Let me get right to the point: The State Bar’s showing of To Kill a Mockingbird last Thursday was a blast and a half.
Sure, all of you folks who had seen it before maybe aren’t impressed. But for us newbies, it was a revelation. That Gregory Peck sure can scale the moral high ground—but do it like the everyday accomplishment it’s supposed to be.
The venue was well chosen, too. Pollack Tempe Cinemas kindly donated the use of their space. The theater was perfect, but the lobby—filled with loads of movie memorabilia and character statues—was a treat in itself. (I shot some photos like I do at many legal events, but I snapped some extras just because.)
I spoke with many people that night, including lawyers who had seen the movie before. Many of them talked about the movie as a watershed event in their decision to become a lawyer. Though I didn’t find anyone who had an “Atticus Finch” case experience, that didn’t dampen their ardor a whit.
I was reminded of the power of cinema when I read a news story today. In it, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor revealed how influential a “legal movie” was in her own life choices. (You can read the whole story here.)
My daughters (9 and 14) came with me to the theater to see To Kill a Mockingbird (Kathy couldn’t make it, because she had to teach a late ASU class). I wasn’t sure they would hold up after a full and busy day, followed by a serious (and black-and-white) movie. But they each hung on every word. I was pleased that they enjoyed the depiction of a moral dilemma.
(And how can you not love a movie that includes a neighbor character who tells a young girl why she should admire her dad: “He can make someone’s will so tight you can’t break it. You count your blessings.” Snap! That’s some kind of Hollywood writing!)
Of course, when my musings start to sound Atticus-like, it’s time to take a deep breath and get back to work.
The evening was focused on the movie, but there were some brief preliminary events: a door-prize raffle (presided over by Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch and State Bar Chief Communications Officer Rick DeBruhl); and a few short remarks.
The Chief told the lawyers in the audience that “Atticus does what lawyers do every day. And I think you’re all heroes. I thank you.” (She followed that with a few sentences that, frankly, should have been preceded by a spoiler alert. I’ll remember to cover my ears next time speeches precede a movie I haven’t seen.)
State Bar President Alan Bayham Jr. also praised the movie, known to be one of his favorites. The family man made special note of the movie’s depiction of the relationship between a father and his children. I’d agree; that’s a central part of the movie.
Congratulations to the joint hard work of the State Bar of Arizona and the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education that was required to pull this off (on the Bar side, a hat-tip goes to Rick DeBruhl and PR Specialist Patricia Giallanza). Bravo to all.
As I told Rick DeBruhl, it would be great if he could put together that kind of event all the time (good of me to recommend work for other people, eh?).
More pictures of the screening are at Arizona Attorney’s Facebook page here.