REVIEWS

 

 

What are people saying about Earl Hamner Storyteller?

 

This documentary is a priceless treasure!!

I had the good fortune to see this documentary before the public while attending The Homecoming 2015 Walton Weekend in Lynchburg, Virginia, February 27-March 1, 2015. A fan convention for over 450 joyful, enthusiastic people, celebrating just one of Earl Hamner's accomplishments, The Waltons. Produced by Tim McAbee, Michael McGreevey and directed by Ray Castro, this documentary is a must see for all of Earl Hamner's fans, admirers, friends and colleagues!! It brings to the viewer the collection of Earl's projects covering television, movies, books, writings and more. I won't list his accomplishments here, better to see it for yourself when you watch this documentary. I am a church pastor in central Virginia, I live about 45 minutes from where Earl grew up in Schuyler, Va. I was at the opening of The Walton's Mountain Museum in 1992 and took some photos of the cast in attendance that day which led to a face book fan page that I operate with over 600 members who eat, drink and sleep The Waltons, 43 years after the show debuted on CBS. This is an amazing documentary that I encourage everyone to see at the theater, on TV or purchase the DVD! You will laugh, you will cry, but most of all, you will be thankful for all that Earl has done. - Bryan Garra - Lynchburg, VA

 

 

 

Riveting!

I was privileged to see a screening of the "Earl Hamner Storyteller" documentary film at a Waltons fan convention in Lynchburg, VA in February 2015. This film, directed by Ray Castro, and co-produced by Michael McGreevey and Tim McAbee, was riveting! The time spent traveling and obtaining the interviews and photo shoots was no doubt a labor of love for these three gentlemen who I had the pleasure of meeting. Perhaps best known for "The Waltons," many did not realize the vast career Earl Hamner has had with other television shows including "Falcon Crest" and "The Twilight Zone." Among a myriad of writing credits, Mr. Hamner wrote the film adaptation of "Charlotte's Web." Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Earl Hamner is a true southern gentleman, humble, and nurturing of writers. This film will make you laugh and cry, but most importantly, will leave a warm spot in your heart that you will not soon forget.  - Debbie Richard - Green Sea, SC



A Masterpiece

Your documentary, in my opinion, is a masterpiece of the biographical genre and more — it is a transformative view of the cultural history of the United States through the hidden prism of the unrevealed life of a famous man.  Watching your documentary reminded me of what is true and honest, realistic, hopeful and real and decent about this wonderful nation of ours.  So Thank You.  - David Smallman


 
 

 A Lovely Tribute

What a lovely tribute to dear Earl!
WELL DONE!! xo Michael Learned
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Heartfelt and beautiful film

I am a little late, but I just wanted to thank you for inviting me to the screening and to tell you how impressed I was with your film.  It showed Earl Hamner in the most wonderful light and how much his authenticity has been reflected in his amazing work.  Again, it was such a delight working with you and everyone involved with the project. 
 
I wish you all the best and I thank you for including me in this heartfelt and beautiful film.
 
Marta  Kristen
 
 


SUPERB production

It was a TRULY "WONDERFUL" tribute to EARL HAMNER. It is unfortunate that individuals such as EARL are so RARE and PRICELESS, and as we now start to lose them there are very FEW, if any, to come along and "pick up their gauntlet" and take us all on such wonderful journies.  It was a truly SUPERB production for you and TIM, proving what can be accomplished thru a foundation of "LOVE and RESPECT".

I salute you both.

MANY "KUDOS"

HAL WILLIAMS
"Always A Friend"...
 
 
 

A Great Tribute to Earl


I was just wondering if there was a way I could get a copy of the Earl Hamner Storyteller Documentary?

I have thought about it many times since the screening.

It was very informative and I enjoyed viewing a glimpse of Earl’s past. My Wife also had a great time and really enjoyed the screening.

Thanks to All involved in putting together such a Great Tribute to Earl.  - David Doremus

 

 

 

What a wonderful job actually, it was an amazing job

I wanted to send you a message saying what a wonderful job actually, it was an amazing job you did in putting together The Storyteller. Honoring that wonderful man had to have been such an amazing feeling.  Even though I could not see what was happening on the screen, because it was told in such detail I had absolutely no problem following along.  Learning more about that special man is such a gift to me. I am sure that you all have heard such amazing and wonderful stories about what this man and his creativeness has meant to others. I could sit and listen to that man speak forever.  I was not sure if I could stand up and tell you all what the Waltons meant to me until, I watched that documentary.  When Mr. Hamner said not to put off tomorrow what you could do today because tomorrow might be too late, I knew without a doubt I had to somehow let you all know about my vision and what it meant watching the Waltons for me.  Once I got the courage to do so, it made me feel so much better.
 
Sincerely,
Barb Welch Bobbitt

 


 

A heartfelt and well deserved tribute to Mr. Hamner.

I just watched Earl Hamner Storyteller and wanted to share my impressions and reactions. I am not eloquent or artful with words but let me give this a try. As a long time Waltons fan and a fan of Earl Hamner I was eagerly awaiting this documentary's release. It was every bit as good as I had heard. To see Earl Hamner walk the area where he grew up and visit his childhood home was wonderful. To hear all the actors, family members and others who have worked with Mr. Hamner over these many years share their memories and impressions was moving and heartwarming.

Earl Hamner has given us much entertainment over these many years. He not only gave us The Waltons but he brought us Falcon Crest, several episodes of The Twilight Zone, Gentle Ben and Nanny and the Professor. He also brought us the animated adaption of Charlotte's Web (1973 film). He produced great Novels like; Fifty Roads to Town (1953), Spencer's Mountain (1961), You Can't Get There From Here (1965), The Homecoming: A Novel About Spencer's Mountain (1970), and Generous Women: An Appreciation (2006). He also gave us great TV movies like; Heidi (1969), Appalachian Autumn (1969), Aesop's Fables (1971), The Homecoming (for CBS, 1971), Where the Lilies Bloom (1972), The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story (1983) and more!

I have read how and why this documentary was made. In October 2013, Producer Ray Castro viewed a Waltons reunion on Good Morning America and noticed that Mr. Hamner was placed in the back, behind all of the actors. I read that Ray said, "I thought it was very disrespectful," and "They didn't mention his name or even talk to him and, knowing Earl, that must have hurt. Without him, we wouldn't have The Waltons. And it bothered me when I was watching it." A few days later, Castro met with producer and writer Michael McGreevey, who also was passionate about Hamner's work, the two along with producer Tim McAbee decided to start the project.

I think this documentary pays a heartfelt and well deserved tribute to Mr. Hamner.

-Randy Highsmith, Florida

 

 

 

A loving portrait of a Hollywood writer who created the Waltons, as told in his own words and by a number of celebrities who portrayed his characters.

 

Earl Hamner Storyteller (EHS) is the story of a genteel Virginian writer who made it big in Hollywood. Earl Hamner grew up during the Depression, served during the 2nd World War and then pursued a career of writing that took him from writing novels and radio to TV and film.

In establishing Earl's desire to write, EHS weaves footage from his creations Spencer's Mountain (1963), The Homecoming (1971) and The Waltons (1972-80) to illustrate his journey to become a writer. This technique continues to be employed to further illustrate details about Earl's upbringing, family and home. How amazing to tell the tale of a writer's life story by combining fictional footage from various dramas that biographically illustrate which such accurate precision since all of that footage was semi-autobiographical to begin with. Has there ever been such a situation before where a Hollywood legend creates a successful body of work that would then one day act as archive footage to support their own biography?

While Earl speaks for himself and takes the viewer on a journey through his life and career, the story is achieved mainly by connecting soundbites from more than 55 interviews with the actors, friends and family who Earl's influence touched throughout their life and career. The filmmakers take us back to Earl's childhood home in Schuyler, Virginia, a small community that Earl immortalized in his fictional tales of growing up on The Waltons. Actor/Producer Michael McGreevey acts as a conduit, "the ear of the audience" so to speak to help frame the story as Earl shares his memories of growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountain region of Virginia. Yet with so much career to reveal and so many interviews from other celebrities to tell the tale, little time is spent "porch sitting" before we are whisked off on a quickly paced journey of Earl's career in Hollywood. We don't really get a behind-the-scenes-tell- all-tale because Earl is too much of a gentleman for that. What we do get though is a relatively thorough look at the achievements of a man who sought to tell stories about family, honor, love, perseverance, grace and dignity who did it so successfully in a town that is not especially known for those qualities.

The film spends a significant amount of time illustrating Earl's break into Hollywood and television writing his first scripts for a handful of Twilight Zone episodes. We learn an interesting insight in that the characters of the old man and his wife portrayed in "The Hunt" serve as prototypes for Grandma and Grandpa Walton.

By far Earl's greatest achievement is the long running series The Waltons. EHS spends almost a third of its run time focusing on this production. In the kitchen of his childhood home in Virginia Earl sits with 3 of his surviving siblings and explains that he wrote about each of them as he saw them. Through a series of clips Earl reveals each of the "Walton" actors who portrayed his siblings.

Earl is the voice of a mature John-Boy who looks back on his memories of growing up on Walton's Mountain. Richard Thomas admits his disappointment when he was not chosen to read the opening and closing monologue for each episode. We learn about the issues explored, the history told and how Earl worked to keep real, honest moments in the show. The film then moves on to Earl's other creations like Apples Way and Falcon Crest.

Country recording artist and Virginia native, Jimmy Fortune bookends the film with his song "Virginia Dreams" and pianist/composer Paul Cardall provides the various themes throughout the film.

The documentary doesn't lose sight of its topic. With so many legendary interviewees, productions and clips to sort through it could have been a daunting task for most but the filmmakers expertly craft a story that stays on track and never veers far from the topic which, is always Earl himself. EHS does a commendable job stepping us through an insightful journey of Earl's career especially insightful for those who know little of his varied body of work.

EHS excels at not being bogged down by the weight of its own subject matter. The quick pace keeps things moving and the volume of interviews never allows the viewer to tire from overuse of any of the personalities in particular. More often than not it leaves one to wonder what other stories were left on the editing room floor. In telling the tale of a Hollywood legend it's fitting to see so many recognizable personalities who came together to share their insight and memories of a writer who gave them the words and character to perform. While this film is the story of a writer, it is more revealing at times for "who" speaks than for what they say. Many of these interviews are celebrities who in many cases we haven't seen in the limelight for some time and it's a joy to see their familiar faces again yet for the most part all too briefly.

In the end, Earl Hamner Storyteller is a charming tribute. The filmmakers achieved their goal in telling the story of modest writer's journey from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to the Hills of Hollywood. There are too few portraits that honor the works of creative individuals such as this Virginian, no, American treasure. A Hollywood storyteller who strived to reveal the best in ourselves, who navigated a business known for spite, greed and deceit and used his skill and talent to create a body of work that reveals our best qualities and gave audiences something decent that the whole family could enjoy, be entertained by and learn something along the way. - 8/10


-David Delouchery, Kitchener, Ontario

 

 

 

If you have seen the film at any of the pre-release screenings please feel free to share your impressions at the Earl Hamner Storyteller IMDb page by clicking the link below...

  

Earl Hamner Storyteller (2015) on IMDb