Rev. Sykes: "Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing."
Classic film, released in 1962 by Universal Pictures. It was directed by Robert Mulligan, with a screenplay by Horton Foote, based, of course, on Harper Lee's novel. Alan J. Pakula was the producer. Russell Harlan was the film's cinematographer, and Elmer Bernstein composed original music.
The stars included:
I won't go into too much detail about the plot, because I bet you know it by now. Scout Finch is a six-year-old tomboy living with her brother Jem and her attorney father, Atticus, in Depression-era Maycomb, Alabama. They gossip about the recluse next door and play with their new friend, Dill. Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman. Can Atticus prove that Robinson is innocent? And what will happen to the Finch family after the trial is over?
A lot of the success of this movie can be ascribed to the power and popularity of Harper Lee's novel -- but at the same time, a lot of the popularity of Harper Lee's novel comes as a direct result of the popularity of this movie. Yes, the story is powerful and engrossing. The dialogue is beautiful -- but of couse, it would be, having come from Lee's novel and from a script by a master like Horton Foote. The setting is perfectly realized, right down to the way the movie's courthouse was based on the courthouse in Lee's old hometown.
But the acting is what's gonna make you stand up and salute. Brock Peters, a man who knows he will never see justice, but dares to hope anyway; Robert Duvall, making his screen debut, pale and unspeaking and mesmerizing; Mary Badham, so sweet and fun and innocent; and Gregory Peck -- my god, Gregory Peck. Noble and quiet and dedicated and loving and strong. Anyone who doesn't wish they had more in common with Atticus Finch is not a person who's worth a bucket of warm spit. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch should be on the ten-dollar bill. His portrait should be hung in every courtroom and law school in the country. The world needs a million more people like Atticus Finch, and Gregory Peck got the opportunity to perfectly embody him on the big screen. He did it perfectly, and thus ensured himself a permanent place in film history. Is it any wonder that the American Film Institute named Atticus the greatest screen hero of the past century?
And the cast seemed to realize they were making something extraordinary. While shooting the scene where he testifies in the courtroom, Brock Peters began crying, even though the scene had never been rehearsed that way. Mary Badham has acted only rarely since making this movie, though she probably never intended to become a full-time actress, and she corresponded regularly with Peck, Peters, and Phillip Alford. In fact, she always called Peck "Atticus." As for Peck himself, "To Kill a Mockingbird" was said to be his favorite of his own movies. Even Harper Lee loved the film, believing that Peck was almost a dead ringer for her own father, whom she had based Atticus on.
This movie received a slew of Oscar awards and nominations. Peck received the Academy Award for Best Actor, and Foote won for Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie also won Best Art Direction for a black-and-white movie. Nominations included Best Picture, Mary Badham for Best Supporting Actress, Robert Mulligan for Best Director, Russell Harlan for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and Elmer Bernstein for Best Score.
Atticus, to the jury: "In the name of God! Do your duty."
Some research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)