When the American Film Institute held a survey to find American film's greatest hero, it was no great surprise that To Kill A Mockingbird's Atticus Finch romped to victory.
One of literature's most admirable characters before he belonged to the movies, Finch, as brought to life by Gregory Peck, is a walking embodiment of decency and courage. Indeed, such are Peck's dimensions and physiognomy, that when Finch is fighting for justice, you could be forgiven for thinking that Abraham Lincoln had walked out of a history book and straight into a law court.
As Finch is one of Hollywood's greatest champions, so To Kill A Mockingbird is one of America's true film triumphs. Its success is in part due to its source material - Harper Lee's best-selling novel tells a fierce story.
When a black man is charged with raping a white woman, Alabama lawyer Finch does the right thing and defends the lad. It's a decision that doesn't sit well with the locals who give Atticus every reason to quit. While his young family makes him vulnerable, Finch's determination to teach his children the difference between right and wrong makes him see the case through.
Winner of three Oscars, To Kill A Mockingbird is one of those films where all the elements came together perfectly. Besides hiring one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, producer Alan J Pakula secured an esteemed director, Robert Mulligan, gifted DP, Russell Harlan and acclaimed composer, Elmer Bernstein. Pakula also struck gold when it came to the supporting roles, and the cast here do much to carry the film - particularly a young unknown by the name of Robert Duvall.