Play It Again – To Kill a Mockingbird

Play It Again – To Kill a Mockingbird. By Jess Lomas.

Play It Again is a weekly feature in which classic-film connoisseur Jess Lomas revisits a revered motion picture from the annals of movie history, to see if it holds up… or if it has aged terribly. And yes, it takes its name from a famously misquoted Casablanca line (hey, whatever; it fits!).

Robert Mulligan‘s 1962 adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird is a time capsule of a volatile period of race relations in American history. Set in a fictional Alabama town during the 1930s, the movie maps the loss of innocence and time of maturation in a brother and sister; “Scout” (Mary Badham) and Jem (Phillip Alford). Over a period of three years the siblings become aware of the rampant racism in their small town and learn a lesson about prejudice thanks to the town “bogeyman”, Arthur “Boo” Radley (Robert Duvall in his first film role). Their father, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), is a lawyer who tries to imprint on his children the importance of equality and standing by one’s beliefs.

When Atticus represents Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man who is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman, he is maligned by some of the locals and alcoholic poacher Bob Ewell (James Anderson) in particular. Confronting racial prejudices head-on, To Kill a Mockingbird was as relevant when it was released in the 1960s as it was when it was first written. Told from the children’s perspectives – and notably from Scout’s, who represents author Harper Lee – the audience sees the characters and situations through these innocent eyes, making for an interesting interpretation of events.

While I was perhaps too young on my first viewing of this film to appreciate the evocative black and white cinematography, and the movie magic of transporting the audience back to a small Southern town in the 1930s, each subsequent viewing reveals the hidden treasures that make this a lasting classic.

From the unobtrusive score, to the masterful performance by Peck, and the timeless reminder about first perceptions, To Kill a Mockingbird was well deserving of its eight Academy Award nominations. It won Best Actor for Peck, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Black and White Art Direction, while losing Best Picture to the epic Lawrence of Arabia.

To Kill a Mockingbird is available on DVD, and can be streamed immediately on Quickflix’s Watch Now service.

3 Responses to “Play It Again – To Kill a Mockingbird”

  1. I have always been afraid to watch this movie in the fear that it won’t do the book justice. But if Jess says it’s alright, then it must be. 😉

  2. Love the book and love the movie. Go ahead Claire and watch it, you won’t be disappointed 🙂

  3. ᯁ⛀뭨ॸ傳Ⓞ鄇޳ꈪ꤭䢑쌪鳤彨㆘韩견廋䓂檹勳犂쓂 Reply March 8, 2012 at 9:32 am

    This is a movie mothers should insist their children watch, it is unforgetable and inspiring, the truth through the eyes of children is a potent power to behold. Beautifully directed, this is one classic that will never grow old and it will never be forgotten.

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