Believe it or not, I somehow managed to go through school without having read To Kill a Mockingbird. Whether that means I’m under-read can be discussed elsewhere, but this means I had no idea of the plot going into the film adaptation of the book. I was under the impression it was a courtroom drama, with Gregory Peck’s character Atticus Finch as the central role. Turns out, that’s only half of the film; it’s mostly a childhood story of growing up in the south during the post-Depression years, told from the point of view of Atticus’ children, Scout and Jem.
As I mentioned before, the film comes in two segments, with the second sandwiched in between the other; the courtroom trial is the focal point for a good chunk of the second half of the film, before it concludes and goes back to the story of Scout and Jem. Suffice it to say, the courtroom segment was much more interesting than the childhood segment, and the two seemed to be at such a disconnect that it felt like two different films crashed together, and this is the result. Much has been made of Peck’s performance as the lawyer Atticus Finch (a role that would go on to be called the greatest hero character in all of film by the AFI). His deep, resonant voice eases you into a state of relaxation, and sharpens your posture when the man speaks in a position of authority. Still, with as good as Peck does do in the role, I really wasn’t convinced that, aside from the sheer power of his voice when he means it, that he had done enough to win the Academy Award, particularly since this was the year that he won it in place of Peter O’Toole’s performance in Lawrence of Arabia, which now that I have seen both I can say that I highly favored the latter.
Now, with all that I’ve said decrying the film, you may wonder why I’m giving it the rating I am. Well, to put it simply, it’s good. It’s well made, and entertaining throughout; for me, that the film’s courtroom scenes were far more entertaining than the childhood scenes shouldn’t take away from the entertainment value of the childhood scenes, which is there. As long as you know that you’ll be getting two condensed films for the price of one, and you know what two types of film this is going to be, I think you’ll walk away from this pretty satisfied. There’s a lot to like about it, and not a whole lot to hate about it, so that’s a winner to me, at least.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10