To Kill a Mockingbird
Ranked 34 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest American Films, To Kill a Mockingbird
is quite simply one of the finest family-oriented dramas ever made. A beautiful and deeply affecting adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee, the film retains a timeless quality that transcends its historically dated subject matter (racism in the Depression-era South) and remains powerfully resonant in present-day America with its advocacy of tolerance, justice, integrity, and loving, responsible parenthood. It's tempting to call this an important "message" movie that should be required viewing for children and adults alike, but this riveting courtroom drama is anything but stodgy or pedantic. As Atticus Finch, the small-town Alabama lawyer and widower father of two, Gregory Peck gives one of his finest performances with his impassioned defense of a black man (Brock Peters) wrongfully accused of the rape and assault of a young white woman. While his children, Scout (Mary Badham) and Jem (Philip Alford), learn the realities of racial prejudice and irrational hatred, they also learn to overcome their fear of the unknown as personified by their mysterious, mostly unseen neighbor Boo Radley (Robert Duvall, in his brilliant, almost completely nonverbal screen debut). What emerges from this evocative, exquisitely filmed drama is a pure distillation of the themes of Harper Lee's enduring novel, a showcase for some of the finest American acting ever assembled in one film, and a rare quality of humanitarian artistry (including Horton Foote's splendid screenplay and Elmer Bernstein's outstanding score) that seems all but lost in the chaotic morass of modern cinema. --Jeff Shannon
Superior to Martin Scorsese's punishing 1991 remake, this 1962 thriller directed by J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone
) stars Robert Mitchum as a creepy ex-con angry at the attorney (Gregory Peck) whom he believes is responsible for his incarceration. After Mitchum makes clear his plans to harm Peck's family, a fascinating game of crisscrossing ethics and morality takes place. Where the more recent version seemed trapped in its explicitness, Thompson's film accomplishes a lot with a more economical and telling use of violence. The result is a richer character study with some Hitchcockian overtones regarding the nature of guilt. --Tom Keogh
An Academy Award winner and AFI Life Achievement Award recipient, Gregory Peck embodies all of the traits of a Hollywood leading man: distinguished, worldy and confident. Now, for the first time ever, 6 of his most memorable films are available together in The Gregory Peck Film Collection. See the beloved actor in some of his most daring roles in To Kill A Mockingbird, Cape Fear, Arabesque, Mirage, Captain Newman, M.D. and The World in His Arms. Featuring co-stars Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn, Walter Matthau and Robert Mitchum, The Gregory Peck Film Collection showcases one of the greatest actors of all time at his best.