Saturday, February 24, 2024

Winners of the Sibling Stories Giveaway + Wrap Up

And now, the post you've all been waiting for, right?  

Prize One:  A set of three Little Women bookmarks -- Summer

Prize Two: One vinyl sticker featuring the Pevensie siblings -- Eva C.

Prize Three:  A paperback copy of Sense and Sensibility -- Lydia H.

Prize Four:  A paperback copy of The Outsiders -- Chloe the MovieCritic

Prize Five:  A "novel journal" with a Peter Pan theme -- Breann M.

Prize Six:  A DVD copy of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) -- Naomi M.

Prize Seven:  A DVD copy of Little Women (1994) -- Roxann R.

Congratulations to the winners!  I will be contacting you at the email addresses you provided to the giveaway widget to find out where to mail your prizes, so please be on the lookout for that message!

Thank you to everyone who joined the party this week!  I'm still working on reading everyone's posts, but I love what a variety you have all provided :-)  If you have any posts you still want to contribute, I'm not shutting down the widget!  In fact, here it is again, to make it easier for people to access without having to scroll and scroll down my blog page.

Answers to the Sibling Movie Poster Game

Here are the answers to the second game :-)  Scores are below!  

Interestingly, absolutely no one guessed the Defiance (2008) poster (#10), which makes me a little sad because that is an amazing movie based on such an inspiring true story.  If you're curious about it and want to learn more, I reviewed it here a couple years ago.














Jenni Sauer -- 11
Chloe the MovieCritic -- 10
Beth -- 9
Carissa (Regency Woman) -- 9
Debra She Who Seeks -- 9
Heather Barnes -- 9
Lizzie Hexam -- 9
Sarah Seele -- 7
Roxann -- 4

Answers to the Missing Sibling Names Quiz

Here are the answers to the first game!  Scores are below.

1. Eomer and Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings)

2.  Adam, Hoss/Eric, and Little Joe (Bonanza)

3.  John, Wendy, and Michael Darling (Peter Pan)

4.  Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Lacey Vanderbeeker (The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street)

5.  Bofur and Bombur (The Hobbit) [Bifur is their cousin, actually.]

6.  John-Boy, Jason, Mary Ellen, Erin, Ben, Jim-Bob, and Elizabeth Walton (The Waltons)

7.  Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March (Little Women)

8.  Judah and Tirzah (Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ)

9.  Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

10.  Bret, Bart, and Brent Maverick (Maverick)

11.  Darry/Darrel, Sodapop, and Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders)

12.  Laertes and Ophelia (Hamlet)

13.  DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle Tanner (Full House)

14.  Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden (The Boxcar Children)

15. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)


Ivy Miranda -- 12
Carissa (Regency Woman) -- 9
Sarah Seele -- 9
Chloe the Movie Critic -- 8
Debra She Who Seeks -- 7
Charlotte (Mother Owl) -- 6
Roxann -- 6

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Sibling Stories Tag -- My Answers

Time to answer my own tag :-)  If you haven't done it yourself yet, you can get a clean copy of the questions on the party kickoff post.

1. Do you have any siblings?  Yes, I have one brother who is five years younger and four inches taller than I am.  We were very close when we were growing up, once he got to be about 7 years old and interesting enough for me to want to play with him.  I'm afraid I was a fairly negligent older sister until then.  But from then on, we were extremely close friends, and we're still close now.

2. Who are some of your favorite fictional siblings?  The Curtis brothers in The Outsiders, Boromir and Faramir in The Lord of the Rings, all the Barkleys in The Big Valley, Sigrid and Tilda and Bain from The Hobbit movies, and all the Weasleys from Harry Potter.

3. Are there any fictional families you wish you could belong to yourself?  I would love to join the Barkley clan!  Victoria is such an amazing mother.

4. Have you ever watched or read a book that reminded you of your own family?  Hmm.  Speaking ONLY about the siblings, I think maybe Boromir and Faramir might be the closest match to my brother and I.  We're actually both quite bookish, but my brother is rather less smash-and-bash by nature than I am.  Plus, I'm older than he is, and my hair is more reddish, while his is blond.  He actually dressed as Faramir for Halloween last year!  (But I didn't go as Boromir, alas.  I totally would sometime, though!)

5. What fictional sibling would you NOT want for your own sibling?  John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey.  I don't want any John Thorpes anywhere near me, ever, thank you very much.

6. Are you more drawn to stories about brothers or sisters?  I'm much more drawn to stories about brothers, but I enjoy many about sisters too.

7. What makes a story involving siblings interesting to you?  The sibling dynamic is so varied!  It's a bond that can be close or loose.  You can have siblings who are super protective of each other, siblings who cause problems for each other, or siblings who are indifferent to each other.  You can explore so many human emotions and difficulties and strengths and weaknesses with sibling relationships.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Sibling Movie Poster Game

Let's get the second party game started :-)  This time, I've given you 12 posters from movies about siblings.  But I have removed their titles!  Your job?  Supply the titles, of course.  Put your guesses in a comment, and I'll post the answers and your scores at the end of the week.

And, of course, googling for things is kinda cheating, so... try to restrain yourself ;-)













Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Missing Sibling Names Quiz

Time for our first game!  Here are 15 sets of siblings from movies, books, and literature.  Your job?  Supply the missing sibling name for each family!  Put your guesses in a comment.

1. Eomer and _______ (The Lord of the Rings)

2.  Adam, ______, and Little Joe (Bonanza)

3.  John, Wendy, and ________ Darling (Peter Pan)

4.  Isa, Jessie, Oliver, __________, and Lacey Vanderbeeker (The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street)

5.  Bofur and _______ (The Hobbit)

6.  _________, Jason, Mary Ellen, Erin, Ben, Jim-Bob, and Elizabeth Walton (The Waltons)

7.  Meg, Jo, _____, and Amy March (Little Women)

8.  Judah and _______ (Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ)

9.  Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, ______, and Lydia Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

10.  Bret, _____, and Brent Maverick (Maverick)

11. ______, Sodapop, and Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders)

12.  Laertes and _______ (Hamlet)

13.  DJ, Stephanie, and ___________ Tanner (Full House)

14.  ______, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden (The Boxcar Children)

15. Peter, Susan, _______, and Lucy Pevensie (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

I'm putting comments on full moderation so no one can cheat off each others' answers.  I'll post the answers and everyone's scores at the end of the party.

Monday, February 19, 2024

We Love Sibling Stories Week -- Kickoff Post + Tag

Hello! Welcome to We Love Sibling Stories Week, a five-day-long party where we can gather to celebrate, recommend, and discuss our favorite stories about siblings in books, movies, and shows.

Whenever you create a post for this event on your own site, please drop a link in this widget:

And don't forget to read posts by other people!  That's an essential part of a party, after all -- chatting with your fellow partygoers :-)  Also, please remember to use one of the official party buttons in your posts, and link back here so other people can join the fun too.  If you want more party buttons, you can find them in this post.

Of course, besides (or instead of) contributing a post of your own choosing to the party, you can also fill out the official party tag!  Just remember to come back here and link to your tag post in the widget above too.

The Tag:

1. Do you have any siblings?
2. Who are some of your favorite fictional sibling groups?
3. Are there any fictional families you wish you could belong to yourself?
4. Have you ever watched or read a book that reminded you of your own family?
5. What fictional sibling would you NOT want for your own sibling?
6. Are you more drawn to stories about brothers or sisters?
7. What makes a story involving siblings interesting to you?

I'll be posting a game or two and other fun things over the next few days, so check back now and then to see what's new.  And my party giveaway has already started!  You can find that right here.

Happy partying!

We Love Sibling Stories Week -- The Giveaway

Who doesn't like to go home from a party with a little gift?  I'm afraid I can't send every one of you a tangible party favor, but I CAN send prizes to seven of you.  And here those prizes are:

I had such fun collecting these for this event!  Here are some closer looks at the prizes, plus information about them:

Prize One:  A set of three Little Women bookmarks that I purchased from A Fine Quotation.

Prize Two: One vinyl sticker featuring the Pevensie siblings from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that I purchased from A Fine Quotation.

Prize Three:  A paperback copy of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, a classic story about two sisters.  You can read my review of it here.  This book is new.

Prize Four:  A paperback copy of The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, a young adult book about three brothers.  You can read my review of it here.  This book is new.

Prize Five:  A "novel journal" with a Peter Pan theme -- the lines of the journal that you write on are actually tiny little words making up the entire novel Peter Pan.  This journal is new.

Prize Six:  A DVD copy of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), which is a frontier musical and a sort of Snow White retelling about a woman who marries a man and finds herself caring for his six brothers as well as himself.  This DVD is used, but plays in my DVD player.  Note that there is some slight damage to the cover of the movie, as shown in these photos.

Prize Seven:  A DVD copy of Little Women (1994), which is the story of four sisters growing up in New England during the American Civil War.  This DVD is used, but plays in my DVD player.

I will award one each of these prizes to seven different people.  This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE.  You can enter via this widget:

Rules and Regulations:

This giveaway will end at 11:59pm EST on Friday, February 23, 2024. I'll draw seven winners on Saturday, February 24, and announce them here on my blog that day, as well as alert them by the email the winners provided to the widget. Use an email address you check often! If I don't receive a response from a winner by Saturday, March 2, that winner will be disqualified and I'll draw another. 

This giveaway is open worldwide to anyone living in any country where the USPS delivers. I am not responsible for the activities of any postal service -- I will send off your prize in the condition shown above, but its arrival condition is not something I can control. 

To enter, must be 18+ or have parent's permission to provide a mailing address. Void where prohibited. Not affiliated with Blogger, Google, or A Fine Quotation. I purchased all these prizes, they were not donated or solicited in any way. I will use your email and mailing addresses solely for the purpose of this giveaway. They will not be saved by me to use another way or provided to anyone else.

You will note that some of the ways to enter involving participating in the blog party.  More information on how to participate is in the kick-off post!

Saturday, February 17, 2024

"Chicago Deadline" (1949)

On the surface, Chicago Deadline (1949) feels rather akin to Laura (1944).  In Laura, a police detective becomes obsessed with learning everything he can about a beautiful dead woman and the people who were part of her life.  In Chicago Deadline, a newspaper reporter becomes obsessed with the same basic thing.  The ending goes quite differently from Laura, and I think that the newspaper reporter keeps in better mental health during the movie, but in a broad way, there are definite similarities.

Cynical yet compassionate reporter Ed Adams (Alan Ladd) has tracked down a random runaway girl whose parents called his newspaper in hopes of finding their daughter.  It's never specified if finding runaway girls is a hobby of Ed's, or if he just drew the short straw that day and got sent out on this little errand, or what.  He's certainly good at tracking people down from very slim clues, so maybe he gets assigned these sorts of jobs regularly.  He cracks wise with the landlady and the runaway girl, but you can see he is genuinely glad the girl will be going home safely before anything untoward happened to her in the big city.

He's just told the runaway to pack her things when a cleaning woman down the hall screams in terror.  Ed rushes over there and discovers a dead woman lying in bed.  He peers at her face and diagnoses her as having died of a "hemorrhage," probably from tuberculosis.  The audience only gets to see people's reaction to her, not her face or anything more than the back of her head and the vague shape of her body under the covers.

Ed quickly goes through the dead woman's belongings, starting with her mostly unpacked suitcase and proceeding to her handbag.  There, he finds her datebook, which he pockets.  I suppose, since she appears to have died of natural causes, he isn't actually removing or withholding evidence from a crime scene, but it's definitely not a particularly honest thing to do.  Ed also drags that runaway girl into the bedroom and shows her the dead woman, warning her that she could have ended up dying alone in an anonymous bedroom too, if she didn't have parents who called the police and the newspapers and everyone else they could think of to try to find her.  The girl is suitably chastised and subdued.

Ed asks the landlady who the dead woman was.  She says she was named Rosita Jean d'Ur (Donna Reed), and she'd rented the room less than a week earlier.  Ed tells the landlady to call the police, then leaves with the runaway girl in tow, bound for the train station so he can send her back home where she belongs.

Ed goes back to the newspaper office where he belongs and starts flipping through the dead woman's date book.  It appears Rosita had a lot of friends, but she didn't supply full names for most of them, only first names or initials.  Ed starts calling the numbers, figuring if he learns a bit about Rosita, he can write a human interest piece about her and why she died all alone.

But everyone he calls has very odd reactions to his asking if they knew her.  Several deny knowing who she was.  One person checks out of her hotel an hour after speaking with him.  Others demand he explain how he got their phone number.  Ed's newshound nose smells a much bigger story, and he starts digging deeper and deeper into Rosita's past.

By the time he's unraveled the story of her life, he's had run-ins with gangsters and crooks, brushed shoulders with wealthy financiers, interviewed a wheelchair-bound recluse, and gotten tangled up romantically with a lonely socialite.

Ed meets the socialite, Leona Purdy (June Havoc), at a party thrown by someone whose number is in Rosita's book.  Leona knew Rosita for a while, and she liked her a lot, so she starts helping Ed try to piece together the story of Rosita's life.  Before long, they're doing a little kissing once in a while, too.

I wish June Havoc had made more movies with Alan Ladd because I like her a lot opposite him.  They trade quips really well, and they have lovely chemistry.  They have a kind of comfortable rapport that I liked very much.

As a bit of a random aside before I resume relating the plot here, one of the reasons I like this movie so much is that Alan Ladd isn't playing a world-weary loner who gradually regains his own humanity after encountering genuinely nice people who help him rediscover his soul.  I'm not saying he played that character in all his other film noir outings... but it feels like it.  Some of his westerns go that way too.  But his character in this has friends, colleagues, and a steady girlfriend.  It's really refreshing.

Anyway, Ed is also aided by his friend and fellow reporter, Pig (Dave Willock), who tracks down leads for him offscreen and provides backup during a shoot-out in a parking garage.  Have I ever mentioned that I find parking garages very scary?  They always make me feel both trapped and exposed at the same time, and that is probably because I have watched so many movies where people get into shoot-outs in parking garages.  There's only one parking garage where I don't feel even a little bit creeped out, and that's the one at Colonial Williamsburg because it is bright and light and airy, and it has openings everywhere on the ground and second floor, all the way around, so you can get out literally anywhere you want.

Anyway, Ed tracks down Rosita's brother Tommy (Arthur Kennedy), who is deeply saddened to learn Rosita has died.  He fills in a lot of gaps in her life story for Ed, but can't really shed light on why other people keep behaving so peculiarly when Ed mentions her name.  

I'm afraid I don't have any shots of Kennedy to add here -- this movie isn't available on DVD.  It has recently been released to Blu-Ray by Kino Lorber, which is absolutely wonderful!  I've watched it twice this month, and it's been such a delight to have a crisp and clear copy.  I watched it once a few years ago, when all that was available was a murky version that looked like (and probably was) someone aiming their laptop webcam at a TV playing an old VHS tape that had been recorded off cable TV.  So, I'm really excited that this movie is available legitimately on Blu-Ray now... but I can't get screencaps from a Blu-Ray because my laptop only plays DVDs.  Which is why we have this random collection of production stills and lobby cards here.  And no pictures of Arthur Kennedy because they don't appear to exist anywhere.

Skip down to below the next lobby card if you don't want SPOILERS because I am going to explain the plot here.

Unlike the detective in Laura, Ed Adams does not develop an unhealthy obsession with the dead woman.  He does become pretty obsessive about figuring out why people keep trying to stop him from talking about her, though.  It turns out that, after her husband left her in New York City, she returned to Chicago, where she became a small-time gangster's girlfriend, then caught the eye of a wealthy and crooked financier.  The latter paid a big-time gangster to rough up her boyfriend until he promised to break up with her so the financier could become her sugar daddy.  But the big-time gangster liked holding the leverage of what the financier did to get Rosita over said financier's head, so the financier decided she needed to disappear permanently so she couldn't be used against him anymore.  Except the hitman who was supposed to kill her liked her, so he disappeared her instead and told everyone he'd killed her and dumped her body where she couldn't be found.

That's why, when Ed Ames finds her dead in a flophouse and her brother identifies her positively, suddenly creeps are crawling out of the woodwork and shooting each other and committing suicide and shooting at Ed.  Because suddenly, the girl who was supposed to be dead already turns out to have been alive and only died just now, and (almost) nobody knows why.  Everyone assumes someone else is lying and blabbing secrets, and fireworks commence.

It only took me three viewings of this movie to figure out what is actually going on in it.  The whole thing is very convoluted and told in circular flashbacks, basically.  But it does eventually make sense.


Don't believe the above lobby card, by the way.  Like the song says, Rosita is not merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead.  Donna Reed never shares the screen with Alan Ladd at all in this -- she only appears in flashbacks.  But Reed and Ladd had co-starred the previous year in Beyond Glory (which I haven't seen yet), and I guess the publicity folks wanted audiences to think they had another Ladd-Reed love story in the works.  Or something. 

Is this a great noir film?  No.  Is it a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable and rewatchable movie?  Yup.  I like it a lot.

But, is this movie family friendly?  Basically, yes.  Rosita's obviously sleeping with the financier, if not with her previous boyfriend, but that's very vaguely implied.  Her brother may be incestuously attracted to her, but that's also vaguely implied, and it's possible he never revealed his interest to her.  You can kind of read their relationship however you like.  Rosita gets slapped offscreen at one point.  Alan Ladd gets into a fistfight, and there's the gunfight in the parking garage that I mentioned earlier.  And someone commits suicide.  But, despite the ominous warning on some of the lobby cards and posters for the film, it's really not particularly unsuitable for children.  It's also not intended for kids, though -- I can't see most youngsters being interested in it.  Teens, sure.

Today is my 8th Alaniversary!  Eight whole years devoted to Alan Ladd... and counting :-D

Saturday, February 10, 2024

A Renaissance Cinderella: "Ever After" (1998)

The summer before I left for college, my three friends and I went to see Ever After (1998), the last movie we ever saw together in a theater. After that summer, we were never all four together again. Life took us our separate ways, and I’ve lost all contact with one of those girlhood friends, though I see the other two once in a while. But at the very end of July, 1998, we were still friends, four girls who had yet to fall in love with anyone for real, who enjoyed fairy tales, who wanted to wear Drew Barrymore’s butterfly dress and lose ourselves in a sparkling whirl of imagination. 

It was a rare occurrence, all four of us loving the same movie, but Ever After had characters and themes we could all appreciate. 

I’m married now; I have three children; I’m living my own happily-ever-after. And I still love this movie. However, my reasons for loving it have changed a bit over the years. Initially, I loved getting lost in the triumphant story of how a patient, hard-working, intelligent girl is rewarded with love and honor. It’s what I love about every retelling of the Cinderella story, and I do still like it for those reasons. Now, though, I’m also drawn to Ever After for the creative way it goes about spinning the familiar tale in new ways. 

Having spent many years studying how to effectively tell a story, I am fascinated by the way it still manages to be recognizable as the Cinderella story despite changing the time period, setting, character details, and so on. By setting Ever After solidly in Renaissance France, the filmmakers are able to keep many of the physical trappings of a fairy tale: beautiful dresses, royalty, coaches and horses and country estates. But they can also update the sensibilities of the characters. An educated, intelligent, argumentative, outspoken woman like Danielle (Drew Barrymore) would feel out of place in the more medieval setting that typical fairy tales use. But in the Renaissance, when everything in the known world was changing, when everyone was fascinated with knowledge and learning — such a woman fits quite nicely there. 

And then there’s Prince Henry (Dougray Scott). He’s also intelligent, an emerging intellectual, and initially more interested in discussing abstract concepts of love than in finding a wife. Still charming, but not exactly the easily-enamored type who will fall in love with a stranger the minute she steps into the ballroom in a pretty dress. Which leads to one of the things I like best about Ever After: no love at first sight. 

Call me unromantic, or boring, or overly modern, but I am not a fan of the idea of “love at first sight.” Attraction at first sight? Sure. Lust at first sight? Sure. But love? Nope. Love is deeper than just emotions and pheromones. Those can bring together two people who then fall in real love, absolutely. Which is what happens here. The prince encounters a pretty woman embroiled in a vehement argument. He’s attracted to her, yes. But more than that, he’s interested in her. She’s unusual, spouting philosophy and economics instead of twittering about feelings and fashion. And so he pursues her not because he is already in love with her, but because he wants to understand her, to get to know her. And by doing those two things, he then begins to fall in love with her. 

Danielle is attracted to Prince Henry physically as well, but she likes him more because he takes her seriously than because she appreciates his appearance or rank. She isn’t out to snag a prince, or out to have a good time at a fancy party — she wants to get to know and understand him too. There’s just that one pesky problem of her being a common servant and him being a prince. 

Who better to solve such a problem than the ultimate Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey). Having such a famous artist, inventor, and intellectual in a fairy tale might seem incongruous at first, but it works beautifully here. In fact, he’s what ties the updated characters and setting together with the traditional story so well. He embodies all the new, marvelous ideas and pursuits of the Renaissance, and can bring art, science, and philosophy very naturally into the story. Without him, such topics might seem like convenient plot devices, not organic parts of the world, but with Leonardo da Vinci on hand, they make complete sense in the story. And with his help, Danielle and Prince Henry can find their happily-ever-after as well. 

I might not have a great desire to wear body glitter and fairy wings anymore, but my desire for a good story well told has not diminished. I know I’ll be enjoying and learning from Ever After for years to come. 

FUN FACTS: This story is set in an “alternate history” of the period. Utopia was published in 1516. Leonardo Da Vinci died in 1519. King Francis’ son Henry (born in 1519) married Catherine de’Medici. Charles, the Spanish monarch, was in his twenties and unmarried. And the queen says “divorce is only something they do in England” a full decade ahead of Henry VIII’s divorce.

(This post originally appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of Femnista magazine.)