Saturday Night Cinema feature tonight is the Acadmy award winning "To Kill a Mockingbird." An American film classic, based upon a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (Horton Foote won the Oscar for adapting the screenplay). In the rural American south during the depths of the Depression, two children watch as their principled father takes a stand.
If you haven't seen it, you are in for an extraordinary film experience. If you have, well, then, you know.
One of the top 100 films of all time:
The film begins by portraying the innocence and world of play of a tomboyish six year-old girl named Scout (Mary Badham) and her ten year-old brother Jem (Phillip Alford), and their perceptions of their widower attorney father Atticus (Gregory Peck). They also fantasize about a 'boogeyman' recluse who inhabits a mysterious house in their neighborhood. They are abruptly brought out of their insulated and carefree world by their father's unpopular but courageous defense of a black man named Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) falsely accused of raping a Southern white woman. Although racism dooms the accused man, a prejudiced adult vengefully attacks the children on a dark night - they are unexpectedly delivered from real harm in the film's climax by the reclusive neighbor, "Boo" Radley.
The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture (producer Alan J. Pakula lost to the epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962)), Best Director (Robert Mulligan), Best Supporting Actress (Mary Badham, sister of director John Badham, known for Saturday Night Fever (1977), Stakeout (1987), and other films), Best B/W Cinematography (Russell Harlan), and Best Music Score - Substantially Original (an evocative score by Elmer Bernstein). It was honored with three awards - Gregory Peck won a well-deserved Best Actor Award (his first Oscar win and fifth Oscar nomination) for his solid performance as a courageous Alabama lawyer, Horton Foote won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar (Foote won a second Oscar for Tender Mercies (1983)), and the team of Art Directors/Set Decorators also received the top honor. [Although Gregory Peck's inspirational performance as Atticus Finch turned out to be a perfect highlight to his long career, Rock Hudson was actually the studio's first choice for the role.]
Relationships formed during filming would last for the remainder of Gregory Peck's life -- he received the pocketwatch of Harper Lee's father; he became the surrogate father to Mary Badham; and Brock Peters delivered Peck's eulogy after his death in June of 2003.