It was raining cats and dogs this weekend in New York, so it was the perfect chance to catch up on movies. We saw three in three days (more on "Midnight in Paris" and "Children of God" TK), but Sunday's selection -- "Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird" -- was my favorite by far. Like most Americans, "Mockingbird" was required reading when I was a kid -- Mr. McClellan's 10th grade English at Dobson High -- and I was instantly transfixed.
Writer/director Mary Murphy, a former CBS News producer, spent years putting this labor of love together, inspired after she re-read the classic book as adult. Knowing that a film about Lee, who has shunned the media for nearly 50 years, was impossible, Murphy instead decided to tell the story behind a novel that became an American classic. (You didn't think a 31-year-old airline reservations agent could suddenly turn out a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel without there being a good story behind it, did you?)
Murphy was on hand afterward for a spirited Q&A, the highlight of which was when she said she steered clear of Lee's sexuality -- the LGBT community has long claimed her as one of ours -- because she couldn't get any "concrete evidence" one way or another. (Lee should teach courses at the Learning Annex in leading a private life as a public person!) Murphy said that despite an unauthorized biography "concluding" that Lee was gay, her research showed that that conclusion was essentially based on the fact that Lee had a female roommate when she lived in New York and liked to golf(!). James McBride summed it up best when he said, “Harper Lee given us a gift in 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' and the best gift that we can give Harper Lee is to leave her alone.”
You can pre-order the DVD HERE.