To Kill a Mockingbird (film)
|To Kill a Mockingbird|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Mulligan|
|Produced by||Robert Mulligan
Alan J. Pakula
|Screenplay by||Horton Foote|
|Based on||To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
|Narrated by||Kim Stanley|
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein|
|Editing by||Aaron Stell|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||December 25, 1962|
|Running time||128 minutes|
To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film adaptation of Harper Lee's novel of the same name, directed by Robert Mulligan. It stars Mary Badham in the role of Scout and Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch.
In 1995, the film was listed in the National Film Registry. It also ranks twenty-fifth on the American Film Institute's 10th anniversary list of the greatest American movies of all time. In 2003, AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.
The film's young protagonists, Jean Louise "Scout" Finch (Mary Badham) and her brother Jem (Phillip Alford), live in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the 1930s. The story covers three years, during which Scout and Jem undergo changes in their lives. They begin as innocent children, who spend their days happily playing games with each other and spying on Arthur "Boo" Radley (Robert Duvall), who has not been seen for many years by anybody as a result of never leaving his house and about whom many wicked rumors circulate. Their father, Atticus (Gregory Peck), is a town lawyer and has a strong belief that all people are to be treated fairly, to turn the other cheek, and to stand for what you believe. He also allows his children to call him by his first name. Through their father's work as a lawyer, Scout and Jem begin to learn of the racism and evil prevalent in their town, and mature painfully and quickly as they are exposed to it.
The kids follow Atticus to watch a rape trial, in which an innocent black man, Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), is wrongfully found guilty of raping Mayella Ewell, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Among Atticus' chief arguments, he points out that Tom is crippled in his left arm, and that the supposed rapist would have had to make extensive use of his left hand to have carried out the crime as it was being described by the teenage "victim" and her father. Atticus also brings to light the alarmingly unusual and suspicious fact that the girl had not even been examined by a doctor to check for signs of rape after the supposed assault. Atticus earnestly pleas to the jury for them to cast aside their prejudices against blacks and instead to focus on the evidence of Tom's obvious innocence. Tom is doomed, however, when he takes the stand in his own defense and reveals that he felt pity for the victim due to her circumstances.
Atticus arrives home to find out that Tom has been killed in an attempt to escape from jail. Atticus is subsequently vilified by some of the locals for his having defended a black man, and the whole town is in quite a stir over the matter for a good while. After a few months, things appear to have settled down, and Scout goes to an Autumn Harvest pageant with Jem; she portrays a ham in the pageant. On their way home that night, Scout and Jem are attacked by the vengeful Bob Ewell, the drunkard father (and the real assailant) of the girl whom Tom Robinson had been falsely accused of molesting. Mr. Ewell slashes at Scout with a knife, but the chicken-wire framework of her pageant costume protects her from the blade. During the struggle, Jem is knocked unconscious and his arm is broken. But then Bob Ewell is overpowered and killed by a tall dark figure who suddenly appears on the scene. Scout sees the whole thing from a small view hole in her ham costume, which she is still wearing.
Jem is carried home by this mysterious man, who turns out to be the previously mentioned Arthur "Boo" Radley. Afterwards it is revealed that Boo — in caring appreciation for Scout's and Jem's not having taunted and shunned him the way other townspeople had done — had for a long time assumed the role of the children's guardian angel, often secretly watching over and following a distance behind Scout and Jem when they were out at night, to help them and protect them from harm. The film ends with Scout considering the past three years' events from Boo's point of view, and with Atticus watching over the sleeping Jem.
Critical response 
Gregory Peck's performance became synonymous with the role and character of Atticus Finch. Alan J. Pakula remembered hearing from Peck when he was first approached with the role: "He called back immediately. No maybes. [...] I must say the man and the character he played were not unalike." Peck later said in an interview that he was drawn to the role because the book reminded him of growing up in La Jolla, California. "Hardly a day passes that I don't think how lucky I was to be cast in that film," Peck said in a 1997 interview. "I recently sat at a dinner next to a woman who saw it when she was 14 years old, and she said it changed her life. I hear things like that all the time."
The 1962 softcover edition of the novel opens with the following: "The Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama reminds me of the California town I grew up in. The characters of the novel are like people I knew as a boy. I think perhaps the great appeal of the novel is that it reminds readers everywhere of a person or a town they have known. It is to me a universal story - moving, passionate and told with great humor and tenderness. Gregory Peck"
Upon Peck's death in 2003, Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson in the film version, quoted Harper Lee at Peck's eulogy, saying, "Atticus Finch gave him an opportunity to play himself." Peters concluded his eulogy stating, "To my friend Gregory Peck, to my friend Atticus Finch, vaya con Dios." Peters remembered the role of Tom Robinson when he recalled, "It certainly is one of my proudest achievements in life, one of the happiest participations in film or theater I have experienced." Peters remained friends not only with Peck but with Mary Badham throughout his life.
Awards and honors 
In 1995, To Kill a Mockingbird was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." It is also Robert Duvall's big-screen debut, as the misunderstood recluse Boo Radley. Duvall was cast on the recommendation of screenwriter Horton Foote, who met him at Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City where Duvall starred in a 1957 production of Foote's play, The Midnight Caller.
The American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century. Additionally, the AFI ranked the movie second on their 100 Years... 100 Cheers list, behind It's a Wonderful Life. The film was ranked number 34 on AFI's list of the 100 greatest movies of all time, but moved up to number 25 on the 10th Anniversary list. In June 2008, the AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. To Kill a Mockingbird was acknowledged as the best film in the courtroom drama genre.
In 2007, Hamilton was honored by the Harlem community for her part in the movie. She is the last surviving African-American adult who had a speaking part in the movie. When told of the award, she said, "I think it is terrific. I'm very pleased and very surprised."
Academy Awards 
Other nominations were for Best Picture (Producer, Alan J. Pakula), Best Director (Robert Mulligan), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (Russell Harlan), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mary Badham), and Best Music, Score — Substantially Original (Elmer Bernstein)
Golden Globe Awards 
Cannes Film Festival 
See also