Atticus Finch will always be the man who exemplifies American standards. Not only is he an example of the fairness of Our Constitution, but he is also a man of intellect, principle, integrity, and humility. The scene in which he tells Scout that if he didn’t represent Tom Robinson he couldn’t hold his head up in his community again or ever be able to tell Jem or her what to do again speaks to the purity and reason of his moral character. My favorite parable is from Rabbi Hillel (paraphrased) If not me, who? If not now, when? Atticus Finch is the ‘living, breathing’ model for that parable.
I never read the book, but I have seen the movie countless times. I own it on DVD and everyone who knows me, is aware that it is my all time favorite movie. I always cry in the scenes where Tom recounts his recollection of events on the day of the beating and rape, as well as when the Pastor says ‘Miss Jean Louise, stand up your father is passing by’. The latter of the two events speaks to Atticus Finch’s integrity in upholding the law and his deep-rooted belief in Tom Robinson’s innocence based on the facts, and not racial prejudice.
Gregory Peck was and will always be Atticus Finch. No one else could have ‘taken on’ that role. Mr. Peck was a superb actor. If his career legacy is to be defined by one particular role, I cannot imagine that Mr. Peck would not be honored to have it be that of Atticus Finch. FYI- I also feel that Mr. Peck’s role as Mr. Green in ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ also speaks to his personal integrity. It has been my great pleasure to watch every movie in which he garnered a roll. Mr. Peck, in my mind, is the quintessential American actor of all time.