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Crime, Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Robert Mulligan
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch
John Megna as Charles Baker 'Dill' Harris
Frank Overton as Sheriff Heck Tate
Rosemary Murphy as Maudie Atkinson
Ruth White as Mrs. Dubose
Brock Peters as Tom Robinson
Estelle Evans as Calpurnia
Paul Fix as Judge Taylor
Collin Wilcox Paxton as Mayella Violet Ewell
James Anderson as Robert E. Lee 'Bob' Ewell
Alice Ghostley as Aunt Stephanie Crawford
Robert Duvall as Arthur 'Boo' Radley
William Windom as Mr. Gilmer, Prosecutor
Crahan Denton as Walter Cunningham Sr.
Storyline: Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning book of 1961. Atticus Finch is a lawyer in a racially divided Alabama town in the 1930s. He agrees to defend a young black man who is accused of raping a white woman. Many of the townspeople try to get Atticus to pull out of the trial, but he decides to go ahead. How will the trial turn out - and will it change any of the racial tension in the town ?
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My Father, This Hero...
I wasn't yet the movie fan I am today but the first time I saw the American Film Institute's Top 100 heroes and villains, I could recognize almost every name, I expected a few exceptions but certainly not the number one hero: Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, in the adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer-winning "To Kill a Mockingbird". Seriously, who was that dork who had the nerve to be a worthier of the first spot than Indiana Jones or James Bond and that I even didn't know?

And "To Kill a Mockingbird" kept popping up in every AFI list and even on IMDb Top 250, so it was an emergency case in my watch-list of fresh new movie fan. So, I saw the film and could see what was so heroic about this noble-hearted white knight of the South, who dared to question racism at a time where it was common banality. And he was played by the noblest of all actors: Gregory Peck. I often criticized his acting as wooden but perhaps this is the one instance where it did fit the character and his Oscar wasn't stolen although O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, Lemmon in "Days of Wine and Roses" and Lancaster as "Birdman of Alcatraz" had more complex personalities to play with.

But there was something crowd-pleasing in the story of Atticus Finch, something that exceeded the expectations of cinema and satisfied the Hollywood conscience, it was still a time of relative innocence where the problem of racism could only be displayed through a white people centered story. Not that it's a bad thing but I wish the film had kept its original tone, as a story seen from the perspective of a growing precocious tomboy named Scout (Mary Badham), whose perception of her lawyer of a father and of the world of adults is influenced by one of the cases he must handle. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a childhood story, inspired from Lee's memories the tired Southern town of Maycomb, but the film carries a child-like innocence that doesn't fit the case.

Scout is a girl spending time jumping, climbing hills and trees with her brother Jem and their friend Dill, inspired by her childhood friend Truman Capote, and she sees her widowed father as a super-figure who has an answer for every question. And it seems that the film has somewhat embraced this creed and made Atticus Finch the hero of this picture, which is puzzling because he's not the focus for the whole first act. But we're supposed to embrace his nobility and optimism because it is obvious the case he must defend is a sham, and it doesn't even take courage but common sense. It's not much Atticus who's noble but the other people who are downright bigots and hateful. It's an insult to intelligence that Robinson is declared guilty despite Finch' invitation for humanism and empathy, but the real heroism would have been to convert them. But Finch's aura is one of a preacher, powerful, symbolic but eventually, useless.

I actually enjoyed the film and it's never as good as when it plunges you in the universe of children, their interpretation of spooky local stories, Scout is like a little sponge trying to understand and appreciate the world as it comes to her eyes, learning from her father, the meaning of words like 'empathy', and the subplot also involves the identity of Boo Radley, which highlights one of these aspects of childhood when you tend to believe the adults, until you realize that they're somewhat corrupted and unworthy of trust. But when Atticus learns the news about the death of Robinson, I couldn't believe he believed he tried to escape. That the film doesn't even exploit the event and makes it look as it really happened that way, that the Black people would just be a sort of passive observers with no capability for action and when the town drunk, evil Ewell, spits on Finch' face, he doesn't flinch, I thought the whole sanctification of Finch was overplayed. A preacher, he might be, but a saint, he wasn't. Maybe in the eyes of her daughter, but at that point, the film was told from the adult perspective, not only it didn't work, but it didn't even fit the character.

Finch was genuinely furious during his trial statement, he expected to save his client but he was shot dead in what seems to be obvious lynching, instead of prosecuting the case and serving the cause to the fullest, he accepts the outcome and when he's confronted to Ewell, he takes the spit like Jesus would take a slap. Robsinson was dead at that time, was Finch so perfect that he couldn't even give the guy the punch he deserved, what was to lose anyway? Couldn't one of the black guys do it? No, it had to be the hand of God through the providential Boo Radley (a youngish Robert Duvall) to punish the bad guy as to mystify the whole thing again, and creates some deep symbolism between a sordid case of rape and the local village idiot. An unpunished crime to avenge the first, too much religious symbolism for what should have been a tale from a child's eye.

In the movie "Capote", when commenting about the success of the book, Capote says "I don't know what the fuss is all about". Speaking for myself, I can understand why the film is such a celebrated classic, but it doesn't hold up very well in today's context while the masterpiece from Capote "In Cold Blood" says as much as human nature and vileness as the book and is still relevant today. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a classic, no doubt about that, but not all classics are supposed to be perfect. Maybe I will find in the book, these missing elements of 'perfections', though I trust Capote's opinion on it.
Fairly engaging, just a rather old movie
To Kill A Mockingbird was fairly engaging considering it was a movie that was shot in the 1960s. Although I will say that it does start off rather slow but right around when Tom Robinson's court case starts the movie starts to pick up and become a more interesting movie. Another good thing about this movie is that other than skipping a few parts it was a lot like the book that was written and the book was very well done as well. I think the only weakness of this movie is that it was shot in the 1960s so being so old the acting isn't always as great and it was in black and white which can also be less appealing to some people, mainly teenagers that haven't been exposed to black and white movies and might not like them as much. All in all, it was a pretty solid movie, Gregory Peck did a very good job acting as Atticus Finch, although the rest of the acting wasn't that great but that wasn't all that relevant because Atticus was really the main guy to watch in the movie. I'd say give it a watch unless you aren't interested in black and white or old movies.
An utterly moving film, made perfect by the outstanding performance of Gregory Peck. Must see
'To Kill a Mockingbird' is one of the best books ever written but this film does it justice. The performances throughout are stunning, especially that of Gregory Peck (Harper Lee was so impressed she gave him her late father's pocket watch, a prop he uses in the film, to keep). This film will make anyone think hard about how they treat others and it is really heartwarming without being soppy. It isn't necessary to have read the book before seeing this film but it might be advisable. This is one of the classic films of its generation and very few films of nowadays come close to matching it either. A real must-see.
From book to Screen
Most of us remember having to read this book in high school but with the directing talents of Robert Mulligan and a fantastic cast this story of 1960s racial prejudice and childhood innocence is brought to life. The film accurately represents the feelings of the public of the time through the eyes of a child in a setting of racial unrest. The acting is as compelling as the story being told and its no wonder why both the book and film are considered classics to this day.
Brings tears to my eyes
Every once in a while, there is a movie that successfully brings tears to my eyes, no matter how often I watch it. To Kill a Mockingbird is at the top of that list. The scenes of Scout being shown by Atticus what she will inherit when he dies, of Scout finally meeting Boo Radley, and most of all, that most important journey through the woods by Scout and Jem -- these are the key tearjerker moments for me.

(COMMENT: I have read many of the previous comments. As with so many other movies, I am tired of hearing comparisons to the novel. You simply cannot do in a movie what you can in a novel, and conversely, you cannot accomplish in a novel what you can in a movie. This film is so intense, so innovative in cinematography, acting and music, and you simply could not get that out of the novel. That's why there are novels and that's why there are movies. It's a different experience! I recall people complaining about how major plot elements from the novels Dr. Zhivago and East of Eden were left out of the movie versions. Well, duh! Look at the sizes of those novels! There is no way you can cover it all in a theatre! You must choose what is most important to the main theme, and go with that. This is what happened in To Kill a Mockingbird, the movie. You do know, by the way, that Harper Lee loved the movie, don't you?)

I remember the first time I showed the video to my youngest son and his best friend. They were about Jem's age. They were literally transfixed. They were glued to the screen. One of the elements that helps keep us so emotionally caught up in the viewing of the film is Elmer Bernstein's exceptional soundtrack. Then, there's the opening credits set inside the cigar box full of childhood toys, possibly the most original I have ever seen, and definitely a brief commentary on Boo Radley's childhood and on the loss of innocence.

The theme of innocence is so integral to this film. Boo is innocent. Tom Robinson is innocent. Scout and Jem are innocent now, but we realize that someday, they could be like all their bigoted neighbors...except for the superb example their father is showing them.

Atticus Finch is indeed one of the outstanding heros of American film. What he does is not much in the grand scheme of things, but he puts his neck out for an innocent black man, knowing the consequences of his actions. And yes, there are awful consequences. This is his heritage to his children. You know they will be like him some day. I appreciate knowing that the character of Dill was based upon Truman Capote as a young child, as this was a semi-autobiographical novel by Harper Lee, who knew Capote. This helps us understand Capote a lot more.

This movie is a masterpiece. It moves me, and I take it that it moves many others. (By the way, I have a new CD of the soundtrack by Elmer Bernstein, re-recorded and with the orchestra directed by Mr. Bernstein. I highly recommend it. It goes from sweet and lovely to downright frightening. If you've seen the movie at least twice, you can follow the story just by hearing the music.)
Stayed true to the book!
Director Mulligan did a really good job of keeping true to the book of which this film is based, that was released only a short 2 years prior. Through brilliant framing, subjective pov, and long takes that often included monologues; this told and showed the story that has been a staple in America's history. It was highly culturally significant when it was penned, and it remains something that we look at today, because it dealt with more than just race, but also the stereotypes we place on people and how those are usually wrong (easily seen in Boo Radley's case). The film shows strength, cruelty, bravery in all of the everyday ways in which it as experienced, and that teaching doesn't end at with youth. That the student can just as easily learn, and then become the teacher. The best example is Atticus to his daughter Scout, who then speaks to Mr. Cunnighamn. She does so calmly and casually; she reminds him who he is when he isn't filled with hate and rage, and that her and her family are people just like him, reminding him that his son goes to school with her and of her father saying "thank you" after an act of surprise kindness he had done a while ago. She learns and grows throughout this experience, and is the vehicle through which the learning curve can be taught and seen to an audience that would have been conflicted during those times (the 1960s).
Doesn't cut it.
The film starts with the same essence as the book, but through experience I've learned not to compare much - they are two very different mediums.

The problem begins with the film pacing up and skipping important events that build up motives of the characters and causes shift in their intent. Towards the end all of it looks like a rush. The importance and the the details of how grave the case of a lawyer actually backing up black man is lost in translation across the medium.

Well, all of that can be forgiven and the film still somehow works along. But the contextual shock of a man attacking children is totally lost on screenplay, many dialog were changed which the climax dry and juice-less - taking all emotions out of it.

Characters, especially Atticus's, were portrayed and played out very well. They are the only reason the film works.
This movie is nothing short of fantastic. I read the book at some point in high school and really loved it but didn't quite understand the social significance as much as I do now. The movie adaptation did the book justice and I love both of them just the same. The actors in this film are fantastic, especially the child actors. Child actors always leave me amazed that they are so young yet so skilled. They made me feel like I could relate to them and reminded me of my own childhood. The movie is focused around such serious issues that the parallel story of the kids and Boo Radley adds just enough innocence and mystery to make it appropriate for most audiences. I've always admired the crisp image this movie has despite it being in black and white. This possibly may be due to some sort of remastering but I'm still impressed. Also, I took note of the audio not sounding drowned out like some older films do. The audio was just as crisp as the cinematography. All in all, this movie gives me the feeling that it was filmed recently and the issues it discusses are, unfortunately, still relevant today. I would definitely re-watch this many more times.
Great Movie
I loved this movie! Often times people say that the movies never compare to the book its base off of but I thought that this movie was great! I thought that the acting was great, and perhaps the best acting done by kids ever and the picture in a physical sense was so clear. I really enjoyed the scene when Scout, Jem and Dale sneak over to Boo Radleys in the beginning of the movie and as they are running away Jem gets his overalls hook on the wire and has to leave them behind and run back in his underwear! I also thought the music throughout the film was great and fit very well with each scene. Gregory Peck was definitely the right choice for playing Atticus Finch, his calm and caring demeanor contributed to sympathizing with Tom Robinson in the court room scene and throughout the movie.
Peck at His Best
Could not of cast the bookish Atticus any better then with the legendary Gregory Peck. Film obviously was groundbreaking for its time in context with prejudice in the deep south. Interesting fact that Robert Duvall was cast in one of his first roles. The courtroom scenes were marvelous in there intensity and camera work provided great verisimilitude to the scene. Telling the story with the camera. Classic film based on classic book that truly laid the frame work in terms of content for future films attacking sore subjects in American history.
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