The courthouse that was copied for this film still stands in Monroeville, Ala., and is now a museum dedicated to the book, this movie and the lives of Nelle Harper Lee and the people represented in this work. Additionally, the town of Monroeville (population 7,000) produces a community play based on the book, held on the grounds of the courthouse and inside the courtroom, every year. The play has received rave reviews - an achievement given that there are no trained actors in it - and has been performed by the Monroeville cast at The Kennedy Center and in Israel. Tickets typically sell out just a few hours after going on sale. The town contains several historic markers bearing information on Lee and Truman Capote. The courthouse is no longer used for actual court proceedings - much of it is not air-conditioned nor heated, a function of its old age. A new courthouse stands adjacent to it in the town's square.
Director Robert Mulligan and producer Alan J. Pakula traveled to Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville but found it unsuitable for filming. The town had been modernized. Therefore the production team constructed their own ideal version of Monroeville on a backlot at Universal. When Lee saw their recreation, she said it was perfect.
Although Gregory Peck's inspirational performance as Atticus Finch turned out to be a perfect highlight to his long career, Rock Hudson was actually the studio's first choice for the role. James Stewart was also offered the part, but told the producers he believed the script was "too liberal", and feared the film would be controversial.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #25 Greatest Movie of All Time. |