To Kill a Mockingbird
Directed by Robert Mulligan. US. 1962. NR. 131 minutes. Universal. 35mm.
Sun., April 29, 2012
This is the film which forever established Gregory Peck in the public mind as an exemplar of decency, fatherhood and quiet but forthright courage. To Kill A Mockingbird evokes a hauntingly nostalgic sense of childhood in small-town America. Taking place in racially divided 1930s Alabama, the story is seen from the perspective of Pecks two motherless and often mischievous children. While they go about the innocent pursuit of childhood fun, around them stir the social tensions of the time, as their lawyer father defends a young black man accused of rape. Peck deservedly won the Academy Award for his role and the film also won Oscars for Best Screenplay and Art Direction. In addition, it was nominated for Awards for Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Musical Score and Supporting Actress (for Mary Badham, who plays tomboy daughter, Scout, through whose eyes the film is framed.) This is a true American classic, worth watching again and again, if only for Peck’s quiet but powerful evocation of decency in the face of overwhelming odds. (NOTE: Watch for a young Robert Duvall, in the small but pivotal role of Boo Radley.) (Bill Roth)