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Big Screens & Bright Lights:

The Media & Porches

 

A few Hollywood films have showcased porches. They become meeting places, and in some instances, they have become a way to get away and have "privacy" from the private atmosphere of the inside of the house.

 

Lauded frequently as one of the best on-screen kisses in film history is one that comes from an early Katharine Hepburn film, "Alice Adams." After what had been a disastrous dinner inside the house, Alice (Hepburn) and Arthur (Fred MacMurray) step outside onto the porch for a little privacy from the family. They share, after an emotional conversation, a passionate kiss. This very expression, which happened on the front porch, was a very public display of affection and care. The film ends with this kiss -- the porch becoming the stage on which love was expressed in one of the most public ways.

 

Although this does not highlight the kiss, the following link shows off the way Alice and Arthur use the porch as their public stage: "Alice Adams"

 

Atticus, in sharing his thoughts with Scout on the front porch, makes a profound statement in both his words and his publicness. To watch this scene, click on the following link and watch part 4:

"To Kill a Mockingbird"

 

Another famous film where the front porch plays an important role is "To Kill a Mockingbird." In the novel alone, there are over 40 scenes which take place on the porch; one of the most pivotal is when Atticus shares his reasoning for defending a black man in court with his daughter Scout. In this, we see how what he feels strongly about is something he also feels comfortable enough to share in the public view -- and furthermore, he sees the need to instill these values with his daughter publicly so that she, too, can grow to feel comfortable not only about what her father does, but also about how she can be a good person.

Another source of information and history about porches comes from National Public Radio (NPR). NPR has produced a number of special shows devoted to porches and porch culture. Below are links to two such programs -- one from the summer of 2003 and another from the summer of 2006. These shows collect oral histories on porch culture in its many facets, including American porch culture and southern porch culture.

"Sitting on the Porch: Not a Place but a State of Mind"

July 29, 2006

"A Spell on the American Porch"

July 6, 2003

 

Similarly, many musicians have written songs about porches. These songs commemorate a part of porch culture that either has died off or is reminiscent of "the good ole days." Below are links to a couple songs, which include lyrics and audio snippets.

Elton John "Porch Swing in Tupelo"

Tracy Lawrence "If The World Had a Front Porch"

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