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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (film)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an American television film based on the autobiography of the same name by Maya Angelou, first aired April 28, 1979 on CBS. Angelou and Leonora Thuna wrote the screenplay, and the movie was directed by Fielder Cook. Constance Good played the young Maya Angelou. Also appearing were Esther Rolle, Roger E. Mosley, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee, and Madge Sinclair. Filming took place in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why..jpg
VHS Cover
Written byMaya Angelou
Directed byFielder Cook
StarringConstance Good
Esther Rolle
Music byPeter Matz
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Thomas W. Moore
Producer(s)Jean Moore Edwards
CinematographyRalph Woolsey
Editor(s)Frank J. Urioste
Running time96 minutes
Production company(s)Tomorrow Entertainment
Original networkCBS
Original release
  • April 28, 1979 (1979-04-28)

The movie traces Maya's life from when she and her brother move in with their grandmother to the trauma of being raped as a young girl by one of her mother's boyfriends and the several years of silence that came after the attack.

Two scenes in the movie differed from events described in the book. Angelou added a scene between Maya and Uncle Willie after the Joe Louis fight. In it, he expresses his feelings of redemption after Louis defeats a white opponent. Angelou also presents her eighth-grade graduation differently in the film. In the book, Henry Reed delivers the valedictory speech and leads the black audience in the Negro national anthem. In the movie, Maya conducts these activities.


(in credits order)

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