To Kill a Mockingbird is an American film that was released in 1962. It was distributed by Universal Pictures and directed by Robert Mulligan. The film is considered one of the greatest American films of all time. It earned a place on the National Film Registry in 1995. The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Harper Lee. The film is also the screen debut of legendary, Academy Award winning actor Robert Duvall.

The film takes place in Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s. Jem Finch (Phillip Alford) and his sister Jean Louise “Scout” Finch (Mary Badham) are the young protagonists in the movie. The story spans a period of three years in their lives. As the movie begins, they are innocent children. They have a carefree life of playing games. They also enjoy looking in on a neighbor named Arthur “Boo” Radley. He has not been seen by anybody in the neighborhood for a long time. Because of this, many rumors are spread about what might have happened to him. Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch, a role that defined his career. It also won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Atticus is a lawyer who believes that people should stand up for what they believe, turn the other cheek and be treated fairly. His children call him Atticus. Jem and Scout slowly learn about the racism in their town through the work of their father. This causes them to mature much faster than they would have in a more normal environment.

Atticus allows his children to watch a rape trial. He wants them to be exposed to the harsh realities of life. Tom Robinson, a black man, is found guilty of raping a white woman named Mayella Ewell. However, he is innocent of the crime. He is found guilty even though there is a large amount of evidence that shows he didn’t do it. Atticus argues that Tom’s left arm is crippled. In order to commit the rape, the rapist would have required extensive use of his left arm for the rape to be carried out as the victim and her father described. Atticus also mentions that the girl was never checked out by a physician for any signs that a rape was committed. Atticus makes an emotional plea for the jury to forget whatever racial prejudices they might have. He asks them to only focus on the evidence that he has presented. However, Tom takes the stand in his own defense. He makes the mistake of revealing that he felt sympathy for the girl because of her circumstances.

Atticus later learns that Tom was killed while he was trying to escape from jail. Atticus makes many enemies in the town for his defending of a black man. Things go back to normal after a few months. On their way home one night, Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout. He is the father of the girl that was raped. He is also the rapist. Bob Ewell attempts to stab Scout. However, she is saved by the costume she is wearing. Jem gets knocked out during the fight. Suddenly, a person appears and kills Bob Ewell. The man is revealed to be Arthur “Boo” Radley. We find out that Arthur has been secretly watching out for Jem and Scout’s safety. He was doing this because they had never made fun of him. The story closes with Scout thinking about the previous three years from Boo’s perspective. Atticus watches Jem as he sleeps.

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Travis Paulson is a freelance writer who focuses on Criminal Defense law, personal injury, politics, legal reform, legal philosophy and other related topics.