When the classic and controversial film, To Kill A Mockingbird, was released in 1962, it created quite a stir both among moviegoers and moviemakers. Based on the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee, it was directed by Robert Mulligan and produced by Alan J. Pakula. Gregory Peck stars as widowed attorney, Atticus Finch, a widower in the Depression-era South trying to raise two precocious children. Although no one knows much of the mother, one feels his intense love and concern for the children who must now face life without her love and support.
Brock Peters co-stars as god-fearing Tom Robinson, a good but poor black man falsely accused of raping a white woman (Collin Wilcox). Robert Duvall has a small but very effective role as Arthur “Boo” Radley, a mentally challenged young man who lives next door and whom the neighborhood children fear because they do not understand why he is different. Shades of prejudice bloom in all directions and inject their myriad of meanings in subtle but potent ways.
Other cast members include William Windom, Rosemary Murphy, Alice Ghostley, Paul Fix and Ruth White. I remember wondering about the meaning of the title until someone told me that the mockingbird was the state bird of Alabama.
The film is a masterpiece; it pierces the heart of racism in its ugliest and purest form. The crux of the movie is the trial of Tom Robinson, but the story also evolves as a father’s loving relationship with his two children (Phillip Alford and Mary Badham, whose excellent performance earned her an Oscar nomination. The film deftly depicts poverty’s tenacious grasp on the downtrodden and less fortunate. It is a powerful exposé of prejudice and ignorance.
There are many poignant moments, and they keep the viewer positively riveted to the unfolding actions of the characters. The superb acting and important story line stab deeply into the human psyche and emotions, offering a highly rewarding film experience. One is never quite the same after viewing To Kill A Mockingbird.
What are some of YOUR favorite moments in the film?