Film Review: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Genres, Film Pages: 8 (1712 words) Published: June 25, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird Film Review
Joseph Webb
Introduction to Film ENG225
Instructor David Preizler
June 24th, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird Film Review
“Like film genres themselves, trends in media criticism are cyclical, a pattern exemplified by the history of film genre studies” (Mittell, 2000, pg. 88). This quote exemplifies how trends, especially in the American media, usually come full circle, or reoccur, as seen in the history of film genre study. In the book review titled “Refiguring American Film Genres, Theory and History” (Mittell, 2000) we learn learning about genres became distinguished in the 1970’s. Goodykoontz & Jacobs (2011) say that genre is a type of categorization and genre films are identified by a specific categorization of film type. Thus, genre theory is the categorization of film based on similarities in technique and story line. For instance, “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962) fits into the categorization of courtroom drama type of genre. Courtroom dramas such as “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1962) are distinguished categorizations of American film and have the similarities of being Hollywood productions, deal with the legal system in America, essential parts of their stories take place in court, and such films have a great impact on the public’s ideals of justice (Ulbrich & Machura, 2002).

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was published as a book in 1960 and written by Harper Lee (1960) before it was released as a major motion picture in 1962 produced by Alan J. Pakula (Wikipedia, 2014). Pakula was nominated for best picture and director Robert Mulligan was nominated for best director at the Academy Awards for the film (Wikipedia, 2014). Major actors in the film included: Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch), Mary Badham (Atticus Finch’s daughter Scout), Phillip Alford (“Jem” Finch), John Megna (“Dill” Harris), Estelle Evans (Cal), Robert Duvall (“Boo” Radley), Rosemary Murphy (“Maudie” Atkinson), James K. Anderson (Bob Ewell), Collin Wilcox (Mayella Violet Ewell), Brock Peters (Tom Robinson), and a host of minor characters round out this timeless American classic courtroom drama. A summary of the story-line of this film (what happened) is a brother and sister protagonist team named Scout and Jem Finch are growing up in a fictionally created town of Macomb, Alabama (Lee, 1960). During this time their attorney father, Atticus Finch, is given a case to represent a Negro accused of rape (Tom Robinson played by Brock Peters) (Lee, 1960). The case sparks an uproar in the town where most are ready to lynch the accused Negro, most probably due to racism rather than facts affecting the Finch family, especially Scout and Jem (Lee, 1960). The plot (how it happens) can be summarized simply by the film begins with Scout (Scout also narrates the film as a first person narrator), Jem, and Dill playing and discussing things most kids of the time period would be talking about such as going to the movies and a crazy neighbor named “Boo” Radley who Dill says spies on Scout when she is in her bedroom (Pakula, 1962). Little do they know they will soon learn of racism and injustice when their father is given the daunting task of representing a person of color in this film which is set in the south in the 1930’s. This scene takes place outside of Scout and Jem Finch’s house (Pakula, 1962). At dinner one evening Atticus tells Jem of the first time he touched a gun, around thirteen or fourteen he says, and goes over the rules his daddy gave him regarding the gun (Pakula, 1962). One most important: “Never kill a mockingbird” (Pakula, 1962). They do not do anything but make music and play in gardens, says Atticus (Pakula, 1962). The Finch’s maid “Cal” also acts as a guide and protector of Scout and Jem Finch correcting them when needed, particularly Scout who has a tendency to act up or say things she should not. Moving forward we come to Atticus Finch and the children being stalked by a rabid dog when Atticus...

References: Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: from watching to seeing. San Diego, CA:
Bridgepoint Education, Inc
Mittell, J. (2000). Refiguring American Film Genres/Film/Genre (Book). Velvet Light Trap: A
Critical Journal of Film & Television, (46), 88
Pakula, A.J (Producer) & Mulligan, R. (Director). (1962). To kill a mockingbird [Motion Picture]
United States: Universal Pictures
To Kill A Mockingbird (2014). Wikipedia. Retrieved from
Ulbrich, S. & Machura, S. (2002). Law in film: globalizing the Hollywood courtroom drama.
Journal of Law and Society, 28(1), (December, 19th), pp
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