To Kill a Mockingbird
Description of Film: Harper Lee wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in 1960 about the racial divides in Alabama during the 1930’s. Her provocative story centers around a lawyer named Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, Cape Fear). Finch decides to defend a young Black man, Tom Robinson, who is wrongly accused of raping a white woman. Finch is the only man willing to take a case whose outcome appears to be predetermined by the norms of the Depression-era South. The story is seen through the eyes of Scout, Atticus’ daughter. Scout (Mary Badham) and Jem (Philip Alford), her brother, lead the audience through a time when justice was blinded by color, when lending a hand to the cause of equality was to lend a hand in the wrong direction. Predictably, Finch’s benevolent defense does cost him friendships in the town, but also gains him the admiration of the two most important people in his life - - Scout and Jem. Peck is impeccable as the widower/lawyer who takes on hatred full force in the small town of Macomb, Alabama. The movie also features a young Robert Duvall (Secondhand Lions) in his motion picture debut playing the mentally disabled neighbor, Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley.
To Kill a Mockingbird was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mary Badham), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Director and Best Picture. It won the awards for Best Actor (Gregory Peck), Best Art Direction, Best Writing, and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
Why I Recommend This Film: This is an excellent movie. It was beautifully made and the acting is superb. This movie also illustrates one of the best books of our time and certainly one of the most thought-provoking. It is important that we watch movies like To Kill a Mockingbird to understand how race relations once were and consider how they are today. We may look at this movie and think how terrible it was that a Black man in this country could not receive a fair trial, but how far have we really come? While injustice, even in the courtroom, may be less blatant, it still occurs each and every day. It takes courageous and principled people like Atticus Finch to make a difference.
Why It Is Important: This movie took great cinematic strides forward to show the kind of racial injustice that poisoned the country, especially in the South during the Depression era. It is an accurate depiction and one that speaks of the difficult fight for Civil Rights. It shows one man’s fight for equality, the choices he made, the risks he took, and the outcome of his battle against ignorance and bigotry.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” was written by Harper Lee
Atticus Finch: “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, . . . until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.