To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Harper Lee’s novel became a beloved film for many reasons including the acting, the subject matter, and Elmer Bernstein’s perfect musical score.

What (for decades) was thought to have been Harper Lee’s only novel was brought to the screen accurately and elegantly. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is the perfect father (and lawyer) we can only dream of having in our life. Elmer Bernstein’s beautiful soundtrack (listen to the theme here) captures both the underlying sadness of the story and the empathy we have for the characters. Some people forget that this was also Robert Duvall’s first movie.

This clip shows the penultimate scene in the courtroom where Atticus stands between Tom Robinson and his accuser, Mayella Ewell.

The controversy surrounding the sequel (or was it a first draft?) of the book — published just a year before Lee’s death — will doubtless be the topic of debate for years to come.

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