01/25/04 — Professor to give insider view to 'Mockingbird' film

View Archive

Professor to give insider view to 'Mockingbird' film

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on January 25, 2004 2:01 AM

A Mount Olive College professor will give an insider's look Monday at the beloved movie adaptation of "To Kill A Mockingbird."

Geoff Weiss will lead the discussion, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium in the main building at Wayne Community College, Wayne Memorial Drive. The public is invited to the free event, which is being held in conjunction with "Wayne County Reads."

Weiss plans to show scenes from the 1962 film and talk about the movie's influences.

"It is an excellent adaptation of the novel," he said. "It's worth watching for Gregory Peck's part alone."

Peck won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. In 2003, the American Film Institute named the character the greatest film hero of all time.

The movie also won Oscars for art direction and best adapted screenplay. It was nominated for additional Academy Awards, including best picture; best supporting actress (Mary Badham as Scout); best cinematography; and best musical score.

The movie also was the screen debut of Robert Duvall, who portrayed Boo Radley, a role without any dialogue.

"It's interesting to see him act, showing everything through his body and face," Weiss said.

The movie was enthusiastically endorsed by "To Kill A Mockingbird" author Harper Lee, who said at the time, "I can only say that I am a happy author. They have made my story into a beautiful and moving motion picture. I am very proud and grateful."

In particular, she was pleased with Peck's performance. "There isn't anyone else who could play the part," she said. She gave Peck her father's prized pocket watch, which the actor carried with him to the Academy Awards as a good luck charm.

Peck earned four other Academy Award nominations as best actor for "Keys of
the Kingdom," "The Yearling," "Gentle-man's Agreement," and "Twelve O'Clock High," but "To Kill A Mockingbird" was his only win. Peck died last June.

Weiss is in his first year teaching film, American literature and writing at Mount Olive College. Previously, he taught at the University of Kentucky and Jefferson Community College in Louisville, Ky. He earned a doctorate in film studies at the University of Kentucky, for which he did a dissertation on the work of Clint Eastwood.