In the wake of Harper Lee’s death this morning, I thought it’d be a good time to talk about a film that’s pretty up there on my list of favorites.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why is this girl talking about that book/movie I was forced to read/watch multiple times throughout my educational career? Well, that’s how I used to feel too. I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in middle school and I remember mostly skimming the book and then looking it up on sparks notes – C’mon, we all did it at one time or another! A few years later, when I was in high school, I was assigned to read the book again. This time, I decided to actually read it and promptly, fell in love.
I had seen the movie before I had heard anything about the book. I didn’t remember too much about it, but having fallen in love with the book, I felt like the film required a second viewing. I watched it with my dad and I’m not ashamed to say that by the end, I was tearing up a little. Well, I mean if we’re being honest, I was balling. It instantly became one of my favorite movies. It had all the things I love: great acting, coming of age fun and a story that really meant something.
So, here is my plea to you if you’re not in love with it. Give it another chance. Just because it’s a staple, we seem to discount it and forget just how powerful and poignant it still is. And, of course, sadly, many of the racial tensions it comments on are still alive and well in our country today.
Here are just a few things you’ll miss by not watching To Kill a Mockingbird:
GREGORY PECK GIVES AN OSCAR WORTHY PERFORMANCE
I love Gregory Peck and before I really became obsessed with To Kill a Mockingbird, I knew him mostly from Roman Holiday in which he is fantastic. But Mockingbird introduced me to a different Gregory Peck, a more resolute, calm, and infinitely wise one. The scenes between him and his on-screen daughter, Scout (Mary Badham) should be required viewing for…well, everyone.
Here’s a little throwback to his 1963 Oscar Speech:
THE FILM’S SCORE IS ONE OF THE BEST EVER WRITTEN
As I’ve said before, music can have an enormous impact on a film. If it’s the right score, the music almost acts as another character. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Elmer Bernstein’s score is inextricable from the film’s themes and characters. When I saw the film in theaters a few years ago at the TCM Film Festival, the open sequence almost made me tear up — mostly because of the music. Watch and I think you’ll agree:
IT’S ONE OF THE BEST COURTROOM DRAMAS EVER MADE
The courtroom scenes in this film have major tension. And the performances of Brock Peters and Collin Wilcox Paxton are a huge part of that. They’re understated and intense. Gripping and thought provoking. And the film certainly inspired all the courtroom dramas that came after.
IT’S ABOUT SOMETHING
This seems almost ridiculous to say because all films should be about something. But, this film in particular just comments on so many things so beautifully. It’s about growing up, it’s about the south, it’s about the depression, it’s about civil rights, it’s about humanity.
AND IT ACHIEVES MAJOR #FatherDaughterGoals
This movie will always hold a special place in my heart if only because I shared it with my dad. The film is about a father and his children, but I, of course, always related to Scout, being a girl. I’m lucky that my dad has a lot in common with Atticus Finch.
If you haven’t seen it or if you have, but were too young to appreciate it, then I urge you to give it another shot. If you have any problems with it, you can take it up with me!!
Vintage trailer below…