To Kill a Mockingbird
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for To Kill a Mockingbird can be found here.

Told through the adult eyes of Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch (voice of Kim Stanley), six-year old tomboy Scout (Mary Badham) relates the story of her father, widowed lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) and his attempts to defend Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a young black man accused of raping and beating white Mayella Ewell (Collin Wilcox Paxton) in Maycomb, Alabama, a racially divided town in the 1930s.

The movie is based on American novelist Harper Lee's 1960 book To Kill a Mockingbird. It is loosely based on Lee's observations of her family and neighbors as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936 when she was 10 years old.

Atticus explains to Scout, her brother Jem (Phillip Alford), and their friend Walter Cunningham Jr. that they can shoot at tin-cans and blue jays, but it's a sin to kill a mockingbirds 'cause mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. Don't eat people's gardens. Don't nest in the corn cribs. They don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us.' In other words, mockingbirds are viewed as harmless creatures that do their best to please people by their singing but are defenseless against hunters. The wrongness of killing the bird becomes a metaphor for the wrongness of harming innocent and vulnerable people.

Although Jem's full name is not mentioned in the movie, in the novel he was introduced as Jeremy Atticus Finch.

Neighbor Arthur 'Boo' Radley's (Robert Duvall) situation was not explored, either in the movie or the book. Some viewers say that Boo is mentally impaired or at least thought so by his family and base that idea on the fact that he stabbed a family member with a pair of scissors. Others point out that the scissors incident was just a rumor and that Arthur Radley was perfectly normal as a kid, just got in with a bad crowd, got arrested, and his extremely religious parents vowed to never let him leave the house again.

An entailment is a situation where the owner of property has limited power over his own property. The technical legal definition is "to abridge, settle, or limit succession to real property; an estate whose succession is limited to certain people rather than being passed to all heirs." In real property, a fee tail is the conveyance of land subject to certain limitations or restrictions, namely, that it may only descend to certain specified heirs. In the case of the film, Scout is referring to what Mr. Cunningham owes Atticus for doing some legal work. At the beginning of the movie he brings to their back porch a bag of hickory nuts as part payment for this work. He says to tell Attitcus it's part payment on his entailment. So, in the jail house scene, Scout is just asking how it's getting along in payment.

Things begin to settle down after the trial ends. Following a Halloween pageant, after which Scout cannot find her clothes in order to change out of her ham-shaped costume, she and Jem decide to take a short cut through the woods. Partway through the woods, Jem suspects that they are being followed. Suddenly, Jem is attacked and Scout is knocked to the ground. Unable to work her way out of the costume, she can only see a second person jumping in to drive off the attacker. By the time Scout frees herself from the ham, she sees someone carrying the unconscious Jem across the street to their house. Atticus puts Jem in bed and, after assuring himself that Scout in unharmed, he summons the doctor and the sheriff. Later, after Dr Reynolds (Hugh Sanders) confirms that Jem has a broken arm, Sheriff Tate (Frank Overton) arrives with the news that Bob Ewell (James Anderson), the drunkard father of Mayella, has been found in the woods with a kitchen knife in his ribs. Scout tries to recall what she saw but cannot tell who was the man who carried Jem home. Suddenly, she sees him hiding in the shadows behind the bedroom door, and realizes that it is Boo Radley. The sheriff decides that there has been enough senseless killing and, to protect the shy and reclusive Boo, concludes that Ewell fell on his own knife, and Scout agrees. 'It would be sort of like shooting a mockingbird, wouldn't it?' she says to Atticus. In the final scene, Scout walks Boo home then returns to sit with Atticus and wait for Jem to wake up.

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