To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) is a much-loved, critically-acclaimed, classic trial film. It exhibits a dramatic tour-de-force of acting, a portrayal of childhood innocence (told from a matured adult understanding), and a progressive, enlightened 60s message about racial prejudice, violence, moral tolerance and dignified courage.

The Academy Award winning screenplay was faithfully adapted by screenwriter Horton Foote from the 1960 novel of the same name by Harper Lee - who had written a semi-autobiographical account of her small-town Southern life (Monroeville, Alabama), her widower father/attorney Amasa Lee, and its setting of racial unrest. [This was Lee's first and sole novel - and it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960.] The poor Southern town of deteriorating homes was authentically re-created on a Universal Studios' set. Released in the early 60s, the timely film reflected the state of deep racial problems and social injustice that existed in the South.

The film begins by portraying the innocence and world of play of a tomboyish six year-old girl named Scout (Mary Badham) and her ten year-old brother Jem (Phillip Alford), and their perceptions of their widower attorney father Atticus (Gregory Peck). They also fantasize about a 'boogeyman' recluse who inhabits a mysterious house in their neighborhood. They are abruptly brought out of their insulated and carefree world by their father's unpopular but courageous defense of a black man named Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) falsely accused of raping a Southern white woman. Although racism dooms the accused man, a prejudiced adult vengefully attacks the children on a dark night - they are unexpectedly delivered from real harm in the film's climax by the reclusive neighbor, "Boo" Radley.

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture (producer Alan J. Pakula lost to the epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962)), Best Director (Robert Mulligan), Best Supporting Actress (Mary Badham, sister of director...