James Baldwin's written works made him an important spokesman of the Civil Rights Movement. His essays explored the black experience in America and his novel,"Giovanni's Room," was one of the first to tackle homosexuality.
This overview of the biography and writing of Ernest Hemingway from the Famous Authors series follows the young Hemingway from his boyhood home in Illinois to his start as a reporter in Kansas, which quickly led him to jobs as a reporter and an ambulance driver in WWI. Known for his minimalist style and the depiction of the “lost generation” in The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway’s experiences in WWI, his time as an expatriate in intellectual Paris and in Spain, and his love of bullfighting are depicted in the film and clearly connected to the themes in his novels and short stories. (35 minutes)
It’s 1920 and romance is in bloom at the Biltmore Hotel under its famous clock. For Myra Harper, age 21, it’s time to stop “playing around” and find a husband—and the unsuspecting, handsome, shy, and quite wealthy Knowlton Whitney is the perfect target. Romance, it seems, will work quite well with Myra and Knowlton, for they fall in love… And then it’s time to meet his outrageously eccentric family and the bizarre characters who inhabit Whitney mansion! Suddenly Myra is caught on a comic roller coaster of events trying to save her romance. Sean Young takes a spin through this delightful PBS adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s charming story “Myra Meets His Family.” As seen on PBS. (79 minutes)
James Baldwin was at once a major 20th-century American author, a civil rights activist, and a prophetic voice calling Americans, black and white both, to confront their shared racial tragedy. This film biography of Baldwin’s life captures the passion of his beliefs with stirring excerpts from his novels and striking archival footage dating from the Harlem Renaissance through to the author’s commentary on civil rights to his writing retreats in Istanbul and Europe. Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, and William Styron provide insight as the program skillfully links excerpts from Baldwin’s major works to different historical stages in black-white dialogue. (87 minutes)
Hadleyburg has a reputation for unshakable honesty. The smug townspeople are proud of this virtue and keep themselves honest by simply avoiding temptation. That is until “the man that corrupted Hadleyburg” arrives in town. Robert Preston stars as the stranger who plots a revenge on the hypocritical residents by promising a fortune to the citizens who once showed him charity many years before. One by one the stranger tempts the leading citizens to scheme for the money—until Hadleyburg’s honest reputation is mud before the world. Based on one of Twain’s best-known short stories, Mark Twain’s The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg is a cynical yet humorous view of life in America’s small towns—a life that the acerbic Mr. Twain knew only too well. Also starring Fred Gwynne. As seen on PBS. (40 minutes)
This program from the Famous Authors series provides an overview of Mark Twain's life and work, starting with life in 19th-century Hannibal, Missouri, Twain's childhood home and a major influence on his writing, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain started writing as a newspaper employee in Hannibal, and he joined a militia group there early during the Civil War. He soon lost interest in the Southern cause, however, and moved west, getting familiar with the lifestyle of gold miners. Continuing to write stories and for papers, Twain gained a reputation for his wit and talent. (34 minutes)
This overview of the biography and fiction of William Faulkner from the Famous Authors series introduces the major themes of Faulkner’s poems, plays, short stories, and novels. The film contextualizes life in the American south in the first half of the 20th century; Faulkner’s southern upbringing, family history, and race relations in the wake of the Civil War were a major influence on his fiction. In 1924, Faulkner left his small town of Oxford and spent six months in New Orleans, where he was finally able to see the conditions of his upbringing from a distance and become acquainted with a literary circle with Sherwood Anderson at the center, jump-starting his serious fiction writing. (35 minutes)