“To Kill a Mockingbird” relates the Cult of Childhood to the Negro Problem with disastrous results. Before the intellectual confusion of the project is considered it should be noted that this is not much of a movie even by purely formal standards. Horton Foote’s script is a fuzzy digest of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer best-seller, while Robert Mulligan’s direction is slavishly faithful to the elliptical style of Miss Lee’s action sequences...
A guilelessly straightforward title sequence and a score that brings to mind youthful musical experimentation add further innocence to the film's mature overtones... With deceptively simple styling and a faithful screenplay by noted playwright Horton Foote, Mulligan succeeded in tastefully representing the inherent simplicity of Lee's acclaimed novel.
It's shrewd, how [Mulligan] makes the viewer adore this little girl. Note how, in cutaway shot, Scout isn't just looking up adoringly at her father, but adjusting her position in bed to be more comfortable. She's still a child; selfish impulses are constantly rerouting her behavior. Mulligan strengthens this impression with shots of Scout fighting in the schoolyard and running out of the kitchen to go to school.