Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie of the Week – To Kill a Mockingbird

This week’s movie is To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

The drama is about Atticus Finch, a lawyer living in a small town in Alabama during the Great Depression who defends a young black man charged with raping and beating a white woman (based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel).  The film is directed by Robert Mulligan (it is really the only canonized work of his career, though critics also liked his film The Man in the Moon). He worked with composer Elmer Bernstein (best known for Ghostbusters), cinematographer Russell Harlan and art director Henry Bumstead (who won an Oscar for the film). The cast is fantastic. Gregory Peck (who won an Oscar for his performance) stars as Atticus Finch in both his most iconic and personal favorite role (Rock Hudson and Jimmy Stewart were both approached before Peck). Mary Badham (who at the time was the youngest person to receive an Oscar nomination), Phillip Alford and John Megna are all great as the youngsters Scout, Jem and Dill Harris. Brock Peters, Robert Duvall (in his first film role), James Anderson, and Collin Wilcox Paxton make up a very good supporting cast. Many of the cast member stayed lifelong friends (Peck and Badham would stay in touch for the rest of Peck’s life, he calling her Scout and she calling him Atticus). To Kill a Mockingbird was nominated for Best Picture at the 1963 Academy Awards, but did not win (in most other years, it would have won but it happened to be competing against Lawrence of Arabia – the same can be said for Peter O’Toole losing to Gregory Peck that year). It is one of the most socially important films, as it was made right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement (it was almost not made at all being called too liberal and without any action). This film is a must-see for cinema fans as it features one of the great heroes and performances of all-time. Check out the trailer.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Streaming

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