Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I'm beginning To Kill a Mockingbird with my Sophomores this week and thought I would do some research on the film starring Gregory Peck. If you've never read the novel by Harper Lee, you must put it on your list. It is an amazing, timeless story that teaches us about tolerance. Lee only wrote one novel, and some even questioned whether she actually wrote it or not (her best friend was Truman Capote and it was rumored he penned it for her). She didn't even want to be involved in writing the screenplay for the film version that came out 2 years after the novel, in 1962.
Here are some facts about the film. Enjoy your Wednesday friends!
--Although Gregory Peck's inspirational performance as Atticus Finch turned out to be a perfect highlight to his long career, Rock Hudson was actually the studio's first choice for the role. James Stewart was also offered the part, but told the producers he believed the script was "too liberal", and feared the film would be controversial.
--The courtroom is a recreation of the interior of the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee's hometown. Prior to filming, production designers traveled to Monroeville, took photographs and measurements, and created a near duplicate on soundstages at Universal Studios.
--The watch used in the film was a prop, but Harper Lee gave Gregory Peck her father's watch after the film was completed because he reminded her so much of him.
--Phillip Alford told his mother that he did not want to go to the auditions for the part of Jem Finch but when his mother told him he would miss half a day of school, he immediately decided to go to them.
--Brock Peters started to cry while shooting the testifying scene, without rehearsing it this way, and Gregory Peck said that he had to look past him, instead of looking him in the eye, without choking up himself.
--It has been reported that this film was Gregory Peck's favorite work.
--The first scene that Gregory Peck shot showed him returning home from his character's law office while his children ran to greet him. Harper Lee was a guest on the set that day, and Peck noticed her crying after the scene was filmed. "Why are you crying?" Peck asked. Peck had looked just like her late father, the model for Atticus, Lee explained; Peck even had a little round pot belly like her father's. "That's not a pot belly, Harper," Peck told her, "That's great acting."
--Mary Badham (Scout) and Gregory Peck (Atticus) became close during filming and kept in contact for the rest of his life. He always called her Scout.
--The character of Dill is purportedly based upon Truman Capote, who had been a childhood friend of Harper Lee when he was sent to live with relatives in Lee's hometown each summer. Truman Capote, in turn, based one of his characters in his literary work "Other Voices, Other Rooms" upon his recollection of Harper Lee.
--Robert Duvall stayed out of the sun for six weeks and dyed his hair blond for the role of Boo Radley who, according to the story, spent much of his life as a recluse. The character of Arthur "Boo" Radley is based in part on Harper's Lee's recollection of Alfred "Son" Bouleware," who lived with his parents in a dilapidated, mostly boarded up house just a few doors away from the Lee home. He was kept secluded in the house by his father, following a vandalism incident in which young Alfred was involved. Described in the book and in the movie as leaving the house only at night because the sun hurt his eyes, this would indicate that Boo Radley was a person of Albinism (lack of pigment in the skin, in the hair, and in the irises of the eyes.)
--Robert Duvall's first movie.
--Mary Badham became the youngest girl to receive an Oscar nomination, ironically losing the award to another child actress, Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker (1962).
--Gregory Peck's 9 minute summation speech was nailed in one take.
Posted at 8:11 AM