourite film?
  • What is your least favourite film?
  • Who is your favourite movie villain?
  • Who is your favourite movie hero?
  • What do you think should be the number one all-time greatest film (NOT your favourite)
  • What is your favourite TV show?
  • What is your least favourite TV show?
  • Who is your favourite TV villain?
  • Who is your favourite TV hero?
  • What is your favourite TV title sequence?
  • Film or TV?

A sea-quel you’ll easily forget about

Everybody’s favourite forgetful blue tang fish embarks on a journey to find her long lost parents with more than the occasional bump in the road.

One year on after helping Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) out of their spot of difficulty, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) requires the favour returning. Although she forgets most things, one thing she can remember is that she was separated from her parents as a child. With the help of her adoptive family, Dory embarks upon an epic journey to be reunited with her mother and father, which leads them to the Marine Life Institute. Dory’s quest to get inside the institute results in her separation from Marlin and Nemo, but leads her to old and new friends along the way, and ultimately achieves the results that everyone was initially hoping for.

Thirteen years after Finding Nemo, we are presented with Finding Dory, and just as we all feared, it wasn’t really worth the wait. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t awful – you could quite contently Sint in the cinema and watch it once through, but it certainly didn’t match its predecessor. Not by a long way…

Ellen DeGeneres did a wonderful job of making Dory such a loveable character with her voice acting, however, which is possibly why it wasn’t too tasking to sit through one showing of the film. In fact, DeGeneres’ characterisation here made it feel as though it was only yesterday that Finding Nemo was being enjoyed for the first time. There is a forever familiar ring to the voice that made the thirteen years between the two films vanish. It was this performance that was single-handedly the biggest highlight of the film.

One part I well and truly fangirled over for all the wrong reasons was the introduction of the two sea lions, Fluke and Rudder, played by Idris Elba and Dominic West respectively. Part of me rejoiced massively at the small reunion of the cast members of The Wire – it was good to see McNulty and Stringer Bell back in action one last time (freak out over).

My fears, along with those of many other I suspect, were met with the plot. It was frighteningly similar to that of Finding Nemo – even small details which I won’t mention for those of you yet to see it were very noticeably being used for the second time. I’m all for sticking to what you know, but this took the biscuit slightly for me. Whilst it wasn’t too bad, and perhaps marginally comical during the first time viewing, I would say that this lack of originality could get rather tiresome when it comes to seeing Finding Dory for the second or third time. It definitely won’t go on to become the timeless piece that its predecessor has.

As over-familiar as the story felt, however, it has to be said that some very heartwarming messages about family were delivered throughout the course of the film. In particular the moment where Dory is reunited with her parents was one moment I personally found very touching, and think it is one that everyone can relate to on some level.

Overall, Finding Dory is yet another Pixar sequel that is very much hit or miss. It lacks all the originality of the first film, and feels as though it really wasn’t worth reviving the story more than a decade later for. It just about stays a float, but will surely start to sink with multiple viewings.

American History X is a real lesson for us all

A neo-Nazi skinhead comes out of prison with intentions of turning his life around and stopping his younger brother following in his footsteps.Daniel Vinyard (Edward Furlong) idolises his brother Derek (Edward Norton). He is eager to impress his older sibling upon his return home from prison by proving that he is ready to join the DOC – a group of white extremists established by Derek after the murder of their father by a black citizen years before. However, Derek’s experiences in prison have made him realise that there are enough problems in the world without people like him adding to them. He decides to change his ways, but he has more trouble convincing others of his decision. When he finally converts his brother and things start looking up for the boys and their family, it may unfortunately be too late.

American History X, despite what the brief synopsis that comes with it suggests, is a real tale of brotherly love. As soon as the phrase ‘neo-Nazi skinhead’ comes into play. I know most people – including myself – would be expecting violent, hate-fuelled racial attacks and all manner of other things that wouldn’t have been frowned upon by Hitler. But I have to admit I was surprised, and pleasantly at that, by what was actually delivered by this film. It was a highly intelligent story of a man trying to re-adjust to life on the outside after committing a brutal crime. It also showed the point of view of his idolising younger brother who, wrongly, wanted to be just like him. Finally, and I think most importantly, American History X portrayed how much influence such cults and groups can have on impressionable and vulnerable people. This film had the potential to go badly wrong – after all, the subject matter is extremely volatile and the majority of what goes in the film is very racially motivated. But the sensitivity and intelligence with which the whole thing is handled makes for heavy-going, but very thought-provoking viewing.

The foundations for this are made by excellent lead performances. Furlong, who plays Daniel, shows just how easy it is for these groups to brainwash people. The way he spoke about minority groups with his brother’s friends was chilling, and the eagerness he appeared to have for involvement with the DOC was just frightening. Furlong spoke some of his lines in a very unemotional way that made it seem as though the way these people behaved was nothing out of the ordinary, which made it all the more disturbing. However, it was a cracking role he played, and I very much enjoyed watching him.

Norton as Derek was absolutely terrific. After only having watched him previously in Fight Club, where I didn’t particularly like his character, I didn’t really have any real expectations of Norton. However, I would very much like to see him in other things now after seeing American History X. The way in which he tackled the character of Derek was nothing short of amazing. You experienced everything with Derek – the crime, the time and freedom. You actually felt it all. He was brilliant, and his Oscar nomination was very well deserved, and I would like to have seen him receive, and the whole film in fact, a lot more recognition for the hard work gone in.

The film transitions constantly from the past to the present. The difference in time was shown by using a black and white filter over the ‘past’ scenes, which I thought could’ve represented a number of things. For me though, it showed how, perhaps, in the time between the murder of their father and Derek’s release from prison, neither of the boys were really seeing clearly, and that is why they made some of the decisions they did.

Overall, American History X is a very, very good film. It is a film that you certainly won’t forget in a hurry, that’s for sure. Strong performances and brilliant story-telling have a habit of sticking in your mind, plus you won’t be able to get over that ending too quickly either. Go ahead and watch it.