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Friday, April 29, 2011

T Is For...

T Is For...To Kill A Mockingbird

There was absolutely no way I could let this challenge go by without talking about my ultimate favorite book and the wonderful film it inspired. I fell in love with Mockingbird way back during my freshman year of high school. I don't think I can even begin to describe what this novel has meant to me over the years, but I will attempt to share my love with you.

Harper Lee's prose is exquisite, her words are so rich and vibrant to me that they are like a song in my head as I read. Every page is fluid, flowing like a stream, sometimes it meanders, at other times is a swift current drawing me along into the rapids. It is a story that has complex layers and great depth. It appears on the surface to be a simple story told from the memories of a young girl and indeed it is renowned for its warmth and humor. But, it has layers of shadow that haunt, dealing with the themes of rape and racial inequality.

Lee's characters are so rich and visceral that they leap from the pages straight into my mind's eye. Scout is so smart and sweet, Jem an incredible, but trying big brother. Then there is Atticus. Atticus Finch is my ideal hero. Although I love a good physical fight, to me an intelligent person who can wage war with words and conscientious actions is beyond compare. My favorite scenes are those where Atticus imparts life lessons to his children.

I cannot tell you how many copies I have gone through with my dog-earring, my margin notes and the multiple readings. Two years ago, my brother gave me a collector's edition boxed copy. It is my most prized gift ever, sitting on my shelf in a prominent place.

This post is getting really long so it is on with the film. I've lost count on how many times I have seen this movie. Robert Mulligan directed and Horton Foote wrote this Oscar-winning 1962 movie. Foote managed to capture the heart and spirit of the novel with his script, something rarely seen in adaptations while Mulligan's directorial vision and Russell Harlan's cinematography are a wonder to behold.

The incomparable Gregory Peck stars as Atticus Finch and to me, he truly does embody this amazing character. He is gentle, wise and strong. Peck became synonymous with this role and Atticus Finch was named as the greatest movie hero of all time by the American Film Institute in 2003. Peck was so taken with the story that he wrote this forward in the 1962 edition of the book. "The Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama reminds me of the California town I grew up in. The characters of the novel are like people I knew as a boy. I think perhaps the great appeal of the novel is that it reminds readers everywhere of a person or a town they have known. It is to me a universal story - moving, passionate and told with great humor and tenderness."

The rest of the cast are exceptional as well. Young Mary Badham is Scout and she absolutely captures the innocence, the attitude and the wonder of the book's heroine. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Philip Alford is brilliant as older brother Jem while Brock Peters as Henry Robinson is electrifying. His eyes and expressions go right through you. Not to mention Robert Duvall makes his big screen debut as the reclusive Boo Radley.

Here's a little taste of this magnificent film


  1. I read the book in high school. Have a great day!

  2. Haven't read the book.. and sadly, haven't seen the movie either..

  3. Great choice for T. I love both the movie and the book, always loved Gregory Peck.

  4. I remember the movie very well.
    Good use of the letter T.

    Thanks for the comment.
    Much appreciated,

  5. Excellent choice! Loved reading the book in high school and the film is terrific. I was considering it for my "T" as well. Glad you spotlighted it instead.

    Well-done, Mel!

  6. Titus, such a crazy name :) Shakespeare's TITUC ANDRONICUS is one of my favourite plays of his.

    I think I watched a later version of TO KILL A MOCKINBIRDG. It was the first thing we watched back when I was around 12 or 13 and our parents have bought us our first colour TV :)

  7. Hi Melissa. I'm glad I caught this entry as TKAM is one of my faves, too. I am currently teaching it to my students and do so every year. They start off hating the slowness of it, but eventually get caught up in the story.

    The courtroom scene with Atticus' closing argument (Gregory Peck, who was perfect in the role) is classed as one of the best of all time.

    I always link it to John Grisham's A Time To Kill and the closing argument in that is also exquisite - Matthew McConoghie this time.

    Thanks for your comments re my Y for Ypres. Hope you can get back for my finale.

    A - Z - Y

  8. Edward Gorey! Love his art! The man didn't like children, and it shows!

  9. @Summer Thank you! You have a great day as well.

    @Alex This is definitely a favorite movie of mine and I hope you get the chance to see it.

    @Nebular Sweetie, if you get the chance to see this movie, see it. I think you'd enjoy it very much and really appreciate Peck's performance.

  10. @Julie Hi and welcome!I'm glad you love my T choice, as well. I share your love of Gregory Peck. Such an amazing actor. He always got me with his dark eyes.

    @Yvonne I'm so happy you enjoyed my T post. This is definitely a fave film for me.

    @Matt Thank you so much! I saw you mention Mockingbird on your T post and I have to admit I'm glad you went with Terminator 2 so I could tie in my favorite book with one of my favorite movies.

  11. @Dez I love Titus Andronicus, too. One of Ol' Will's best. I love your story about seeing a version of Mockingbird. On your first color TV...That is such a cool memory. :)

    @Denise Wow, that is so great that your are able to share this book with your students.

    Atticus's closing argument is absolutely riveting and I never thought about it, but yes McConaughey's closing in A Time To Kill is just as powerful

    I will definitely be making stopping by your blog for the final post. I love the way you describe a place and share such interesting information.

    @Rebecca Hi and welcome! God do I love Gorey! And oh yeah you can certainly tell he did not like children. So glad you are and thank you for following.

  12. This is such a fabulous book I read this in high school as well. I haven't seen the film though. I just might have to.

  13. This, too, is my all-time favorite!!!

    I just found you at L'Aussie's and came over to meet you. I see you live in Chicago. I have passed through there many times from Utah and now from Virginia to see my younger sister in Naperville, who sadly passed away a year and a half ago. But I have nieces and nephews there, so one day I might pass through there again.
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

  14. I've read the book a few times but only seen the movie once.

    Love the Edward Gorey images you've been using!

  15. @Nicole I totally recommend the film. I think you'll really appreciate how true to the book it stayed and you'll love the performance of Gregory Peck. He is Atticus Finch.

    @Ann Hi and welcome! I'm so happy you stopped by from L'Aussie's wonderful blog. Naperville is not too far from me. I'm very sorry to learn of your sister. Mine are my best friends and I can't imagine what I'd do without them. If you ever come through Chicago again, you'll have a tour guide in me. Thank you so much for the follow and the comment. :)

    @Deniz I'm so glad you love the Gorey images. I couldn't resist using them when I signed on for the challenge.

  16. TKM deserves all the praise it's received over the year. A true classic from a very talented voice.

  17. @KC I could hardly agree more, my friend. Lee is amazing author who really created something special and what a legacy for her. As a woman and a writer, I am so proud.


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