To Kill a Mockingbird


1h 40m 1962
To Kill a Mockingbird

Brief Synopsis

A young girl grows up fast when her lawyer father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Legal
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Mar 1962
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 25 Dec 1962
Production Company
Brentwood Productions; Pakula-Mulligan Productions
Distribution Company
Universal-International Films
Country
United States
Location
Monroeville, Alabama, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Philadelphia, 1960).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

In a small Alabama town in 1932, Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer, strives to create for his two children, 6-year-old Scout and her 10-year-old brother, Jem, an atmosphere free from hatred and prejudice. The youngsters lead a carefree life, racing about the town, jeering at eccentric Mrs. Dubose, and frightening themselves and their new friend, 6-year-old Dill Harris, with exaggerated stories about Boo Radley, a mentally retarded neighbor whom they have never seen. When Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a Negro accused of raping young Mayella Ewell, the children must defend themselves against the taunts of their classmates. Though Atticus is able to demonstrate Tom's innocence, forcing Mayella to admit that her father beat her when he found her making advances toward Tom, the all-white jury returns a verdict of guilty. Atticus tries to have the decision reversed, but before he can do so, Tom attempts to escape and is killed. In revenge against Atticus, Bob Ewell one day attacks Scout and Jem; but Boo Radley, who has secretly watched over the children and has left gifts for them in a tree trunk, saves them by killing Ewell. Sheriff Tate concludes that Ewell fell on his own knife and decides that there will be no trial.

Photo Collections

To Kill a Mockingbird - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of lobby cards from Universal Pictures' To Kill a Mockingbird (1963), starring Gregory Peck. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) - Squirrels And Rabbits Young Walter (Steve Condit) is a guest at dinner after a schoolyard scrap with Scout (Mary Badham), Atticus (Gregory Peck) and Jem (Phillip Alford) joining conversation, in To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962, from Harper Lee's novel and Horton Foote's screenplay.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) - Don't Go Near That Dog! Atticus (Gregory Peck) with Scout (Mary Badham), then Kim Stanley's narration to the vignette about the mad dog, featuring Caplurnia (Estelle Evans), Jem (Phillip Alford) and Sheriff Tate (Frank Overton), from To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) - There's A Pearl Necklace Starting with a famous camera move, Atticus (Gregory Peck) tucking Scout (Mary Badham) into bed, then on the porch hearing her with brother Jem (Phillip Alford) remembering their mother, in To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) - A Maniac Lives There Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham) in the tree-house, first meet Dill (John Megna), tell him legends of Boo Radley, underlined by Aunt Stephanie (Alice Ghostley), early in To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962, directed by Robert Mulligan.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) - Opening, Maycomb Stephen Frankfurt's famous credit sequence and Kim Stanley as the voice of the adult "Scout," reading from Harper Lee's novel, opening To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962, starring Gregory Peck.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) - What Kind Of Man Are You? Jem (Phillip Alford), Scout (Mary Badham) and Dill (John Megna) to the courthouse where they observe Atticus (Gregory Peck) in early proceedings, then we see him confronted by Ewell (James Anderson), father of the victim, in To Kill A Mockingbird 1962.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Legal
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Mar 1962
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 25 Dec 1962
Production Company
Brentwood Productions; Pakula-Mulligan Productions
Distribution Company
Universal-International Films
Country
United States
Location
Monroeville, Alabama, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Philadelphia, 1960).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Award Wins

Best Actor

1962
Gregory Peck

Best Art Direction

1962

Best Writing, Screenplay

1963

Award Nominations

Best Cinematography

1962

Best Director

1962
Robert Mulligan

Best Picture

1962

Best Score

1962

Best Supporting Actress

1962
Mary Badham

Articles

The Essentials - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)


Synopsis

Six-year-old Scout and her ten-year-old brother Jem live a carefree existence in a small Alabama town with their widowed father, Atticus Finch, a respected attorney. But when Atticus agrees to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman, the children are pulled out of their insulated world. Fellow classmates provoke them at school because of their father's case while Atticus encounters prejudice and unreliable witnesses in the courtroom. During this troubled period, Scout continues to indulge her fascination with Boo Radley, a reclusive neighbor who is said to be mentally deranged and is never seen outdoors. This shadowy character soon comes to play a major part in the lives of the children.

Producer: Alan J. Pakula
Director: Robert Mulligan
Screenplay: Horton Foote
Production Design: Henry Bumstead
Cinematography: Russell Harlan
Costume Design: Rosemary Odell
Film Editing: Aaron Stell
Original Music: Elmer Bernstein
Cast: Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch); Mary Badham (Jean Louise "Scout" Finch), Phillip Alford (Jem Finch), John Megna (Dill Harris), Robert Duvall (Arthur "Boo" Radley).
BW-130m. Letterboxed.

Why To Kill a Mockingbird is Essential

The film version of Harper Lee's Pulitzer-prize-winning, semi-autobiographical novel, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) was one of those rare screen adaptations that pleased fans of the book and its author as well. After seeing the film, Lee commented, "I can only say that I am a happy author. They have made my story into a beautiful and moving motion picture. I am very proud and grateful." Set in Lee's hometown, Monroeville, Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird vividly captures a specific time and place when racial unrest was at its peak in the South. Yet despite its controversial nature (a black man is accused of raping a white woman), the real focus of the story is the relationship between Scout, a tomboyish six-year-old, her older brother, Jem, and their attorney father. Part of the film's huge appeal is seeing the dramatic events unfold through the innocent eyes of childhood.

Gregory Peck was so perfect in the role that Harper Lee turned down offers in later years for television and stage versions of To Kill A Mockingbird, stating "that film was a work of art and there isn't anyone else who could play the part." At the conclusion of the film's shooting, she gave Peck her father's prized pocket watch which the actor used as a good luck charm on Oscar® night when he would be named Best Actor for his work in To Kill A Mockingbird.

Gregory Peck would later comment on his portrayal of Atticus Finch: "I felt I could climb into Atticus's shoes without any play-acting, that I could be him. My own childhood was...not in the true South; it was in Southern California, but it was nevertheless a small town where we ran around barefooted in the summertime and lived in trees and rolled down the street curled up in an old rubber tire."

Just as effective as Gregory Peck but in a much less visible role was Robert Duvall in his film debut as Arthur ¿Boo' Radley, the town pariah. Radley's mysterious reputation and reclusive nature is an object of fascination for the Finch children and their little neighborhood friend, Dill (who, incidentally, is modeled on Harper Lee's childhood playmate and fellow Pulitzer-winner, Truman Capote). It isn't until the climax of To Kill a Mockingbird that Boo Radley emerges from the shadows to become a flesh and blood character.

Considering the critical acclaim that greeted To Kill A Mockingbird upon its release, it was no big surprise when it was nominated for eight Academy Awards® including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Mary Badham, the sister of director John Saturday Night Fever, 1977, Badham, as 'Scout'), Best Cinematography (by Russell Harlan), and Best Music Score (by Elmer Bernstein). On the big night, the film won a total of three Oscars®In addition to Peck's award, Horton Foote won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar® (he would later win a second Academy Award® for the Best Original Screenplay for Tender Mercies, 1983) and Alexander Golitzen, Henry Bumstead, and Oliver Emert won the award for Best Art Direction.

by Scott McGee, Kerryn Sherrod & Jeff Stafford
The Essentials - To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

The Essentials - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

Synopsis Six-year-old Scout and her ten-year-old brother Jem live a carefree existence in a small Alabama town with their widowed father, Atticus Finch, a respected attorney. But when Atticus agrees to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman, the children are pulled out of their insulated world. Fellow classmates provoke them at school because of their father's case while Atticus encounters prejudice and unreliable witnesses in the courtroom. During this troubled period, Scout continues to indulge her fascination with Boo Radley, a reclusive neighbor who is said to be mentally deranged and is never seen outdoors. This shadowy character soon comes to play a major part in the lives of the children. Producer: Alan J. Pakula Director: Robert Mulligan Screenplay: Horton Foote Production Design: Henry Bumstead Cinematography: Russell Harlan Costume Design: Rosemary Odell Film Editing: Aaron Stell Original Music: Elmer Bernstein Cast: Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch); Mary Badham (Jean Louise "Scout" Finch), Phillip Alford (Jem Finch), John Megna (Dill Harris), Robert Duvall (Arthur "Boo" Radley). BW-130m. Letterboxed. Why To Kill a Mockingbird is Essential The film version of Harper Lee's Pulitzer-prize-winning, semi-autobiographical novel, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) was one of those rare screen adaptations that pleased fans of the book and its author as well. After seeing the film, Lee commented, "I can only say that I am a happy author. They have made my story into a beautiful and moving motion picture. I am very proud and grateful." Set in Lee's hometown, Monroeville, Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird vividly captures a specific time and place when racial unrest was at its peak in the South. Yet despite its controversial nature (a black man is accused of raping a white woman), the real focus of the story is the relationship between Scout, a tomboyish six-year-old, her older brother, Jem, and their attorney father. Part of the film's huge appeal is seeing the dramatic events unfold through the innocent eyes of childhood. Gregory Peck was so perfect in the role that Harper Lee turned down offers in later years for television and stage versions of To Kill A Mockingbird, stating "that film was a work of art and there isn't anyone else who could play the part." At the conclusion of the film's shooting, she gave Peck her father's prized pocket watch which the actor used as a good luck charm on Oscar® night when he would be named Best Actor for his work in To Kill A Mockingbird. Gregory Peck would later comment on his portrayal of Atticus Finch: "I felt I could climb into Atticus's shoes without any play-acting, that I could be him. My own childhood was...not in the true South; it was in Southern California, but it was nevertheless a small town where we ran around barefooted in the summertime and lived in trees and rolled down the street curled up in an old rubber tire." Just as effective as Gregory Peck but in a much less visible role was Robert Duvall in his film debut as Arthur ¿Boo' Radley, the town pariah. Radley's mysterious reputation and reclusive nature is an object of fascination for the Finch children and their little neighborhood friend, Dill (who, incidentally, is modeled on Harper Lee's childhood playmate and fellow Pulitzer-winner, Truman Capote). It isn't until the climax of To Kill a Mockingbird that Boo Radley emerges from the shadows to become a flesh and blood character. Considering the critical acclaim that greeted To Kill A Mockingbird upon its release, it was no big surprise when it was nominated for eight Academy Awards® including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Mary Badham, the sister of director John Saturday Night Fever, 1977, Badham, as 'Scout'), Best Cinematography (by Russell Harlan), and Best Music Score (by Elmer Bernstein). On the big night, the film won a total of three Oscars®In addition to Peck's award, Horton Foote won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar® (he would later win a second Academy Award® for the Best Original Screenplay for Tender Mercies, 1983) and Alexander Golitzen, Henry Bumstead, and Oliver Emert won the award for Best Art Direction. by Scott McGee, Kerryn Sherrod & Jeff Stafford

Pop Culture - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)


Pop Culture 101 - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

The overwhelmingly positive reception, by critics and movie audiences, of To Kill a Mockingbird owes a huge debt to the film's timeliness and the year in which it was released - 1963. That year saw Southern racial problems making national headlines with stories of sit-ins, freedom rides, and mass demonstrations.

A filmmaker named Martin Arnold made an experimental film called Passage 'acte in 1993, which uses approximately thirty seconds of the dining room scene in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird and re-edits it into about a 10 minute film. Arnold takes the structural and dramatic harmony in the scene and de-constructs this scenario of normality by destroying its original continuity. Those who are familiar with the film have compared it to listening to a broken record.

Atticus Finch's professional and moral integrity, as well as Gregory Peck's extraordinary performance, has launched thousands of legal careers and remains an inspiration and role model for many practicing attorneys. Peck also played another vastly influential attorney named Abraham Lincoln in the 1982 television production of The Blue and the Grey.

The Monroe County Heritage Museum in Monroeville, Alabama produces the stage production of To Kill a Mockingbird, performed annually by an all-local cast at the Old Courthouse in May. This production has traveled to Jerusalem, Israel and Kingston-upon-Hull, England, where it was well received by sold-out audiences.

In the early nineties, Harry Lee Coe III, an attorney from Hillsborough, Florida, prosecuted the famous case where two white men were charged with setting a black man on fire. After the jury found the two men guilty, Coe later received a letter of congratulations from Gregory Peck.

Part of To Kill a Mockingbird's enduring popularity is because of its timeless theme of social justice. In The Films of Gregory Peck by John Griggs, the actor said, "You can never be sure what effect a picture of this kind that does deal with a social issue will have. I never overrate the importance of a social philosophy or message, if you like, in a film. But I think one does perhaps get the idea that people will not only be moved and held and entertained but perhaps they'll carry a thought away with them. Perhaps they'll carry it with them for a while, perhaps they'll discuss it with their friends and it may have some effect eventually in a change of social attitude one way or another. I think that's as much as we can be sure of, but that sort of thing does happen."

by Scott McGee

Pop Culture - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

Pop Culture 101 - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD The overwhelmingly positive reception, by critics and movie audiences, of To Kill a Mockingbird owes a huge debt to the film's timeliness and the year in which it was released - 1963. That year saw Southern racial problems making national headlines with stories of sit-ins, freedom rides, and mass demonstrations. A filmmaker named Martin Arnold made an experimental film called Passage 'acte in 1993, which uses approximately thirty seconds of the dining room scene in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird and re-edits it into about a 10 minute film. Arnold takes the structural and dramatic harmony in the scene and de-constructs this scenario of normality by destroying its original continuity. Those who are familiar with the film have compared it to listening to a broken record. Atticus Finch's professional and moral integrity, as well as Gregory Peck's extraordinary performance, has launched thousands of legal careers and remains an inspiration and role model for many practicing attorneys. Peck also played another vastly influential attorney named Abraham Lincoln in the 1982 television production of The Blue and the Grey. The Monroe County Heritage Museum in Monroeville, Alabama produces the stage production of To Kill a Mockingbird, performed annually by an all-local cast at the Old Courthouse in May. This production has traveled to Jerusalem, Israel and Kingston-upon-Hull, England, where it was well received by sold-out audiences. In the early nineties, Harry Lee Coe III, an attorney from Hillsborough, Florida, prosecuted the famous case where two white men were charged with setting a black man on fire. After the jury found the two men guilty, Coe later received a letter of congratulations from Gregory Peck. Part of To Kill a Mockingbird's enduring popularity is because of its timeless theme of social justice. In The Films of Gregory Peck by John Griggs, the actor said, "You can never be sure what effect a picture of this kind that does deal with a social issue will have. I never overrate the importance of a social philosophy or message, if you like, in a film. But I think one does perhaps get the idea that people will not only be moved and held and entertained but perhaps they'll carry a thought away with them. Perhaps they'll carry it with them for a while, perhaps they'll discuss it with their friends and it may have some effect eventually in a change of social attitude one way or another. I think that's as much as we can be sure of, but that sort of thing does happen." by Scott McGee

Trivia - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)


TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff

Gregory Peck was reunited with actress Collin Wilcox, who played the slattern Mayella Violet Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird, when they both appeared in HBO's The Portrait (1992). In fond memory of the role, Duvall named a succession of his dogs Boo Radley.

To Kill a Mockingbird was scripted by celebrated Southern writer Horton Foote because Harper Lee was busy at work on another novel.

Producer Alan J. Pakula directed many fine films such as Klute (1971), All the President's Men (1976), Sophie's Choice (1982), and Presumed Innocent (1990).

The uncredited actress who serves as the narrating voice of the adult Scout is Kim Stanley. An intense Method actress, Stanley won critical acclaim for performances on Broadway and the London stage before turning to film work. While she has only made a handful of films, she earned an Oscar® nomination for Best Actress for Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964). Shortly after the release of this film, Stanley suffered a nervous breakdown and temporarily retired from film acting. In the early 1980s, Stanley briefly returned to films, winning her second Oscar® nomination in 1982 for her supporting role as Frances Farmer's mother in Frances (1982).

Famous Quotes from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Atticus Finch: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... 'til you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

Atticus Finch: There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible.

Jem: There goes the meanest man that ever took a breath of life. Dill Harris: Why is he the meanest man? Jem: Well, for one thing, he has a boy named Boo that he keeps chained to a bed in the house over yonder. Boo only comes out at night when you're asleep and it's pitch-dark. When you wake up at night, you can hear him. Once I heard him scratchin' on our screen door, but he was gone by the time Atticus got there. Dill Harris: I wonder what he does in there? I wonder what he looks like? Jem: Well, judgin' from his tracks, he's about six and a half feet tall. He eats raw squirrels and all the cats he can catch. There's a long, jagged scar that runs all the way across his face. His teeth are yella and rotten. His eyes are popped. And he drools most of the time.

Atticus Finch: I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house. And that he'd rather I'd shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted, if I could hit 'em, but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird. Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat people's gardens, don't nest in the corncrib, they don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us.

Jem: Atticus says cheating a black man is ten times worse than cheating a white.

Compiled by Scott McGee

Trivia - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff Gregory Peck was reunited with actress Collin Wilcox, who played the slattern Mayella Violet Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird, when they both appeared in HBO's The Portrait (1992). In fond memory of the role, Duvall named a succession of his dogs Boo Radley. To Kill a Mockingbird was scripted by celebrated Southern writer Horton Foote because Harper Lee was busy at work on another novel. Producer Alan J. Pakula directed many fine films such as Klute (1971), All the President's Men (1976), Sophie's Choice (1982), and Presumed Innocent (1990). The uncredited actress who serves as the narrating voice of the adult Scout is Kim Stanley. An intense Method actress, Stanley won critical acclaim for performances on Broadway and the London stage before turning to film work. While she has only made a handful of films, she earned an Oscar® nomination for Best Actress for Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964). Shortly after the release of this film, Stanley suffered a nervous breakdown and temporarily retired from film acting. In the early 1980s, Stanley briefly returned to films, winning her second Oscar® nomination in 1982 for her supporting role as Frances Farmer's mother in Frances (1982). Famous Quotes from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Atticus Finch: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... 'til you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. Atticus Finch: There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible. Jem: There goes the meanest man that ever took a breath of life. Dill Harris: Why is he the meanest man? Jem: Well, for one thing, he has a boy named Boo that he keeps chained to a bed in the house over yonder. Boo only comes out at night when you're asleep and it's pitch-dark. When you wake up at night, you can hear him. Once I heard him scratchin' on our screen door, but he was gone by the time Atticus got there. Dill Harris: I wonder what he does in there? I wonder what he looks like? Jem: Well, judgin' from his tracks, he's about six and a half feet tall. He eats raw squirrels and all the cats he can catch. There's a long, jagged scar that runs all the way across his face. His teeth are yella and rotten. His eyes are popped. And he drools most of the time. Atticus Finch: I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house. And that he'd rather I'd shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted, if I could hit 'em, but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird. Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat people's gardens, don't nest in the corncrib, they don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us. Jem: Atticus says cheating a black man is ten times worse than cheating a white. Compiled by Scott McGee

The Big Idea - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)


The Big Idea Behind TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Harper Lee is the youngest of four children by Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. Lee's education consisted of two years at Huntingdon College, four years at the University of Alabama where she studied law, and one year at Oxford University. In the fifties she worked as a reservation clerk with Eastern Air Lines in New York City but soon gave it up to concentrate on her writing. In 1957 Lee submitted the manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird to the J. B. Lippincott Company but was told that her book more closely resembled a set of short stories strung together than a novel. The publisher urged her to re-write it and over the next two and a half years Lee re-worked the manuscript with Tay Hohoff, her editor. Finally, in 1960 To Kill a Mockingbird, was published to unanimous critical acclaim in 1960, culminating in a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. It would be Harper Lee's first and only novel.

Over the years, Harper Lee has received many offers to turn her celebrated novel into stage musicals, TV or stage plays, and film remakes, but she has always refused, simply because no one else could embody Atticus Finch as well as Gregory Peck. She once said in an interview, "That film was a work of art and there isn't anyone else who could play the part." It was said that the part of Atticus Finch was based on Harper Lee's own father, Amasa Lee. Harper Lee later told Gregory Peck that he was her Atticus the moment her novel was bought for the big screen.

by Scott McGee

The Big Idea - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

The Big Idea Behind TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Harper Lee is the youngest of four children by Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee. Lee's education consisted of two years at Huntingdon College, four years at the University of Alabama where she studied law, and one year at Oxford University. In the fifties she worked as a reservation clerk with Eastern Air Lines in New York City but soon gave it up to concentrate on her writing. In 1957 Lee submitted the manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird to the J. B. Lippincott Company but was told that her book more closely resembled a set of short stories strung together than a novel. The publisher urged her to re-write it and over the next two and a half years Lee re-worked the manuscript with Tay Hohoff, her editor. Finally, in 1960 To Kill a Mockingbird, was published to unanimous critical acclaim in 1960, culminating in a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. It would be Harper Lee's first and only novel. Over the years, Harper Lee has received many offers to turn her celebrated novel into stage musicals, TV or stage plays, and film remakes, but she has always refused, simply because no one else could embody Atticus Finch as well as Gregory Peck. She once said in an interview, "That film was a work of art and there isn't anyone else who could play the part." It was said that the part of Atticus Finch was based on Harper Lee's own father, Amasa Lee. Harper Lee later told Gregory Peck that he was her Atticus the moment her novel was bought for the big screen. by Scott McGee

Behind the Camera - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)


Behind the Camera on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Regardless of Harper Lee's high opinion of Gregory Peck, the actor was not Universal Studio's first choice for the role. The part was allegedly offered to Rock Hudson. He was set to do it until the start of production was delayed, entering what today's Hollywood executives would call "development hell." The film project remained there until it attracted the attention of producer Alan J. Pakula and director Robert Mulligan. They became heavily enamored with the project, but not with the idea of Rock Hudson as Atticus Finch. They sent Gregory Peck a copy of Harper Lee's novel, and Peck was soon on board.

Both nine-year-old Mary Badham and thirteen-year-old Phillip Alford were newcomers to the silver screen, as well as Birmingham, Alabama natives. In fact, Badham was picked for the part at an audition in Birmingham. Despite universal praise for the novice film actors, neither Badham nor Alford chose to capitalize on their stunning film debuts. Badham retired from acting and married a schoolteacher. She now lives near Richmond, Virginia, and spends most of her time raising her two children. Alford later became a successful businessman in Birmingham.

John Megna, playing the neighborhood friend Dill, also made his film debut in To Kill a Mockingbird, although he had some stage experience in the Broadway production of All the Way Home. Megna's unique character in the film is based on author Truman Capote, a childhood friend of Harper Lee's. Megna later co-starred with Burt Lancaster in Go Tell the Spartans (1978) and other movies before succumbing to AIDS in September 1995.

Up until the release of To Kill a Mockingbird, African-American actor Brock Peters was typecast as villains. Peters told a reporter in 1964, "Producers didn't want to see me. They had liked my performances but couldn't see me as anything but a heavy." That all changed when Robert Mulligan and Alan J. Pakula cast him as Tom Robinson, a Southern black man who stands accused of raping a white woman. Peters's performance shattered his typecast and deeply impressed a number of critics. In Film Reviews, Henry Hart wrote: "..Mr. Peters redeems the plot cliches nd makes us remember that the history of the black man in the U.S. does include cases like the one on which To Kill a Mockingbird is based." Peters never achieved leading man status in American films, although he continues to work to this day. Among his film credits are Carmen Jones (1954), Porgy and Bess (1959), The Pawnbroker (1965), Soylent Green (1973), and he appeared as Admiral Cartwright in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). He also had a recurring role in the television series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as the character Joseph Sisko from 1995-1998.

When it came time to cast the part of Boo Radley, Horton Foote recalled a young actor's shattering performance in his drama The Midnight Caller at the Neighborhood Playhouse. That actor was Robert Duvall and Foote's recommendation helped the actor secure the role of Boo in To Kill a Mockingbird. The movie marked Duvall's screen debut and was the beginning of a stellar film career for Duvall, that included a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Tender Mercies, another film written by Horton Foote. In preparation for the pivotal role of Boo Radley, Duvall stayed out of the sunlight for six weeks and died his hair blonde in order to achieve the look of someone who had spent most of their life locked in a cellar.

When Gregory Peck was first approached by producer Alan J. Pakula and director Robert Mulligan for the role of Atticus, the actor had already seen their first collaboration - Fear Strikes Out (1957) - and was suitably impressed. So, Peck agreed to read Harper Lee's novel. In The Films of Gregory Peck by John Griggs, the actor recalled, "I got started on it and of course I sat up all night and read straight through it. I understood that they wanted me to play Atticus and I called them at about eight o'clock in the morning and said, 'If you want me to play Atticus, when do I start? I'd love to play it.' I thought the novel was a fine piece of writing and of course I turned out to be right about that, because it won the Pulitzer Prize and it's still being read in high-school literature classes and the paperback goes on selling. But more than that I felt it was something I could identify with without any stress or strain... And I felt that I knew those two children...So I fell into that very readily, both as the father and with an understanding of the children."

Peck journeyed to Monroeville, Alabama with Mulligan and Pakula to meet Harper Lee's ailing father. True to the story, Amasa Lee really had been a widower who raised his children single handed, a man who at the same time was always ready to defend a black man falsely accused of crimes he did not commit. That experience of meeting the actual man aided Gregory Peck's performance immeasurably. He looked and sounded like the real man, and no one realized this more than Harper Lee herself. When she first spotted Peck in character, she burst into tears, and said, "He's got a little pot belly, just like my daddy." Peck replied, "That's no pot belly, Harper, that's great acting."

By the time filming was over, Amasa Lee had died. Harper Lee showed her immense appreciation for the actor's performance by presenting to Peck her father's gold pocket watch, the one he had carried with him to court for 40 years. The priceless timepiece was in Peck's pocket when he collected his Academy Award® for Best Actor on April 8, 1963.

Universal spared nothing in order to recreate the authentic atmosphere depicted so lovingly in Lee's novel and they did it entirely on the studio lot. Location scouts looked over the Los Angeles area until they found a community of clapboard houses that had just the right deteriorating look they wanted. Universal found the houses just in time as they were about to be bulldozed to make way for a freeway extension. The houses were carefully dismantled and rebuilt on the studio lot.

The courtroom is a recreation of the interior of the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee's hometown. Prior to filming, the production designers traveled to Monroeville, took photographs and measurements, and recreated a duplicate version on Universal's studio lot.

by Scott McGee, Kerryn Sherrod & Jeff Stafford

Behind the Camera - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

Behind the Camera on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Regardless of Harper Lee's high opinion of Gregory Peck, the actor was not Universal Studio's first choice for the role. The part was allegedly offered to Rock Hudson. He was set to do it until the start of production was delayed, entering what today's Hollywood executives would call "development hell." The film project remained there until it attracted the attention of producer Alan J. Pakula and director Robert Mulligan. They became heavily enamored with the project, but not with the idea of Rock Hudson as Atticus Finch. They sent Gregory Peck a copy of Harper Lee's novel, and Peck was soon on board. Both nine-year-old Mary Badham and thirteen-year-old Phillip Alford were newcomers to the silver screen, as well as Birmingham, Alabama natives. In fact, Badham was picked for the part at an audition in Birmingham. Despite universal praise for the novice film actors, neither Badham nor Alford chose to capitalize on their stunning film debuts. Badham retired from acting and married a schoolteacher. She now lives near Richmond, Virginia, and spends most of her time raising her two children. Alford later became a successful businessman in Birmingham. John Megna, playing the neighborhood friend Dill, also made his film debut in To Kill a Mockingbird, although he had some stage experience in the Broadway production of All the Way Home. Megna's unique character in the film is based on author Truman Capote, a childhood friend of Harper Lee's. Megna later co-starred with Burt Lancaster in Go Tell the Spartans (1978) and other movies before succumbing to AIDS in September 1995. Up until the release of To Kill a Mockingbird, African-American actor Brock Peters was typecast as villains. Peters told a reporter in 1964, "Producers didn't want to see me. They had liked my performances but couldn't see me as anything but a heavy." That all changed when Robert Mulligan and Alan J. Pakula cast him as Tom Robinson, a Southern black man who stands accused of raping a white woman. Peters's performance shattered his typecast and deeply impressed a number of critics. In Film Reviews, Henry Hart wrote: "..Mr. Peters redeems the plot cliches nd makes us remember that the history of the black man in the U.S. does include cases like the one on which To Kill a Mockingbird is based." Peters never achieved leading man status in American films, although he continues to work to this day. Among his film credits are Carmen Jones (1954), Porgy and Bess (1959), The Pawnbroker (1965), Soylent Green (1973), and he appeared as Admiral Cartwright in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). He also had a recurring role in the television series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as the character Joseph Sisko from 1995-1998. When it came time to cast the part of Boo Radley, Horton Foote recalled a young actor's shattering performance in his drama The Midnight Caller at the Neighborhood Playhouse. That actor was Robert Duvall and Foote's recommendation helped the actor secure the role of Boo in To Kill a Mockingbird. The movie marked Duvall's screen debut and was the beginning of a stellar film career for Duvall, that included a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Tender Mercies, another film written by Horton Foote. In preparation for the pivotal role of Boo Radley, Duvall stayed out of the sunlight for six weeks and died his hair blonde in order to achieve the look of someone who had spent most of their life locked in a cellar. When Gregory Peck was first approached by producer Alan J. Pakula and director Robert Mulligan for the role of Atticus, the actor had already seen their first collaboration - Fear Strikes Out (1957) - and was suitably impressed. So, Peck agreed to read Harper Lee's novel. In The Films of Gregory Peck by John Griggs, the actor recalled, "I got started on it and of course I sat up all night and read straight through it. I understood that they wanted me to play Atticus and I called them at about eight o'clock in the morning and said, 'If you want me to play Atticus, when do I start? I'd love to play it.' I thought the novel was a fine piece of writing and of course I turned out to be right about that, because it won the Pulitzer Prize and it's still being read in high-school literature classes and the paperback goes on selling. But more than that I felt it was something I could identify with without any stress or strain... And I felt that I knew those two children...So I fell into that very readily, both as the father and with an understanding of the children." Peck journeyed to Monroeville, Alabama with Mulligan and Pakula to meet Harper Lee's ailing father. True to the story, Amasa Lee really had been a widower who raised his children single handed, a man who at the same time was always ready to defend a black man falsely accused of crimes he did not commit. That experience of meeting the actual man aided Gregory Peck's performance immeasurably. He looked and sounded like the real man, and no one realized this more than Harper Lee herself. When she first spotted Peck in character, she burst into tears, and said, "He's got a little pot belly, just like my daddy." Peck replied, "That's no pot belly, Harper, that's great acting." By the time filming was over, Amasa Lee had died. Harper Lee showed her immense appreciation for the actor's performance by presenting to Peck her father's gold pocket watch, the one he had carried with him to court for 40 years. The priceless timepiece was in Peck's pocket when he collected his Academy Award® for Best Actor on April 8, 1963. Universal spared nothing in order to recreate the authentic atmosphere depicted so lovingly in Lee's novel and they did it entirely on the studio lot. Location scouts looked over the Los Angeles area until they found a community of clapboard houses that had just the right deteriorating look they wanted. Universal found the houses just in time as they were about to be bulldozed to make way for a freeway extension. The houses were carefully dismantled and rebuilt on the studio lot. The courtroom is a recreation of the interior of the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee's hometown. Prior to filming, the production designers traveled to Monroeville, took photographs and measurements, and recreated a duplicate version on Universal's studio lot. by Scott McGee, Kerryn Sherrod & Jeff Stafford

The Critics Corner - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)


The Critics' Corner on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Variety noted in its December 12, 1962 review that To Kill a Mockingbird "is a major film achievement, a significant, captivating, and memorable picture that ranks with the best of recent years." Most popular periodicals echoed Variety' review, while others were not quite as praising. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote in his February 15, 1963 review that "it comes as a bit of a letdown at the end to realize that, for all the picture's feeling for children, it doesn't tell us very much of how they feel." Of course, the problem may have been Crowther's inattentiveness, since he referred to Scout throughout the review as "Scott."

Other movie review samples:

Saturday Review: "To Kill a Mockingbird is so full of small excellences that it requires the somewhat solid presence of Gregory Peck to remind us that it was made in Hollywood at all."

The New York Herald Tribune: "...the scene stealers in this excellent film....are Mary Badham...Phillip Alford...and John Megna...The story may seem slightly sentimental..but its stature and lasting substance stem from the beautifully observed relationship between father and children and from the youngsters' perceptions of the enduring human values in the world around them."

Time magazine: "Mulligan and scenarist Horton Foote have translated both testament and melodrama into one of the year's most fetching and affecting pictures...Mockingbird has nothing very profound to say about the South and its problems. Sometimes, in fact, its side-porch sociology is simply fatuous: the Negro is just too goody-goody to be true, and Peck though he is generally excellent, lays it on a bit thick at times - he seems to imagine himself the Abe Lincoln of Alabama."

Awards & Honors

To Kill a Mockingbird remains a high point in Academy Award history, with multiple nominations and several wins. Gregory Peck certainly deserved his win for Best Actor, while the team of Henry Bumstead, Oliver Emert, and Alexander Golitzen easily stole the Oscar® for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration. Horton Foote won the Oscar® for his screenplay, adapted from Harper Lee's novel. Robert Mulligan's direction won a nomination, as did Russell Harlan's cinematography, Elmer Bernstein's evocative score, and little Mary Badham's performance in a supporting role. Of course, To Kill a Mockingbird was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost out to the monumental epic, Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

In addition to its Oscars®, To Kill a Mockingbird received numerous awards and nominations from such organizations as the American Cinema Editors, the British Academy Awards, the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globes, the PGA Golden Laurel Awards, the Writers Guild of America, and the National Film Preservation Board, which placed the film on its National Film Registry in 1995.

Peck's own assessment of his performance? "I'm not falsely modest about it. I think I was good in that picture," the actor said.

To Kill a Mockingbird placed at number 34 in the American Film Institute's 100 Best American Films poll, conducted in 1998.

by Scott McGee & Jeff Stafford

The Critics Corner - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

The Critics' Corner on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Variety noted in its December 12, 1962 review that To Kill a Mockingbird "is a major film achievement, a significant, captivating, and memorable picture that ranks with the best of recent years." Most popular periodicals echoed Variety' review, while others were not quite as praising. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote in his February 15, 1963 review that "it comes as a bit of a letdown at the end to realize that, for all the picture's feeling for children, it doesn't tell us very much of how they feel." Of course, the problem may have been Crowther's inattentiveness, since he referred to Scout throughout the review as "Scott." Other movie review samples: Saturday Review: "To Kill a Mockingbird is so full of small excellences that it requires the somewhat solid presence of Gregory Peck to remind us that it was made in Hollywood at all." The New York Herald Tribune: "...the scene stealers in this excellent film....are Mary Badham...Phillip Alford...and John Megna...The story may seem slightly sentimental..but its stature and lasting substance stem from the beautifully observed relationship between father and children and from the youngsters' perceptions of the enduring human values in the world around them." Time magazine: "Mulligan and scenarist Horton Foote have translated both testament and melodrama into one of the year's most fetching and affecting pictures...Mockingbird has nothing very profound to say about the South and its problems. Sometimes, in fact, its side-porch sociology is simply fatuous: the Negro is just too goody-goody to be true, and Peck though he is generally excellent, lays it on a bit thick at times - he seems to imagine himself the Abe Lincoln of Alabama." Awards & Honors To Kill a Mockingbird remains a high point in Academy Award history, with multiple nominations and several wins. Gregory Peck certainly deserved his win for Best Actor, while the team of Henry Bumstead, Oliver Emert, and Alexander Golitzen easily stole the Oscar® for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration. Horton Foote won the Oscar® for his screenplay, adapted from Harper Lee's novel. Robert Mulligan's direction won a nomination, as did Russell Harlan's cinematography, Elmer Bernstein's evocative score, and little Mary Badham's performance in a supporting role. Of course, To Kill a Mockingbird was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost out to the monumental epic, Lawrence of Arabia (1962). In addition to its Oscars®, To Kill a Mockingbird received numerous awards and nominations from such organizations as the American Cinema Editors, the British Academy Awards, the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globes, the PGA Golden Laurel Awards, the Writers Guild of America, and the National Film Preservation Board, which placed the film on its National Film Registry in 1995. Peck's own assessment of his performance? "I'm not falsely modest about it. I think I was good in that picture," the actor said. To Kill a Mockingbird placed at number 34 in the American Film Institute's 100 Best American Films poll, conducted in 1998. by Scott McGee & Jeff Stafford

To Kill a Mockingbird


The film version of Harper Lee's Pulitzer-prize-winning, semi-autobiographical novel, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) was one of those rare screen adaptations that pleased fans of the book and its author as well. After seeing the film, Lee commented, "I can only say that I am a happy author. They have made my story into a beautiful and moving motion picture. I am very proud and grateful." Set in Lee's hometown, Monroeville, Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird vividly captures a specific time and place when racial unrest was at its peak in the South. Yet despite its controversial nature (a black man is accused of raping a white woman), the real focus of the story is the relationship between Scout, a tomboyish six-year-old, her older brother, Jem, and their attorney father. Part of the film's huge appeal is seeing the dramatic events unfold through the innocent eyes of childhood.

Gregory Peck stars as Atticus Finch, a widower and father of two children, who was reportedly modeled after Harper Lee's father, a single parent. According to Michael Freedland, author of Gregory Peck, "The day Harper Lee saw him for the first time walk out of his dressing room in his Panama hat and three-piece white linen suit she burst into tears and called, "My God, he's got a little pot belly just like my Daddy!" "That's no pot belly, Harper," said Greg, "that's great acting."

Gregory Peck was, in fact, so perfect in the role that Harper Lee turned down offers in later years for television and stage versions of To Kill A Mockingbird, stating "that film was a work of art and there isn't anyone else who could play the part." At the conclusion of the film's shooting, she gave Peck her father's prized pocket watch which the actor used as a good luck charm on Oscar night when he would be named Best Actor for his work in To Kill A Mockingbird.

Gregory Peck would later comment on his portrayal of Atticus Finch: "I felt I could climb into Atticus's shoes without any play-acting, that I could be him. My own childhood was...not in the true South; it was in Southern California, but it was nevertheless a small town where we ran around barefooted in the summertime and lived in trees and rolled down the street curled up in an old rubber tire."

Just as effective as Gregory Peck but in a much less visible role was Robert Duvall in his film debut as Arthur "Boo" Radley, the town pariah. Radley's mysterious reputation and reclusive nature is an object of fascination for the Finch children and their little neighborhood friend, Dill (who, incidentally, is modeled on Harper Lee's childhood playmate and fellow Pulitzer-winner, Truman Capote). It isn't until the climax of To Kill a Mockingbird that Boo Radley emerges from the shadows to become a flesh and blood character.

Considering the critical acclaim that greeted To Kill A Mockingbird upon its release, it was no big surprise when it was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Mary Badham, the sister of director John (Saturday Night Fever Badham, as 'Scout'), Best Cinematography (by Russell Harlan), and Best Music Score (by Elmer Bernstein). On the big night, the film won a total of three Oscars. In addition to Peck's award, Horton Foote won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar (he would later win a second Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay for Tender Mercies, 1983) and Alexander Golitzen, Henry Bumstead, and Oliver Emert won the award for Best Art Direction.

Producer:Alan J. Pakula
Director: Robert Mulligan
Screenplay: Horton Foote
Production Design: Henry Bumstead
Cinematography: Russell Harlan
Costume Design: Rosemary Odell
Film Editing: Aaron Stell
Original Music: Elmer Bernstein
Principal Cast: Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch); Mary Badham (Jean Louise "Scout" Finch), Philip Alford (Jem Finch), John Megna (Dill Harris), Robert Duvall (Arthur "Boo" Radley).
BW-130m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Kerryn Sherrod

To Kill a Mockingbird

The film version of Harper Lee's Pulitzer-prize-winning, semi-autobiographical novel, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) was one of those rare screen adaptations that pleased fans of the book and its author as well. After seeing the film, Lee commented, "I can only say that I am a happy author. They have made my story into a beautiful and moving motion picture. I am very proud and grateful." Set in Lee's hometown, Monroeville, Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird vividly captures a specific time and place when racial unrest was at its peak in the South. Yet despite its controversial nature (a black man is accused of raping a white woman), the real focus of the story is the relationship between Scout, a tomboyish six-year-old, her older brother, Jem, and their attorney father. Part of the film's huge appeal is seeing the dramatic events unfold through the innocent eyes of childhood. Gregory Peck stars as Atticus Finch, a widower and father of two children, who was reportedly modeled after Harper Lee's father, a single parent. According to Michael Freedland, author of Gregory Peck, "The day Harper Lee saw him for the first time walk out of his dressing room in his Panama hat and three-piece white linen suit she burst into tears and called, "My God, he's got a little pot belly just like my Daddy!" "That's no pot belly, Harper," said Greg, "that's great acting." Gregory Peck was, in fact, so perfect in the role that Harper Lee turned down offers in later years for television and stage versions of To Kill A Mockingbird, stating "that film was a work of art and there isn't anyone else who could play the part." At the conclusion of the film's shooting, she gave Peck her father's prized pocket watch which the actor used as a good luck charm on Oscar night when he would be named Best Actor for his work in To Kill A Mockingbird. Gregory Peck would later comment on his portrayal of Atticus Finch: "I felt I could climb into Atticus's shoes without any play-acting, that I could be him. My own childhood was...not in the true South; it was in Southern California, but it was nevertheless a small town where we ran around barefooted in the summertime and lived in trees and rolled down the street curled up in an old rubber tire." Just as effective as Gregory Peck but in a much less visible role was Robert Duvall in his film debut as Arthur "Boo" Radley, the town pariah. Radley's mysterious reputation and reclusive nature is an object of fascination for the Finch children and their little neighborhood friend, Dill (who, incidentally, is modeled on Harper Lee's childhood playmate and fellow Pulitzer-winner, Truman Capote). It isn't until the climax of To Kill a Mockingbird that Boo Radley emerges from the shadows to become a flesh and blood character. Considering the critical acclaim that greeted To Kill A Mockingbird upon its release, it was no big surprise when it was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Mary Badham, the sister of director John (Saturday Night Fever Badham, as 'Scout'), Best Cinematography (by Russell Harlan), and Best Music Score (by Elmer Bernstein). On the big night, the film won a total of three Oscars. In addition to Peck's award, Horton Foote won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar (he would later win a second Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay for Tender Mercies, 1983) and Alexander Golitzen, Henry Bumstead, and Oliver Emert won the award for Best Art Direction. Producer:Alan J. Pakula Director: Robert Mulligan Screenplay: Horton Foote Production Design: Henry Bumstead Cinematography: Russell Harlan Costume Design: Rosemary Odell Film Editing: Aaron Stell Original Music: Elmer Bernstein Principal Cast: Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch); Mary Badham (Jean Louise "Scout" Finch), Philip Alford (Jem Finch), John Megna (Dill Harris), Robert Duvall (Arthur "Boo" Radley). BW-130m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Kerryn Sherrod

To Kill a Mockingbird (Legacy Series) - To Kill a Mockingbird - The Legacy Series Edition on DVD


The Deer Hunter, one of the inaugural trio of releases in Universal's Legacy Series, is among the sorriest 2-disc DVD sets anyone has had the nerve to market. Fortunately, To Kill a Mockingbird, another in that trio, fares better.

You probably don't need me to tell you that 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird is the best coming-of-age movie ever made, or that Mary Badham's performance as Scout, its protagonist, is perhaps the most well-rounded child performance on film. But, if you haven't seen the movie in a while, it might be news to hear that every teacher who wheeled in a Bell & Howell projector to show it to a social studies class in the 1960s and 1970s overemphasized that it was "about civil rights." The movie is most of all about how Scout and big brother Jem (Phillip Alford) have their eyes opened to the world around them, with the realization of racial injustice being just one part of that bigger scope. All those teachers actually underestimated the movie's power.

The 2-disc To Kill a Mockingbird, which replaces the 2002 "Collector's Edition" DVD, adds several extras, almost all of which focus on Gregory Peck, who died in 2003 and, for the last 41 years of his life, was inextricably linked with Atticus Finch, the wise, dignified single father and ethical lawyer who defends a black man (Brock Peters) being framed for rape. As the new extras demonstrate, to many who knew Peck, the dignity, wisdom and sense of justice in Atticus were the same ones found in him.

The meatiest new extra is 1999's feature-length documentary A Conversation with Gregory Peck. Although directed by the formidable Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, U.S.A., American Dream), this is something of a vanity project, having been co-produced by Peck's daughter Cecilia. The movie takes its name from the one-man "show" with which Gregory Peck toured the country in the 1990s, during which he would tell stories about his life and career and field numerous questions from the audience. In between onstage moments in Galveston, Boston and other locales, the documentary also follows Peck and wife Veronique in a wide variety of settings — at a family reunion at their Los Angeles home, passing time at their French country home and awaiting the birth of Cecilia's first child among them. There are also clips from several BBC interviews in which Peck directly discusses his views on acting. Overall, the documentary lacks a driving purpose and tends to ramble on, but it's certainly an appealing look at an aging star in repose that Peck fans will appreciate. A Conversation with Gregory Peck shares disc 2 of the DVD reissue with the most important holdover from the 2002 single disc, Charles Kiselyak's Fearful Symmetry, another feature-length documentary that is as comprehensive and lyrical as any making-of documentary created for a DVD. It's still the best thing here, and its wide variety of interview subjects include two other key contributors to To Kill a Mockingbird who've since died besides Peck, actor Peters and soundtrack composer Elmer Bernstein.

Several shorter new extras share disc 1 with the movie (and director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan Pakula's heldover commentary), many arriving thanks to the recent merger of NBC and Universal. One is a 1999 NBC interview with Badham about her relationship with Peck, who became practically a second father to her during the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird, and who she famously continued to call Atticus until Peck's death (he continued to call her Scout). Another is Peck getting the American Film Institute's 1989 Life Achievement Award. Although Peck's 10-minute speech is wonderful, I assumed this bonus would contain the entire TV special of this event, in which such audience members as Anthony Quinn and Jane Fonda paid tribute to Peck. But it's only the Peck speech that closed out the ceremony (to an audience conspicuously full of stars of late-1980s NBC series). Peck's Academy Award acceptance speech for winning Best Actor for playing Atticus is also here, though it's purely a watch-once quickie.

So there's a decent array of new extras to be had. Not strong enough to recommend replacing the single-disc To Kill a Mockingbird if you already have it, but Universal has certainly sweetened the pot for those who don't. The 2-disc version does have one annoying redundancy worth noting, though. An anecdote about novelist Harper Lee's visit to the film set — in which she teared up not because, as Peck first thought, of his performance, but because his "little pot belly" reminded her of her late father — gets told three times: once by Peck onstage in Conversation, once by Peck when interviewed in Fearful Symmetry and once by Badham in her NBC interview. By the last time, the story has definitely lost its charm.

For more information about To Kill a Mockingbird, visit Universal Home Entertainment. To order To Kill a Mockingbird, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman

To Kill a Mockingbird (Legacy Series) - To Kill a Mockingbird - The Legacy Series Edition on DVD

The Deer Hunter, one of the inaugural trio of releases in Universal's Legacy Series, is among the sorriest 2-disc DVD sets anyone has had the nerve to market. Fortunately, To Kill a Mockingbird, another in that trio, fares better. You probably don't need me to tell you that 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird is the best coming-of-age movie ever made, or that Mary Badham's performance as Scout, its protagonist, is perhaps the most well-rounded child performance on film. But, if you haven't seen the movie in a while, it might be news to hear that every teacher who wheeled in a Bell & Howell projector to show it to a social studies class in the 1960s and 1970s overemphasized that it was "about civil rights." The movie is most of all about how Scout and big brother Jem (Phillip Alford) have their eyes opened to the world around them, with the realization of racial injustice being just one part of that bigger scope. All those teachers actually underestimated the movie's power. The 2-disc To Kill a Mockingbird, which replaces the 2002 "Collector's Edition" DVD, adds several extras, almost all of which focus on Gregory Peck, who died in 2003 and, for the last 41 years of his life, was inextricably linked with Atticus Finch, the wise, dignified single father and ethical lawyer who defends a black man (Brock Peters) being framed for rape. As the new extras demonstrate, to many who knew Peck, the dignity, wisdom and sense of justice in Atticus were the same ones found in him. The meatiest new extra is 1999's feature-length documentary A Conversation with Gregory Peck. Although directed by the formidable Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, U.S.A., American Dream), this is something of a vanity project, having been co-produced by Peck's daughter Cecilia. The movie takes its name from the one-man "show" with which Gregory Peck toured the country in the 1990s, during which he would tell stories about his life and career and field numerous questions from the audience. In between onstage moments in Galveston, Boston and other locales, the documentary also follows Peck and wife Veronique in a wide variety of settings — at a family reunion at their Los Angeles home, passing time at their French country home and awaiting the birth of Cecilia's first child among them. There are also clips from several BBC interviews in which Peck directly discusses his views on acting. Overall, the documentary lacks a driving purpose and tends to ramble on, but it's certainly an appealing look at an aging star in repose that Peck fans will appreciate. A Conversation with Gregory Peck shares disc 2 of the DVD reissue with the most important holdover from the 2002 single disc, Charles Kiselyak's Fearful Symmetry, another feature-length documentary that is as comprehensive and lyrical as any making-of documentary created for a DVD. It's still the best thing here, and its wide variety of interview subjects include two other key contributors to To Kill a Mockingbird who've since died besides Peck, actor Peters and soundtrack composer Elmer Bernstein. Several shorter new extras share disc 1 with the movie (and director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan Pakula's heldover commentary), many arriving thanks to the recent merger of NBC and Universal. One is a 1999 NBC interview with Badham about her relationship with Peck, who became practically a second father to her during the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird, and who she famously continued to call Atticus until Peck's death (he continued to call her Scout). Another is Peck getting the American Film Institute's 1989 Life Achievement Award. Although Peck's 10-minute speech is wonderful, I assumed this bonus would contain the entire TV special of this event, in which such audience members as Anthony Quinn and Jane Fonda paid tribute to Peck. But it's only the Peck speech that closed out the ceremony (to an audience conspicuously full of stars of late-1980s NBC series). Peck's Academy Award acceptance speech for winning Best Actor for playing Atticus is also here, though it's purely a watch-once quickie. So there's a decent array of new extras to be had. Not strong enough to recommend replacing the single-disc To Kill a Mockingbird if you already have it, but Universal has certainly sweetened the pot for those who don't. The 2-disc version does have one annoying redundancy worth noting, though. An anecdote about novelist Harper Lee's visit to the film set — in which she teared up not because, as Peck first thought, of his performance, but because his "little pot belly" reminded her of her late father — gets told three times: once by Peck onstage in Conversation, once by Peck when interviewed in Fearful Symmetry and once by Badham in her NBC interview. By the last time, the story has definitely lost its charm. For more information about To Kill a Mockingbird, visit Universal Home Entertainment. To order To Kill a Mockingbird, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)


Elmer Bernstein, the film composer who created unforgettable music for such classics as The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, and won his only Academy Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, died of natural causes at his Ojai, California home on August 17. He was 82.

Elmer Bernstein, who was not related to Leonard Bernstein, was born on August 4, 1922, in New York City. He displayed a talent in music at a very young age, and was given a scholarship to study piano at Juilliard when he was only 12. He entered New York University in 1939, where he majored in music education. After graduating in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, where he remained throughout World War II, mostly working on scores for propaganda films. It was around this time he became interested in film scoring when he went to see William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), a film whose score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, a man Bernstein idolized as the ideal film composer.

Bernstein, who originally intended to be a concert pianist and gave several performances in New York after being discharged from military service, decided to relocate to Hollywood in 1950. He did his first score for the football film Saturday's Hero (1950), and then proved his worth with his trenchant, moody music for the Joan Crawford vehicle Sudden Fear (1952). Rumors of his "communist" leanings came to surface at this time, and, feeling the effects of the blacklist, he found himself scoring such cheesy fare as Robot Monster; Cat Women of the Moon (both 1953); and Miss Robin Caruso (1954).

Despite his politics, Otto Preminger hired him to do the music for The Man With the Golden Arm, (1955) in which Frank Sinatra played a heroin-addicted jazz musician. Fittingly, Bernstein used some memorable jazz motifs for the film and his fine scoring put him back on the map. It prompted the attention of Cecil B. De Mille, who had Bernstein replace the ailing Victor Young on The Ten Commandments (1956). His thundering, heavily orchestrated score perfectly suite the bombastic epic, and he promptly earned his first Oscar® nod for music.

After The Ten Commandments (1956), Bernstein continued to distinguish himself in a row of fine films: The Rainmaker (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Some Came Running (1958), The Magnificent Seven (a most memorable galloping march, 1960); To Kill a Mockingbird (unique in its use of single piano notes and haunting use of a flute, 1962); Hud (1963); earned a deserved Academy Award for the delightful, "flapper" music for the Julie Andrews period comedy Thoroughly Modern Mille (1967), and True Grit (1969).

His career faltered by the '80s though, as he did some routine Bill Murray comedies: Meatballs (1980) and Stripes (1981). But then director John Landis had Bernstein write the sumptuous score for his comedy Trading Places (1983), and Bernstein soon found himself back in the game. He then graced the silver screen for a few more years composing some terrific pieces for such popular commercial hits as My Left Foot (1989), A River Runs Through It (1992) and The Age of Innocence (1993). Far From Heaven, his final feature film score, received an Oscar® nomination for Best Score in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Eve; sons Peter and Gregory; daughters Emilie and Elizabeth; and five grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)

Elmer Bernstein, the film composer who created unforgettable music for such classics as The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, and won his only Academy Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, died of natural causes at his Ojai, California home on August 17. He was 82. Elmer Bernstein, who was not related to Leonard Bernstein, was born on August 4, 1922, in New York City. He displayed a talent in music at a very young age, and was given a scholarship to study piano at Juilliard when he was only 12. He entered New York University in 1939, where he majored in music education. After graduating in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, where he remained throughout World War II, mostly working on scores for propaganda films. It was around this time he became interested in film scoring when he went to see William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), a film whose score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, a man Bernstein idolized as the ideal film composer. Bernstein, who originally intended to be a concert pianist and gave several performances in New York after being discharged from military service, decided to relocate to Hollywood in 1950. He did his first score for the football film Saturday's Hero (1950), and then proved his worth with his trenchant, moody music for the Joan Crawford vehicle Sudden Fear (1952). Rumors of his "communist" leanings came to surface at this time, and, feeling the effects of the blacklist, he found himself scoring such cheesy fare as Robot Monster; Cat Women of the Moon (both 1953); and Miss Robin Caruso (1954). Despite his politics, Otto Preminger hired him to do the music for The Man With the Golden Arm, (1955) in which Frank Sinatra played a heroin-addicted jazz musician. Fittingly, Bernstein used some memorable jazz motifs for the film and his fine scoring put him back on the map. It prompted the attention of Cecil B. De Mille, who had Bernstein replace the ailing Victor Young on The Ten Commandments (1956). His thundering, heavily orchestrated score perfectly suite the bombastic epic, and he promptly earned his first Oscar® nod for music. After The Ten Commandments (1956), Bernstein continued to distinguish himself in a row of fine films: The Rainmaker (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Some Came Running (1958), The Magnificent Seven (a most memorable galloping march, 1960); To Kill a Mockingbird (unique in its use of single piano notes and haunting use of a flute, 1962); Hud (1963); earned a deserved Academy Award for the delightful, "flapper" music for the Julie Andrews period comedy Thoroughly Modern Mille (1967), and True Grit (1969). His career faltered by the '80s though, as he did some routine Bill Murray comedies: Meatballs (1980) and Stripes (1981). But then director John Landis had Bernstein write the sumptuous score for his comedy Trading Places (1983), and Bernstein soon found himself back in the game. He then graced the silver screen for a few more years composing some terrific pieces for such popular commercial hits as My Left Foot (1989), A River Runs Through It (1992) and The Age of Innocence (1993). Far From Heaven, his final feature film score, received an Oscar® nomination for Best Score in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Eve; sons Peter and Gregory; daughters Emilie and Elizabeth; and five grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
- Atticus Finch
You nigger lover.
- Bob Ewell
No need to be afraid of him, son. He's all bluff.
- Atticus Finch
There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible.
- Atticus Finch
Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing.
- Reverend Sykes
Atticus says cheating a black man is ten times worse than cheating a white.
- Jem
I may not be much Mr. Finch, but I'm still sheriff of Maycomb County. And Bob Ewell fell on his knife. Good night sir.
- Sheriff Tate

Trivia

Dil was modeled after author Harper Lee's childhood friend, Truman Capote.

Robert Duvall stayed out of the sun for six weeks and died his hair blond for the role of Boo Radley who, according to the story, spent much of his life locked in a cellar.

Although Gregory Peck's inspirational performance as Atticus Finch turned out to be a perfect highlight to his long career, Rock Hudson was actually the studio's first choice for the role.

The courtroom is a recreation of the interior of the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee's hometown. Prior to filming, production designers traveled to Monroeville, took photographs and measurements, and created a near duplicate on soundstages at Universal Studios.

The watch used in the film was a prop, but Harper Lee gave Gregory Peck her father's watch after the film was completed because he reminded her so much of him.

Miscellaneous Notes

Selected in 1995 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Voted Best Screenplay--Drama by the 1962 Writers Guild of America.

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Cinequest 1998: The San Jose Film Festival January 29 - February 4, 1998.)

Winner of a Special Award for the "Promotion of International Understanding" at the 1962 Golden Globes.

Released in United States December 25, 1962

Released in United States March 16, 1963

Limited re-release in United States February 2, 1998

Limited re-release in United States December 25, 2015

Re-released in United States on Video February 24, 1998

Released in United States 1998

Shown at Cinequest 1998: The San Jose Film Festival January 29 - February 4, 1998.

Based on the novel "To Kill A Mockingbird" written by Harper Lee and published by J.B. Lippincott & Co. on July 11, 1960.

35th Anniversary Edition video re-release is digitally mastered in THX.

Formerly distributed in USA on video by Universal Home Video.

Released in United States December 25, 1962 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States March 16, 1963

Limited re-release in United States February 2, 1998 (widescreen)

Limited re-release in United States December 25, 2015 (Los Angeles)

Re-released in United States on Video February 24, 1998 (35th Anniversary Edition)