Science teacher Bertram T. Cates is arrested for teaching the theory of evolution to his class in the small town of Hillsboro. Under strong pressure from town officials and his friends to agree to discontinue such teaching, Cates refuses and the case goes to trial. The impending trial comes to the attention of big city newspaperman E.K. Hornbeck whose stories on it soon make the matter an event of national concern. Powerful interests on both sides engage the best possible counsel to present their cases. For the prosecution, the choice is Matthew Harrison Brady, a nationally prominent fundamentalist lawyer and for the defense, it is Henry Drummond, the nation’s leading criminal lawyer. The two wage a series of titanic courtroom struggles, but in the end it is not oratory and clear thinking, but local pragmatism that really decides the matter. —DVDverdict.com
Stanley Kramer made his reputation during the 1950s and 60s as one of the few producers and directors willing to tackle issues most studios sought to avoid, such as racism, the Holocaust and nuclear annihilation. He came to Hollywood an aspiring writer and hooked on with MGM, working first as a scenery mover and carpenter and then in their research department before spending three years there as an editor. He wrote for radio as well as for Columbia and Republic Studios for awhile, but it was as a strong-willed independent producer that Kramer would finally make his mark. Though his first feature (“So This Is New York”, 1948) flopped, he hit his stride with his next one, the intense and exciting anti-boxing pic “Champion” (1949), which propelled Kirk Douglas to stardom and launched Mark Robson’s career as an important director.
The series of commercially successful economy productions that followed, by turns prestigious and socially responsible and all scripted by “Champion” screenwriter… read more
As engaging and intense as courtroom dramas come, Kramer fictionalises the Scopes Monkey trial pitting the ideas of creationism against those of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Kramer was famously liberal but this one could still kick up a fuss. Cinematically speaking it works: from the fine performances down to the beads of sweat on the brows to the endless fan fanning it’s atmospheric and big on powerful speeches.
A sampling of high praise for this 1001-page biography.