To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
AFI 100 Years… 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ranking: #25
The Finches are easily my favorite literary family. Atticus is a great role model and a keen observer of human nature. He speaks to his children as if they were adults, and treats them with great respect. In addition to being a patient father, he’s also a skilled orator. His closing argument to the jury was beautifully impassioned, but sadly he was ahead of his time. Played to perfection by Gregory Peck, Atticus Finch moves through the world burdened with the weariness, yet innate confidence, of knowing that he is doing the right thing – in fact, he never even considers any other option. The scene where everyone in the balcony stands at attention as Atticus leaves the courtroom is very moving, but my favorite Atticus Finch moment is when he brings his own lamp to the jail to stand watch outside of Tom’s cell. There’s just something so endearing, amusing (where did he even plug it in?), and attractive about someone so resolutely standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
“What kind of man are you?” snarls the racist instigator as Atticus calmly walks away. I think we all know the answer to that…
Jem is the stubbornly loyal protector and ring leader. His is a poignant coming-of-age story, as he slowly realizes that the hatred and ugliness in the world can be just as scary (if not more so) as the imaginary monsters of childhood and the spooky sounds of the wind howling in the bushes. Speaking of scary, this movie had some quality moments, between the shadows on the Radley porch and Scout getting trapped in her ham costume and only able to see snippets of the fight through a tiny peephole. Or perhaps it was less traumatizing for her that way? Anyhow, my favorite Jem moment: the look of admiration on his face when Atticus shoots the rabid dog with perfect aim – you can tell how much of a hero Atticus is to him, despite Jem’s protestations.
As for Scout, since I first read To Kill A Mockingbird in grade school, and was a bit of a tomboy myself, she was always closest to my heart. She had the raddest nickname, and an innocent curiosity and poetic sagacity beyond her years. I totally got her defiant-yet-caring attitude and her blind devotion to her older brother. And that fact that they both called their father by his first name just made them that much cooler in my young eyes 🙂 Scout definitely saved the day by deflating an angry lynch mob with kindness, directness, and intimacy. Actress Mary Badham did a wonderful job of capturing that confused awkwardness of a child in the midst in a very adult situation, where you know something big is happening, but you’re not quite sure what it is. My favorite Scout moment – her sheer misery at having to wear a dress (shudder!) on the first day of school.
- Poor Tom Robinson was doomed from the start (despite Atticus’ best efforts). Tom was indeed granted the right to a trial, but that jury was certainly NOT made up of his peers. None of those white men perceived Tom as an equal; they were so befuddled by the fact that someone like him could feel sorry for a white woman.
- Who made Scout’s ham costume? Was it Calpurnia? That thing looked heavy duty!
- All of the names in this book are great. Calpurnia. Boo Radley. Scout. Dill. Heck Tate. Atticus Finch. What a joy to read 🙂
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.
Atticus Finch in a glass – southern, sensible, and steadfast. From Serious Eats.
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3-4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- a few drops of water
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- 1 tsp absinthe
- garnish: lemon peel
Muddle sugar, bitters, and water in a mixing glass until sugar is dissolved. Stir with ice and rye. Strain into an absinthe-rinsed coupe glass and add garnish. I’ve also been lucky enough to experience a fun version where the bitters and absinthe are frozen into a giant ice cube, which then melts and slowly changes the flavor profile of your drink as you sip it. Definitely something to play around with!
Treasure Trove (Bijou)
Reminiscent of the sweetly innocent opening title of the film, showing all those scattered childhood trinkets that hold so much meaning and worth for their owner. From Serious Eats.
- 1 oz London dry gin
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 1 oz yellow chartreuse
- 1 dash orange bitters
- garnish: lemon peel
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and add garnish. For a more modern version, adjust to 1 & 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth, and 1/2 oz chartreuse, although I preferred the original.
Just what’s called ‘fer during those swelterin’ Maycomb summers.
- 1 oz gin
- 2 oz cucumber juice (blend cucumber chunks and strain)
- 1 tsp finely chopped dill
- 1 tsp agave syrup
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- soda water
- garnish: 1 paper-thin, lengthwise slice of European cucumber, 1 dill sprig
Press the cucumber slice against the inside of a highball glass and add ice. Muddle the dill, agave, lemon, and lime in an empty cocktail shaker. Shake with ice, gin, and cucumber juice. Strain into the prepared glass and top with soda water.
Bonus! Tequila Mockingbird
I found two different versions of this drink and they both sound like delicious summer treats. Will definitely try them both out once it gets warmer. Also, how cool is this menu from a New Zealand bar named after Atticus Finch himself? A lot of good inspiration to be found there!
Tequila Mockingbird #1, from The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich.
- 2 oz silver tequila
- 1/2 oz white creme de menthe
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a coupe glass.
Tequila Mockingbird #2, from Liquor.com.
- 1 jalapeno pepper slice
- 2 oz patron silver tequila
- 1 & 1/2 oz watermelon basil puree (blend 2 cups chopped watermelon and 8 basil leaves)
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 3/4 oz agave syrup (half agave nectar and half hot water)
Muddle the jalapeno in an empty cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and remaining ingredients. Strain into an old fashioned glass with fresh ice.