My Grandfather many moons ago used to take me to Saturday Morning Pictures as we call it in the UK, and I was hooked, and since then my favourite films have been from the golden years of Hollywood.
The first film I want to talk about is:
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Written by Harper Lee who also won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel
It was also her only novel.
The story told through the eyes of a child Scout, her father Atticus Finch defends a black man accused unjustly of the rape of a white woman, even the suspicion of which would be enough to have him hanged.
The film remains quite faithful to the book and catches the real essence of the times and the hopelessness of being black during that era, and the knowledge that you would never get a fair hearing.
When told through the eyes of a child it has a different meaning, as the innocence is relevant and kids although might understand differences but not the “why” and to watch the interplay not only between the kids but the scene with their father are especially poignant, and Gregory Peck was masterful in this role, his integrity was like a beacon and his absolute belief that everyman deserved a fair trial, even with the odds stacked so heavily against him.
The other aspect I liked about this film is that the black man was played as a real man and not the” step n fetch it” stereotype, which made his court scenes more compelling, because he knew he was innocent, but still conveyed an air of hopeless dread, simply because a white woman had accused him.
The very fact that a white woman tempted a black man would mean ruin for her and death for him, even worse her own father was involved in an incestuous relationship with his daughter and not only to cover up what he’s seen her do, but more importantly to cover his own crime.
She of course would go along with anything he said to get the taint of what she’d done of her, but never really feeling responsible of what she done, she was white he was black her word against his, even though amongst whites she was considered trash.
One of the most compelling scenes was when they brought Tom back to be held in the local jail overnight, Atticus, stands guard to ensure his clients safety, his kids worried about him Jem and scout with their neighbour Dill(Dill based on her childhood friend Trueman Capote) go to the jail and face the lynch mob with their father, when Scout see one of her school friends father in the crowd.
She greets him amiably and he’s forced to acknowledge her when he mentions his son’s name, therefore in fact shaming the whole mob to go home, though Scout didn’t realise the import of her innocent greeting, thus saving the man behind bars that night.
Atticus loses the case and Tom makes a run for it when transferred to prison but it’s really a suicide, you could feel the unfairness of it all it was palpable, and really depicted the times and the futility of being black and in the wrong place during that era.
This I would say is a must read, and must see film, it still holds the relevancy it did when it was published, and certainly mirror some events we see now.
Look out for a young robert Duvall who plays mystrious neighbour Boo Radley.