The definitive adaptation of Harper Lee's textbook tale of justice and prejudice in America's Deep South stars a perfectly cast Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, the crusading Alabama lawyer who takes the case of a black man accused of rape. Tension runs high as Finch fights to sway the jury's life-or-death decision despite the threat to his reputation... and his children. While Peck was a shoo-in for the Best Actor Oscar, Robert Duvall makes a spookily memorable feature debut as furtive bogeyman Boo Radley.
Gregory Peck finally won a Best Actor Oscar, at the fifth time of being nominated, for his compassionate performance in this classic race-hate drama, directed by Robert Mulligan from Horton Foote's script (which won the film's other Oscar).
Peck gives a fine character reading of a lawyer and widowed father of two children, who has to defend a black man accused of raping a white girl in a Deep South town in the Thirties.
But it's the child actors who steal every scene in which they appear. Mary Badham, a nine-year-old who had never acted before, is truly charming as the tough little sister who tries to keep pace with her brother, but ends up having to wear a dress, however embarrassing it is to her.
This is still Peck's favourite film from a varied career.
Original author Harper Lee, who based the story on her own childhood experiences, was so pleased with his work that she gave him her father's pocket watch.