To Kill a Mockingbird [1962]-Hall of Fame

3 06 2011

When I first saw American Film Institutes list of Greatest movie heroes of the 20th century,i was really disappointed to not see the The blonde’s name on the list.I have always thought Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of Blondie was the ideal example of being a hero and that was the time when I associated masculinity with heroism.But times have changed and I don’t blame AFI who voted Atticus Finch as greatest movie hero ever.

To kill a mocking bird which was released in 1962 is a perfect example of how the charm of the source material can transform the movie into a classic.The movie is based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer winning novel of the same name.The story by Lee is so intricately carved that it brings out the depression era of America quite soulfully through the eyes of  6 year old  Scout played by Mary Badham.The movie begins with her Voice Over Narration “Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932, when I first knew it.”This fact is quite effectively established by the slow yet involving pace of the movie.Scout’s father, Atticus Finch is a lawyer and a bona fide one at that.The role played by Gregory Peck is a widower with 2 kids,Jem and Scout.

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch

The most part of the movie deals with Scot and Jems adventures with Dill who is spending his summer with aunt Stephanie.They go spy on Maycomb’s supposed boogey man Boo who is said to be chained to his bed.There are lots of scenes in this movie which makes the audience nostalgic about their childhood.Mean while as a parallel yet linked storyline Atticus Finch is defending a black man who is alleged to have raped a white woman.This part of the movie brings out the social structure of America that was prevalent in early part of the 20th century where black  people were subjugated more intensely.The scenes in which Scout and Jem are taught by their father about different perspectives through which one has to look at people’s characters before assessing them are quite heartening.There is a dialogue in the movie which I found really interesting where Finch asks Scout whether she knows what a “compromise ” means to which Scot answers rather innocently “bending the law?”.

Jem and Scout

Jem and Scout

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is marvelous.He plays his role with such perfection that his role is said to be an inspirational factor for many who take up law as their profession.Mary Badham as Scout and Philip Alford as Jem were a delight to watch as their performance brings  out the sinlessness of childhood.But almost all other characters in the movie look like mere caricatures[except may be Dill played John Megna] thanks to mediocre direction.

Even though Mulligan was able to reflect the warmth in the movie,it has too many structural flaws both in the script and its execution.Mulligan maybe doubted for his sincerity when he visualizes a novel which puts forward the prejudices against a colored man in the society.For example black men shown as relative and the friends of the accused are always shown in the background with little dialogue whatsoever.Their casting makes us feel that they were just being used by the director to fill  the screen space.Even though a lot of screen time is dedicated to unnecessary white characters, the wife of Tom Robinson[accused] is given not even a single complete dialogue.The execution of climax by the director seemed forced and half-baked.

This movie would have been sure shot nominee for my all time best movie for its story,characters and the lead cast.But sadly Robert Mulligan’s direction is no great shake.But still when my rational side of a movie buff says the movie is good, my heart says it is great.And since for a movie, soul is the only thing that ever matters and hence I am adding this movie to Movie Junkyard’s Great Movies list.

P.S-When you see the film take a close look at “Boo” Radley,well he is none other than Robert Duvall who is known for his dialogue “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”Lieutenant Colonel William “Bill” Kilgore in the movie “Apocalypse Now“]








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