I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a classic film screening as I was for this weekend’s screening of To Kill a Mockingbird. This wasn’t going to be just an ordinary Saturday matinée. This was going to be very special because Mary Badham herself was going to be making an appearance to introduce the movie, sign autographs, and do a Q&A session. I think I found out about this early in December and I’d had my fingers crossed ever since then that this wouldn’t be on the same weekend that Detroit gets hit with a huge blizzard. Luckily, there was no inclement weather to get in the way!
My mom and I were expecting a big crowd, but we were still impressed by just how packed it was! Usually, when we get there, there might be a little bit of a line at the box office, but you get through it in just a few minutes. Today, the line was starting to wrap around the building. Just as we got in line, a guy came up to us and asked if we already had tickets. We said no, and he offered to give us tickets for free because he had ordered his tickets in advance and two people in his group ended up not being able to make it! (Sir, you are probably not reading this, but you are awesome and thank you!) So we thanked him and went right on in and got in the line to meet Mary and get an autograph. Mary seemed to be having a wonderful time and was very friendly and chatty with everybody. My mom had her sign one of the poster cards that came with her To Kill a Mockingbird DVD and I got a picture with her.
The movie itself was wonderful, as always. The print they showed was absolutely beautiful. During intermission, Mary answered some questions from the audience. I personally couldn’t think of anything good to ask her, but it was a joy to listen to her answer questions from other people. We got to hear about movie related things like auditioning for the part of Scout and attending the Academy Awards as well as more personal things such as her first encounter with racism and her thoughts on the recent controversy over removing the “N” word from printings of Huckleberry Finn and if she’s concerned about something similar happening to Mockingbird.
I have absolutely no idea just how many people were at the screening I was at. The Redford usually plays movies on Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, and Saturday nights. Mary was there for all three screenings and they announced that about 800 people were at the Friday night showing, which is about half of their capacity. The one I was at sure seemed more than half full and I’m sure the Saturday night screening was just as busy, if not more so. This whole afternoon just reinforced my theory that The Redford is the best movie bargain in Detroit. Tickets for this event were only $5. You’re hard pressed to go see any movie in a theater for $5 anymore, and that doesn’t include an introduction and a Q&A session with the movie’s star.