To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

129-130 mins | Drama | 25 December 1962

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HISTORY

The 7 Dec 1960 Var announced that motion picture rights had been purchased for Harper Lee’s 1960 novel of the same name. Although Lee was considering several offers, producer Alan Pakula told the 19 May 1961 NYT that the author and her agent promised not to make a decision before receiving his bid. Pakula also revealed in the 6 May 1962 NYT that, despite his enthusiasm for the novel, he and director Robert Mulligan waited until it had been on the NYT bestseller list for six weeks before bidding. The book won a Pulitzer Prize, and had sold approximately four million copies at the time of the article. Lee declined screenwriting duties in favor of the more experienced Horton Foote, as she was in the process of writing her next novel. On 26 Apr 1961, Var reported that the film would be produced by Anthony Productions, owned by lead actor Gregory Peck.
       Following a series of casting notices in late 1961 issues of Var, Mary Badham and Phillip Alford of Birmingham, AL, were awarded the roles of “Scout” and “Jem,” respectively, as stated in the 3 Jan 1962 Var. The children were chosen from hundreds of candidates during a talent search of the American South, after which they were screen tested in New York City. Alford reportedly had some amateur acting experience, while Badham had none. Rehearsals were scheduled to begin by mid-Jan 1962 in Hollywood, CA. The 6 May 1962 NYT announced nine-year-old stage actor John Megna for the role of ... More Less

The 7 Dec 1960 Var announced that motion picture rights had been purchased for Harper Lee’s 1960 novel of the same name. Although Lee was considering several offers, producer Alan Pakula told the 19 May 1961 NYT that the author and her agent promised not to make a decision before receiving his bid. Pakula also revealed in the 6 May 1962 NYT that, despite his enthusiasm for the novel, he and director Robert Mulligan waited until it had been on the NYT bestseller list for six weeks before bidding. The book won a Pulitzer Prize, and had sold approximately four million copies at the time of the article. Lee declined screenwriting duties in favor of the more experienced Horton Foote, as she was in the process of writing her next novel. On 26 Apr 1961, Var reported that the film would be produced by Anthony Productions, owned by lead actor Gregory Peck.
       Following a series of casting notices in late 1961 issues of Var, Mary Badham and Phillip Alford of Birmingham, AL, were awarded the roles of “Scout” and “Jem,” respectively, as stated in the 3 Jan 1962 Var. The children were chosen from hundreds of candidates during a talent search of the American South, after which they were screen tested in New York City. Alford reportedly had some amateur acting experience, while Badham had none. Rehearsals were scheduled to begin by mid-Jan 1962 in Hollywood, CA. The 6 May 1962 NYT announced nine-year-old stage actor John Megna for the role of “Dill,” a character based on Harper Lee’s childhood friend, Truman Capote. The 14 Mar 1962 Var and 10 Jan 1963 Los Angeles Sentinel noted that New York schoolteacher and actress Estelle Evans took a leave of absence to appear in the film as “Calpurnia.” To Kill a Mockingbird also marked the screen debut of television actress Nancy Marshall (21 Apr 1962 LAT ), actor Frank Overton’s tenth role as a sheriff, and Robert Mulligan’s second feature film, as announced in the 21 Apr 1962 LAT, 29 Mar 1962 LAT, and the 19 Jun 1961 NYT , respectively.
       Gregory Peck told the 6 May 1962 NYT that plans for location filming were abandoned after he visited Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, AL, which no longer resembled the Depression-era community described in her book. According to the 22 Dec 1962 LAT , Peck recorded Lee reading several pages of her novel during his visit, from which he learned his character’s regional accent.
       Production took place at the Universal Pictures lot in Universal City, CA, known at the time as Revue Studios. As reported in the 19 Jan 1962 NYT, art directors Alexander Golitzen and Henry Bumstead acquired twelve period-appropriate “clapboard cottages,” marked for demolition to make way for Dodger Stadium and a freeway extension. The houses were moved to the lot at a total cost of $5,000, and improvements were made for an additional $20,000. Golitzen estimated the studio’s cost of building identical sets at $100,000. Principal photography began 12 Feb 1962.
       The 7 Feb 1962 Var reported that Lee’s publisher, J. B. Lippincott, contracted with eighteen “radio outlets” across the country to advertise the start of production. As noted in the 4 Apr 1962 Var, Popular Library released a paperback edition featuring Gregory Peck on the cover, and a foreword written by the actor. Popular Library also ran a full-page advertisement in NYT heralding the film. In addition, 100 hardback copies, autographed by the author, were sent to “key” columnists, editors, and exhibitors. On 13 Feb 1963, Var stated that forty F. W. Woolworth stores in the New York City metropolitan area featured window displays of the paperback as part of a larger campaign encouraging people to “See the picture—read the book.”
       The 8 Dec 1962 LAT announced the film’s 25 Dec 1962 opening at the Fox Wilshire Theater in Los Angeles, CA, enabling it to qualify as an 1962 Academy Awards nominee. A New York City debut followed on 14 Feb 1963 at Radio City Music Hall. Reviews were generally positive, although critic Philip K. Scheuer complained in the 16 Dec 1962 LAT that the actors’ southern accents made the dialogue difficult to understand.
       To Kill a Mockingbird was nominated for eight Academy Awards: Best Picture (Alan Pakula); Best Director (Robert Mulligan); Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mary Badham); Best Cinematography, Black and White (Russell Harlan); Best Music, Score—Substantiall Original (Elmer Bernstein); Best Actor (Gregory Peck); Best Black-and-White Art Direction/Interior Decoration (Alexander Golitzen, Henry Bumstead, Oliver Emert); Best Adapted Screenplay (Horton Foote). The picture won the latter three categories. In addition, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association named it “The Picture Best Promoting Human Understanding,” and it was the official U.S. entry to the 1963 Cannes Film Festival. Actor Brock Peters, who played “Tom Robinson,” was named Best Supporting Actor by the All-American Press Association of New York. Peters was the first African American to receive the award. The Legion of Decency gave the film an “A-III” rating, declaring it “morally unobjectionable for adults and adolescents.”
       Public response was equally enthusiastic, exemplified by the 13 Mar 1963 Var, which declared it the highest-grossing film in the country, even after eleven weeks in release. The theme song by Elmer Bernstein was listed among the “Top Singles of the Week” in the 20 Mar 1963 Var. A vocal rendition was also recorded by actor-singer Vince Edwards.
       According to the 6 Feb 1963 Var, Universal Pictures partnered with Seventeen Magazine to publish a four-page “study guide” to accompany the film, reportedly distributed to 12,000 “educational groups” throughout the U.S. Related educational booklets were in development by The National Council of Teachers for its “Studies in the Mass Media” series, and by Universal Pictures for its “Novel Into Film” series.
To Kill a Mockingbird was ranked 25th on AFI's 2007 100 Years...100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving up from the 34th position it held on AFI's 1997 list.
       Feature film debut of Alice Ghostly, who had appeared in numerous Broadway and television shows. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Dec 1962.
---
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1962.
---
Film Daily
11 Dec 1962
p. 4.
Filmfacts
28 Feb 1963
pp. 13-15.
Hollywood Citizen-News
27 Dec 1962.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1962
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 1962
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 1962
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1962
p. 3.
Life
8 Feb 1963
pp. 97-99.
Life
28 Feb 1964.
---
Los Angeles Sentinel
10 Jan 1963
Section A, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
9 Feb 1962
Section C, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
29 Mar 1962
Section C, p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
21 Apr 1962
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 1962
p. 19
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1962
Section A, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1962
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
26 Dec 1962
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
21 Mar 1963
Section A, p. 17.
Motion Picture Herald
29 Dec 1962
p. 722.
New Republic
2 Feb 1963.
---
New Republic
21 Feb 1963
pp. 30-31.
New York Times
19 May 1961
p. 26.
New York Times
19 Jun 1961
p. 30.
New York Times
3 Sep 1961
Section X, p. 7.
New York Times
19 Jan 1962
p. 26.
New York Times
6 May 1962
p. 149.
New York Times
15 Feb 1963
p. 10.
New Yorker
23 Feb 1963
pp. 125-26.
Newsweek
18 Feb 1963
p. 9.
Saturday Review
12 Jan 1963
p. 57.
Time
22 Feb 1963
p. 93.
Variety
7 Dec 1960
p. 4.
Variety
26 Apr 1961
p. 4.
Variety
3 May 1961
p. 21.
Variety
8 Nov 1961
p. 74.
Variety
13 Dec 1961
p. 20.
Variety
3 Jan 1962
p. 7.
Variety
31 Jan 1962
p. 70.
Variety
7 Feb 1962
p. 24.
Variety
14 Mar 1962
p. 4.
Variety
4 Apr 1962
p. 15.
Variety
12 Dec 1962
p. 6.
Variety
26 Dec 1962
p. 7.
Variety
2 Jan 1963
p. 9.
Variety
9 Jan 1963
p. 39.
Variety
16 Jan 1963
p. 4.
Variety
30 Jan 1963
p. 49.
Variety
6 Feb 1963
p. 17, 18.
Variety
13 Feb 1963
p. 13.
Variety
20 Feb 1963
p. 4, 8.
Variety
27 Feb 1963
p. 9.
Variety
13 Mar 1963
p. 21.
Variety
18 Mar 1963
p. 4.
Variety
20 Mar 1963
p. 62.
Variety
10 Apr 1963
p. 4.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Edward Muhl in Charge of Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set coord
Props
COSTUMES
Men's ward
Men's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main titles des
Titles asst
Titles asst
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst prod mgr
Asst to prod
Scr supv
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Philadelphia, 1960).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 1962
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 December 1962 at the Fox Wilshire Theater
New York opening: 14 February 1963
Production Date:
12 February--mid May 1962
Copyright Claimants:
Pakula-Mulligan Productions, Inc. Brentwood Productions, Inc.
Copyright Dates:
16 March 1963 16 March 1963
Copyright Numbers:
LP35477 LP35477
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
129-130
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
20267
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a small Alabama town in 1932, widowed lawyer Atticus Finch strives to create an atmosphere free from hatred and prejudice for his two children, six-year-old Scout, a tomboy, and her ten-year-old brother, Jem. The youngsters lead a carefree life, racing about the town, jeering at eccentric Mrs. Dubose and frightening themselves and their new friend, six-year-old Dill Harris, with exaggerated stories about Arthur "Boo" Radley, a supposedly mentally handicapped neighbor whom they have never seen. When Atticus agrees to represent Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Violet Ewell, the children must defend themselves against the racist taunts of their classmates. Though Atticus is able to demonstrate Tom's innocence by forcing Mayella to admit that her father beat her when he found her making advances toward Tom, the all-white jury returns a verdict of guilty. Atticus tries to have the decision reversed, but before he can do so, Tom attempts to escape and is killed. In revenge against Atticus, Bob Ewell attacks Scout and Jem, but Boo, who has secretly watched over the children and has left gifts for them in a tree trunk, saves them by killing Ewell. Unwilling to expose Boo to any publicity, Sheriff Heck Tate concludes that Ewell fell on his own knife and decides that there will be no ... +


In a small Alabama town in 1932, widowed lawyer Atticus Finch strives to create an atmosphere free from hatred and prejudice for his two children, six-year-old Scout, a tomboy, and her ten-year-old brother, Jem. The youngsters lead a carefree life, racing about the town, jeering at eccentric Mrs. Dubose and frightening themselves and their new friend, six-year-old Dill Harris, with exaggerated stories about Arthur "Boo" Radley, a supposedly mentally handicapped neighbor whom they have never seen. When Atticus agrees to represent Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Violet Ewell, the children must defend themselves against the racist taunts of their classmates. Though Atticus is able to demonstrate Tom's innocence by forcing Mayella to admit that her father beat her when he found her making advances toward Tom, the all-white jury returns a verdict of guilty. Atticus tries to have the decision reversed, but before he can do so, Tom attempts to escape and is killed. In revenge against Atticus, Bob Ewell attacks Scout and Jem, but Boo, who has secretly watched over the children and has left gifts for them in a tree trunk, saves them by killing Ewell. Unwilling to expose Boo to any publicity, Sheriff Heck Tate concludes that Ewell fell on his own knife and decides that there will be no trial. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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