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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was released in 2019. It almost immediately received acclaim from critics and fans as one of the best films of the day. Inspired by a real-life magazine profile about television icon Fred Rogers, the film starred Tom Hanks. It featured a heartwarming story with plenty of humor, pathos, and sadness. While the film was based on a true story, there were many fictional elements blended into the movie as well. This left many viewers unsure about what really happened and what didn’t. One of the film’s most memorable scenes, however, is one that was lifted directly from Rogers’ life. 

A scene in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ was taken from real life

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood tells the true story of a journalist who is assigned to write a profile of Fred Rogers. At that point, he was an icon of children’s television. Sure that Rogers can’t be all that he’s cracked up to be, the disillusioned writer finds himself drawn in. He eventually forms a real connection with the kindhearted man. 

While many scenes in the film hit home, there’s one that truly stands out. The moment occurs when New York City schoolchildren serenade Mr. Rogers with the theme song from his show when they spot him riding on the subway. Rogers, clearly delighted by the recognition, smiles in recognition as the cynical journalist looks on. As noted by BuzzFeed, the scene was taken directly from journalist Tom Junod’s 1998 Esquire profile of Rogers.

Details of Junod’s life were changed for the film, including his name and his relationship with his father. But that incident on the subway really happened. In the profile, Junod describes how Rogers was riding on the subway when a number of schoolchildren recognized Rogers. Instead of asking for an autograph, they simply started to sing. “They just sang,” Junod wrote. “They sang, all at once, all together, the song he sings at the start of his program, ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ and turned the clattering train into a single soft, runaway choir.”

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ was nominated for several awards

The sweetly affecting scene highlighted how Rogers connected with children of all ages and backgrounds through his simple, heartfelt storytelling. Viewers and critics were similarly charmed. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood went on to be named one of the best films of 2019. It was nominated for several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination for Hanks. 

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ features several heartwarming scenes

mister rogers
Portrait of American educator and television personality Fred Rogers (1928 – 2003) of the television series ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,’ circa 1980s. (Photo by Fotos International/Courtesy of Getty Images)

While the subway scene is undoubtedly a standout, other moments in the movie are designed to tug at viewers’ heartstrings. One of these scenes takes place in a busy diner, when the writer is asked by Rogers to take 60 seconds to pause and think about all the important people in his life.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the scene is shot in a way that asks viewers to consider those people in their own lives who love them as well. This scene is also notable because Rogers’ widow, Joanne Rogers, is visible in the background as a diner patron. She would also make a point of praising the film, noting that she loved the portrayal of her late husband and how it represented his impact on the world.