Soulful, gripping storytelling with one of the silver screen’s best performances in Gregory Peck’s Atticus, 1962’s To Kill A Mockingbird is sublime filmmaking. 9.2/10.
In Maycomb, Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird follows Scout Finch (Mary Badham) and her older brother Jem (Phillip Alford) spending time with their friend Dill (John Megna) and spying on their reclusive and mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley (Robert Duvall). When Atticus (Gregory Peck), their widowed father and a respected lawyer, defends a black man named Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) against fabricated rape charges, the trial and tangent events expose the children to evils of racism and stereotyping.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Pros: Unbelievable cinematography in the breathtakingly-shot and symbolic opening credits, terrific performance by Gregory Peck as the lovable, charismatic, and strong-willed Atticus, great performances all-around especially by the child actors, faithful adaptation of the All-Time classic novel, intriguing story and premise that made the novel so great in the heartful kid-centered story with Boo-centered mystery and racism-fueled allegory and analysis, Tom Robinson’s trial a masterpiece of cinematic adaptation with contrived messages, topsy-turvy reasoning that spins you as the viewer so much that you don’t know who to believe until the end, and a thrilling and shocking ending that is alone worth term papers writing about, great soundtrack that very well captures and mimics its cinematic scenes tonally and emotionally, Mr. Radley a compelling and scary villain especially in that car scene, the mockingbird symbolism very genius and racially empowering to black people – one of the biggest and best takeaways from this novel from schooldays and the film now, Atticus’ court testimony scene one of the greatest scenes in cinematic HISTORY with BREATHTAKING acting and genius by Gregory Peck just toying with the lying Yules, Brock Peters as Tom Robinson, and Collin Wilcox as Mayella Violett and masterclass in filmmaking and writing/direction showing the power of the law and making it exciting in ways few films have ever achieved (12 Angry Men one of the only that can even compete in my book), what we teach our children and legacy some of many big and praise-worthy and perplexing/complex themes addressed and analyzed by the film – leaves the room literally speechless every time and where I watch it, a time capsule painting of a simpler and more naive America that feels fresh and nostalgic, POWERFUL social commentary and layered, disheartening realism in that racism beat logic and Atticus’ thorough dispoving of the Yules lie did not even matter to the racist jury who had their minds made up before even walking in the courtroom, even some slasher/horror-like scenes like Boo’s jumping in the forest, great ending with Boo Radley and leaving you multiple themes and big ideas to reflect on
Cons: some unnecessary (but minor) plot points like the shooting of the “mad” dog and Atticus’ having a black cook kind taking away a little from the otherwise extremely racially empowering message/symbolism, Scout a little annoying too,
Overall Rating: 9.2/10