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
Mary Badham, the youngest at age nine to receive an Oscar nomination (for Best Actress in a Supporting Role), lost to 14-year-old Patty Duke for The Miracle Worker (1962). Both films are based on women who were born in small towns in Alabama. See more »
In a close-up at 0:55:10 of Mr. Radley troweling grout into the knothole after Scout and Jem have run off, someone coughs and it is not Mr. Radley, whose chin can be seen. See more »
May I see your watch? "To Atticus, My Beloved Husband." Atticus, Jem says this watch is gonna belong to him some day.
Well, it's customary for the boy to have his father's watch.
What are you gonna give me?
Well, I don't know that I have much else of value that belongs to me... But there's a pearl necklace; there's a ring that belonged to your mother. And I've put them away, and they're to be yours.
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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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