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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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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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    • WordPlay profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla Chadwick 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I never thought of it that way, Trsmd. That's true.

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 

      6 years ago from India

      you could say Boo is less of a mockingbird at the end because unlike Tom, he was protected by the sheriff.

    • WordPlay profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla Chadwick 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I wish everyone would see To Kill a Mockingbird. It has a lot to teach.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • meow48 profile image

      meow48 

      6 years ago from usa

      i saw this movie as a child and i always wished atticus was my father, secretly, of course... hee. loved the book too, read that much later... it really was worth the read as the movie was worth the watch. thank you for revisiting it... hope the youngsters can see it. mine did, and it helped in a lot of ways... ie: what false accusations can cause, judging people by their appearance and the like...

    • WordPlay profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla Chadwick 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      I agree Dolores. Most book-to-movie conversions fall flat. But 'Mockingbird' just got more vivid!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Almost every book I've ever read that was made into a movie - they just didn't quite get it. Except for 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Every character was perfect, especially Atticus and Scout. The background music and theme song were hauntingly sweet and that music runs through my head any time the film is mentioned.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 

      9 years ago from Texas

      A favorite! I have seen it and read it many times :) I have heard it described as "the perfect movie", and I have to agree! :)

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      You've made me want to watch it again. I read the book in 7th grade and watched the movie many times. There is something about it that keeps bringing you back. I'm from that part of the south and so much of it reminds me of home: the good and the bad. Thanks for the hub!

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I couldn't agree with you more. Mockingbird is a dreamy southern film that captures childhood and the south flawlessly.

    • WordPlay profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla Chadwick 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      In my humble opinion, To Kill a Mockingbird is as close to perfect as a movie can be.

      If you ever want to really delve in, rent or buy the collector's edition DVD. The behind-the-scenes info and the documentary by Gregory Peck's daughter are gems.

    • Poetic Knight profile image

      Poetic Knight 

      10 years ago from Ottawa

      That must have been quite an experience. to be there for that premiere. To Kill A Mockingbird is a jewel in the crown for Universal. It is and will always be one of my most favoured books and Movies. The dialogue was so well crafted that it keeps one captivated throughout the entire movie. The childs perspective is so vivid that one wonders if it was the child who wrote the script. I just loved the character of Scout and the actress that portrayed her was a phenom in her own rite. I do not think I will ever grow tired of watching that film. Thank you for this trip down movie memory lane. Gotta run To Kill A Mockingbird is just starting on my TV.

      PK

    • WordPlay profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla Chadwick 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      How wonderful it must have been to go to the premiere! I envy you.

    • supercibor profile image

      Hector Herrera 

      10 years ago from Dominican Republic

      I attended this great movie premiere long ,long ago.

      Great drama

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