To Kill A Mockingbird

Clint turns 80 today.  A book dedicated to him as well as a special DVD just out to celebrate his life-long achievement.  There’s no shortage of Father’s Day gift ideas.  I understand though the man himself does not want any celebration on his birthday.  So to make his day, I’m not going to say anything more about him.

But there’s another birthday, or anniversary rather, that should be mentioned.  To Kill A Mockingbird turns 50 this year. Another good choice for Father’s Day, or any day really, and not just for fathers.  In recent years, as I see current events unfold, I truly feel this will make a marvellous gift for Law School graduates, or any graduate for that matter.   In this tumultuous time we’re in, where honor, justice, and nobility of character seem to become obsolete as quickly as the latest techno gadget, we all need a guidepost, a moral compass, ever more so.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of its publication, Harper Collins has published a special edition:

Harper Lee had based the story on her childhood experiences in her hometown Monroeville, Alabama.  Her understated storytelling of Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem of Maycomb had won readers’ hearts the world over.   Two children growing up learning the value of respect and justice, love and integrity from their father.  Theirs was a most trying of times when racism and the Depression joined hands to destroy any fragile decency still present in a poverty-stricken town in the deep south.

Strangely, the story of such a parochial setting had triggered universal resonance.  The novel has been translated into at least 40 languages, sold over 30 million copies.  It has gained the number one spot on the list of greatest novels of all time.  It is the choice of British librarians according to a poll conducted by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), in which librarians around UK were asked the question, “Which book should every adult read before they die?”  Just hope people don’t wait till then.

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To Kill A Mockingbird DVD, Universal Legacy Series


To complement the book, I highly recommend the DVD set of the Oscar-winning movie (1962).  Make sure it’s the Universal Legacy Series (2005).  This is a two-disc collection with loads of memorable special features. Here’s a list:

  • Academy Award Best Actor Acceptance Speech — Gregory Peck
  • American Film Institute Life Achievement Award — Gregory Peck
  • Daughter Cecilia Park’s heartwarming tribute to her father
  • Scout Remembers — An interview with Mary Badham, who talks about her experiences working with Gregory Peck
  • Fearful Symmetry: The Making of To Kill A Mockingbird
  • The documentary A Conversation With Gregory Peck, produced by Cecilia Peck.  Scenes with Lauren Bacall, Martin Scorsese, President Bill Clinton and the Peck family.  Most moving is ordinary people sharing how the movie had impacted them, in their career choice, parenting and life.

“All the children of the whole world must have wished they could have Gregory Peck as their father.  He was ours, and that was our blessing.  He really was a lot like Atticus Finch… The last page of his film script of To Kill A Mockingbird, he had scrawled these four words at the bottom: Fairness, Courage, Stubbornness, Love. And they remind me so much of him…”  — Cecilia Peck’s tribute to his father

“It’s difficult to separate the man from the character.”  — Mary Badham (Scout) reminisces on her experience working with Gregory Peck

“Making millions is not the whole ballgame.  Pride of workmanship is worth more, artistry is worth more.  The human imagination is a priceless resource.  The public is ready for the best you can give them.  It just maybe that you can make a buck, and at the same time encourage, foster, and commission work of quality and originality.”  — From Gregory Peck’s acceptance speech for American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award.

And if you think it’s all about Gregory Peck, well in a way it is.  I can’t think of anyone better to climb into the skin of Atticus and walk around in it.  The man is Atticus Finch, as his colleagues and family had testified. Gregory Peck received a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar for his role.  I must mention too that this is where Robert Duvall made his acting debut, without saying one single word, as Boo Radley.

The other good reason for this Legacy Series is the 11 Exclusive Reproductions of Original Theatrical Posters. They are printed in a handsome set of cards, each a tribute from the country it comes from: Australia, Belgium, Italy, Japan, Argentina…

And last but never the least, a note from Harper Lee herself about the actor playing a character that was a cinematic reflection of her own father.

“When he played Atticus Finch, he had played himself, and time has told all of us something more:  when he played himself, he touched the world.”   —  Harper Lee

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Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

8 thoughts on “To Kill A Mockingbird”

  1. Count me among the multitudes: To Kill a Mockingbird is a masterpiece in any genre, and one of my all-time faves. Scout, Atticus, Boo, and don’t forget Calpurnia.Indelible. Somewhere I read that the young visitor who tags along with Scout and Jem was based on Harper Lee’s childhood friend, Truman Capote. How about that?

    .
    ds,

    Yes, I read that somewhere too. Dill… Truman Capote. And I did want to mention Calpurnia, but somehow forgot. Thanks for reminding me. Atticus had her to thank to be a guidepost to his children. The DVD is an excellent visual tribute to Harper Lee’s excellent work. The special features are just invaluable.

    Arti

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  2. Shame shame, desculpa, I have never read it. I will now.

    The post is wonderful. The movie is wonderful. The story. The man, both Finch and Peck. What a good idea for a gift to a law student. I didn’t know about the British librarian advice.

    I saw a video of Peck with his family at their Italian (?) home, in the back yard. He was pouring wine, I think. I remember feeling, Could he really be this wonderful? That voice, height, presence. I feel so touched by him at this moment. His presence in films like Roman Holiday, Mockingbird, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, is beyond pleasure for me.

    The DVD set looks like a real winner, I would love it. Maybe I’ll suggest it for a birthday gift for myself this year.

    Someday I’ll tell you my Robert Duvall story. It would make a good blog post.

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    1. Actually, I did read TKAM in high school. Not quite so much shame, I guess.

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      Ruth,

      No need for desculpa (Just learned a new word) or shame… I’m sure many of us who’d read it did it in our student days. But this book needs to be reread often… I was glad to have read it before I had my child, and oh how it had inspired me in my later parenting years.

      You really should get hold of this DVD edition. The doc ‘A Conversation with GP’ is pure delight. I was moved to see people share how GP and TKAM had influenced their lives. One woman came all the way from the UK, using her life saving, just to attend that event. Another man saw TKAM in his teens and had such admiration for Atticus that he decided to become a lawyer. Now on the wall of his law office he had a first edition of the TKAM movie poster. He’d even named his son Atticus. You must see these special features Ruth… and it’s not only about TKAM, but the rich and deep impact the man has on everyone who has the privilege to come in contact with him. Yes, and we got to see him as a father and grandfather. Very human profile of a great man.

      Arti

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  3. Would you believe I’ve never read or seen this movie? I feel as though I always mean to, but wind up doing something else. You’ve piqued my curiosity 🙂
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    book then movie… you’ll enjoy them both.

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  4. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books. We have a copy of both the book and the movie at the law library where I work.

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    I’m so glad to hear that!

    A.

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  5. Do you know the wonderful story of Harper Lee throwing away this manuscript?

    She had gone to New York, blessed with some money and support from family and friends. She was working with Tay Hohoff of Lippincott.

    After five years of work, one night she just had HAD IT with the story. It was winter, and snowy. She opened the window and threw the whole thing out into the street. Then, she called Hohoff, who told her to get herself out into the street and pick it all up. Which she did, mostly. Luckily it wasn’t very windy.

    Can you imagine? Harper Lee that frustrated with To Kill A Mockingbird and actually tossing it? It’s just amazing.
    .
    Well… which writer doesn’t have her up’s and down’s, right? Glad she picked it up, and that was all she needed, just one manuscript.

    A.

    Like

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