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To Kill A Mockingbird


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I had one of those moments Saturday nights. You know the kind, you turn on the TV and find that TCM is showing a truly outstanding film you've seen before and, even though you have, you can't stop watching it. When the movie ends you have that warm feeling inside that validates your love for the classics.

 

Well, that's what happened to me a couple of nights ago when I found that To Kill A Mockingbird was on TCM! A truly great film. Of course, Hollywood had a fantastic piece of work from Harper Lee to work with in the first place. Perhaps that is what's wrong with the movies of today ... maybe there aren't any truly great novels being written anymore?

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The only writer that I can think of today that consistently has movies made of his books is Stephen King. I'm sure that there still exists a great wealth of novels to choose from, but I fear that the days have passed when it was a common thing to make movies based on the very best of them. Today's audience simply wouldn't be interested.

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  • 1 year later...

Happened again last night ... flipped on the set shortly before the news came on (10 PM ET) and naturally, since the channel was set to TCM, caught the end of To Kill A Mockingbird again.

 

This time, I noticed two more things I love about this film. First, Elmer Bernstein's Oscar nominated Score is excellent. When Scout has just noticed that "Boo" Arthur Radley is in Gem's room behind the door, WOW! Second, when Atticus (Gregory Peck) and the Sheriff (played by Frank Overton) are discussing what must have happened in the woods, you can see all the "wheels turning" in the Sheriff's head as he is thinking through the situation, which he verbalizes shortly thereafter. I think Overton's understated performance and facial expressions are excellent in conveying his conflicted thoughts, before he speaks them.

 

Just another reason why this film is in my top 10!

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One of the many things I love about this film is the way they got two kids from Alabama to play Jem and Scout. Some of the other accents are dubious, but Badham and Alford make the whole thing convincing for a native-born Alabamian. And Atticus reminds me of my dad, who also was a civil rights lawyer.

 

I agree with you about the music, Path--it is unobtrusive for the most part and quite rends the heart. I get tears in my eyes every time I hear the main theme.

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  • 1 year later...

Jack,

 

Can you keep me posted on that. Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite films. Would love to see it on the big screen again (been far too many years) and hear Mary Badham talk about the film.

 

Thanks!

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I just received confirmation from the producer of the event. It's going to be on Sunday, November 19 and Mary Badham is going to be there. He's also trying to find underwriters to sponsor a free matinee screening for kids (which I think is a swell idea!).

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I also believe that this movie is truly amazing. First off, Harper Lee's story is magnificent. To Kill a Mockingbird is probably one of the best books, like, ever, and I think that the movie told the story well, even though I still believe the book is much better. Whenever I watch it, I just can't help but get choked up. As was mentioned before, the score is also great. It really sets the whole mood of the movie. But most of all, the cast was perfect. I mean really, who could have portrayed Atticus better than Gregory Peck? Or Scout better than Mary Badham? They are what really made this movie.

 

Now I want to watch it again!!

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> Now I want to watch it again!!

>

> You're in luck, it's on TCM this Saturday

> (September 2nd) at 3:15 PM ET!

 

Ooooo, thanks!!

 

You know, I got so caught up in talking about it that I totally forgot I have To Kill a Mockingbird on DVD, hee hee.:P But I'll definitely try and tune in anyway!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just received confirmed information regarding the Sunday, November 19 screening of To Kill a Mockingbird at San Francisco's Castro Theatre. The event will begin at 6:30pm. There will be a special live tribute and rare appearance by Academy Award? nominated star Mary Badham ("Scout"!), hosted by (Tales of the City author) Armistead Maupin. Also in attendance will be Academy Award? nominee JoBeth Williams, poetry ensemble Youth Speaks, and singer Connie Champagne. There will be a reception after the screening (for those who bought the reception level ticket).

 

There will also be a screening at noon that will be free for kids under 12 (who are accompanied by an adult).

 

I don't think tickets are on sale yet, but I understand that they will be available at www.ticketweb.com.

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We just might have to load up the cats in an RV and make the trip to San Francisco for that. My heart is pounding at the thought of meeting Mary Badham. I wonder why Phillip Alford isn't showing up? I've always wanted to see it on a big screen. You have no idea how obssesed I've been with this book (Why did Harper Lee never have another novel published? It is on my list to read again next-after I finish "Running With Scissors." Can't wait to get the recently released audio version-read by Sissy Spacek.) and movie...

The movie is perfection to me. When those two marbles hit and Elmer Bernstein's score begins I break out in goosebumps and my eyes well-up with tears. It's almost embarassing for me to watch this movie with anyone else.

Last years' DVD release includes a documentary (from '98) about the making of the movie...as well as photos and commentary about Monroeville, Alabama-then and now-and the real people who inspired these characters. It's called "Fearful Symmetry." It contains interviews with Gregory Peck, Robert Mulligan, Alan J Pakula, Elmer Bernstein, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, Brock Peters, Robert Duvall, Horton Foote and Collin Wilcox Paxton ("Mayella Ewell.") It is a must see for all fans...

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...Mary Badham was born October 7, 1952 in Birmingham, Alabama to an American father and British mother (former actress.) Her brother was 14 years older. He is John Badham...began his directing career in television-including the "Diabolique" remake "Reflections Of Murder" with Sam Waterston, Tuesday Weld and Joan Hackett-and graduated to feature films-including "Saturday Night Fever."

Mary lived only blocks away from Phillip Alford at the time of casting for "To Kill A Mockingbird," but they did not know each other...Phillip was 13-Mary was 9. According to interviews in "Fearful Symmetry," Phillip and Mary fought all the time and Mary would annoy him by mouthing his dialogue...this was incorporated into the movie in the scene of their first day of school-sitting at the breakfast table.

Mary's next movie was "This Property Is Condemned-"playing Natalie Wood's sister. This movie is a personal favorite and, in my opinion, much underated. It was directed by Sydney Pollack-produced by John Houseman and Ray Stark-co-written by Francis Ford Coppola (from a couple of short plays by Tennessee Williams)-cinematography by James Wong Howe-costumes by Edith Head! The cast includes Robert Redford, Charles Bronson, Robert Blake, et al.

Mary's next movie was "Let's Kill Uncle" for William Castle. I've never seen this movie or been able to find a (bootleg) copy.

She also did an episode of "Dr. Kildaire" and "The Twilight Zone-"an episode written by Earl ("The Waltons") Hamner, Jr. called "The Bewitchin' Pool."

She tested for the part of Mick in "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter," but lost that role to Sondra Locke-who was very good in the role and received an Oscar nom... I think Mary would have been great as Mick and, probably, would have earned a second Oscar nom.

She "retired" from acting and now lives in Virginia and works as an art restorer.

She returned to the screen in 2005 with a cameo in the independent movie, "Our Very Own." There are a couple of recent photos of her on that movie's website.

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  • 1 month later...

"Hey Boo..."

 

Tonight was the evening of To Kill a Mockingbird at San Francisco's Castro Theatre. The evening started on a high note, with JoBeth Williams (of Poltergeist and The Big Chill fame) reading a chapter from the book that didn't make it to the big screen: the segment about Jem's reading Ivanhoe to Mrs. Dubose. Michelle Shocked sang a couple of numbers, and then we got to the highlight of the evening: seeing the movie on the silver screen.

 

How wonderful to see this treasure on the big screen. To see so many details that had previously gone unnoticed (for instance, the blocks of ice that are placed in front of the court house; the kids stop and take some of the crushed ice before going inside. I'd always wondered what they were doing!). Henry Bumstead and Alexander Golitzen created an entire world in the neighborhood of the Finch children. It's amazing to think this was all built on Universal's backlot. Elmer Bernstein's score is captivating, and to be surrounded by that theme was a moving experience. The kids' performances are so natural as to seem almost miraculous. But I suppose it's easier for children, who haven't learned to be self-concious.

 

Mary Badham ("Scout") came onstage when the movie ended and was interviewed by Tales of the City author, Armistead Maupin. Today Ms. Badham is zoftig, with a lusty laugh that erupts often. She began by saying that she can no longer watch the movie; it's just too sad for her, now that most of the other actors are gone. Her own parents died when she was quite young, so Brock Peters and Gregory Peck took the role of surrogate fathers for her. Now they're both gone. She called Gregory Peck "Atticus" until the day he died. After growing to adulthood she tried for years to find John Megna ("Dill"); late one night her phone rang and it was he. They remained in contact for years, until his death in 1995 from AIDS. I didn't know that he was Connie Stevens' brother; nor that the character of Dill was based on the young Truman Capote; the childhood friend of author Harper Lee!

 

There were factions that wanted Bing Crosby in the role of Atticus. And Mary Badham tested with Rock Hudson in the role. She was delighted to be able to say that she was carried by Rock Hudson with her legs around his shoulders, to which Armistead Maupin replied, "So was I!"*

 

James Anderson ("Bob Ewell") was a method actor, who was nasty to everyone on the set. Years later Brock Peters confessed to Badham that he was terrifed of Anderson. Director Robert Mulligan told Anderson that he was aware of his working methods, and that though the character of Ewell was often drunk, if Anderson came on the set inebriated he would be immediately terminated. Today, Phillip Alford ("Jem") is bald, and he jokingly blames this on Anderson, who literally pulled Alford out of the frame by his scalp. After a few takes of this shot, Alford's head was bruised and sore for days.

 

Badham had a girlfriend whose father got drunk and gave the child a bowl haircut. The friend was disconsolate over the butchered hairdoo and Badham's mother took her to the beauty parlor to see if they could fix it. There wasn't much that hairdresser Mr. Larry could do, so Mary offered to have her hair cut in the same manner to make her friend feel better. This is the haircut that we see on Scout. Both girls went to the auditions, but her friend was blonde and it was thought that Badham looked more like she could be Peck's child. She said thousands of kids were auditioned, and a parade of Shirley Temple look-alikes tried out for the role. Tomboy Badham made the cut.

 

__________

 

* Reminding us that the character of Brick Oldcar in the Tales of the City series was based on Mr. Hudson.

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