To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Gregory Peck is at his noble, Oscar-winning best as a Depression-era lawyer in small-town Alabama who defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman.

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“A bewitching indication of the excitement and thrill of being a child.”
Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1963

At the heart of both the film and Harper Lee’s much-loved source novel is a child’s-eye view of the imperfect ways of the adult world. Six-year-old Scout (Mary Badham) watches her father Atticus Finch (Peck) raise his dignified fists against bigotry, deceit, injustice and a symbolic rabid dog as he argues his doomed case in a small-town courtroom, in defence of the falsely accused African-American Tom Robinson (Brock Peters). But eloquence and virtue are no match for generations of race hatred and petty motives, as Scout learns at the cost of childhood illusions.

This brave and faithful adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel was made at a time when the civil-rights battles in the US were coming to the boil.

Young Mary Badham acted in only a handful more films, but Robert Duvall followed his debut here as the reclusive Boo Radley with an illustrious career.

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