To Kill a Mockingbird (film)

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To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Mulligan
Produced by Alan J. Pakula
Screenplay by Horton Foote
Based on To Kill a Mockingbird 
by Harper Lee
Narrated by Kim Stanley
Starring Gregory Peck
Mary Badham
Phillip Alford
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Editing by Aaron Stell
Studio Pakula-Mulligan
Brentwood Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates December 25, 1962
Running time 128 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million[1]
Box office $15,062,211[2]

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama adaptation of Harper Lee's novel of the same name, directed by Robert Mulligan. It stars Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch and Mary Badham in the role of Scout.

The film, widely considered to be one of the greatest ever made, earned an overwhelmingly positive response from critics, and was a box office success as well, earning more than 10 times its budget. 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.

To Kill a Mockingbird marks the film debuts of Robert Duvall, William Windom, and Alice Ghostley.

Plot

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 rumors circulate. Their widowed 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. Early in the film, the children see their father accept hickory nuts, and other produce, from a Mr. Cunningham for legal work because the client has no money.[3] Through their father's work as a lawyer, Scout and Jem begin to learn of the racism and evil in their town, aggravated by poverty; they mature quickly as they are exposed to it.

The local judge appoints Atticus to defend a black man, Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), against an accusation of rape of a white teenaged girl, Mayella Ewell. Atticus accepts the case. Jem and Scout experience schoolyard taunts for their father's decision. Later, a lynch mob, led by Mr. Cunningham, tries to lynch Robinson over Atticus' objections. Scout, Jem and their friend, Dill, interrupt the confrontation. Scout, unaware of the mob's purpose, recognizes Cunningham as the man who paid her father in hickory nuts and tells him to say hello to his son, who is her schoolmate. Cunningham becomes embarrassed and the mob disperses. It is undisputed that Tom came to Mayella's home, at her request, to assist her with chopping up a chifforobe. It is also undisputed that Mayella showed signs of having been beaten around that time. 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 in assaulting Mayella before raping her. At the same time Atticus demonstrates that Mayella's father, Bob Ewell, is left handed, implying that he beat Mayella rather than Tom. Atticus also states that the girl had not even been examined by a doctor to check for signs of rape after the supposed assault. In his closing argument Atticus asks the all white, male jury to cast aside their prejudices and instead focus on Tom's obvious innocence. In taking the stand in his own defense, Tom testifies he assisted Mayella because he felt pity for her due to her circumstances. In a town where whites are viewed as superior to blacks, Tom's sympathy for Mayella dooms his case.

Atticus arrives home to find out that Tom has been killed by a deputy during Tom's transportation to prison. This deputy characterizes the event surrounding his death as an escape attempt. The deputy reported that Tom ran like a "crazy" man before he was shot. A short time later, Scout and Jem attend an evening Halloween pageant at their school. Scout wears a ham costume, portraying one of Maycomb county's products. During the pageant, Scout misplaces her dress and her shoes. Scout is forced to walk home without shoes in her ham costume. On their way home, Scout and Jem are attacked by an unidentified man who has been following them in the woods. Scout's costume, like an awkward suit of armor, protects her from the attack but restricts her movement and severely circumscribes her vision. Their attacker is thwarted and overcome by another unidentified man. Jem is knocked unconscious and Scout escapes unharmed in a brief but violent struggle. Scout escapes her costume in time to see a man carrying Jem home. Scout follows and finds Jem unconscious. Jem is later diagnosed with a broken arm. We learn from Sheriff Tate that the attacker was the vengeful Bob Ewell, the drunkard father of Mayella, the girl Tom Robinson allegedly raped.

The sheriff arrives to report that he has found Bob Ewell dead with a knife in his ribs. Scout notices Arthur "Boo" Radley standing in corner of the room and recognizes him as the person who came to their aid against Ewell in the woods. Atticus assumes Jem killed Ewell in self-defense. Sheriff Tate, however, believes that Boo has justifiably killed Ewell and tells Atticus that to drag the shy and reserved Boo into the spotlight for his heroism would be "a sin." To protect Boo, Sheriff Tate suggests the conclusion that Ewell "fell on his knife." Scout draws a startlingly precocious analogy to an earlier lesson from the film (hence its title) when she likens public recognition of Boo to killing a mockingbird. The film ends with Scout considering events from Boo's point of view, and Atticus watching over the unconscious Jem.

Cast

Robert Duvall and Rosemary Murphy are the last adult cast members still living. Kim Hamilton, who played Helen Robinson, was the film's last surviving African-American adult actor with a speaking role.[4]

Soundtrack

To Kill a Mockingbird
Soundtrack album by Elmer Bernstein
Released 1997
Recorded August 1–2, 1996, City Halls, Glasgow
Label Varèse Sarabande

All music composed by Elmer Bernstein; A re-recording has been performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by the composer.

  1. "Main Title" 3:21
  2. "Remember Mama" 1:08
  3. "Atticus Accepts The Case - Roll in the Tire" 2:06
  4. "Creepy Caper - Peek-A-Boo" 4:10
  5. "Ewell's Hatred" 3:33
  6. "Jem's Discovery" 3:47
  7. "Tree Treasure" 4:23
  8. "Lynch Mob" 3:04
  9. "Guilty Verdict" 3:10
  10. "Ewell Regret It" 2:11
  11. "Footsteps in the Dark" 2:07
  12. "Assault in the Shadows" 2:28
  13. "Boo Who" 3:00
  14. "End Title" 3:25

Critical response

According to Bosley Crowther:[5]

"Horton Foote's script and the direction of Mr. Mulligan may not penetrate that deeply, but they do allow Mr. Peck and little Miss Badham and Master Alford to portray delightful characters. Their charming enactments of a father and his children in that close relationship that can occur at only one brief period are worth all the footage of the film. Rosemary Murphy as a neighbor, Brock Peters as the Negro on trial and Frank Overton as a troubled sheriff are good as locality characters, too. James Anderson and Collin Wilcox as Southern bigots are almost caricatures. But those are minor shortcomings in a rewarding film."

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."[6] 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.[7] "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."[8]

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"

Harper Lee, in liner notes written for the re-release of the movie on DVD by Universal wrote: "When I learned that Gregory Peck would play Atticus Finch in the film production of To Kill A Mockingbird, I was of course delighted: here was a fine actor who had made great films – what more could a writer ask for? ...The years told me his secret. When he played Atticus Finch, he had played himself, and time has told all of us something more: when he played himself, he touched the world." [9] 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."[10] 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."[11] 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."[12] 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.[13]

The American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.[14] Additionally, the AFI ranked the movie second on their 100 Years... 100 Cheers list, behind It's a Wonderful Life.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] In the 54 Best Legal Films of all-time,[18] To Kill a Mockingbird finished in top place with 14 votes out of a possible 15.[19]

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."[20]

American Film Institute Lists

Academy Awards

The film won three Academy Awards out of the eight for which it was nominated.[22]

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) Its main competition was Lawrence of Arabia. It won the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Score. The Longest Day claimed the award for Best Cinematography while Patty Duke was awarded Best Supporting Actress for her work in The Miracle Worker.

Golden Globe Awards

Cannes Film Festival

The film was selected for the 1963 Cannes Film Festival in feature film category, winning the Gary Cooper Award.[23][24]

Restoration

The film was restored and released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2012 as part of the 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ Box Office Information for To Kill a Mockingbird. IMDb. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  2. ^ Box Office Information for To Kill a Mockingbird. The Numbers. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  3. ^ Harper Lee. "To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 2–3". SparkNotes. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  4. ^ "Harlem community honors 'Mockingbird' actress". USA Today. Associated Press. 2007-04-13. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley (February 15, 1963). "One Adult Omission in a Fine Film: 2 Superb Discoveries Add to Delight". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  6. ^ Nichols, Peter. "Time Can't Kill 'Mockingbird'; [Review]." New York Times: February 27, 1998. pg. E.1
  7. ^ King, Susan. "How the Finch Stole Christmas; Q & A WITH GREGORY PECK." Los Angeles Times: December 22, 1997. pg. 1
  8. ^ Bobbin, Jay. "Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird." Birmingham News (Alabama): December 21, 1997 Pg. 1F.
  9. ^ Universal Pictures Legacy Series DVD 2005
  10. ^ Hoffman, Allison, Rubin, H. "Peck Memorial Honors Beloved Actor and Man; The longtime star is remembered for his integrity and constancy." Los Angeles Times: June 17, 2003. pg. B.1.
  11. ^ Oliver, Myrna. "Obituaries; Brock Peters, 78; Stage, Screen, TV Actor Noted for Role in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'; " Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: August 24, 2005. pg. B.8.
  12. ^ To Kill a Mockingbird - Awards - IMDb
  13. ^ Robert Duvall (actor), Gary Hertz (director) (2002-04-16). Miracles & Mercies (Documentary). West Hollywood, California: Blue Underground. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  14. ^ http://connect.afi.com/site/DocServer/handv100.pdf?docID=246
  15. ^ http://connect.afi.com/site/DocServer/cheers100.pdf?docID=202
  16. ^ http://connect.afi.com/site/DocServer/100Movies.pdf?docID=301
  17. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10". American Film Institute. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  18. ^ "Best Legal Movies of All Time". Oklahomalegalgroup.com. 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  19. ^ "Best Legal Movies of All Time". Oklahomalegalgroup.com. 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  20. ^ "Harlem community honors 'Mockingbird' actress" from the USA Today.
  21. ^ a b "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  22. ^ "NY Times: To Kill a Mockingbird". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 
  23. ^ "Festival de Cannes: To Kill a Mockingbird". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  24. ^ "1963 Cannes Film Festival". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  25. ^ Appelo, Tim (2012-01-10). "Universal Celebrates 100th Birthday With New Logo and 13 Film Restorations". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 

External links