Seminal Image #770

To Kill a Mockingbird
(Robert Mulligan; 1962)


Sid Smith said...

Great choice and one of my all-time favourite movies. Surely one of the few that's as good as the novel from which it came?

swac said...

It's very rare that book and film match up ... unless you're John Huston.

Vanwall said...

A mesmerizing film. Yep, not many books get the right treatment on film, sadly, and even Huston's adaptations had his unique stamp on 'em, but this one was special for me - as I mentioned before, I worked with Peck's niece for many years, and this being one of my faves, it was fun to hear her Uncle Greg tidbits as he was one my favorite actors.

I read the book gladly when it was assigned in school because I loved the film so much, and I was not disappointed - they melded almost perfectly in my mind, and the characters from the movie version just gained more depth. It was shown often on TV, and as a kid, the attraction of scary set-pieces added to the fascination of watching the children doing so many familiar things.

I grew up in the one of the last places that had that kind of simplicity in our big city. Sure we lived in a brand new tract home, something new back then, but across from a dairy farm with plenty of cow noises (and smells!), and the wide outdoors was only a walk down to the end of the street, or you could climb the bob-wire fence across the street and wander amongst the alfalfa. The farmer had to talk to us a couple of times, but it was in good humor - he was worried about catching us in the reaper, as we weren't much taller than the alfalfa. The kids in our immediate neighborhood all ran together, and frequently down the street, going under the trees along the canal and right out into the desert.

It seemed we made our own entertainment as we went along, and school was just as didactic and family-oriented as they'd had been run since the late eighteen-hundreds. They still had Palmer method handwriting charts on some of the walls, and phonics was just replacing Dick & Jane, to much controversy - among the parents. We just rolled our eyes and ditched school to sneak into the rickety wooden baseball stadium during spring training. TV had yet to make a serious dent in things, and it was the marvel of the age when the well-off family down the street bought a color set - I grew up on B&W and it still looks right to me.

Mary Badham's Scout was so much like a lot of kids I knew, hell, I was like that some. She enjoyed a well-known special relationship with Peck, like father and daughter, and his niece mentioned the many times he would call Ms. Badham or she would call him - his niece spoke to her on occasion, and she was generally regarded as a member of the family, along with Phil Alford, who was Jem. His niece regarded Atticus as his definitive persona, as he was much the same in real life. No wonder Mary Badham called him that to the end.

Sid Smith said...

Some nice reflections Vanwall. Peck's Atticus is superb - the ideal(ised) father figure full of wisdom and fairplay. When I had kids myself I often thought "how would Atticus Finch handle this" when dealing with a disciplinary situation or trying to explain notions of boundaries, respect for others and the like.
Do you recall the movie's opening credits? Once again, they seem to capture that secret world in which kids get lost, and I have to say that Bernstein's score chokes me up every time I hear it.