A wonderful photo of Earl Hamner Jr. standing in front of his famous childhood home.
Earl Hamner Jr.’s Documentary Film Premiers!
By Richard Mabey Jr.
On Monday, December 7th, the documentary honoring Earl Hamner Jr will premier at the Carnegie Theater in Covington, Kentucky. This film is a wonderful tribute to one of the greatest authors who has ever graced our planet. From penning a great many episodes of Twilight Zone to touching the chords of our hearts in The Waltons to creating and producing one of television’s best night-time dramas, Falcon Crest, Earl Hamner Jr. has touched the hearts and minds of thousands of people, all over the world.
Earl Hamner Jr. is one of Virginia’s Favorite Sons. But more than that, Earl is a truly unique, sensitive and highly intelligent author. In his many books, films and television shows, Earl taught us to find the wonder, the enchantment and the illuminating beauty in the seemingly insignificant and ordinary moments of day-to-day life.
I personally think that Earl Hamner Jr. single handedly changed the face of television. As the last page of our 1971 calendars was about to be thrown away, Americans found themselves in the midst of sadness and turmoil. The War in Vietnam had reeked havoc upon the lives of thousands of Americans. There was an undercurrent of unrest in our cities and towns. And then on December 19th, along came a two-hour special entitled, “The Homecoming.”
“The Homecoming” revolutionized television. It was not an action-packed police drama. It was not a story about a doctor who saves someone’s life by performing this cutting edge surgery just in the nick of time. Nor, was it about a lawyer who ends up winning hopeless cases, week after week.
In the heart warming, gentle drama of “The Homecoming” we our introduced to a family living in the heart of Virginia, in a very small town. We find ourselves drawn to the realism that this Christmas special brings to us. There is no exchange of gunfire between the good guys and the bad guys. There are no exploding grenades. There are no dramatic arguments between two lawyers, both fighting to win the big court case. There is no ticking clock as the doctor performs the chancy surgery. There is only the love that abides in the hearts of this humble Virginia family.
I think what Earl Hamner Jr. did was to bring back the down home feeling of family values and the celebration of the small things in life that abounded in the 1950’s black-and-white family shows. Earl brought living color to this genre. He also courageously expanded the time span from a half-hour to a full hour. No easy thing to do, when you really sit down and think about it.
In my humble opinion, I believe that Earl Hamner Jr. is one of the greatest writers of all time. I know that is saying a lot. But I truly believe that, with all the fiber of my heart. Earl taught us to reach for the stars. He taught us to find the shining gold in the simplest moments of life. He taught us to love one another, despite differences in opinions or of culture. Earl taught us that there is great nobility in ordinary folks.
I am so happy that Earl Hamner Jr.’s documentary is about to have a wonderful premier. I know that a lot of hard work went into the making of this documentary. I pray for big success to unfold for this great documentary film. And, I thank the good Lord that He gave us such a wonderfully talented writer as Earl Hamner Jr.
Peace and harmony,