Woody's
 Classic Movie Reviews

The Learning Tree Review

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There have been a relative few movies that had something important to say and said it in a profoundly moving way, becoming classics. These are movies worth seeing more than once. Some of these are identified and described on this and the following pages



TITLE:   THE LEARNING TREE

    The existence of this film is an unlikely thing, and part of a truly "only in America" story. It's a semi-autobiographical film born in the mind of African-American polymath Gordon Parks and brought to the screen by his hands. To understand and appreciate this film, it's necessary to know first about its creator, Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks. He was born in 1912 at Fort Scott, Kansas, as the youngest of 15 children produced by a strong- willed mother and a hard-scrabble sharecropper. Parks began making his own way before he was out of his teens, drawing on his quick mind and multiple talents to survive. He played piano in a brothel, then became a singer with a large band and, in 1942, joined the Farm Security Administration as a photographer. 
                       
    From 1948 to 1972 he was a top staff photographer with LIFE Magazine, the publication with the largest circulation of the time. Despite having no professional training and only limited formal education, Parks mastered a wide range of artistic and other skills. The Learning Tree was his screenplay, adapted from his earlier novel by the same name, based on his experiences growing up as a black teenager in Jim Crow Kansas. Besides writing the book and screenplay, Parks was the producer, director and cinematographer for this film, as well as composing the musical score. Parks died in New York at age 93.
                                      
1969, Directed by Gordon Parks


Watch a short clip about Gordon Parks

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