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Tribute: Harper Lee

Posted on February 19, 2016 at 12:13 pm

In 1999, when there were top 100 lists everywhere of the best this and that of the 20th century, only one title was on both the list of best novels and the list of best movies: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Today, we mourn the loss of Miss Lee, whose later-year troubles, with reports that her new book was published without her informed consent, will fade while the original book and movie will never dim.

When I was writing my first book about movies that help families discuss important values like integrity, courtesy, empathy, and helping others, I realized that I could have included To Kill a Mockingbird in every category. It is one of the best movies ever made that shows us how children see the world. It has one of the most beautiful and evocative movie scores, by Elmer Bernstein. It has Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning performance as Atticus Finch, a lawyer so principled he inspired generations of idealistic college students to go to law school. (Their chagrin on seeing a different version of Atticus in the later book will fade as well.)

It is about race, family, honor, and standing up for what is right. It has Robert Duvall’s first movie appearance, where he breaks your heart without saying a word. And it has one of the most beautiful final lines in all of literature, again about Atticus, who was sitting by the bed of his injured son, Jeb. “He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.”

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Books Tribute Writers
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Three Great Movie Dads for Father’s Day 2015

Posted on June 21, 2015 at 7:01 am

Happy Father’s Day! And extra Father’s Day love to the two great dads in my life, my father and my husband.

These are three of my favorite movie dads.  Give the dad in your life an extra hug and ask who his favorite movie father is!

And don’t forget to get a FREE copy of my book, 50 Must-See Movies: Fathers today!

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Film History Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Must-Listen Movies: Great Soundtracks and Scores

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 8:00 am

Salon has a great list of must-hear movie soundtracks.  It’s wonderfully varied, with everything from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” to an Elmer Fudd cartoon.  Composers include Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman, Ennio Morricone, Willie Nelson, Prince, and Michael Jackson.  Scores with pop songs include “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Beat Street.”

Some of my favorites include:

Rudy (Jerry Goldsmith)

Cinema Paradiso (Ennio Morricone)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Elmer Bernstein)

Picnic (George Duning)

The Magnificent Seven (Elmer Bernstein)

E.T. (John Williams)

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Music

Beliefnet’s Movie of the Month: To Kill a Mockingbird

Posted on January 11, 2013 at 8:00 am

I was thrilled to have a chance to write about one of the greatest movies of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Movie of The Month for Beliefnet’s Entertainment Corner.  It is the rare case where a great book inspired a great movie, which perfectly evokes the perspective of Scout, the young daughter of lawyer Atticus Finch, as he takes on the defense of a black man accused of assaulting a white woman.  The reason that it lives on as more than an artifact of the Civil Rights era is that it is a timeless story of a father and his children, of the way that courtesy (or the lack of it) transforms our relationships, the growing understanding of children as they begin to think about the world, and what justice means.

And, it has that unforgettable Elmer Bernstein score.

Every family should share this marvelous film and book.

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Based on a book Classic Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families Stories About Kids

What Movie Could You Watch a Million Times?

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 8:00 am

We all have one.  I have several.  Very often, it’s not a classic.  Sometimes it is a guilty pleasure.  But each of us has a movie we could take to a desert island and be happy to watch over and over.  NPR’s “All Things Considered” asks people who make movies to talk about their selections and it is a joy to hear them talk about the movies they love and why they love them.  Movies I’ve Seen a Million Times has Whoopi Goldberg on “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Donald Faison on “The Empire Strikes Back,” Jared Harris (of “Sherlock Holmes” and “Mad Men”) on “Tootsie.”  Well worth a listen!  And I’d love to hear which movies you would pick.

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Understanding Media and Pop Culture
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