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TO Kill a Mockingbird

I got a rare treat today. I was able to watch the movie classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird" on the big screen at our local movie palace.

Every Sunday from mid-June through August, The Florida Theatre shows a series of classic movies. Over the past few years I've seen, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Wait Until Dark, and Dr. Strangelove, to name a few. 

It's wonderful to see a film on a large screen as opposed to the average tv set. Even a black and white film looks amazingly fresh, and the subtle sounds and shadings more noticeable when viewed as it was intended- in a large screened theater.

I've seen To Kill a Mockingbird numerous times on television, and it affects me deeply each time I watch Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. According to the trivia we read in the program today, both Rock Hudson and Jimmy Stewart were considered for the part. Thank goodness Peck got the nod. I cannot imagine anyone else playing Atticus with such understated dignity. 

I read this book in high school during our "Modern Novel" class. At the tender age of 16, I recognized good writing. Harper Lee's vivid imagery, and her command of the language still inspires awe to this day.

I have re-read the book once every decade. I've discussed the finer points passionately with each of my children as they wade through it the summer as part of their summer reading list. And I watch the movie every time I find it playing on Turner Classic Movies or PBS.

I cry without fail, each time I watch the poignant scene at the courtroom, when Atticus is packing up his papers after hearing the jury's decision. The room is empty except for a few bailiffs, and the gallery where Negroes were segregated from the whites seated below.

Slowly each black person in the gallery stands, although Atticus is unaware of the silent tribute above him. The Reverend gently chides Scout, " Miss Jean Louise stand up. Your father's passing."

Powerful imagery, powerful language, powerful message. The novel and the movie, both classic perfection.

© annettealaine-2012

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This remains a favorite movie of mine,

Just as Gregory Peck was one of my favorite actors from that era. So it still pains me that Mick LaSalle, of the SF Chronicle, considers the movie highly overrated. 

"Dear Mick: Who, but you, could possibly watch "To Kill a Mockingbird" and not feel the deep humanity that runs through the entire film. You have crossed the line and I hope a thousand people rain down on you for your mean-spirited comments.

-- Sherri Matthews, RN, Richmond


Dear Sherri: I'm not exactly sure when "mean-spirited" came to mean anybody with whom we disagree, but I'm sure I deserve it for pointing out that the movie manages a lot more sympathy for a white weirdo who kills somebody than for an innocent black man murdered in prison. In any case, you're the third person to write to me in defense of "To Kill a Mockingbird.""


I'm with you, though, and I'm jealous that you were able to see it on the big screen.