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
Robert Mulligan and Alan J. Pakula travelled to Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, but found it unsuitable for filming because the town had been modernized. Therefore, the production team constructed their own ideal version of Monroeville, Alabama, on a backlot at Universal. When Lee saw their re-creation, she said it was perfect. See more »
When Jem and Scout leave the tree with the knothole in it when Mr. Radley is filling in the knothole, he leaves his school books at the foot of the tree. At 0:53:59, Jem drops his books by the tree to adjust Scout's feet to "walk like an Egyptian". At 0:55:02 they run off without the books. See more »
I'm real sorry they picked you to defend that nigger that raped my Mayella. I don't know why I didn't kill him myself instead of goin' to the sheriff. That would have saved you and the sheriff and the taxpayers lots of trouble...
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When the American Film Institute polled its members and they selected Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch as the greatest hero on film ever, the selection was met with very few dissenters. I'm sure not going to argue the merits of the choice. But I do have a theory as to why.
Gregory Peck for the most part played decent honorable thinking men in his films. A few films like Duel in the Sun and The Boys from Brazil have him as a villain, but the public never accepted him really in those parts.
Few of us in our lives can be Horatio Hornblower or spike the Guns of Navarone or command a submarine as in On the Beach. But Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is well within our grasp. He's a small town lawyer, raising his children as a single parent and most of all trying to lead them by example. The performances of Mary Badham and Philip Alford show the kids have learned it very well as does the uncredited narration of Kim Stanley as the grown-up Scout.
Atticus Finch is a very attainable ideal. It is I believe the secret of the popularity of both the book and the film.
To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of Atticus Finch and his family during the Thirties in rural Alabama. The action takes place over several months of a given year. The most important part of the film deals with Finch defending a black man for allegedly raping a white woman.
It's a thankless task and Finch knows it, because he knows the attitudes of the people there, those who would make up an all white jury. Still he proceeds with courage and determination. His summation to the jury is a film classic and Peck's innate decency is nicely counterbalanced by William Windom's prosecutor who smirks through out the trial knowing he just has to play the race card to win.
Other outstanding performances are Brock Peters as the man Peck is defending, James Anderson as the father of the girl he's accused of violating, and Frank Overton as the county sheriff.
This film was the debut of Robert Duvall in the part of Boo Radley who plays the autistic neighbor of the Finches. No dialog at all for Duvall who conveys great and pained emotion with a series of expressions that are unforgettable. Duvall played a similar role in another Peck film, Captain Newman, MD.
Gregory Peck got the Best Actor Award for 1962. He was up against some very stiff competition that year. Peck beat out Jack Lemmon for Days of Wine and Roses, Burt Lancaster for Birdman of Alcatraz, Peter O'Toole for Lawrence of Arabia and Marcello Mastroianni for Divorce Italian style.
No doubt sentiment did play a part in the final award. Lemmon and Lancaster had already gotten Oscars and O'Toole and Mastroianni were relative newcomers. But I sure think the Academy selection that year has stood the test of time.
This film has sure stood the same test.
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