Small-town Alabama, 1932. Atticus Finch (played by Gregory Peck) is a lawyer and a widower. He has two young children, Jem and Scout. Atticus Finch is currently defending Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Meanwhile, Jem and Scout are intrigued by their neighbours, the Radleys, and the mysterious, seldom-seen Boo Radley in particular. Written by
Gregory Peck journeyed to Monroeville, Alabama with Robert Mulligan and Alan J. Pakula to meet Harper Lee's ailing father. True to the story, Amasa Lee really had been a widower who raised his children by himself, and at the same time was ready to defend a black man falsely accused of crimes he did not commit. The experience of meeting the actual man aided Peck's performance immeasurably. See more »
At the beginning of the film (at 0:02:36), a penny in the cigar box dated 1960 is shown in the lower right corner of the screen, while the story is set in the year 1932. See more »
I said, 'Hey,' Mr. Cunningham. How's your entailment getting along?
[He turns and looks away]
Don't you remember me, Mr. Cunningham? I'm Jean Louise Finch. You brought us some hickory nuts one early morning, remember? We had a talk. I went and got my daddy to come out and thank you. I go to school with your boy. I go to school with Walter; he's a nice boy. Tell him 'hey' for me, won't you? You know something, Mr. Cunningham, entailments are bad. Entailments...
[...] See more »
Hoo boy, am I a sucker for courtroom dramas. The wrangling of legal points and the investigation into the truth just gets my cinematic blood pumping (I s'pose it's in response to my own dashed hopes of becoming an attorney).
"To Kill a Mockingbird" rises to the top of the pile easily.
Yes, the courtroom proceedings are nail-bitingly engaging. But played out against the tapestry of bigotry and hate make the legal goings-on even more compelling.
The writing here is so beautiful, so lyric, so poetic. The Harper Lee-based screenplay captures wonderfully a time and a place that are absolutely real--where big brothers could solve the universe's problems in an instant and all the treasures of the world could be contained in a cigar box.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" also contains three of the most impressive child performances I have ever witnessed--there's not a false or affected moment in any one of them. Until seeing "Ponette," a movie I would highly recommend, the kids in "Mockingbird" received my best child performance ever awards. "Ponette" has ratcheted them down one notch, but that doesn't diminish the achievement here. The scene in which Scout dispels the mob simply by identifying its individual members is one of the most powerful moments in filmdom.
Peck more than deserved his best actor nod. His quiet dignity is a definite asset. Brock Peters, too, is terrific in what could have been a cliched role.
If you are a moviegoer who has a bias against black and white movies and who has therefore never seen "Mockingbird," I pity you. You've passed on one of Hollywood's most unforgettable experiences.
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