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Saturday, February 20, 2016

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

The adult daughter (an off camera Kim Stanley narrates) of a small town lawyer (Gregory Peck) recollects her childhood in 1930s Alabama. The two summers that were turning points in her young life: the trial of a black man (Brock Peters) accused of raping a white woman (Collin Wilcox) with her father as the defense attorney and the mysterious Boo Radley (Robert Duvall) who lives next door. It had been years since I've seen MOCKINGBIRD and with the passing of Harper Lee (who wrote the novel) this week, I thought it would be a good time to revisit it. Lee's novel was adapted by Horton Foote for the screen and directed by Robert Mulligan. This is a lovely movie. Mulligan's film has the wistful feel of childhood memories and Lee shows us the horror of racism through a child's eyes. The two child actors, Mary Badham and Phillip Alford, are just right but Peck's imposing Atticus Finch is the film's backbone. At turns, charming and poignant but always with a sense of pensive sadness. There have been some naysayers who complain (and perhaps not without some justification) that the film is calculated and manipulative. But what it has is a sincere sense of righteousness. With Rosemary Murphy, William Windom, Frank Overton, Alice Ghostley, Ruth White, James Anderson, Estelle Evans and young John Megna.   

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