6.7/10
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The Summer of Ben Tyler (1996)

A man who acts upon his conscience opens a Pandora's box of racism and intolerance. Temple Rayburn (James Woods) is an attorney who lives and works in a small Southern community in the ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Temple Rayburn
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Celia Rayburn
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Spencer Maitland
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Nell Rayburn
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Junius Maitland
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Chief Sam Thompkins
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Suellen
Charles Mattocks ...
Ben Tyler
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Doris
Jack Gilpin ...
Carter Glenn
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Rosetta Tyler
Mary Lucy Bivins
Sharlene Thomas
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Dr. Ringgold
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Judge Kragen
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Storyline

A man who acts upon his conscience opens a Pandora's box of racism and intolerance. Temple Rayburn (James Woods) is an attorney who lives and works in a small Southern community in the 1940s. When Rayburn and his wife Celia (Elizabeth McGovern) encounter a young man named Ben Tyler (Charles Mattocks) -- an African-American youth who is retarded and has nowhere to go -- they take pity on him and allow him to stay in their home. However, at a time and place when black and white citizens were not allowed to use the same drinking fountains, Temple's decision raises more than a few eyebrows, and the Rayburn household soon becomes the center of a local political firestorm. Written by Charles Goldstein

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Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and brief language
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Details

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Release Date:

15 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Summer of Ben Tyler (#46.2)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Woods and Elizabeth McGovern previously appeared in Once Upon a Time in America (1984). See more »

Connections

Edited into Hallmark Hall of Fame (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

A very satisfying drama; reminiscent of "To Kill a Mockingbird".
22 April 1999 | by (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA) – See all my reviews

Atticus Finch, move over! There's another morally strong Southern lawyer, with a pretty wife and a rambunctious young daughter, and he's ready to take some of your case load!

"The Summer of Ben Tyler", set early during World War II, has a lot to say about love, honor, relationships, commitment and power. Keeping their promise to their dying black housekeeper, a white family takes in her teenage mentally-slow son. The movie details the joys and conflicts the family faces as a result of their decision.

Similarities to Atticus aside, I found this movie to be very emotionally satisfying. Everything in life may not turn out the way you expect, or the way you choose, but the difficult lessons you learn en route are "character building".

If you're seeking a strong drama that the whole family can watch, discuss and learn from, I heartily recommend this wonderful movie.


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