35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not An Untold Expose--But A Fitting Tribute To An Enduring American Classic
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...
Published on June 30, 2011 by K. Harris
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the documentary I'd have filmed
While many have waxed rhapsodic about this documentary, I felt that "Hey Boo" fell far short of what it should have been. I found five elements to this documentary that made it worth watching: archival footage of Harper Lee and Monroeville, AL, radio interview clips with Harper Lee, the interview with Harper Lee's friends in New York City who provided the money for Miss...
Published 15 months ago by Tony
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not An Untold Expose--But A Fitting Tribute To An Enduring American Classic,
This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)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. Included are Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Roseanne Cash, Wally Lamb, Scott Turow, and Richard Russo--just to name a few celebrity contributors. And the documentary celebrates the influence and impact that Harper Lee's work had on them. In one of my favorite sequences, we go to modern classrooms where the book is still being taught and see that it still has the power to captivate an audience. Readings are interspersed with footage from the Gregory Peck film, so it's especially nice to see actress Mary Badham (the movie's Scout) participate in recollections about Lee and the film.
Perhaps most noteworthy from a historical perspective, however, is that the original novel really challenged the status quo at the moment of its release. It helped to enlighten people about the social environment of the Deep South just as the nation was divided on issues of Civil Rights. It's easy to look back at Mockingbird as a classic, but we forget how very contemporary and challenging it was to readers at the time of its release. All in all, a truly remarkable work. Public scrutiny caused Harper Lee to withdraw from the limelight (and much speculation is provided on this topic), but at least she left a singular legacy of great import. 5 stars for its reverence to "To Kill A Mockingbird" as its subject, 4 stars for its claim of being an untold story--if you love Mockingbird, I'm betting you'll love this too. KGHarris, 6/11.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST for ever teacher of To Kill a Mockingbird!,
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This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Permanent Collection,
This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)"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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey, Boo: A Loving Tribute to Harper Lee and the Only Book She Ever Penned,
This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)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. Second, I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again.")
It's reasonably well known that Lee and Truman Capote grew up together, and the character of Dill was based on him. He dedicated In Cold Blood to Lee but, livid at losing the Pulitzer, he somehow suggested that it was he who wrote and shaped To Kill a Mockingbird. Checking out the opening few pages of In Cold Blood does, indeed, remind you of Lee's work.
Under any circumstances, like the novel and movie version, Hey, Boo is a work created with a heart, soul and vision of what and who we really are, and what and who we really could be. Beautifully structured and incredibly sympathetic both to the author and her times, Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird should not be missed.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird is a Must-See Documentary - Pittsburgh Stage and Screen Examiner.com [...]
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valentine to Harper Lee's novel,
This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)Judge Jim Thomas, DVD Verdict-- Let's get the big question out of the way first: No, Harper Lee did not break her forty-eight year old streak and give Murphy an interview. In the absence of what certainly would have been the greatest interview "get" in recent history, Murphy at least brings a couple of new voices to the party: Michael Brown (a successful Broadway composer in the Fifties) and his wife Joy were friends of Harper Lee when she worked in New York City; for Christmas in 1956 they gave her enough money for her take a year off from her job taking airline reservations and write full time. In the years that followed the novel's publication, Harper Lee split time between living in New York City and living with her older sister, Alice Finch Lee, in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Both the Browns and Alice agreed to be interviewed for the project, and between the three of them, we get a slightly better picture of Harper Lee. Those expecting some sort of cosmic revelation about Harper Lee's motives, personality, influences, or credit rating are likely to be disappointed--and to be fair, the film's title does lead you in that direction. Murphy finesses that failing with an interesting insight--when Harper Lee initially wrote the novel, she saw herself as Scout, but over the years, she began to see herself more as Boo Radley, who having given of herself, simply prefers to stay in the shadows from here on out. It is perhaps too romantic a notion, but there's certainly at least a grain of truth there. It also allows us to come to terms with the simple fact that Harper Lee will forever remain one of modern literature's greatest ciphers.
When not focused on Lee, the film examines the novel's enduring appeal. To that end, the film includes interviews with a host of writers and personalities, including Tom Brokaw, Oprah Winfrey, and Rosanne Cash, all of whom talk about the things that make the book or film so memorable. Many of the writers are from the south, such as Mark Childress (Crazy in Alabama), fellow University of Alabama alumnus and Malleteer. Many of the interviewees talk about specific scenes that stick with them, many even reading the passage in question; just as it did when I first read the book all those years ago, hearing passages, even single lines out loud bring the book alive. The interviews are contrasted with archival footage that illustrates more clearly exactly what the world was like when the novel was written and published, providing a better context for explaining the appeal.
The discussion of the film adaptation parallels that of the novel itself, but also looks at how specific scenes worked, how Gregory Peck approached the role of Atticus, and so on. Much of the discussion is built around an extended interview with Mary Badham, who played Scout. Notably missing is Robert Duvall, who inaugurated his film career with his portrayal of Boo Radley.
Technically, the disc is solid; the video is sharp (save the archival footage), and the audio is crisp and clear.
-Full review at [...]
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A facinating 85-minute documentary on the best selling (50 million copies!) novel and it's author.,
This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)As another Amazon reviewer pointed out, this is MUST HAVE DVD for book lovers and anyone who - like me - returns to the 1962 film starring Gregory Peck on a regular basis.
That said, it was a challenge for Director Mary McDonagh Murphy to craft a documentary about an author (Nelle Harper Lee) who only penned ONE novel (but a powerful one!) and who has not given an interview in the last 45 years! To overcome this - and fill the 82-minute running time, Murphy interviews people close to Lee. There is the composer who gave Lee the funds to submit her book to the major New York publishing houses (four of who rejected the manuscript - boy are they sorry now!) while Lee was working as an airline sales agent. Then there is Lee's older sister, Alice, who, at 99 years old, is the oldest still-practicing attorney in Missouri! She has stories to tell! Nell Harper Lee still lives in Southern Alabama - though Murphy fails to mention that she had a stroke and is fighting blindness - and we hear from her long time Pastor and neighbor.
Because "celebrities" sell DVDs too, we hear from newsman Tom Brokaw, singer/songwriter Roseanne Cash and everyone's favorite book club hostess - OPRAH - as to how the book had a profound effect on them. It's interesting that when Oprah discusses the civil rights movement - some of which was powered by the story told in TKAM - she acknowledges that, by the time she was growing up, there were no "separate" rest rooms and lunch counters in her town.
Of course there are LOTS of scenes from the film - especially key moments - and the actress who played young Scout (the character that Lee based on her own life) reads passages from the novel. I found it fascinating to learn that author Truman Capote lived in the same small Alabama town as Lee and served as the model for the character Dill. (Capote broke off his friendship with Lee shortly after the novel was published.)
The bonus features on the DVD include 11-minutes of extended interviews (including four minutes with Oprah and a "text" interview with Director Murphy.
Speaking of the interviews, in a few of the "studio" interviews in the film there is the annoying sound of traffic going by. Very strange!
As I said at the beginning of this review, this a "must have" for avid readers and fans of TKAM. For others, this is about as complete a treatment as you will find of Lee and her novel. Murphy uses excepts from the last recorded interview Lee gave (for WQXR Radio in New York in 1964), and with Lee's current health there will certainly be no more.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mockingbird documentary,
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This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)Purchased this 2011 documentary to show my high school students, who were reading To Kill A Mockingbird. It shows the lives of Harper Lee and Truman Capote ("Dill") as well as the turbulent times of the Depression when the story takes place and the 1960's when the movie came out. It also includes excellent photography of Monroeville, AL, and the ice cream place on the site where Lee had lived. Included is recent photography of the original courthouse, of which the movie set was designed. An explanation of racism in the South is part of this. The documentary contains extra interviews by Ophrah Winfrey and others. My students enjoyed the footage of high school students in the classroom discussing the novel. This product was essential in teaching students about this novel.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful tribute,
This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)What a wonderful collection of authors they assembled to pay homage to this fabulous, classic book. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird (both the book and the movie), and think it's one those rare occurrences where the movie is equally as good as the book. This documentary talked about both, and touched on the key parts of Harper Lee's life. There isn't anything new here. If you're a fan of Lee and her book, you'll know everything that is in here.
So why'd I give it five stars then? Because it is a lovely tribute to this important story. It is well done and has just the right amount of sentimentality.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful,
This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)I had the privilege of previewing this film at NCTE in November and have been chomping at the bit for the finished product since. You will find yourself nodding along with the celebs in this film; it's like having a book club discussion of your favorite book with some of your favorite people. So grab a bowl of popcorn and prepare to reminisce and revel!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the documentary I'd have filmed,
This review is from: Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (DVD)While many have waxed rhapsodic about this documentary, I felt that "Hey Boo" fell far short of what it should have been. I found five elements to this documentary that made it worth watching: archival footage of Harper Lee and Monroeville, AL, radio interview clips with Harper Lee, the interview with Harper Lee's friends in New York City who provided the money for Miss Lee to take a year off from work to write the book, commentary by Tom Brokaw who shared thoughts on his own small town upbringing, and the interview with Harper Lee's older sister Alice. The rest of "Hey Boo" is cluttered with needless readings from the book, too many clips from the movie, and some of the most mindless commentary by a hodgepodge collection of authors and celebrities. This could have been a far better documentary much like the one about Lee's fellow iconic southern author Margaret Mitchell. Instead, this documentary was more than half filled with sentimental and nonsensical filler. Nonetheless, I'd still pay twice the price for this DVD just for Alice Finch Harper's interview.
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Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird by Mary Murphy (DVD - 2011)