One of the best American novels of all time (written by Harper Lee) was adapted into one of the best American family films ever made. Gregory Peck is just superb and won a well-deserved Oscar as Atticus Finch, the lawyer in 1930s Alabama who defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl.
As seen through the eyes of Atticus’s young daughter Scout (Badham, sister of WarGames director John), it’s as much about the lessons his children learn about courage and fairness as it is about the case and racism in the South.
Badham is natural and believable (she was nominated for an Oscar), and there is moving support from Phillip Alford as her older brother Jem and John Megna as their pal Dill (when Lee wrote the book, she modelled Dill on her childhood friend, Truman Capote).
Meanwhile, Robert Duvall, in his first big-screen role, makes a lasting impression as kids’ boogeyman Boo Radley, the neighbour who, according to Jem, is kept chained up by his father, ‘eats raw squirrels and all the cats he can catch… his teeth are yella and rotten. His eyes are popped. And he drools most of the time.’
Yes, there are moments that some children may find scary, and the film does have adult themes, but it’s essential, heartfelt viewing for everyone.
Is To Kill A Mockingbird suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This does have adult themes so is not suitable for children under 10. The rape is not strongly described.
There are some very intense moments as a mob tries to take a prisoner from jail so they can kill him. Also, the children are pursued by shadows when they are on the streets at night.
Viewers may be scared by Boo Radley.
Parents should also note the movie contains the racist word ‘n***er’.