2010 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If you are unfamiliar with this classic, which won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize, read here, and the affiliated links. But basically, it’s about a young white girl named Scout, a/k/a Jean Louise – the “tomboy” narrator of the tale – growing up in a U.S. Southern town in the 1930s with her older brother Jem, whose lawyer-father Atticus Finch ends up defending a black man accused of raping a white woman, and the repercutions the trial has on all involved, indeed on the whole town. The case was almost certainly inspired by the Scottsboro Boys trials of the 1930s in Alabama, where nine black teenagers allegedly gang-raped two white women, a crime that never actually occurred.

The story is probably best known through the popular 1962 movie adaptation starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, Brock Peters as the accused, Tom Robinson, and Mary Badham as Scout , Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The film also featured a young Robert Duvall, in his film debut, as the mysterious and misunderstood Boo Radley, a role some have compared to his part in the 2010 film Get Low.

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost to the epic Lawrence of Arabia. It won three awards: Peck for Best Actor Award (his first Oscar win, fifth nomination); Horton Foote for Best Adapted Screenplay; and the team of Art Directors/Set Decorators. Hear one of the most famous speeches from the movie, as well as its musical theme from the Oscar-nominated score by Elmer Bernstein.

From Wikipedia: In 1995, the film was listed in the National Film Registry. It also ranks twenty-fifth on the American Film Institute’s 10th anniversary list of the greatest American movies of all time, and #1 on AFI’s list of best courtroom films. In 2003, AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.

Atticus Finch is considered not only one of America’s most beloved lawyers but also one of the greatest cinematic fathers.

Earlier this year, I got a chance to see a play adaptation of the story at Capital Rep in Albany. While not as strong as the movie – how could it be? – it was nonetheless enjoyable.

For the 50th anniversary, CBS Sunday Morning reported on the celebratory events taking place in Harper Lee’s hometown. Notably absent was the reclusive Ms. Lee herself, who never wrote another book because she felt it could never be as good as her first one.

An interesting dichotomy: To Kill A Mockingbird is taught all over the country – here’s a readers’ and teachers’ guide – but also one of the books most banned or challenged.

A marathon reading to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee’s classic novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – To Kill A Saturday – and raise funds for Literacy Volunteers of the Greater Capital Region will take place on Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Townsend Park Bakery LLC, 238 Washington Ave., Albany, NY. Rumor has it that I will be one of the readers.
***
And now for something completely different: Mockingbird – Carly Simon and James Taylor.


ABC Wednesday – Round 7

47 Responses to “M is for Mockingbird”

  • I’m ashamed to say I have neither read the book or seen the film, something I need to put right after reading your post.

  • LisaF says:

    Yes! A classic book and movie. John Grisham may have used the story as a basis for his book, “A Time to Kill,” which was made into a movie in 1996 with Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Samuel Jackson. While the man on trial didn’t commit the abuse, I think the end of the book/movie is eye-opening and speaks to the culture of that day. Thanks for your summary and commentary!

  • MorningAJ says:

    I really SHOULD read that book. I’ve meant to for a long time. (I’ve seen the film but always think a book is better)
    I think maybe I shall hunt out a copy and try to join in on November 6!

  • Great book, great movie and a great M post for the day! Brought back lots of memories! Thanks, Roger! Hope you have a great day!

    Sylvia

  • Carver says:

    I have read that book several times and what a great choice for the letter M. Very interesting and informative post.

  • Leo says:

    To Kill A Mockingbird, that book is my FAVORITE.. I loved it so much when I borrowed it from the library that I purchased it without further delay! A lovely story.. I think the book is better than the movie!

    Very nice choice for the M, Roger! :)

  • Bonjour dear Roger,
    Thanks so much for this review, I was without idea for reading and now I’m so curious about this book.I will search it in French here, I imagine it will be a great helper with my vocabulary!
    hugs
    Léia

  • photowannabe says:

    I need to read the book again. Sometimes when I had to read a book for school it didn’t make the impression on me it should have. Maybe it was a bit too harsh for my naive mind.

  • I love the book and the film. It was one of the few books I read as a child, and since getting into reading in a big way later, I read it again, and I’m sure I’ll do so again.

  • Very interesting and thorough post about the book, film & play. Too bad that Harper Lee only wrote one book. But I guess some authors only have one book.
    Loved listening to Carly Simon and James Taylor sing.
    Purrs,
    Sara Cat

    Sara Cat’s abcWED-round-7-M

  • Hildred says:

    Wonderful choice for M – a real classic that has been around our home for decades.

  • It’s a powerful book, one which I should read again!

  • Ann says:

    I saw the movie many years ago, but the reader that I am, I must confess that I never have read the book. I may have to correct that oversight this winter.

  • That’s the only full-length novel I’ve read more than once.

  • Tumblewords says:

    Marvelous M post! This book is incredibly fine-tuned and the movie does it justice (mostly). It is too bad she wrote no others, but at least she wrote one memorable novel.

  • Aksharaa says:

    Great choice Roger, for ‘M’.

    Made me want to go back and read this lovely classic once more….:)

    Maybe,I can manage to sometime soon…

  • Joy says:

    A powerful story, must admit only seen the film, its on my long list of books must read. I remember an amusing article written by a reporter who went to find Harper Lee but nobody would tell him where she lived or directed him elsewhere. He eventually tracked her down but of course to no avail.

  • Amy B says:

    Roger, This is one of my all time favorite reads. Congrats on being a reader and thanks for the video – I’ve never seen Carly so animated!

  • Jaquandor says:

    Read the book in high school (and watched the movie for class), and it made quite an impression. When I read the book again a year or so ago, it was shattering. I can’t believe how good it is.

  • Dimple says:

    Thanks for this review, this is one of many worthwhile books that I have yet to read. Now I at least have an idea what it is about!
    Thanks for visiting; I can’t tell you which of the mushrooms are edible, I don’t pick them either!

  • Barbara says:

    Such a great book – and film too for that matter. I read it years ago and now I want to get it off the shelf and read it again. Great choice for ‘M’.

  • Leslie says:

    The Grade 10 curriculum includes this marvel of literature and I have had the honour of helping kids work their way through it. Wonderful choice for today. :D

  • Such a wonderful book, and the movie was super, too. One of the first things my husband and I discovered we had in common. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read the book and seen the movie.
    Fifty years. How fast the years do fly.
    So glad you like Montreal, Roger. I saw it for the first time this year and loved it immediately. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Kay, Alberta

  • ann says:

    You are right about the pestle and mortar being phamacuetical. I always see a miniature set of white material in a chemist shop.

    The ones my mum used is made of rock.

    I don’t use mine because I don’t know how much of the rock/stone is hammered off and eaten. I remember my mum’s pestle getting shorter and shorter.

  • ann says:

    To kill a mocking bird was my literature text book when I was 15. In fact, I don’t think I really understood the book except for racial prejudiced.

    Couple of years ago, some journalist suggested that the book wasn’t written by Harper Lee. Based on his reasoning that Lee went into hibernation and never wrote another book again.

    I wrote 2 books, yet to be published. LOl, I understand how hard it is to write another. So I think I was very unfair for the journalist to spread that.

    Oh Yes, I thought at 16, that Gregory Peck was the most handsome man in the whole wide world. LOL

  • Great choice for the letter M. A memorable book.

  • Reader Wil says:

    Yes I read the book and I saw the movie with Gregory Peck. I found both awesome. The problem is that now I cannot see such a movie anymore, for I cannot bear the injustice of people and I feel very upset seeing or reading that innocent people are accused of crimes they didn’t do.
    The lawyer Atticus Finch was a hero indeed. I remember the scene where Atticus sat on the steps in front of the jail with a gun on his knees. He sat there all night, ready to defend the building against the mob that wanted to hang the accused,who was innocent.

  • Gattina says:

    I don’t know if I have read the book the French title is probably different, but I certainly have seen the movie.

  • Snow Leopard says:

    Never read the novel but watched the movie. The story is quite moving.

  • Lyn says:

    I haven’t read this book yet and I have to admit to not knowing what it was about. I’m going to add it to my ‘to read’ list. Great post Roger!

  • I don’t remember how old I was when I saw the movie, but I do remember being very moved by it, and by the performances of all the actors, too. A very memorable story. I haven’t read the book, but I probably should.

  • jabblog uk says:

    It’s a shocking story beautifully told and the film served to enhance its message. I loved both the book and the film.

  • RuneE says:

    It is nice to know that there are beloved attorneys ;-)
    Though I understand why this one would qualify.

  • I haven’t read this book but I heard it is really beautiful! Now you inspire me to look at this in our library. ^_^
    ABC Wednesday

  • Wanda says:

    I read the book in high school, and loved it. Saw the movie when it came out and loved Gregory Peck in it. Made sure all my children read the book and saw the movie…Truly a Classic. Thanks for the 50 year tribute.

  • pagan sphinx says:

    Great post on this amazing story. When the movie version happens by during my occasional cable surfing, I always watch at least a bit of it – or more. :-)

  • pagan sphinx says:

    Wait. You are a Jeopardy champ??? Wow! You’re my new blog hero! I’m a Jeopardy nerd from way back but I wouldn’t stand a chance if I actually WENT on the show. :-) Good for you.

  • Willa says:

    I love that book! I will never get tired of reading it and I refused to watch the movie eversion thinking that Hollywood is always good in ruining a story.

    Thanks for visiting my ABC Wednesday

  • Jingle says:

    I know this book,
    wise choice.

  • Jama says:

    I think I have read this book long time ago, perhaps it’s time to reread it, if I can find it in the library!

  • Rajesh says:

    Wonderful choice.

  • Nydia says:

    What a perfect choice, Roger! I read that book when I was 9 after pikcing it at mom’s bookshelf, and she almost fainted when found it in my hands, for the strong content, lol!

    A wonderful, heart-breaking story, so well written, that was always a must among my favorite books.

    Kisses!

  • jenny says:

    i hate this book!!!! stupidest book ever!!!!& movie :P

  • JENNY says:

    >:’(

  • Greetings! I’ve been reading your website for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent work!

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