Tag Archives: To Kill A Mockingbird

T.G.I.F. – Ten Tunes of Freedom

On this particular day I guess I could use the theme of racing or fast food or even the Beach Boys for TGIF since Richard Petty, Dave (Wendy’s) Thomas and Murry Wilson were all born on July 2nd.

But on July 2nd, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. That pretty much trumps everything else in my book. It’s astounding to realize that event was only forty-six years ago and not forty-six hundred; it’s also frightening to realize that despite those proclamations, we still live in a world of inequality and civil unrest in 2010.

Read about the legislation here…interesting to note that even in 1964 the Senators and Representatives from the Southern states were almost unanimously opposed to it. Think what you want to about LBJ, but he took it upon himself to honor the promise that had been initiated by John F Kennedy and get it done, even though that meant standing up against the coalition of his fellow Southerners.

For example, Senator (and former Ku Klux Klan member!) Robert Byrd, who ironically passed away this week, filibustered against the bill with a speech that lasted over 14 hours. You would think that would have killed him, but he was still representing West Virginia until his death last week. (Maybe he still is; they’re not the most progressive state in the Union).

But within the scope of today’s theme, I will wish Brock Peters a Happy Birthday. Among other roles, Peters is probably most famous for playing Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockingbird, a film I first watched in high school (after we read the Harper Lee novel, of course). It’s one of the most beloved American films in history and features Gregory Peck’s iconic performance as lawyer and über father-figure Atticus Finch. I saw the film for probably the twentieth time a couple of weeks ago; I’m certain more viewings lie ahead.

And in the spirit of this I give you ten tunes about  freedom and independence and equality…enjoy your July 4th weekend!

Peace...

(01) “This Land Is Your Land” (Pete Seeger with Bruce Springsteen)

(02) “People Got To Be Free” (The Rascals)

(03) “The Revolution Starts Now” (Steve Earle)

(04) “What’s Going On?” (Marvin Gaye)

(05) “Rednecks” (Randy Newman)

(06) “Imagine” (John Lennon)

(07) “People Get Ready” (Curtis Mayfield)

(08) “Get Together” (The Youngbloods)

(09) “Eve of Destruction” (Barry McGuire)

(10) “Abraham, Martin and John” (Dion)

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Foote, Finch and Mockingbird

We lost Horton Foote yesterday, at the ripe old age of 92; he was within 10 days of his 93rd birthday. A prolific playwright, Foote might be best known for his screenplay adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, for which he won the Academy Award. I found that Tess Harper’s quote seemed to be one of the most incisive when describing Foote ( “He was a quiet man who wrote quiet people”); she shared the screen with Robert Duvall in another of his classics, Tender Mercies. Duvall, of course, made his screen debut as the iconic neighbor Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird, having been suggested for the part by Foote after the two men worked together on a theatre production. Sadly, Mockingbird’s director Robert Mulligan recently passed away as well; his film credits include baseball flick Fear Strikes Out and coming-of-age classic Summer Of ’42.

"The defendant is not guilty - but somebody in this courtroom is..."

"The defendant is not guilty - but somebody in this courtroom is..."

Ironically, To Kill A Mockingbird aired on TCM the other night; it’s one of those movies that stops me from further channel-surfing and locks me in for the duration. I’ve read the book twice and have seen the film at least a dozen times since my childhood, and I agee with those who rank it high on the list of the best films ever made. Gregory Peck is pitch-perfect as lawyer and widower Atticus Finch, who (as one character describes him) was “born to do our unpleasant jobs for us”. Peck’s grim, silent determination is consistent whether he’s being called upon to dispatch a rabid dog with a single shot, guide his motherless children through their frustrations or stand alone against an angry town of racist rednecks when a black man is wrongly accused of a heinous crime.

His lesson to daughter Scout provides words we could all learn from. “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

Ain’t that the truth.

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