Hallmark Review: Sandra Brown’s White Hot (2016, dir. Mark Jean)


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Pro tip! Don’t stay up till 3 in the morning trying to figure out the locations used in a Hallmark movie. Sure, it means you can make some nice jokes, but the next few days you are exhausted. Plus, I was going to go hiking today. Now that’s shot. Oh, and so is some guy in a shack because boat guy, shown above, showed up while “haunting bluegrass music” played according to my captions.

Now we cut to San Francisco because of the Golden Gate stock footage. Inside we meet our interior designer named Sayre Hoyle played by Shenae Grimes-Beech. Hmm…I guess she got married. However, she”ll always be Darcy from Degrassi: TNG to me. While her name is Sayre, they just call her Sar throughout the movie, or at least that’s what my captions kept saying. She’s making a sales pitch. I’m not sure what Latin gibberish on her laptop has to do with interior design,…

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but when her phone goes off, she simply says “cue music” and the deal is done! Good job on the phone too!

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All the shots of cellphone screens are done well in this movie. Unfortunately, the call is from Beck Merchant (Sean Faris), her father’s lawyer, telling her that her brother Danny (Kelly McCabe) is dead. She is told that she has a message on her voicemail with the details, but we cut to her office to find out her brother has left a cryptic and foreshadowing message as well.

Now we cut to a swamp to establish they are in Louisiana before cutting to this…

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to make sure we don’t forget that Camden, Maine exists.

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Now we meet the family lawyer Beck Merchant who represents her dad’s company called Hoyle Enterprises. He invites her back to the family estate. By the family estate, I mean the house from Unleashing Mr. Darcy.

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Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016, dir. David Winning)

Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016, dir. David Winning)

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Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016, dir. David Winning)

Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016, dir. David Winning)

I forgot to mention that the J.R. of the family, named Huff Hoyle, is played by John Schneider. If Schneider wants that house, then he’ll have it torn down and moved from New York to Louisiana piece by piece!

Next we meet Sar’s only surviving brother Chris played by Jeremy Guilbaut.

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Am I the only one that thinks Jeremy could do a good impression of Kyle MacLachlan? Take a look at this shot.

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See! Also, I’m sure Schneider imports cherry pie from Twin Peaks. Only the best for his family.

Now we go inside and meet Sar’s mother Alma played by Marilyn Norry. Then the cops come in to talk to her brother, Huff, and the lawyer.

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They’ve come to tell them that frogs have entered town and appear to be headed for Huff estate. That’s my requisite Frogs (1972) joke. They have actually come to tell them that the dead brother named Danny appears to have died from an accidental firearms discharge. Old cop believes that determination, but young cop isn’t so sure. He raises some good points. To the best of his knowledge Danny was never an outdoorsman so why the heck would he be out fishing where they found him. There was also no bait. The whole thing smells funny to him. But Schneider is having none of this.

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Sar then talks to the lawyer and an old boyfriend named Clark comes up. This is when we go to visit Danny so that we can meet the crazy guy from this movie.

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It’s funny. I can totally see this guy in another movie warning kids not to go to Camp Crystal Lake. This is Slap Watkins (Primo Allon).

We now go to a school to meet Jessica (Kristen Comerford). She’s a former close friend of Danny’s. This scene exists to tell us in no uncertain terms that not only did Danny hate fishing, but also guns. It is suspicious that he supposedly was fishing at the time and found with a gun.

Now we cut to a shot to remind us that Telluride, Colorado exists,…

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before cutting inside a clothing store so that we can find out she and Clark were an item in high school before the lawyer shows up. They decide to go and talk over breakfast.

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They go to Schneider’s favorite diner. He saw Rae’s at 2901 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, and had a duplicate made in Louisiana, but with the generic name Diner. That was Rae’s one request.

All jokes and plot summary aside for a moment. Here is what the stock footage Hallmark bought for this shot from FootageBank actually looks like.

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Look at how they changed the signs and added shadows to it. I’m not an expert in Photoshop so that may be incredibly easy for all I know, but I’m impressed.

Edit: Look to the comments section to find out how I was wrong to be impressed here. Chuck does a great job explaining why this doesn’t look right.

Back in the movie, the scene in the restaurant is there to tell us how the lawyer went to LSU with Chris, pledged his fraternity, and when the company lawyer retired, they hired him. The lawyer also drops the information that the father pushed for a thorough investigation after the recent death, but they found nothing so that it will be suspicious later when Sar instantly finds something the cops didn’t notice in plain sight.

Sar now goes to visit Jessica again to find out more information. We find out that Danny was well liked by the workers at Huff’s factory. She also brings up a recent accident at the plant. Apparently, as a result, Danny’s tires were slashed. Also, we discover that Danny cancelled plans for a picnic on the day he died.

Now we cut to a police station that I don’t know where it’s from, but they did the photoshopping thing to it too. This time you can actually see it just below where it says “Sheriff”.

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Of course there’s an American Flag. There’s one inside too hanging on the wall. Sar’s not happy with the sheriff and neither am I. Look at that!

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Guy gives Louisiana, British Columbian sheriffs a bad name. Just in case we didn’t know the sheriff isn’t on the level.

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The young cop and Sar go to visit the fishing shack where they meet up with the lawyer. This scene is to tell us that her and Danny used to hide things in the walls. Sar also finds a nightclub matchbook meaning the cops didn’t do their job, or someone planted it. We go back to the house to remind us Schneider is the head of the family, wants this matchbook looked into, and we find out that Danny didn’t go to nightclubs.

Off to the family factory and we run into Clark (Sean Poague). The lawyer takes her on a tour of the factory. This is when we discover the recent accident that killed a worker is not what this cross is referring to.

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A man named Sonny Holzer died a long time ago when the lawyer was a kid.

Next important thing is that we learn a reporter is saying that Danny might have been killed in revenge. Who am I kidding? It’s John Schneider going into his angry father mode again.

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If the crazy guy in Hearts of Spring was the real highlight of that film, then Schneider’s outbursts in this make him the equivalent. After Schneider reluctantly leaves the room after finishing his dinner table scene, we find out from the lawyer about that recent accident. A guy named Billy Pollock died only a month prior. The story is that he was drinking a lot when it happened.

We go and meet Billy’s wife, but it really isn’t important. What’s important is that Sar appears to go onto some cross between Pinterest and Facebook.

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Kind of weird, but it’s there because of the baseball photo. The people in the photo are tagged. The person in the middle is Danny and the person on right is Slap. That’s when who else but the lawyer calls her up. They go to a cajun restaurant.

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You have no idea how much I searched to find where this was located. It’s a cajun food restaurant, appears to have the address 8667, and I knew the stock footage sites to search because they are in the credits of the movie, but nope. Even with all that info, this is still a mystery to me. Sometimes you have to let things go, or not because the lawyer and Sar now sit down to talk so we get some more details. Turns out that after information was leaked to the paper about the accident that killed Billy, Slap was fired and Pollack was “cut…from the payroll.” Danny was the one who had to give Slap his pink slip.

Now someone pretends they are going to run into Sar’s car with theirs while she is parked.

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That doesn’t faze a Shenae Grimes! The woman survived this creeper who was just as much of a threat many years prior.

Degrassi: The Next Generation

Degrassi: The Next Generation

That means it’s off to the factory so Clark can drop some info. He had stumbled upon Danny and Chris arguing because Danny thought that Billy was murdered. Chris apparently didn’t care how he died. Don’t dig up info on the company. End of story!

Now the spotlight starts to turn on Chris. That’s when Schneider bursts into the room because John knows it’s been too long since he did his thing.

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This outburst winds him up in the hospital because this time it was too much for his heart. They take him to the photoshopped version of the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.

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We really can jump over a lot now. Slap tries to kill Sar with a knife. We have a conversation between the lawyer and Sar that hints Huff may have had something to do with the really old accident that we now learned happened 20 years ago. After Sar talks with the wife of the guy who died 20 years prior, we find out his lawyer died too. Turns out also that Huff ordered Clark to be beaten. We saw him in the hospital looking pretty bad.

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Now we can really really skip over things. Slap takes Sar hostage with a gun. He ends up getting shot by the cops in Mission, British Columbia where they shot this, which is close to where they did parts of Garage Sale Mystery: Guilty Until Proven Innocent.

This is when I say, if you don’t want the ending spoiled, then stop here. I recommend this one so you can stop here if you don’t want to know the ending. To separate this from the ending below, I have embedded the famous coffee scene from the Twin Peaks inspired game Deadly Premonition since I did reference Twin Peaks earlier.

Okay, here’s the deal. Huff killed the guy 20 years prior. We also find out that his lawyer didn’t die by accident either. It turns out Beck is the son of said lawyer. He got close to the family in the hope of exposing Huff for the murder of his father and Huff’s general corruption that lead to this whole string of incidents. As for the more recent murder, that wasn’t Huff. Well, not directly. Huff told his son Clark to deal with the issue with Billy Pollock, which he did. He got Slap riled up by making sure he got fired by Danny. Slap then went and killed Danny as a result. Danny caught it on a tiny camera, which Sar found in one of those hidden places I mentioned earlier. The matchbook was placed by Beck to help lead Sar while maintaining his cover with the family. So off to jail goes Huff and Clark.

Then even in this movie it ends with a kiss between Sar and the lawyer.

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I already said it, but I do recommend this one. I’m not a fan these cozy mysteries that Hallmark is churning out lately. The Gourmet Detective being an exception. This, and Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise, are just better. The cozy mystery ones tend to be too whitewashed, obvious, and sometimes they really don’t go for it. By that I mean like in Flower Shop Mystery: Mum’s The Word. They needed to cut a lot of the setup between the two crime solvers. Just let them do their thing. The acting here is good all around. I especially liked John Schneider and his over the top moments. It was also nice to see Shenae Grimes again. Those are my final thoughts. Check it out!

The Fabulous Forties #17: Gung Ho! (dir by Ray Enright)


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The 17th film in Mill Creek’s Fabulous Forties Box Set was the 1943 war film, Gung Ho!

Gung Ho!, which is filmed in a documentary style and features a narrator, opens with a series of job interviews.  A tough lieutenant (J. Carrol Naish) is recruiting Marines to serves in a special unit, one which will only take on the most hazardous of assignments.  The narrator reminds us that the interviews are taking place just a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor and we listen as each interviewee is asked whether or not he is okay with killing members of the Japanese army.

Some of the interviewees hesitate and some don’t but ultimately, all of them are okay with killing.  One (Rod Cameron) explains that he’s already a murderer, having killed someone back in Kentucky.  Another says that he fought in the Spanish Civil War and that he sees his service as being a continuation of the fight against fascism.  Another Marine (Alvan Curtis) says that he’s an ordained minister but he’s willing to do what has to be done.  A Marine named Pig Iron shows up and, since he’s played by a young Robert Mitchum, we know that he’ll get things taken care of.

And then we get to the final interviewee.  He doesn’t have a big role in the film but his one line makes a big impression.  When asked why he doesn’t mind the idea of killing, he replies, “I just don’t like Japs.”

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That’s a line that would definitely not make it into a modern version of Gung Ho!  Or, if it did, it would be followed by the interviewee being admonished and then kicked out of the office.  But Gung Ho! was made in 1943, at the height of World War II and in the shadow of Peal Harbor.  As uncomfortable as it may make us today, “I just don’t like Japs,” was probably Gung Ho‘s big applause line when it was originally released.

And really, that’s the main value of a film like Gung Ho!  It’s a well-made but predictable war film but ultimately, it’s most important as a time capsule.  If you want to know the truth about an era’s culture, as opposed to what you may want the truth to be, look at the art.  Read the books.  Watch the movies.  You may not always like what you find but you owe it to yourself to do so.

Anyway, as far the rest of Gung Ho!, it plays out exactly as you would expect.  Under the eye of Lt. Commander Thornwald (Randolph Scott), the men train for combat.  They visit Pearl Harbor and see the sunken remains of ships that are still smoking after being bombed.  And finally, the men fight the Japanese on an island.  Some survive.  Many more of them die.  And the fight continues.

Gung Ho! will probably be best appreciated by fans of war films, which admittedly I am not.  That said, it is an interesting time capsule of 1943 America.  Plus, it features Robert Mitchum!  Admittedly, it’s a small role but he does get two great scenes and … well, he’s Robert Mitchum!  How can you not enjoy watching Robert Mitchum?

And guess what?  You can watch Gung Ho! below!