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Guest Programmer: Lee Child
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Lee Child Profile

International best-selling and award-winning crime thriller writer Lee Child acknowledges the influence of movies upon his writing and maintains, in fact, that "Influence is too small a word... Movies are part of my imagination--they have formed my narrative sensibility." Now, for the first time, one of Child's novels has been turned into a film. Jack Reacher (2012), starring Tom Cruise as the footloose, retired Military Police officer who has served as the hero of 17 Child novels, will be released on December 21.

Child tells TCM host Robert Osborne that there are "multiple reasons" behind each of his selections as this month's Guest Programmer. Casablanca (1942) was chosen because of its iconic status and wonderful dialogue. But Child also loves it for the "hidden reason" that many of the actors playing refugees had actually been displaced to Hollywood because of wartime tensions in Europe, giving the movie much of its "incredible intensity and reality."

Similarly, The Third Man (1949), set in post-war Vienna, has a "fabulous look" and compelling storyline, but is also "one of the few cinematic records we have of that amazing period in Europe, with the utter devastation of the defeated countries." Days of Heaven (1978) is "beautiful--just beautiful--to look at," with a "breathtaking" voice-over by Linda Manz and a seamless quality that belies its long and troubled production history.

The final pick, The Dam Busters (1955) is a sentimental choice in that it was the very first movie that the British-born Child saw as a youngster in Birmingham, England. For Child, this film about British bombing raids in Germany during World War II is also a reminder that "culturally, emotionally and economically," his homeland did not emerge from the shadow of that war until the mid-1960s.

by Roger Fristoe

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