2003 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Little, Gordon, Gollott, Walden, Chaney, Dawkins

Senate Concurrent Resolution 559

(As Adopted by Senate and House)


     WHEREAS, Kossuth, Mississippi, native and veteran Hollywood screenwriter Hal Phillips has recently released "Red Midnight", his first novel in 40 years; and

     WHEREAS, "Red Midnight" (University Press of Mississippi) is the depression era story of young Marcus Oday, a young boy who has lost his mother, set in mythical Hammerhead in North Mississippi, with a side trip and lengthy stay at Olanberg (Parchman) State Penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta; and

     WHEREAS, Thomas Hal Phillips was in the last wave of the Southern Literary Renaissance; he was born on October 11, 1922, on an old farm near Corinth, Mississippi, to W.T. Phillips and Ollie Fare Phillips.  He was one of six children and attended Alcorn Agricultural High School, where he wrote for the school paper, played football and argued for the debate team.  After his graduation from high school, he went to Mississippi State, graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1943 and served with the United States Navy as a Lieutenant, Junior Grade, during World War II.  After leaving the military, he studied creative writing at the University of Alabama, receiving a Master's of Arts Degree in 1948; and

     WHEREAS, while at the University of Alabama, Thomas Hal Phillips wrote The Bitterweed Path as his thesis for his Master's Degree; published in 1950, this book has been successful and is considered to be very well written.  His next book, The Golden Lie, was published in 1951.  In 1952, Search for a Hero was published and won critical acclaim.  His next book, Kangaroo Hollow, was first published in England in 1954 and in 2002 was published in America.  In 1955, The Loved and the Unloved was published and also has been reprinted just recently in this country; and

     WHEREAS, from 1948 until 1950, Phillips taught creative writing at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  After publishing his five books, he became the Public Service Commissioner of the Northern District of Mississippi, following his brother in the position.  He served in this position until he resigned to manage his brother Rubel Lex Phillip's campaign bid for Governor of Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, since the 1960's, Thomas Hal Phillips has worked on numerous screenplays, primarily as a writer but also in nonwriter positions.  Among the films that he has worked on are:  Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Tarzan's Fight for Life, Huckleberry Finn, Minstrel Man, The Brain Machine, Nightmare in Badham County, Walking Tall II, Buffalo Bill and Ode to Billy Joe.  He also worked on the Emmy Award-winning "Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman."  Furthermore, he has been associated with Robert Altma's Thieves Like Us, California Split, and Nashville, for which he created and then played the part of a presidential candidate named Hal Phillip Walker, whose voice is heard but whose face is never seen on screen.  Several of Thomas Hal Phillips' short stories received critical notice:  the short story "Mostly in the Fields" became part of his book, Search for a Hero; "A Touch of Earth," Foley's Best American Short Stories of 1949; "The Shadow of an Arm" was one of the O. Henry Prize Stories of 1951; and "Long Bridge" was published.  From 1947 to 1953 Phillips received several grants including the Julius Rosenwal Fellowship in fiction, the Eugend F. Saxton Award, the Fulbright Fellowship; and two Guggenheim Fellowships; and

     WHEREAS, today Thomas Hal Phillips, who just celebrated his 80th birthday, still lives in Corinth, Mississippi, and it is with great pride that we recognize the literary accomplishments of this respected Mississippi writer who has brought joy to his readers and honor to his community and to the State of Mississippi:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend and congratulate Hal Phillips, Mississippi writer and former Public Service Commissioner from Kossuth, Mississippi, upon the occasion of the release of his latest novel "Red Midnight" and extend to him and his family the best wishes of the Legislature on his future endeavors.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to Hal Phillips and be made available to the Tupelo Daily Journal and the Capitol Press Corps.