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Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

46 customer reviews

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(Jul 19, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

After more than half a century, To Kill a Mockingbird remains a beloved bestseller and quite possibly the most influential American novel of the 20th Century. Nearly one million copies are sold each year and the novel has been translated into more than forty languages. The film version, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, won a trio of Academy Awards.

Behind it all was a young Southern girl named Nelle Harper Lee, who once said that all she wanted to be is the Jane Austen of South Alabama. Hey, Boo explores Lee's life and unravels some of the mysteries surrounding her, including why she never published again.

Containing never-before-seen photos and letters and a rare interview with Lee's sister, Alice Finch Lee, the film also brings to light the context and history of the novel's setting in the Deep South and the social changes it inspired.

Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, Wally Lamb, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Scott Turow, Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Young and others reflect on the novel's power, influence, and popularity, and the many ways it has shaped their lives.


Compelling... Hey, Boo celebrates a novel, celebrates an imagination and, ultimately, celebrates a defining piece of Americana. It's always nice to see a movie that values literature and literacy -- and this is one of the better ones. --Marshall Fine, Huffington Post

Completely fascinating! --Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Offers a much appreciated glimpse into the life and legacy of the beloved author... a fitting tribute to Nelle Harper Lee, an American treasure. --Jennifer Merin, Documentaries

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Quindlen, Tom Brokaw, Wally Lamb, Richard Russo, Oprah Winfrey
  • Directors: Mary Murphy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: July 19, 2011
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004VN7RO4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,095 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

I am a little torn about Mary McDonagh Murphy's love letter to "To Kill A Mockingbird" in the documentary "Hey, Boo." I'm not quite sure if I thought it was a great film or merely a good one. It is both a fascinating look at one of literature's most enduring classics BUT also (by necessity) underdelivers on the promise of its own tagline. Don't misunderstand me, I loved this movie. And if you have an emotional connection with either the novel or the film or both--you will likely enjoy this tribute very much. It's certainly an easy recommendation. However, the book's author Harper Lee (who hasn't granted an interview since 1964) is largely absent from the piece. There are a few interviews with people who know her, including her colorful sister, as well as archival footage and interviews--but she remains as enigmatic as the mysterious Boo Radley. And without her participation, the film stands more as a contemporary tribute to a legend rather than fulfilling the promise of being "the untold story behind a great American novel." In truth, the movie is more concerned with how the book affected people and continues to do so--it is not particularly revelatory with behind-the-scenes insight.

That commentary on the marketing out of the way, I did find the documentary absolutely charming. "To Kill A Mockingbird," as both a Pulitzer Prize winning novel and an Academy Award winning film, holds a spot very dear to my heart. I connected with Lee's story when I was a youth and continue to think it is incomparably valuable and endlessly entertaining. I'm certainly not alone. This film assembles many noteworthy fans--from celebrities, to authors, to historians--who all join in singing its praises.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Lee Fowler on July 21, 2011
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What starts out as a few predictably effusive praises from fans, particularly Southern writers, quickly turns into something so much more. Not only does the film explore familiar territory, such as the basis for Dill, Scout, and Atticus, it also explores the reasons behind Lee's seeming reclusiveness,and how she, through a surprising act of kindness, was able to write the book in the first place. Most importantly, however, the film depicts the impact the book had on a burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, For TKAM fanatics, this documentary is a must see, but even more, ANY TEACHER OF TO THIS BELOVED NOVEL SHOULD BUY THIS DOCUMENTARY. Every student should see the section on Lee's bravery and her impact on the deep South in the early 60's. After reading the novel AND seeing at least parts of this important documentary, students will leave with not only a fictional paragon, but a real life role-model as well. That is why I bought copies not only for my English Department, but for each of my sons as well. Yeah. It's that special.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Johnson on July 4, 2011
"Hey, Boo" is a documentary about the power of a book to shape our history (personally and collectively), and between its vivid footage and its stellar cast of stars, authors, and participants, it makes the case for "To Kill a Mockingbird" as our great American novel. The story of how the novel was written -- after friends of Harper Lee gave her the money to write for a year -- is told movingly by these same friends, as well as by Lee's sister, pastor, neighbors, and publisher, some of whom are now in their nineties. How wonderful that the director was able to get them on the record! The novel's reach from small town Alabama to the front of the civil rights struggle, to Hollywood, to the contemporary classroom, and to the work of other writers is impressive and inspiring, and "Hey, Boo" captures that. If you're a reader or a student of American literature, you need to see this. If you're a writer or a teacher, my guess is you'll want to own it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alan W. Petrucelli on October 22, 2011
First Run Features has scored another home run with its documentary Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird. Anyone who has read the book (or seen the film) will recognize the title's quote, and to wax rhapsodic about the place of those two words in American literature has long been a critical parlor game, right up there with Huck Finn's "Then I'll go to hell."
It's difficult to believe that it's been 50 years since Harper Lee's novel won the Pulitzer and, as this documentary points out, it's painful to remember the atmosphere of violent racism and segregation. It was a brave book to write at the time, but as Hey, Boo points out, too little has really changed since then. The outsider is still persecuted, it's still sinful and dangerous to be perceived as different and the great mob of (in)humanity still has an awful power to hate and destroy.
The movie is peopled with quick comments, interviews and longer pieces by such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash and Scott Turow. The many years Lee worked on the novel, and her efforts (and ultimate failure) to create another novel, are touched on, as well as her joy simply in the art of putting words and sentences together and ultimate disdain for the attendant publicity and celebrity forced on an artist. Far from a recluse, with lots of friends and correspondents, Lee grew sick of having her words twisted and refused all interviews later in her life. (The 85-year-old Lee, wheelchair bound, partially blind and deaf and suffering from memory loss, lives in an assisted-living facility. She also told a close friend why she never wrote again: "Two reasons: One, I wouldn't go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money.
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Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird
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