TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
All Men Are Created Equal
Release Date: March 16, 1963
Starring: Gregory Peck, Phillip Alford,
John Megna, Ruth White, Paul
Fix, Brock Peters, Frank
Overton, Rosemary Murphy,
Collin Wilcox, Robert Duvall
Audience: Older children and adults
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 130 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/Comcast
Director: Robert Mulligan
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Alan Pakula
Writer: Horton Foote
Address Comments To:Brian L. Roberts, Chairman/CEO/President, Comcast Corp.
Stephen Burke, CEO, NBC Universal
Ron Meyer, President/COO, Universal Studios
Adam Fogelson, Chairman, Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
The movie tells the story from the point of view of a young girl nicknamed Scout. The setting is a dusty Southern town during the Depression. Scout and her brother, Jim, call their father Atticus. Their mother died when they were young. Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, is a wise, compassionate, exceptional attorney in this small southern town. Because he has to go to work every day, he leaves Scout and Jim at home with their housekeeper Calpurnia.
In their investigations of every part of the town and countryside, Scout and Jim are curious about Boo Ridley, an insane man who’s supposedly locked up by his father in their house. Several times they get close to the house, only to be scared out of their wits. Once when they return, they find a commotion. Judge Taylor asks Atticus if he will represent a black man, John Robinson, who’s accused of raping and beating a poor white woman. He’s accused by the woman’s father, who is a truly mean bigot.
The sheriff warns Atticus that the whites in town might come to lynch John, so Atticus sits all night in front of the jail with his rifle. In their adventures, Scout, Jim, and their friend, Dale, join him just as the mob comes up to take John Robinson. Scout recognizes the father of a friend of hers and starts chatting with him. Her reaching out and recognizing individuals deflates their lynch-mob mentality, and they go home.
At the trial, it becomes clear John Robinson lost the use of his left arm and could not have beaten and strangled the woman, but the father is left-handed and is most likely the culprit. However, it’s also clear John can’t get a fair trial.
Meanwhile, the father of the abused woman is out for revenge against Atticus and his family. Both of these plot streams culminate in tragedy and triumph.
To praise TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD would be redundant since so many critics have put it into their great movie list. In light of the years since it was released, it’s clear it helped precipitate the Civil Rights Movement, but all movements have a double edge, and it cast a shadow of racism and bigotry on the South which is still fixed in the minds of many people, including entertainment industry leaders. Be that as it may, it is clear from this movie that there are good Southerners like Atticus, the sheriff and the judge, and some that aren’t so good like the poor who are trapped in the Depression. One might as well say that the poor are the racists. However, walking away with any of these political opinions ignores the heart of the movie, which is the Christian principles that there’s a loving God who created all men equal and who calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Atticus in many ways represents a Christian and Gregory Peck gives one of his best performances here. Also, the children themselves learn some valuable Christian lessons along the way. If you see the movie in that light, then it is a truly worthwhile masterpiece.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a masterpiece. The script is exceptional and should be a model of great scriptwriting. The direction is incredible. The acting is wonderful. Gregory Peck gives one of his greatest performances as Atticus Finch. Atticus in many ways represents a Christian. Also, the children themselves learn some valuable Christian lessons along the way. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a timeless classic for older children and adults.