To Kill a Mockingbird – 2-Disc Special Edition

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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch
Mary Badham as Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch
Phillip Alford as Jeremy ‘Jem’ Finch
Robert Duvall as Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley
John Megna as Charles Baker ‘Dill’ Harris
Frank Overton as Sheriff Heck Tate
Rosemary Murphy as Maudie Atkinson
Ruth White as Mrs. Dubose
Brock Peters as Tom Robinson
Estelle Evans as Calpurnia
Alice Ghostley as Aunt Stephanie Crawford
Paul Fix as Judge Taylor
Collin Wilcox Paxton as Mayella Violet Ewell
James Anderson as Robert E. Lee ‘Bob’ Ewell
William Windom as Mr. Gilmer, Prosecutor

Special Features:
Feature Commentary with Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula

Making of Documentary: Fearful Symmetry

A Conversation with Gregory Peck

Academy Award Best Actor Acceptance Speech

American Film Institute Life Achievment Award

Excerpt from Academy Tribute to Gregory Peck

Scout Remembers

Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in 1962. The following is the description from the DVD cover:

“Proclaimed one of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time by the American Film Institute, To Kill a Mockingbird is now available as a 2-disc set. Hollywood icon Gregory Peck won the Best Actor Academy Award for his brilliant portrayal of the courageous but understated hero Atticus Finch. The film, based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about innocence, strength and conviction, captured the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. To Kill a Mockingbird boasts Robert Duvall’s screen debut as Boo Radley and Mary Badham’s unforgettable, Oscar-nominated performance as Miss Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch. Watch it and remember why ‘it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’”

To Kill A Mockingbird is not rated.

The Movie:
I read the book To Kill a Mockingbird well over 15 years ago in school. My class watched the film as a follow-up. It seems to be required reading for most students in the US. I remember enjoying it back then and I found it enjoyable again all these years later.

To Kill a Mockingbird is kind of three movies in one. Part of it is a children’s movie featuring the kids becoming friends, having various misadventures, and trying to find out more about their resident boogeyman. My young kids wandered in an out of the room as I watched this DVD and they were frequently intrigued by Scout, Jem, and Dill on the screen. The movie also deals with Jem gaining a newfound respect for his father, Atticus Finch. He transforms in his son’s eyes from an old bore into a man he admires and wants to emulate.

To Kill a Mockingbird is also part courtroom drama. It deals with Atticus defending Tom Robinson, a black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman and beating her. The courtroom scene is one of the most pivotal and memorable scenes in the movie. It is really engaging to see Atticus methodically break down the case against Tom and prove why he couldn’t possibly be the attacker. Atticus then concludes with some of the most moving closing statements ever shown in a courtroom scene.

Finally, To Kill a Mockingbird is part-social commentary. It deals with the way that whites treated blacks in the Depression era South. The movie shows Tom getting an unfair trial, a group trying to lynch him, and the backlash that Atticus faces while trying to defend him. Though the movie dealt with the Depression-era, its commentary on race relations and humanity in general was relevant even when it was released in 1962 as the civil rights movement began really gaining momentum.

The performances in To Kill a Mockingbird were excellent. Gregory Peck’s role as Atticus Finch was so memorable that he was listed one of the top movie heroes of all time in recent polls. His fair attitude, patient nature, honorable personality definitely makes him an appealing character. The movie also got good performances from the child actors including Mary Badham as Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch and Phillip Alford as Jeremy ‘Jem’ Finch. Brock Peters is also memorable as Tom Robinson, the man accused of the horrible crime. Finally Robert Duvall makes his film debut here as Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley. He doesn’t deliver a single line in the role, but he makes a big impact when he finally appears on the screen.

If you’re a film fan or if you have read the book, To Kill a Mockingbird is required viewing for you. This DVD will make a great addition to your collection.

The Extras:
It doesn’t look like there are many bonus features on this DVD, but the ones that are here are very thorough. Here are the highlights:

Feature Commentary with Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula – In this commentary the filmmakers reminisce about the making of the movie. They talk about shooting on the backlot, the story, the actors, etc. I wish they had the actors provide some commentary, but this will have to do.

Making of Documentary: Fearful Symmetry – This is a lot more than just a “making of” video. This hour and a half feature details the historical state of the U.S. both at the time of the story and the time that the movie was released. Not only are all the original actors interviewed, but the real-life people that Harper Lee’s novel was based on are interviewed, too. Various scholars also dissect both the novel and the film and the themes behind each. It’s an incredibly detailed look at the making of the movie.

A Conversation with Gregory Peck – This hour and a half documentary follows Gregory Peck as he conducts Q&A sessions with audiences across the globe. While he’s asked over and over about his favorite film role, he also has a lot of anecdotes about the filming of movies, his co-stars, and other things you’ve probably never heard before. But the documentary, created by his daughter, also follows him into his private life. You see him at home with his family watching basketball, in France writing his memoirs, visiting with Lauren Bacall, and other private moments. It’s an incredibly personal and detailed look at the actor by those who knew him best.

Academy Award Best Actor Acceptance Speech – This is original footage from his brief award acceptance speech.

American Film Institute Life Achievement Award – This speech is a little more in-depth as he tells funny stories about his past work and provides commentary about the lower quality of films.

Excerpt from Academy Tribute to Gregory Peck – After Peck passed away, the Academy paid tribute to him at a private presentation. His daughter led the presentation and in attendance were his kids and Harper Lee.

Scout Remembers – This is a video featuring a grown-up Mary Badham who played Scout. She talks about Gregory Peck, what it was like filming the movie, and more. She has a lot of interesting anecdotes about filming the role and how it changed her life.

The Bottom Line:
If you read the book in school, To Kill a Mockingbird is required viewing for you. An intriguing story and strong performances makes this a true film classic.

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