“To Kill a Mockingbird” is the first black film to be shown at the Pantages

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is the first black film to be shown at the Pantages

Review: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ arrives at the Hollywood Pantages with troubling timeliness

What follows is the first real public showing of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the story of a black man wrongfully accused of rape who is acquitted by his fellow Southern townspeople, a scene that has haunted this nation at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement.

The film’s box office performance last year has the Hollywood Pantages in a tizzy. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which cost $14 million to make in 1954, is on the agenda for the Pantages’ Dec. 11 premiere.

In addition, the film’s director, Robert Mulligan, who died in 2008, has been added to the list of Hollywood’s most influential directors.

For an American studio that has built its reputation on the support that it gives to African-American voices, it was surprising to see “To Kill a Mockingbird” take center stage at the Pantages in late December. The film had previously played to mostly empty theaters and critics were not pleased with the movie’s timing.

“It was the best year ever for African-American films,” said Bill Carter, a film critic for The Boston Herald. “There were four or five films that were better than Mockingbird, and every black filmmaker seemed to be in there.”

The film’s history as a box office hit is not an important point, Carter said, but the timing of the movie is. “To Kill A Mockingbird” was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director.

A “Mockingbird” review in the New York Times by Vincent Canby in his “The Season in Film” column has a pointed point to make.

“‘The greatest civil rights film we have ever had is Mockingbird,” he wrote. “When you see it, at least watch it, with a sense of historical context, with

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