Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley To Kill A Mockingbird - 3 Stars (Good) Gregory Peck won a Best Actor Oscar in this adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about white lawyer Atticus Finch defending an innocent African American man accused of raping a white woman. This is a story that illuminates everything that is wrong about hate, prejudice, bigotry, ignorance, stupidity, lack of backbone and lack of a heart. It is a story about an all-white male jury who makes important life decisions without right thinking and right motives.
Finch (Gregory Peck) suffers retribution because of his defense of Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) who is accused of raping Mayella Violet Ewell (Collin Wilcox). The real villain is her father Bob Ewell (James Anderson) who beats her and tries to kill Finch's daughter Scout (Mary Badham) and son Jem (Phillip Alford). Scout narrates this story about her childhood memories. She and Jem team up with friend Dill Harris (John Megna) in a subplot involving "Boo" Radley (Robert Duvall) who ultimately saves Scout and Jem from Bob Ewell by killing Ewell with his own knife. Sheriff Heck Tate (Frank Overton) would later claim that Ewell fell on his own knife. Tate knew that Ewell was two legs and bad news coming in the form of one bigoted human being; there would be no charges filed against Boo.
In the end, the innocent Tom Robinson is found guilty and shot to death when he tries to flee his injustice. It is no irony that this 1932 story takes place in Macon County, Georgia, a cesspool of racially motivated hate even in 1962 when this film was released. To Kill a Mockingbird shows that some people will never have any discernable personal growth in their entire life; thank God that others do. Boo, a scary recluse who only came out at night, was Duvall's first movie role.
Duvall apparently stayed out of the sun for six weeks and dyed his hair blond in preparation for the role. Dill was modeled after author Harper Lee's childhood friend Truman Capote. Finch was the middle name of Harper Lee's father. Horton Foote, who wrote the screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird, won an Oscar and the film also won for Best Art Direction for a black and white film. The film earned 5 other Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, won by Lawrence of Arabia with Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif. Gregory Peck picked up the Golden Globe for Best Actor, and the film also won another for Promoting International Understanding.
Peck has said that this film was his favorite work. His character Atticus Finch was voted the top screen hero of the last 100 years by the American Film Institute. This is truly a no-spin honor. To Kill a Mockingbird is also ranked No. 2 on AFI's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time (It's a Wonderful Life with James Stewart is No. 1).
The evidence of just how emotional To Kill a Mockingbird is comes from Brock Peters (the accused) who started to naturally cry while shooting the testifying scene. Gregory Peck said he had to look past him to keep from choking up himself. Racial bigotry is an extremely emotional and hateful occurrence that continues to linger with us today. Were it not for a loving God who is color blind, the hurt would be even deeper and more destructive. To Kill a Mockingbird is as appropriate today as it was when it was released.
Each generation must work to progress past the sins of past generations. Tom Robinson may rest in peace knowing his descendants will then have a better system of justice.
Ed Bagley's Blog Publishes Original Articles with Analysis and Commentary on 5 Subjects: Sports, Movie Reviews, Lessons in Life, Jobs and Careers, and Internet Marketing. Read my 3-part series on "Secrets Men Don't Want Women to Know" and reviews on the Broadway musicals "Camelot", "Chicago" and "The Phantom of the Opera". These are all excellent films. Find my Blog at: http://www.edbagleyblog.com http://www.edbagleyblog.com/MovieReviews.html