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To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Not Rated | | Drama | 16 March 1963 (USA)
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Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.

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(based on her novel "To Kill a Mockingbird"), (screenplay)
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Top Rated Movies #84 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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John Megna ...
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Estelle Evans ...
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Mayella Violet Ewell (as Collin Wilcox)
James Anderson ...
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Mr. Gilmer - Prosecutor
Crahan Denton ...
Walter Cunningham Sr.
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Nathan Radley
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Storyline

Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning book of 1961. Atticus Finch is a lawyer in the fictional town of Maycomb, a racially divided Alabama town, set in the early 1930s, and modeled after Monroeville where Harper Lee grew up. Finch agrees to defend a young black man who is accused of raping a white woman. Many of the townspeople try to get Atticus to pull out of the trial, but he decides to go ahead. How will the trial turn out - and will it effect any changes in racial attitudes in Maycomb? Written by Brian Daly <bd64kcmo@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most beloved and widely read Pulitzer Prize Winner now comes vividly alive on the screen! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

16 March 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Matar a un ruiseñor  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite the novel winning the Pulitzer Prize, the studios were not interested in buying up the film rights as they deemed it lacking in action, there was no love story and the villain doesn't get a big comeuppance. Producer Alan J. Pakula disagreed however and persuaded director Robert Mulligan, his producing partner at that time, that it would make a good film for their Pakula-Mulligan Productions. Together they were able to convince Gregory Peck, who readily agreed to the role. See more »

Goofs

While Atticus gets his papers together in the courtroom after the verdict you see a water glass next to the pitcher on the judge's desk. In the next shot, as he walks out, there is no glass, just the pitcher. See more »

Quotes

Scout: May I see your watch? "To Atticus, My Beloved Husband." Atticus, Jem says this watch is gonna belong to him some day.
Atticus Finch: That's right.
Scout: Why?
Atticus Finch: Well, it's customary for the boy to have his father's watch.
Scout: What are you gonna give me?
Atticus Finch: Well, I don't know that I have much else of value that belongs to me... But there's a pearl necklace; there's a ring that belonged to your mother. And I've put them away, and they're to be yours.
See more »

Crazy Credits

introducing / Mary Badham as Scout / Phillip Alford as Jem See more »

Connections

Featured in Rich Hall's the Dirty South (2010) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Not just film, but film history
1 April 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The first time I saw To Kill A Mockingbird was at a drive-in theater. I was probably about ten or eleven at the time. Even at a young age I was captivated by this seemingly simple story told through the eyes of children that I could easily relate to. Perhaps also it was the fact that the part of the story that dealt with Boo Radley, held a kind of mystery and an eeriness for me, much in the way a ghost story would. I'm not about to make the pretense that I understood the social significance of To Kill A Mockingbird at the age of ten, or even the greatness of the film. That would come later in life, after having viewed it in one of it's first network television broadcasts.

One of the things that makes To Kill A Mockingbird a truly great film is the love and respect everyone involved in bringing Harper Lee's novel to the screen had for the original source material. It shows up on screen in every single frame. Each performance in this film is beyond reproach. Gregory Peck had many fine performances over his storied career, but none every approached the perfection he brought to his portrayal of Atticus Finch. As Atticus, Peck brings us the depth of understanding as to how his love for Jem and Scout enables him to treat his children with respect and honesty. He never talks down to them, but approaches them on a level in which children of their age can comprehend and learn from his own wisdom. Yet, he is still able to retain the same no nonsense approach as other parents. Atticus is also a man who believes in the integrity of justice, yet recognizes the failings of our justice system. When called upon to do his duty, he does so, despite the hatred and venom brought to bear upon him and his children by the citizens of the town in which he lives.

In casting Jem, Scout and Dill, Producer Alan J. Pakula and Director Robert Mulligan faced a daunting task. So much of the success of To Kill A Mockingbird depended on the pivotal role these characters would play in the film. For Jem he chose Philip Alford, for Scout, Mary Badham, and for Dill, John Megna. Alford and Badham were both southern natives who had never been in films before. Megna was a New York native but was also inexperienced. It is this inexperience and lack of polish that enables all three to shine on the screen. Mulligan began filming by letting them act as if making a film was like recess, allowing them to play on the set, and only moving the camera gradually as they became accustomed to their surroundings. It paid off in every way imaginable. None of the three ever appear as if they are actors acting, and bring a childlike wonder and presence to their roles that I had never seen before, and will unlikely witness again.

Brock Peters as Tom Robinson, the black man falsely accused of raping a white girl, also gives a performance which he would never again surpass. You will not find anywhere a more memorable scene in any court room than when he testifies on the witness stand. Because he dared to care about a white girl, he now faces almost certain death if convicted, and perhaps even if not convicted. It is the first time I was able to begin to understand the effects of man's prejudice and hatred of a man simply because of the color of his skin. Just as Jem and Scout came of age, and realized the significance of the injustices of racial hatred, so did I.

Equally significant, is Collin Wilcox as Mayella Ewell. She makes it easy for many to hate her, but like Atticus, we see in her a person to be more pitied than hated. She is a product of not only the times in which she lives, but even more so of her wretched upbringing. Mayella is what she is, but only because of the deep cutting prejudices of those around her. To Mayella, being caught enticing a black man into your house for relations, is the ultimate crime and the penalty for doing so is unthinkable to her.

In his screen debut as Boo Radley, Robert Duvall also brings to life the mysterious neighbor that once frightened Jem, Dill, and Scout so much. Though on the screen for a short length of time, without uttering a word, Duvall shows us a man tortured by years of cruelty, mistreatment, and the gossip and whispers of neighbors. He is a man who wants only to live in his own way, yet the bond that links him to Jem and Scout is significant. They are the childhood he had never really known. Just as Tom Robinson, he has never brought harm to anyone, yet suffers significantly just for the right to be able to exist.

The care with which To Kill A Mockingbird was brought to the screen can also be seen in the Art Direction by Henry Bumstead and Set Decoration by Oliver Emert. They indeed bring to life what a small Southern Town would have been like in the early thirties. Cinematographer Russel Harlan's black and white photography brings it all vividly to the screen, especially in the way he captures the foreboding of the Radley house, the moments when Bob Ewell approaches Jem when he is left in a car alone, and even more noteworthy near the end of the film when Jem and Scout are walking home from a school play. Elmer Bernstein's score is never boisterous, but yet is as important to setting the mood of many of the scenes played out before us.

There have been many eloquent words written in many of the comments on this board about To Kill A Mockingbird. Many of the words are far better than those that I have written. Then again, maybe a few simple paragraphs cannot truly describe the significant achievement in film making that To Kill A Mockingbird is. It will be forever remembered, long after you and I have departed from this world. It is at this point that I usually grade a film. I will skip that here, simply because there is no grade that I can give that could possibly do justice for To Kill A Mockingbird.




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