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To Kill a Mockingbird (Universal Legacy Series)
To Kill a Mockingbird
Universal Legacy Series
Actors: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy, Ruth White
Director: Robert Mulligan
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2005     2hr 9min

When a Southern white woman accuses a black man of rape, the outcome of the trial is a foregone conclusion and no lawyer except Atticus Finch will defend the accused. — Item Type: DVD Movie — Item Rating: NR — Street Date: 09...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy, Ruth White
Director: Robert Mulligan
Creators: Russell Harlan, Aaron Stell, Alan J. Pakula, Harper Lee, Horton Foote
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Classics, Family Life, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/06/2005
Original Release Date: 12/25/1962
Theatrical Release Date: 12/25/1962
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 9min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 37
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: Spanish, French
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Movie Reviews

Loving Treatment of A True American Classic
Bruce Kendall | Southern Pines, NC | 03/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Everyone who has ever taken high school English classes will no doubt be familiar with Harper Lee's time honored story. As is mentioned in the accompanying DVD, Fearfull Symmetry, it is second only to the Bible in the hearts and minds of U.S. readers. This is probably also the most often-shown film in said classrooms. No need to reshash the story-line, then. This DVD set offers an excellent transfer of the famed black and white cinematography of the prolific Russel Harlan. It's a real treat to hear from so many of the people who were involved in the production, from the producer, Alan J. Pakula, to the now grown actors who played Scout and Jim. The audience gains great insights into what made this film so special, not only to the legions of its admiring fans, but to everyone involved in creating it. We learn the scenes that Horton Foote, the screenwriter added from the book to advance character development (the scene showing Atticus putting Scout to bed and her questioning Jim about their mother as Atticus overhears them from the porch, was not in the book, for instance). We get to hear from Elmer Bernstein talk about the genesis of his unforgettable soundtrack. Due credit is also given to Stephen Frankfurt, for his highly creative and original title design, which sets the tone so beatifully for the rest of the film. There is no question that this is director Robert Mulligan's greatest film, nor that in his portrayal of Atticus Finch, Gregory Peck found the role most perfectly suited to his character and rock-solid persona. This is a film about integrity, essentially, and there is not a false moment in the film. This compilation should be included in any film collector's library. I hope it continues to be shown in English classes until time immemorial. It's message and its relevance to the human condition will never go out of style, one hopes. Major Praise to Universal Studios and to all those involved in assembling this perfect DVD special edition.BEK"
Exceptional extra feature documentary...
Charles W. Adams | Adel, Iowa USA | 03/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Like so many teachers, I've used the VHS version of "To Kill A Mockingbird" to teach the Elements of Literature to high school students. Today, the internet has a wealth of resources to assist teachers and students using this classic adaptation of Harper Lee's novel. The documentary, "Fearful Symmetry" produced in 1998 to be included on this DVD Collector's Edition, is great resource for teachers, students and all those who love and have been touched by "Mockingbird." The 130 minute documentary, written and directed Charles Kiselyak, both discusses how the film was made and it's general literary elements. The film is one of the most effectively edited documentaries I have seen, linking key scenes from "Mockingbird" with talking heads, still photos and black and white film taken in various localities across the south.The documentary narration, written by Charles Kiselyak and read with great emotion by Mary Williams, is literary and quite sophisticated. The talking heads include: screenwriter Horton Foote, director Robert Mulligan, producer Allan J. Pakula and composer Elmer Bernstein. Members of the cast appearing in the film: Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch), Phillip Alford (Jem), Mary Badham (Scout), Collin Wilcox (Maybella Ewell), Brock Peters (Tom Robinson) and Robert Duvall (Boo Radley).Director Charles Kiselyak with the help of Harper Lee was able to get three residents to discuss their lives in Monroeville, Alabama. A.B. Blass and Norman Barnett recall life in the small town during the depression, and Ida Gaillard, a retired high school teacher, brings an interesting perspective to what life was (may have been) like in the town Harper Lee used as the model for Maycomb.The literary and social significance of the "Mockingbird" are discussed by black attorney, Cleophis Thomas, Jr., and Claudia Durst Johnson, author of "Threatening Boundries."In the DVD's printed supplement, Charles Kiselyak indicates that while Harper Lee was not willing to appear in the documentary, she was very helpful in the production. She was thrilled with the director's plan to open the documentary with the first verse one of her favorite poems, William Blake's, "Tyger:"Tyger, Tyger burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immoral hand or eye, Could frame they fearful symmetry,Kiselyak's film discusses Lee's novel as both a way of life and a passage from innocence into experience and then back toward innocence -- "Fearful Symmetry.""Mockingbird" and it's DVD documentary will touch your soul."
An American classic classically rended in DVD
Michael Matthews | Kalamazoo, MI USA | 06/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The film, truly an American classic and, for my money, one of the 10 best American films ever made, is splendidly rendered here with a mint-condition print. The DVD also offers a superb mix of additional features, most especially the remarkable documentary on the film, "Fearful Symmetry," by Charles Kiselyak, and compelling yet unassuming commentary by the director, Robert Mulligan, and the producer, the late Alan J. Pakula. Besides interviews with Mulligan and Pakula, the documentary includes interviews with the actors who play the children, Mary Badham as Scout and Phillip Alford as Jem, as well as with the screen writer, Horton Foote, and the composer, Elmer Bernstein. The documentary also includes interviews with several residents of Monroeville, Ala., the real Macon, to round out a sense of "Macon" then and now.Among the revelations in the commentary is that production designer Henry Bumstead (Vertigo) masterfully recreated the children's neighborhood on the Universal backlot using houses that would have been demolished by the construction of a freeway. The main titles, by Stephen Frankfurt, with Bernstein's theme, manage brilliantly to capture not only the essense of the film but an essence of childhood, about which both Harper Lee's timeless only published novel and the film itself are very much about. Only later do we discover the nature of that blend of innocence and experience alluded to in the William Blake poem from which Kiselyak takes the title of his documentary. My only regret is that Harper Lee, though she helped Kiselyak in producing the documetnary, declined to be interviewed for it. In its stead, however, we have another evocation, that of Ms. Lee's voice in the rich tone of nostalgia and reminiscence with which Kiselyak infuses his own small but mighty masterpiece."
One Of The Greatest Films Ever To Reach The Screen! ... And
David Von Pein | Mooresville, Indiana; USA | 09/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""To Kill A Mockingbird" premiered in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day 1962. Those who were lucky enough to see this movie on the big screen that December 25th came out of the theater with another Yuletide gift of sorts -- they had just watched one of the finest motion pictures ever produced (IMHO).

There probably aren't enough glowing adjectives in the dictionary to describe the loveliness of this film. A truly fabulous piece of American cinema -- all the way through -- with a tender and bittersweet ending that always leaves one of those "trying to hold it back" lumps in the ol' throat.

The cast is ideal, with each actor seemingly molded for each of their individual roles. There's "Scout" (Mary Badham), "Jem" (Phillip Alford), "Dill" (John Megna), "Boo Radley" (Robert Duvall), and "Tom Robinson" (Brock Peters).

And "Atticus Finch" (Gregory Peck), one of the truly most memorable characters ever brought to the screen. And it's hard to think of how Mr. Peck's Academy Award-winning portrayal of that southern lawyer and father could have possibly been any better than we see it here. Peck always seems to have that "controlled" quality in his movie performances that are always a pleasure to watch. And never more so than as the low-key "Atticus" in this film. I doubt that it's possible to watch this movie and NOT admire the strength of character and unwillingness to stoop to such levels of vulgarity after Atticus is spat upon by "Bob Ewell". It's one of several scenes in the film that illustrates the type of man Atticus is, and the type of example he's setting for his young children. Some might be apt to call Atticus a coward in that scene. But they'd be wrong.

This film offers up many highly-memorable moments indeed --- Atticus sitting in front of the jail reading by the light of his living-room stand lamp. .... The mystery of Jem's ripped pants. .... Boo Radley's spooky house. .... Atticus impressing his children when he shoots the rabid dog. .... That old hollowed-out tree that keeps filling itself up with all kinds of cool stuff. .... "Stand up, your father's passing". .... Plus, that beautiful and stirring Elmer Bernstein music score. Utter magic.

There's also a good deal of humor residing in this screenplay. I always get a good healthy laugh when viewing the scene which has Dill drenching his dinner in syrup, to the shock and dismay of Scout ("Look, Atticus! He's gone and drown-ded his dinner in syrup and now he's pourin' it all over!"). A true LOL moment that's always good for at least two replays. :-)

And possibly the most memorable quote comes at the end of the film, when Atticus says to Scout: "Miss Jean Louise -- Mister Arthur Radley". With these few words, Scout's fears of "Boo" vanish forever. The dignity with which Atticus "introduces" Arthur ("Boo") to Scout is what makes this quote memorable for me.

Universal Studios Home Video, on September 6, 2005, issued a beautiful-looking new Two-Disc DVD version of "To Kill A Mockingbird", which comes with a bountiful helping of bonus supplements, as well as the very first "enhanced" (Anamorphic) Widescreen transfer of the film on DVD.

Packaged under its "Legacy Series" banner, this 2-Disc Set sparkles in virtually all respects, especially the video quality of this iconic black-and-white film. It looks very nearly perfect to my eyes. Very few distracting artifacts can be observed during the running of this 130-minute main feature (which is presented in its intended 1.85:1 Widescreen framing here). And the nighttime scenes are rendered in fine fashion, with next to no video annoyances visible at all. The film passes the "Freeze Frame" test as well -- i.e.: you can "pause"/"still" an image on screen in virtual perfect clarity, without the image blurring at all, which I usually take as a pretty good sign that what I'm seeing is a darn-good transfer of the material to DVD.

There's a choice of five separate audio options for the feature film on Disc 1 -- with one of the five being a Commentary Track with Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula, which was recorded for the first DVD edition of "TKAM" in 1998. Tragically, Pakula was killed in a freak auto accident in November of 1998, not too long after he recorded the commentary track for the DVD. He was 70 years old.

Other audio options for this two-disc edition include the original English Mono (in 2.0 Dolby Digital), a French 2.0 DD Mono track, and two newly-created multi-channel 5.1 Surround audio tracks (a Dolby Digital 5.1 plus a DTS 5.1). The DTS track isn't listed in the specs on the packaging, however. But it IS on here.

Audio tracks cannot be changed "on the fly" (as the saying goes) while watching the movie (unfortunately). You must go to the "Languages" Sub-Menu to switch the audio. To switch to the Commentary Track, you must access the "Bonus Features" Menu on Disc 1. There's no "Commentary" option available from the "Languages" Menu (for some reason).

Subtitle options: English, French, and Spanish. .... These subtitle choices are also ALL available when viewing any of the Bonus Features throughout this two-disc DVD set (including even the movie's trailer).

A bonus item that was originally scheduled to be a part of this set, but was ultimately not included, is a replica of Gregory Peck's "working script" (with handwritten notes by Peck). That bonus was evidently replaced by the 11 "Theatrical Poster Reproductions" that are included here. These poster art copies are very nice, being re-printed on high-quality paperboard stock, which have a glossy look to them. Included are a few USA poster copies, plus several from foreign nations, like Argentina, Japan, Italy, Poland, among others. The artwork's country of origin is printed on the back of each of these reproduction prints. A well-done extra bonus, IMO. (Although I would have loved to have had Mr. Peck's working TKAM script too. But, oh well.)

Also in the envelope with the 11 poster re-prints is a signed message from "To Kill A Mockingbird" author Harper Lee.

Let's have a look at the DVD Bonus Features.............

Disc 1:

> Gregory Peck's acceptance speech after he won the Oscar trophy as "Best Actor 1962" (the only Oscar statue he was ever to take home, amazingly enough). This vintage 1963 B&W video clip runs for 1:28.

> Excerpt from the "Academy Tribute To Gregory Peck", with Gregory's daughter Cecilia. This is a 10-minute bonus item.

> "American Film Institute Life Achievement Award" presented to Gregory Peck. Run Time: 10 minutes.

> "Scout Remembers", which is a 1999 NBC-TV interview with "Scout" herself (Mary Badham). This bonus runs 12 minutes. .... Mary Badham, for those who may not know it, is the sister of John Badham, who directed such motion pictures as "WarGames" (in 1983) and the enormously-popular and successful John Travolta film "Saturday Night Fever" (in 1977).

> The Original Theatrical Trailer for "To Kill A Mockingbird" (Length: 2:53). The trailer is in Full Frame (1.33:1) format. Excellent sound quality too. Video quality is lacking a bit, but it's not too bad.

> Production Notes. (Text screens only.)

The only thing missing here are the "Cast And Filmmaker" bio text pieces that were included on the '98 disc. Too bad, too, because those biography notes were quite good (and extensive), and covered several of the various TKAM players and execs.

Disc 2:

There are two first-rate documentaries on the second disc of this set. These two extra DVD programs amount to 3 hours and 7 minutes of added "Mockingbird" entertainment, pretty much the equivalent of two entire additional movies.

The Disc-Two programs are:

> "Fearful Symmetry: The Making Of 'To Kill A Mockingbird'" (90 minutes; B&W; Non-Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 Video; 2.0 DD Stereo Audio; 24 Chapter Stops). .... This is the same feature-length, behind-the-scenes documentary that was also included on the earlier DVD release of "To Kill A Mockingbird". Wonderful stuff here. Lots of interesting details about how this classic film got to the screen. Includes many on-camera comments by Gregory Peck. Produced in 1998.

-- And: --

> "A Conversation With Gregory Peck" (97 minutes; Color & B&W; Full Frame 1.33:1 Video; 2.0 DD Stereo Audio; 18 Chapter Stops). .... This sensational movie-length documentary was produced by Gregory Peck's daughter (Cecilia) in 1999. It is a very nicely-constructed presentation, with a good music score too, which delves in great depth into the personal side of the great Gregory Peck, who proves here that he was still more than capable of holding an audience's undivided attention at age 83.

This documentary could very easily have been called "Gregory Peck's Life: In His Own Words". It's quite literally a biography on the personal life and movie career of Mr. Peck. It's certainly one of the best "bio" pieces I've ever seen on the life of any actor.

This "docu-bio" contains video clips of many of Peck's films, plus old home movies, several talk-show clips featuring Gregory, and lots of other interesting stuff that help to give even more insight into the life of this amazing American actor (who was born in California on April 5, 1916).

Gregory Peck takes center stage during portions of the program (literally), as he talks and jokes with large audiences around the United States, and conducts various Q&A sessions.

There's lots of candid footage of Peck (and family) here too, including some impressive shots taken at Niagara Falls. And in Paris, too. And Ireland. And in Washington, D.C., as Gregory gets an award from then-President Bill Clinton.

Near the end of this thoroughly-engaging bio/"Conversation", we see proud granddaddy Gregory holding his just-born grandson (who was named "Harper", after TKAM author Harper Lee). The scenes of Little Harper will make you want to reach into your TV and scoop up this adorable munchkin. He's one of the cutest little tykes I've ever laid eyes on. It's no wonder Gregory looks so proud here. These tender scenes with Gregory and his new grandson add the perfect sweet and sentimental finishing touches to the whole documentary.

This "Conversation" bonus is a genuinely unique program. It was produced with an obvious large dose of love and affection by Mr. Peck's daughter (and all others who were involved in putting it together). After viewing it, you can't help but feel like you know (and admire) a man named Eldred Gregory Peck quite a bit better than you did just ninety-seven minutes earlier. And that might be the best compliment I can pay this very special and heart-warming documentary.

Mr. Peck passed away in June of 2003, four years after he filmed this program. He was 87. He will be missed forever by multiple generations of movie fans who loved his work in the cinema for many decades. His talent is one that we'll likely not run across again, until we reach heaven. But thank goodness for fabulous documentaries like this one, plus all of his cherished films as well, which enable fans to retouch the magic and greatness that will forever be associated with Mr. Gregory Peck.


The packaging for this "Legacy Series" edition has a very solid and collectible feel to it. It's a three-panel folding "Digipak" type of a case, which sports an attractive "leathery" texture on the outside of the case. Unfortunately, there's no outer slipcase box (sleeve) included here, which will probably displease some collectors who wish to display this set "face out". That'll pose a small problem, because the case always wants to "spring" back open (due to the lack of a restraining outer slipcase). An outer box would certainly have been useful, but even without one, this package stands out as a "classy" DVD item on the shelf.

Additional Packaging Note -- This "Mockingbird" set is not packaged the same as "The Sting" (another Universal 2-Disc Legacy set). "The Sting", which is also worthy of a purchase IMO, comes in a two-panel "book-like" pack, which "snaps" firmly closed on the outside -- just like the "Lawrence Of Arabia" 2-Disc Limited-Edition DVD release, which came out in April 2001.

For continuity sake, I would have preferred the "Sting" type of closeable Digipak for the TKAM release. The two sets would look better side-by-side if they'd been packed the same. But, no big deal really.

Both the "TKAM" and "Sting" Legacy versions lack any Chapter List inserts or paper enclosures (which is a bit of a debit). However, if you own the previously-released single-disc DVD "Collector's Edition" of "Mockingbird", I'd recommend hanging on to the excellent multi-page fold-out insert that came with that disc. It can be used with this new DVD set as well. It has a complete Chapter Selection listing for both the movie and the "Fearful Symmetry" documentary, and the chapter breaks are in the exact same spots on this newer Legacy version, with the same chapter titles used as well (39 total Scenes/Chapters for the Main Feature). There are also some interesting Production Notes and photographs printed on that 1998 TKAM insert.

Also -- Make sure to disregard the "Color" notation marked on the loose piece of paper on the back of the DVD case that lists this "Legacy" set's contents. The film is in B&W, not color. That's obviously just a misprint.


A Final Glowing Blurb.......

"To Kill A Mockingbird" is a masterpiece of personally-felt moods and memories. Who among us doesn't have at least one childhood memory that can be rekindled through the actions of Scout, Jem, or Dill? This is a motion picture you can watch again and again -- and each time take away something different when that incomparable final act fades to black (usually something that requires yet another hard swallow with which to combat that ever-present lump in the throat that this movie masterfully induces each and every time it's watched).

Any DVD collection of great American motion pictures is unquestionably incomplete if "To Kill A Mockingbird" does not occupy a prominent position on the shelf reserved for such magnificent movie treasures."