50. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
This is another one of my favorite novels of all-time. I first read Harper Lee's stirring novel when I was in junior high school and, of course, I wanted to see the film version. The movie, like the book, left me awestruck. The story (based on Lee's childhood) is about southern lawyer Atticus Finch and his strong relationship with his children, son Jem and daughter Jean Louise (or Scout). Lee, in her novel, perfectly captures the childlike innocence that both Jem and Scout have when experiencing and witnessing the troubles in the southern town. Beautifully adapted for film by the late Horton Foote and charmingly directed by Robert Mulligan, the movie does not lose the feel and movement of the novel. It also has an amazing cast led by one of film history's best actors. It is such a great performance that it is not Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, it is Atticus Finch as played by Gregory Peck. Peck plays the part so well (winning an Academy Award for Best Actor in the process) that actor and role become one. Atticus becomes an extension of Peck. The supporting cast is also quite good including Mary Badham and Phillip Alford as Scout and Jem, respectively. There is also Brock Peters as the accused Tom Robinson, William Windom as the town prosecutor, Alice Ghostley as the children's dotty aunt and (in his film debut) Robert Duvall as the mysterious Boo Radley. This is a great film that deserves watching over and over again for those who have read the novel and even for those who have not.
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