Member Profile | FocusFeatures.com
Posted November 09, 2010 to photo album "Father-Daughter Movies"
Inspired by Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, resident film historian David Parkinson looks back over the history of films that focus on father-daughter relationships.
Slide 6: The Father of Justice - To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
In July 2010, as fans worldwide celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Oprah Winfrey proclaimed it “our national novel.” Robert Mulligan's screen adaptation is held in equally high regard, as its tale of a small-town lawyer defying his racist neighbours to defend a black man wrongly accused of rape in the Deep South of the 1930s did much to foster the 1960s campaign for Civil Rights. Yet, as Charles Shields reveals in Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, the author simply set out to pay tribute to her father, Amasa, who had practised law in Monroeville, Alabama, by writing “a love story from a daughter to a father, who was a great man in a small town and the model for Atticus.” Atticus Finch and six year-old Jean Louise – a tomboy who prefers to be known as Scout – are easily the most affecting father and daughter in American cinema. However, much of their appeal depended upon the casting. Having taken something of a gamble on a book whose languid drama and contentious racial themes had dissuaded many producers from bidding for the rights, Universal Studios wanted to offset the risk by casting their biggest box-office draw, Rock Hudson. However, having already drafted in Horton Foote to adapt the text, Mulligan and producer Alan J. Pakula insisted on Gregory Peck and he soon established an easy rapport with Mary Badham, a nine year-old first-time actress who had been spotted at a public audition in Birmingham, Alabama, and whose brother John would go on to direct such hits as Saturday Night Fever. As Badham later recalled about Peck: "He was so easy to work with and of course he, like most of the important people on that film, had small children at the time or had dealt with small children recently, so it was very easy for them to make it very easy for us to work.” Such was the success of the pairing that Badham earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, while Peck won the prize for Best Actor. But the award that meant the most to him came from Harper Lee herself, who declared the film a “work of art” and gave Peck her father's pocket watch because “there isn't anyone else who could play the part.”