Two children begin to learn the ways of the world - and America's south in particular - as their father, lawyer Atticus Finch, defends a black man accused of raping a white woman.
Harper Lee's legendary novel was carefully, and unfussily translated to screen by Robert Mulligan who intelligently shares the emphasis between the children (debutants Mary Badham and Philip Alford) - the core of the novel - with their lawyer father, played gracefully by Gregory Peck.
As the million readers are well aware, the crux of Lee's story surrounds Peck defending Negro Brock Peters on a charge of rape, but alongside the examination of racism the film also manages to encompass the themes of childhood, poverty, love and an unsentimental look at the Deep South of the past that make the book so rich a tale. Overriding it all is the heart-warming mystery of local bogey man Boo Radley. Peck gives a career-best turn, but true to the source, is understated enough to let the kids shine. And shine they do, lighting up a wise, thoroughbred movie with an irresistible streak of youth. Harper Lee could ask no more.
A classic adaptation of an American classic. Storytelling doesn't get much better than this.