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To Kill a Mockingbird Movie Review

Updated on June 6, 2013
One of the classic movies of all time: To Kill a Mockingbird
One of the classic movies of all time: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird: One of Hollywood's greatest achievements!

It's hard to summon enough superlatives to describe To Kill a Mockingbird, which I consider one of Hollywood's greatest achievements. I guess it would have been difficult to go wrong, though, considering the book it came from continues to be a huge success. But in my opinion, the movie transcended the book. The timeless story of a good man standing up for what is right is dynamic on the page, but somehow it becomes even larger on film. That's why it's just as watchable today as when it was released.

Artfully directed by Robert Mulligan, the movie was filmed on the Universal Studios backlot. But the set didn't look like yet another Hollywood creation. It was made to look like Macomb County, Alabama, with the help of houses scheduled to be destroyed to make way for the Pasadena Freeway. Set decorator Henry Bumstead found the Craftsman-style houses just in time and moved them to Universal to recreate the specific world that was the South in the 1930s. Pasadena's loss was definitely the movie-going-public's gain.


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"To Kill a Mockingbird" on DVD

Perfect casting

The exemplary cast is in keeping with the perfect set. Gregory Peck, who embodied the part of the dignified Southern lawyer and father as if he were born to play him, was joined by unknowns Mary Badham and Phillip Althorp as his children Scout and Jem. Also in the mix was Macomb visitor Dill, an odd-looking little boy based on author Harper Lee's childhood friend, Truman Capote. John Megna's Dill visits Macomb County during the summer and it's through his, Scout and Jem's perspectives that the story unfolds. It is also through their eyes that we're introduced to the town boogeyman, played by Robert Duvall in his first film role. But Duvall's Boo Radley isn't the only supposed monster in town. Robert E. Lee "Bob" Ewell and his daughter Mayella Ewell (played by James Anderson and Collin Wilcox), who wrongly accuse black man Tom Robinson (played by Brock Peters) of rape, are frightening in a much more substantial way.

I know most people wouldn't consider this a Halloween movie, but for me, the final moments of the film invoke that spirit. I won't ruin the ending; I'll just say that it's scary in the way that only old-fashioned story-telling can be. There are no special effects; the characters have just been so well developed by the end, you feel like you're right there with them in Macomb County. You can't help but sit on the edge of your seat as they move through harrowing circumstances and then find safe haven once again on their faded but cozy Alabama front porch.

View still photos and video from the movie at the Internet Movie Database.

Read cast biographies, trivia and other fun stuff.

If ads are displayed below, please scroll to the bottom of this page for a list of for DVD special features.

DVD extras from the Collector's Edition (on two discs)

  • Scene access
  • Interactive menus
  • Cast and crew interview
  • Featurette: Movie by Gregory Peck's daughter Cecilia that chronicles both her father's speaking engagements and his later years
  • Featurette: Fearful Symmetry: The Making of To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Audio commentary by director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan Pakula
  • Original trailer
  • Subtitles

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