Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Gregory Peck: I mentioned Brinkley last week. I had to wait until after the weekend to mention Peck. Why? I needed to see To Kill a Mockingbird again. That film has always seemed to be one of the few films that approaches true profundity so closely that it almost (almost) cannot be discussed well, even though some of the scenes are ambiguous. (For example: When Atticus is at the jail, negotiating with the lynch mob that has come for Tom Robinson, he tells the mob that he won't step aside. In the next shot, we see the scene from further away, as Scout, Jem, and Dill approach the scene, and we hear a couple of the men in the mob speaking to Atticus, though it's not clear what they're saying. As we track closer, we hear Atticus say something like, "Well ... that changes things considerably." Do you remember how it was written in the novel? Is he about to buckle until he is reinforced by the children?)

Peck is brilliant in the role of Atticus, particularly the way in which he underplays the conflict he obviously feels in taking an unpopular case in a very small town. See the scene in which the judge arrives to ask him to take up the defense. There are no obvious christ-like, rolling-eyes, let-this-cup-pass theatrics. But it is still very clear that Atticus is a reluctant counsel. Great understatement -- a lost craft.

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