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To Kill A Mockingbird

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klondike

Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby klondike » April 8th, 2009, 10:05 am

charliechaplinfan wrote:It does sound fascinating, please post aftr every lesson. I wish I was 50, not that they'd run any classes like that around here.


Alison, having crossed my 50 mark half a decade ago, I'll give you one quick kernel of advice for when you do hit the old semi-century: use that year to plan the opening of your new decade, rather than closing out the old one.
Trust me, you'll be happier for it!
:wink:

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » April 14th, 2009, 3:16 pm

Well, week 3 of the series was focused on the literary concepts in To Kill A Mockingbird. The instructor used a lecture format while encouraging input from the class on several concepts. The beginning discussion asked about whether Harper Lee had a special reason for having the story narrated by Scout and could any of the other characters have been used in this role. We had suggestions of Jem being the narrator or even Calpurnia. It was pretty much agreed that Atticus probably wouldn't have been effetive in this role. One class member speculated what it would have looked like from Boo Radley's point of view. Overall, the concesus was that Scout was the perfect viewpoint for telling the story the way Ms. Lee wanted.

Other themes we discussed were the examples of masculinity and feminity and how they portrayed in the book. References to the Southern Gentleman role of some of the characters pointed out the need to keep the atmosphere of the "Old South" intertwined with the plot. The seperation of the women from anything that would be distressing to them, like serving on the jury, was discussed and it was noted that they had their own way of dealing with issues - such as the ladies tea.

We were asked about our favorite moments from the book. The instructor noted his by reading the passage of Atticus's summation speech to the jury. Many liked similar moments, such Heck Tate's front porch decision to stick firm to the "fact" that Bob Ewell fell on his knife and nothing would change his mind on this.

These favorite moments led to comparisons of the book and the movie. I know that many here cite the moment when Atticus is leaving the courtroom after the end of the trial and this was discussed. My favorite movie moment is the "Hey, Boo." moment when Scout comes to the realization the the stranger who saved her and Jem's lives was actually the mysterious subject of their past few summers. Next weeks class will cover this comparison more fully.

Tomorrow night, I will be attending a screening of the movie as part of a related class. It will be followed by a discussion the next week about the book, which may seem redundant, but if there are other people who didn't want to invest the 4 weeks of the Monday class, I expect to hear some tidbits that we may have overlooked. The day after this last class (the 23rd) has a touring company of To Kill A Mockingbird performing on stage at the local historic theater. I'm hoping to be able to attend that to compare and contrast a live stage drama to the film and the book.

I've started reading Mockingbird, a Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles Shields that was recommended in our first class and need to make a correction in my post from that first class. Ms. Lee's first name is spelled Nelle, which explains why she was afraid she would be called Nellie.

So far, this has been well worth the money it cost my daughter. :D
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » April 16th, 2009, 6:02 pm

Last night was a mixed blessing. We had a screening of To Kill A Mockingbird which started about 7 PM and didn't end until about 9:30. By the time I got home and turned on the TV, all I got to see was Joe shaking hands with Robert Osborne. Not to be deterred, I stayed up until midnight to see Lynn do her intro for She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. Sorry I couldn't wait for the outro, but my alarm was set for 4:40 AM to get up for work and I'm a big wuss about going to work as a zombie. It was good to see at least a glimpse of them. I got to see April's intro the night before, too.

As far as the screening, it was the first time I watched it in sepiatone. The edition the instructor had must have featured this version for nostalgic effect. Even the special features were done in sepiatone. I know that my disc is in black and white and the feature, Fearful Symmetry (The Making of To Kill A Mockingbird), is in color - where appropriate. The instructor showed part of the feature so the class could see Jem and Scout as they are now. The class then asked if they could see the entire piece in next week's follow-up discussion class along with comparing the book and the film. I may offer to let them use my copy to show - sepiatone works for the movie, but not so much for the extras.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » April 22nd, 2009, 3:18 pm

Well, Monday night we did our comparison of the book and the film. Much of the discussion focused on the reasons for the differences and whether they were done for shortening the time necessary or whether they had a cinematic function. We also studied some of the scenes for techniques in staging, lighting and camera angles. We speculated on other possibilities suggested by Harper Lee's written work and Horton Foote's script. One intriguing question was would Atticus have defended Bob Ewell if he had been charged with a serious crime and there was a question of his innocence? We also speculated what other African-American actress of the period could have portrayed Calpurnia if her part had been written in as more of a co-starring role instead of a supporting one. All in all, this series was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had for a while. Tonight, I will be sitting through another class comparing the book and film with less emphasis on the cinematic techniques. It will be the final one in this Life Enrichment Institute program and I am hoping that in the fall schedule that they are able to find another one of equal interest - maybe A Christmas Carol, that would be interesting.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby Ollie » April 22nd, 2009, 3:37 pm

Thanks for this on-going exploration. I continue to read with strong interest, and am wondering if attendee ages or the number of viewings/readings has divided the group.

That is, for people who've seen the film or read the book several times, if they tend to argue one side of the points while 'newbies' might argue the opposite side. Can you detect any 'split' like that?

Idly curious, as always. AND of course wonderfully envious and thankful you're writing about this.

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby mrsl » April 22nd, 2009, 4:44 pm

CharlieT:

I wonder if I would like seeing Mockingbird in the sepia tone. So much depends on the moody lighting, I can't imagine it being as provocative if not in black and white. I'm talking about the scenes outside of Ewell's house, Boo's house, and of course, in the forest. I guess if you're into the story enough, the color tones wouldn't matter.

Anne
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » April 22nd, 2009, 5:03 pm

To tell you the truth, Anne, I didn't even notice it once I got into the movie. It did provide a "mood" at the beginning, but it wasn't noticeable above the plot. To someone who has seen it as many times as I have, it is just a novelty of sorts. The power of the story overwhelms this kind of "movie magic".
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby mrsl » April 22nd, 2009, 5:17 pm

That's kind of what I thought. I too have seen it countless times, and am not done yet.

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby charliechaplinfan » April 23rd, 2009, 2:18 pm

klondike wrote:
charliechaplinfan wrote:It does sound fascinating, please post aftr every lesson. I wish I was 50, not that they'd run any classes like that around here.


Alison, having crossed my 50 mark half a decade ago, I'll give you one quick kernel of advice for when you do hit the old semi-century: use that year to plan the opening of your new decade, rather than closing out the old one.
Trust me, you'll be happier for it!
:wink:


I think that is very good advice. Always look to what you can do and enjoy the memories of what you have done.

I always thought that Scout was the narrator because she was Harper Lee, more importantly Atticus is seen through his daughter's eyes and Daddy's are very special to daughters (not trying to say that they aren't to little boys too, I idolised my father as a small girl in a way my brother never did) and he is the father of the town in some respects. Their moral barometer as much as he is Scout's.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » April 23rd, 2009, 3:02 pm

Some very astute observations, CCF. Of course, one of the reasons that Scout is the narrator is because of her innocence and lack of guile. This allows her to see some things that adults accept as the norm in an unbiased childlike simplicity. It's similar to the way she diffused the tense situation at the jail when the Old Sarum group confronted Atticus. By not seeming to be aware of what was going on, she was able to talk to Mr. Cunningham about things that made him realize that what they were doing just wasn't right.

Last night's class, the final one, had us watching Fearful Symmetry, the Making of To Kill A Mockingbird. This documentary gives insight into Monroeville, Alabama and how it might have affected Harper Lee in the way she portrayed the town of Maycomb and its inhabitants. Most of the discussion followed the same line as the previous classes, but there always seems to be one or two new ideas or observations that crop up.

I'm glad I got to do this and am looking forward to what the fall sessions might bring.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby Lzcutter » February 4th, 2012, 3:57 pm

As part of the recently released restoration of Mockingbird, Universal has been publicizing the film.

CNN talked with Gregory Peck's daughter, Cecilia and his on screen daughter, Mary Badham:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/03/showbiz/t ... pt=hp_abar

'Mockingbird' film at 50: Lessons on tolerance, justice, fatherhood hold true
By Katie McLaughlin, CNN
updated 1:12 PM EST, Fri February 3, 2012

(CNN) -- "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'."

One of the greatest lines in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird," as well as the film adaptation of the same name, was spoken by the Rev. Sykes as attorney Atticus Finch exited the fictional Maycomb, Alabama, courtroom.

Black spectators, relegated to the courthouse balcony, stood in solidarity with the courageous white lawyer who had defended Tom Robinson, an African-American man wrongly accused of rape in the 1930s Deep South. Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, Atticus' young daughter, watching from the so-called colored balcony, was prodded by the reverend to do the same.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is the story of single dad Atticus Finch and his family, as told from the standpoint of Scout. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the film phenomenon.

The title comes from the scene in which Atticus explains how when his father gave him a rifle as a boy, he told him that he could shoot blue jays, but it was a sin to kill a mockingbird because mockingbirds "don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat people's gardens, don't nest in the corncribs, they don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us."

The movie was released earlier this week as a special DVD/Blu-ray combo pack in honor of the 50th anniversary, and one of the extras is the film's trailer, in which actor Gregory Peck says, "The world never seems as fresh and wonderful, as comforting and terrifying, as good and evil as it does when seen through the eyes of a child."

Atticus Finch is one of the greatest fictional dads of all time, and in honor of the film's half-century mark, both his daughters spoke to CNN. That is, Peck's real life daughter, Cecilia Peck, and the actress who played Scout, Mary Badham.

By all accounts, Peck, who won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus, embodied his character's values on and off screen.

"He was an Atticus," Cecilia Peck said. "He really was that kind of father to me and my brothers. I believe that he was always very much like Atticus but I think that doing the film when we were very young made him become even more that way and I think as much as he put of himself into the role, Atticus became him, too."

Badham, who called Gregory Peck "Atticus," said her onscreen father "was such a great daddy. He was such a great role model and he was so much like my own father. When my own father died two years after I got married, Atticus stepped up. It was wonderful. I'd pick up the phone and he'd be on the other end, 'Whatcha doin', kiddo?' 'How're ya doin?' I'd visit with his family, which I still do. It was a great relationship."

Badham also said actor Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson in "To Kill a Mockingbird," served as a father figure as well.

"I kid people and say I had reverse Oreo daddies because I had my daddy and Gregory Peck and Brock Peters," said Badham.

Brock Peters and Gregory Peck remained close friends. When Peck died in 2003 at age 87, it was Peters who delivered the eulogy.

Cecilia Peck noted that her father was "so much like his characters in his films. I am so fortunate that he was just that kind of person. He had great integrity, he had great dignity, and he was a true humanitarian."

Cecilia said that "To Kill a Mockingbird" resonates as a family story and as a father/daughter story.

"It looks at that question of being a single parent and how you balance your parenting with your work life," she said, "it just speaks to people on so many levels."

Cecilia was the youngest of Gregory Peck's five children, and the only girl, "so he was very protective, he was very strict with me," she said. "He placed a lot of value on the importance of education. We all have college degrees -- I'm sure we would have anyway -- but education was highly valued in our house. He was strict but fair. He was so loving. Even though he was working so hard when we were growing up, he was always there at school for our sports events and our little school productions. We went on location with him as much as we could. We were a very close family."

Cecilia got to work with her father twice. She played his daughter in "The Portrait" and made a documentary about him called "A Conversation with Gregory Peck," which is included on the new Blu-ray 50th anniversary disc. Cecilia called it "a very personal film about him that probably expresses more eloquently my feelings about my father than I ever could in words."

Badham, who turns 60 this year and is now a mother and a grandmother, said that "To Kill a Mockingbird" "set the standard for how I wanted to parent. It serves as a model for how to live one's life. There are a lot of people who have done that. They've taken this book and this film and modeled their lives after it because it has all of life's lessons included in it that we just don't seem to have learned yet. It's one of the greatest books and movies in teaching about being a father, about what it is to be a family and what it is to be a community. It's just brilliant for that."

Cecilia, 53, was just a toddler when "Mockingbird" was filmed, but she said she has a few memories of Gregory Peck bringing her on-set.

"I remember being in his arms and dancing with him at the wrap party on the back lot of Universal Studios," she recalled. "I was a toddler so I don't remember the whole experience but I have a few images, and then I have lifelong friendships that came from that time -- with Mary Badham and also with Harper Lee. I was also very close to [producer] Alan Pakula and [director] Bob Mulligan for their whole lives as well as Brock Peters and [screenwriter] Horton Foote and really everyone who was part of it -- they were all like family."

Badham's hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, is 200 miles north of Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama -- the inspiration for Maycomb, the fictional town where "To Kill a Mockingbird" took place between 1932 and 1935. In the DVD commentary, director Mulligan (who passed away in 2008) noted that they didn't film on location in Monroeville because "the town no longer existed."

Mulligan had taken hundreds and hundreds of photographs down South so as to ensure he got the atmosphere, from houses to the plants in people's gardens, just right. The Universal Studios back lot consisted of a village of period buildings. An exact replica of the Monroeville courthouse was created. The houses -- including the Finch house -- were actually old Southern-style Pasadena bungalows that were being torn down to make way for a freeway.

"Mockingbird" was a prestigious assignment for the director because the book had been a best-seller, "but it was a best-seller with a moral, which Hollywood doesn't always like," said Raymond Foery, professor of film studies at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, who applauded the director for remaining "faithful to the tone of the book."

Badham had no acting experience when she was cast as Scout. She was 9 years old at the time but small for her age, which was fortunate because her character aged from 6 to 9 through the duration of the film. Mulligan said he was seeking Southern children to portray Atticus' son and daughter, Jem and Scout, and that he specifically did not wish to work with Hollywood actors because he believed they "lose their sense of childhood at around [age] 8."

Badham recalled a happy, fun-loving set that was "like playtime every day." She recalled fighting like real siblings with actor Phillip Alford, who played Jem.

"They'd let a lot of that stuff go because it made it more real when we were working together on film," said Badham. "They didn't interfere with those fights or anything."

On one occasion, Alford was spinning Badham in a tire and aimed her toward a utility truck off-camera. As a result, the famous scene where Scout rolls into town recluse Boo Radley's yard actually contains a stunt double.

"I survived, but after that they put a stunt double in, so you'll see me in the beginning and at the very end," Badham recalled.

Harper Lee often visited the set, and remains a close friend of Cecilia's.

"Harper became a confidante and adviser to me," Cecilia said. "When I was studying literature in college, I would call her to talk about books; and when my son was born, we named him Harper. She would come to read to him when he was a baby. It's a lifelong relationship."

Lee based the character of Dill Harris, Scout and Jem's partner-in-Boo-Radley-tormenting-crime, on her real-life childhood friend, Truman Capote.

In Mary McDonagh Murphy's documentary film, "Hey Boo: Harper Lee and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'," narrator Bob Mayer said "the movie amplified the novel and rode the wave of the civil rights movement."

At the time, Birmingham was the center of the civil rights battle. In 1961, just months before the film's release, activists known as Freedom Riders were hopping aboard buses in the North to challenge segregation in the Deep South. In spring 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led demonstrations in Birmingham that eventually led to the end of segregation in the United States.

Historian Diane McWhorter was a classmate of Mary Badham's. The entire fifth grade class attended a "To Kill a Mockingbird" screening upon the film's release.

In "Hey Boo," McWhorter recalled being upset that Atticus didn't get Tom Robinson off, because he was clearly innocent. But she noted that, because of her 1950s-1960s Deep South upbringing, she was "upset about being upset."

McWhorter thought that "by rooting for a black man, you were kind of betraying every principle that you had been raised to believe." McWhorter recalled thinking, "What would my father think if he saw me fighting back these tears when Tom Robinson gets shot?" because, at the time, "to be crying for a black man was so taboo." She recalled "confronting the difficulty that Southerners have in going against people that they love."

Racism was the norm in 1930s Alabama, where Atticus couldn't convince a jury to acquit Tom Robinson, and it remained prevalent in 1960s Alabama.

Cecilia Peck said "To Kill a Mockingbird" "resonates on so many levels. It deals with the issues of racial injustice in a way that enables a dialogue that's so important still today."

Badham noted in "Hey Boo" that racism, bigotry and ignorance haven't gone anywhere, and "this is not a black and white America, 1920s issue. These are issues that are global."

She said "To Kill a Mockingbird" "went a long way towards helping with the societal changes that we've been through since then."

The book that accompanies the DVD also includes several pages from Gregory Peck's "To Kill a Mockingbird" shooting script, including the actor's own notes and scribbles. On the very last page of the script, he simply wrote the words: fairness, stubbornness, courage, love.

Overall, Atticus taught his children fairness and the importance of accepting people from all walks of life. When Scout makes fun of her backwoods classmate, Walter Cunningham, for pouring syrup over his entire meal and expresses a curiosity over Boo Radley's rumored morbid ways, Atticus gently reminds her that "you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

This brings up two subtle but notable scenes from the film that hinge on the word "hey." In the scene where Atticus is standing guard outside Tom Robinson's jail cell, it is Scout who diffuses the situation by picking out Walter's father from among the lynch mob and asking him to tell Walter she said "hey." At the very end of the film, when Scout realizes the mysterious man who saved her and Jem's lives is Boo (Robert Duvall in his dialogue-less screen debut), she looks at him, and says "Hey Boo." In a way, the word "hey" is code for, "we're equal."

While Atticus was always straightforward with his kids, never mincing words, like any parent, he desperately wanted to keep them out of harm's way. Atticus' line to Jem after the boy encountered a drunken Bob Ewell sums it up perfectly:

"There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible."
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby mrsl » February 7th, 2012, 7:24 pm

.
I am waiting with baited breath for my mail tomorrow (Wed., 02/08/12), since my grand daughter told me my final Christmas gift will be arriving that day. We talked about 2 years ago about To Kill a Mockingbird and I told her then how much I loved the movie both from the plot, one of my favorite actors, the camera/lighting work, and the direction. Well my little sweetie apparently recalled that discussion and when she saw the ad for the 50th Anniversary edition, she ordered it for me. Unfortunately she didn't get her order in early enough for Dec. 25, but they told her after more were developed, it would be mailed ASAP. So now I'm waiting. . .
.
Anne


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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby Lzcutter » April 1st, 2012, 3:23 pm

Heads up, all Mockingbird fans!

This week on American Masters, the new 90 minute documentary, Hey Boo, Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird is premiering. According to the cable guide it is also known as Harper Lee, Hey Boo.

Either way, it should be worth watching.

Check your local PBS listings!
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby knitwit45 » April 2nd, 2012, 8:58 am

9pm CDT tonight in KC! YAYYYYY :lol: :lol:

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby Lzcutter » April 8th, 2012, 1:13 am

I just watched Hey, Boo- Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird on American Masters.

I absolutely loved Nelle Harper Lee's older sister, Alice. At 99 years old, Alice is a pistol! I want to be just like her if I get to age to 99!

I doubt it will come as any surprise that I cried at various parts of the documentary, especially when they showed clips from the films and had readings from the novel. At the end, Mary Badham (Scout) read the final passage and I was reaching for kleenex.

Quite the array of literary writers make their way across the screen but luckily, they all have interesting things to say.

I especially liked the couple that befriended Harper Lee when she moved from Monroeville up to New York City and provided her with the money to take a year off from her job as a reservation clerk so she could write. They were also friends of Truman Capote's but after Harper and Capote had a falling out, they've remained live long friends with her.

Everyone seemed to think that Harper Lee was Scout when, in fact, she was more like reclusive Boo Radley than we ever realized.

And I totally agree, "Hey Boo" may be two of the most powerful words written in literature. Ever.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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