Directed by Robert Mulligan
Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird depicts everyday life in the small, dusty town of Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s, as seen through the eyes of two children, Jem and Scout Finch. When their widowed father Atticus, a lawyer, agrees to represent a Black man accused of raping a white woman, they are confronted with the realities of prejudice and injustice as the trial unfolds, challenging their heretofore innocent childhood. In what the New York Times declared “a bewitching indication of the excitement and thrill of being a child,” Robert Mulligan’s skillful direction illuminates the moody mysteries and wonders of childhood, the stifling heat and underlying tensions of Maycomb, and the gradual awakening of Jem and Scout to the hatred in the world around them. It’s an enduring coming-of-age journey traced, from the opening title sequence’s meditation on objects in a child’s box of treasures to the shadowy drama of the film’s end, in the richly composed black-and-white photography of Russell Harlan, who was nominated for an Academy Award.
To Kill a Mockingbird received eight Academy Award nominations in all, including Best Picture, and went on to win three. In addition to wins for Best Screenplay and Art Direction, Gregory Peck, nominated four times previously, took home his only acting Oscar for his portrayal of the soft-spoken but unflinchingly principled Atticus Finch.
Other notable performances include Brock Peters’ dignified rendering of the unfortunate Tom Robinson, John Megna as Jem and Scout’s playmate Dill (a character based on Harper Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote), Robert Duvall’s screen debut as reclusive neighbor Boo Radley, and Mary Badham’s standout performance as the scrappy and precocious Scout. At 10 years old, Badham was the youngest person ever nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the time.
Pakula-Mulligan Productions. Producer: Alan J. Pakula. Based on the novel by Harper Lee. Screenwriter: Horton Foote. Cinematographer: Russell Harlan. Editor: Aaron Stell, J. Terry Williams. Cast: Gregory Peck, Brock Peters, Estelle Evans, Mary Badham, Robert Duvall.
35mm, b/w, 130 min.