UPDATED 02/19/1996 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/19/1996 at 01:00 AM EST

Sally Field can relax; readers still really like her (PEOPLE, Jan. 29). Not only do they admire her work, they also approve of the balance they believe she has achieved in her life. They felt even more strongly about the movie Mr. Holland's Opus, starring Richard Dreyfuss. They loved it and hated critic Ralph Novak's negative review.

Steel Magnolia is a better title for Sally than it was for the movie. Her strong drive coupled with her vulnerability make her extremely attractive to working women in their fifties like me. And, I'm sure, to men who are grown-up enough to allow a woman to be herself.

I've spent my whole life fighting the battle between what I wanted and what was expected of me as a woman, and, yes, there is something unnatural about sleeping in the same bed and sharing everything. Thank you, Sally, for affirming my feelings.
LINDA S. LANE, Sandy, Ore.

Sally, it took you this long to realize that it doesn't take a man to make you complete? Just because you sleep in the same bed and dress in the same closet does not mean that you are not your own person. Sharing is one of the things that make a marriage work, but it doesn't mean you have to give up all your own space. SARAH ALLEN, Silver Spring, Md.

Mr. Holland's Opus is one of the greatest feel-good movies of all time! What's with Ralph Novak? What this country needs is more films like Opus—stories that tell what life is like in education and how important one person can be. Mr. Novak's review was insulting, insensitive and downright nasty.

My problem with Mr. Novak's review is not that he trashed the movie—which he did—but with his comment deeming the deaf son in the film bratty. All I saw was a neglected boy patiently and passionately asking for his father's love and respect.

Deaf children and their hearing parents go through much agony in not being able to communicate with each other. To call a child bratty because the father can't or won't talk to him seems cruel to me.
ELIZABETH B. ULEN, Indianapolis

My husband and I were both music majors, and this film was not "hell" to us; it was heaven! It brought back many sweet memories of being that "bored" music student who had a professor who instilled the love of music. We watched the movie in a packed house, and everyone applauded. As for Mr. Dreyfuss and the cast—thank you, it was great!
Matthews, N.C.

This was a very touching film—one that truly captured the positive impact a band director often has on a young person's life. Our band director, Max Colley Jr., has been rightfully compared to the dedicated and inspiring Mr. Holland. Perhaps your critics are too far removed from young readers as well as from the dire need for arts promotion in our public schools to see the impact this film can make.
Northview High School Band
Grand Rapids

Talk about denial! Do either Carroll or Nancy O'Connor have any idea what parental responsibility entails? A mother who thinks its okay for her son to use pot shouldn't be surprised to learn that 16 years later he's a hopeless addict.
Costa Mesa, Calif.

Although I certainly sympathize with Carroll O'Connor, I fail to understand why he is blaming a drug pusher for his son's death. Hugh had had drug and alcohol problems for years, long before he met the pusher being blamed. Get real. Put the blame where it belongs, on Hugh.

The time line you presented for the 100 years of George Burns's life had an incorrect fact in it. The Hindenburg exploded while attempting to land in Lakehurst, N.J., not Lakewood.
JULIE McLAIN, Virginia Beach, Va.

Regarding O.J. Simpson's video: If O.J. had anything to say, he should have said it in court, on the witness stand, under oath. I, for one, will not be plunking any of my hard-earned money down to line the pockets of a wife beater.
PHOENIX HOCKING, Cottonwood, Calif.

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