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
Atticus Finch was modeled on Harper Lee's own father, Amasa "A.C." Lee, an attorney and Alabama state legislator whose 1923 defense of a black client partially inspired the novel's trial. Like Amasa Lee, the character of Atticus Finch was not only an attorney but also a state legislator and a widowed single father. Gregory Peck met with Amasa Lee, then 82 years old, and formed a strong bond with him. Unfortunately, Lee died while the movie was filming, so Harper gave Peck his watch and chain. Peck was wearing that same watch and chain at the Academy Award ceremony the following year, when he won the Oscar for Best Actor. See more »
Directly after the scene where Jem and Scout are attacked while walking home through the woods, as Scout runs after the figure carrying Jem home, the trees and scenery can be seen through Scout in a ghostly fashion as if they were not originally part of the scene and were added afterward. Director Robert Mulligan mentions in the DVD commentary that this is the only special effect in the movie (at 1:56:39). This was necessitated because the extended shot shows the transition of Boo and Scout from the woods to the Finch house, because everything was shot at Universal Studios (Universal City, California), and because there were no woods near the studio recreation of Maycomb. See more »
One time Atticus said you never really knew a man until you stood in his shoes and walked around in them; just standin' on the Radley porch was enough. The summer that had begun so long ago had ended, and another summer had taken its place, and a fall, and Boo Radley had come out.
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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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