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Mockingbird Don't Sing
IMDB Rating: 6.5/10 from 1,441 votes
Release: 4 May 2001 (USA) /

Mockingbird Don't Sing

Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Harry Bromley Davenport,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: On November 4, 1970 on The CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite reported on a true, horrific story that was about to rock the country. A 13-year-old girl was discovered in the small Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia who was still in diapers, barely able to walk and unable to speak. Kept in severe isolation by her parents with virtually no human contact for more than 10 years, she was confined to her bedroom, tied to her potty-chair and left to fend for herself. As Cronkite noted, it was one of the most horrendous cases of child abuse ever to surface. Much like an animal, the girl spat, sniffed and clawed. She had none of the traits or characteristics of conventional human behavior, nor could she comprehend such modern societal conveniences as silverware or bathroom etiquette. Her emotional development was practically non-existent, and she could not speak. With this heartbreaking story, the world was being introduced to a fragile, beautiful teenager who seemed and behaved like an infant, or ... Written by Steven Zeller

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Critic Reviews


Dear Sylvia Marciniak

Thank you for looking at our film "Mockingbird Don't Sing". I am the producer director.

I am intrigued by your comment that it was not accurate. In what respect, pray tell? We spent two years researching this subject and enlisted the service of Dr Susan Curtiss (named Sandra Tannen in the film) who was, as you will know from your research, present at all but the early stages of Genie/Katie's life starting a few months after she arrived at Children's hospital. We interviewed her for about 40 hours total and she was our primary source.

Susie Curtiss, now a linguistics professor at UCLA, signed off on this script as being as accurate a representation as was possible, given the constraints of having to make a drama out of the story. That is to say, we felt that all the lawsuits which followed the child's return to her mother belonged in another story.

I used many other sources, including "sealed" records from the Los Angeles courthouses, Dr Rigler, Dr Jay Shurley, John Miner, the child's onelime legal guardian, Dr Kay Natali and a host of others who were actually personally acquainted with the child and her situation for many years in the 1960s 70's and 80's.

I suspect that you have read Russ Rymer's book and New Yorker articles -- documents much derided by the actual participants in the true story because of their massive inaccuracies and because his primary contact was the child's mother, Irene (now deceased by the way). Have you read Dr Susan Curtiss' own book on the subject, I wonder: `Genie - A Psycholinguistic Study of a Modern-Day `Wild Child'

So you see, I simply can't let you get away with the broad statement at the top of your comments "It's not accurate". You may have studied this case in class, but I spent three solid years on this killing myself to do justice to the story and to make it as accurately and elegantly as possible, and -- my God -- to actually manage to get a film made about such a risky and difficult subject.

I am saddened that you chose only to respond to the verisimilitude of the film. The names were changed for silly legal reasons beyond my control, but I might have hoped for a more reflective set of comments from a psychology student.

Now I'm sorry that I've yelled my head off at you -- you're probably a perfectly decent person. You should understand that this is an important movie for me and I don't respond well to uninformed criticism. You are free to dislike the picture, of course, but don't tell me "It's not accurate".

I do hope you will find time to reply and to forgive me for being such a curmudgeon.


Harry Bromley-Davenport. (Producer/Director "Mockingbird Don't Sing")

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