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To Kill a Mockingbird

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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Dan Jardine
Robert Mulligan's lovingly crafted recreation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize- winning novel is an outstanding production on many different levels. The Oscar-winning sets by Henry Bumstead and Alexander Golitzen, and gorgeous black-and-white cinematography beautifully evoke the rural Alabama Depression-era setting, providing the perfect backdrop for this quiet-yet-potent study of racism. The suffocating summer heat is reflected in the film's deliberate pacing, which casts a trance over the audience. Horton Foote's Academy Award-winning screenplay is a model of book-to-movie adaptation, as he retains all of the Southern character and charm of the novel without sacrificing Lee's key themes. Because the intolerance of the townspeople is witnessed through the eyes of children (Mary Badham and Philip Alford in impressively authentic performances), the feel is heightened and intensified. Their obsession with neighborhood ghoul Boo Radley (Robert Duvall in his film debut) mirrors the town's racism, and the children's ability to eventually realize their foolishness hints at Lee's hope for the future. Oscar winner Gregory Peck is ideal casting as Atticus, for his Lincoln-like integrity and intelligence perfectly serve the role. Peck hammers home the film's achingly authentic, timeless, and resonant plea for humanistic tolerance: The best way to understand another's problems is to get into his or her skin and walk around in it. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, the film was the winner of three (Best Actor, Art Direction, and Adapted Screenplay). ~ Dan Jardine, Rovi
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