Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout Finch

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1960 novel by Harper Lee, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It was made into an Academy Award-winning motion picture starring Gregory Peck by director Robert Mulligan in 1962. more...

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A coming-of-age story, it is told from the point of view of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, the young daughter of Atticus Finch, an educated lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama, a small town in the deep South of the United States. She is accompanied by her brother Jem and their mutual friend Dill.

Truman Capote was a lifelong friend of childhood neighbor Lee, and allegedly was the inspiration for Dill's character in her best-seller. Capote frequently implied that he himself had written a considerable portion of her novel, and some have said he ghosted the entire novel. At least one person—Pearl Kazin Bell, an editor at Harper's— has gone on record as believing his assertions were true.

The title of the book is taken from Atticus's advice to his children about firing their air rifles at birds: "Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird". The blue jay is a very common bird, and is often perceived as a bully and a pest, whereas mockingbirds do nothing but "sing their hearts out for us". Metaphorically, several of the book's characters can be seen as "mockingbirds", attacked despite doing nothing but good. The mockingbird represents innocence, and to kill one is to metaphorically kill innocence. Note that the protagonists are also named after birds: Tom Robinson and the Finch family. However, "Finch" was also Lee's mother's maiden name.

Harper Lee stated, "To get the ideas for the book I used recent events in my time like the Scottsboro Trials." (Harper Lee, Book Review, 1964)

Primary cast of the movie

  • Gregory Peck  : Atticus Finch
  • Mary Badham  : Jean Louise "Scout" Finch
  • Phillip Alford  : Jeremy "Jem" Finch
  • John Megna  : Charles Baker "Dill" Harris
  • Brock Peters : Tom Robinson
  • Jester Hairston (uncredited) : Tom's Father, Spence Robinson
  • Frank Overton  : Sheriff Heck Tate
  • James Anderson  : Robert E. Lee 'Bob' Ewell
  • Collin Wilcox : Mayella Violet Ewell
  • Robert Duvall  : Arthur "Boo" Radley
  • Rosemary Murphy  : Maudie Atkinson
  • Paul Fix  : Judge Taylor
  • Estelle Evans  : Calpurnia
  • William Windom  : Mr. Gilmer (Prosecutor)

Awards for the movie

  • Golden Globe Award for Best Film Promoting International Understanding
  • Academy Award for Best Actor (Gregory Peck)
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama (Gregory Peck)
  • Academy Award for Best Art Direction - Set Decoration, Black-and-White (Alexander Golitzen, Henry Bumstead, Oliver Emert)
  • Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay (Horton Foote)
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score - Motion Picture (Elmer Bernstein)

Award nominations for the movie

  • Academy Award for Best Picture
  • BAFTA Award for Best Picture
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama
  • Academy Award for Directing (Dane Peacock)
  • Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Robert Mulligan)
  • Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Mary Badham)
  • Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Russell Harlan)
  • Academy Award for Best Music, Score - Substantially Original (Elmer Bernstein)

It was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1995.

Analysis of important characters

Jem Finch is Scout's older brother. Jem undergoes crucial transformations in the work as he becomes a man. The trial of Tom Robinson is Jem's first real encounter with true evil, and the realization of its existence drives him into a sullen state. Prior to this, he had viewed the world innocently, thinking of people as one-sided. He viewed Boo Radley, for example, as a frightening figure. Jem was able to overcome his sullenness due to the strong presence of Atticus in his life, and became a bigger person as he achieved a greater understanding of the world and how to view and treat other human beings.


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