This year is the 50th anniversary of the release of the film “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
In the American Film Institute‘s polling to find the greatest hero in the movies, Atticus Finch finished first. Interesting that a class from Arlington, Virginia’s Washington-Lee High School found one of the best venues anywhere to watch the film to study it.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD ranks 25th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list of greatest American films, and AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest hero in this history of American film when it announced its AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list in 2003. AFI also recognized the film for its #1 ranking of Best Courtroom Dramas in AFI’s 10 Top 10 list and its #2 ranking on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers America’s Most Inspiring Films list, just behind IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. The film, which premiered in Los Angeles on Christmas day in 1962 and opened wide in 1963, was directed by Robert Mulligan and produced by Alan J. Pakula. [Screenplay was by the great Texas playwright Horton Foote.]
From the White House YouTube site:
President Obama hosted a film screening of To Kill a Mockingbird in the Family Theater at The White House to commemorate its 50th anniversary with guests including local students from Washington-Lee High School, Mary Badham Wilt, the actress who played Scout, and Veronique Peck, widow of Gregory Peck who played Atticus Finch. The President also acknowledged the American Film Institute for their commitment to the fine arts and NBC Universal and USA Network for their efforts to commemorate this important film.
What venues could one use in Dallas? Check with the Sixth Floor Museum, to see if their 7th floor facility is available. Check to see if there is a room available at the Earl Cabell Federal Building, or the George L. Allen Court building. The old, renovated Texas Theater on Jefferson Boulevard might cut a deal. Surely there is a room big enough at the Belo Mansion, the home of the Dallas Bar Association — if it’s not totally booked up for other events. With the Horton Foote connection, perhaps the Wyly Theater could find a rehearsal room to throw up a screen. Odds are pretty good you could get an attorney to come talk law and civil rights at any of those locations.
How could a teacher sneak a viewing of this movie into the curriculum? Isn’t it tragic that we have to sneak in great classics?
- The book; Wikipedia entry; buy it at Amazon.com
- Teachers assign the book in English, thank heaven; the student survival guide to To Kill a Mockingbird from Nancy Louis Rutherford at Belmont High School (Los Angeles?)
- Oh, you use this stuff only after you’ve read the book, right? Sparknotes on Mockingbird; here are the Cliffs Notes
- More study help at Shmoop.com (claims to be written by Ph.D. students at top universities — has a great “Why Should I Care?” section).
- National Endowment for the Arts Big Read pages on the book; see especially mapped out lesson plans for teachers