Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, a VOA Special English program about music and American life -- and we answer your questions.
This is Doug Johnson. This week --
New songs from Annie Lennox ...
A question about the Chief Justice of the United States ...
And -- find out who the best heroes are in films!
Top Heroes in Film
The American Film Institute has named the fifty greatest heroes in American movies. Shep O’Neal takes a look at some of them.
The American Film Institute asked one-thousand-five-hundred actors, directors and critics to name the top heroes in American movies. A hero was defined as a character who shows morality, bravery and purpose.
The top hero chosen is Atticus Finch, in the movie “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Actor Gregory Peck played a white lawyer in a racist southern town. He defends a black man wrongly accused of a crime. At home, Atticus Finch is a single father who teaches his two children about fairness and justice.
Several top heroes on the list battle evil with lots of action. There is Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Another top hero is British spy James Bond, played by Sean Connery in “Doctor No.” Sean Connery is British, from Scotland, but the film was American made. Rick Blaine is not as famous a name as James Bond, but he too is a top hero. Humphrey Bogart played this part in the movie “Casablanca.”
His character helps Resistance leaders escape the Nazi Germans in Morocco during World War Two.
Actor Gary Cooper as lawman Will Kane is another movie hero. He kills the bad guy in a gunfight in the famous western movie “High Noon.”
Two women are among the top ten movie heroes. Actress Sigourney Weaver, as Ellen Ripley, battles horrible creatures from outer space in “Alien.” And Jodie Foster plays Clarice Starling, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in “The Silence of the Lambs.” Her enemy is Hannibal Lecter, an insane criminal who kills and eats people.
The American Film Institute also released a list of the fifty top villains – the most evil characters in movies. It may not surprise you that the top villain is Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Another top villain on the list is Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" movie “The Empire Strikes Back.” His frightening voice was provided by actor James Earl Jones. Several women also are among the top villains. They include the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Margaret Hamilton, in the nineteen-thirty-nine movie “The Wizard of Oz.”The list of heroes and villains is part of the American Film Institute’s celebration of one-hundred years of American film.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Van Vu asks about the leader of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of the United States. To understand this job, it is important to know some things about the Supreme Court.
Congress created the court more than two-hundred years ago, as called for in the Constitution. The judicial division of the government has the power to decide legal disputes involving laws made by Congress. The judicial division includes the Supreme Court and lower courts. The main duty of the Supreme Court is to make sure federal and state laws agree with the Constitution.
Most of the disputes the Supreme Court considers already have been judged in a lower court. The Supreme Court hears appeals of decisions made by lower courts that involved federal and state laws. All decisions made by the Supreme Court are final. Neither the president nor Congress can veto a Supreme Court decision.
The president and members of Congress are elected every few years. They must base their actions at least in part on what the voters want.
But Supreme Court justices are appointed for life by the president. Their loyalty, then, is not to voters but to the Constitution. Presidential nominations to the court must be approved by the Senate.
The court has nine members: a chief justice and eight associate justices. The chief justice is also appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.
The Constitution gives just one job to the chief justice: to lead any presidential impeachment trials. However, the chief justice is considered the top officer of the court. The chief justice leads meetings where cases are discussed, and may choose the justices who write the court's opinions.
The chief justice today is William Rehnquist. President Richard Nixon nominated him as an associate justice in nineteen-seventy-two. In nineteen-eighty-six, President Ronald Reagan nominated him chief justice. Mister Rehnquist has held that job ever since.
Annie Lennox became famous during the nineteen-eighties as lead singer of the rock group the Eurythmics. That group is no longer together. But last month Annie Lennox released her third independent album. Steve Ember tells us more.
The name of the album is "Bare" -- as in without clothes, open to the world, breakable. Annie Lennox says the name also describes her feelings about herself.
The songs are less angry, less robotic, than earlier music by Annie Lennox. The music on "Bare" seems lighter in spirit, more playful. The first song establishes an atmosphere. It is about life’s good things – right down to the air we breathe. It is called “A Thousand Beautiful Things.”
Annie Lennox launched “Bare” with a series of performances in the United States, Canada and Europe.
She performed this song from the album in Washington. It is all about learning to accept lost love and not looking for happiness in holes along the road. It is called “Pavement Cracks.”
Music critics say the clear quality of Annie Lennox’s voice comes through in her newest album. We leave you now with a song that is perhaps the best example. It is called “The Saddest Song I’ve Got.”
This is Doug Johnson. Today’s program was written by Shelley Gollust, Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach. Our producer was Paul Thompson. And our studio engineer was Tony Pollack.
I hope you enjoyed our program! Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.