Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1960. Stanley Kramer Productions. Screenplay by Nedrick Young, Harold Jacob Smith, based on the play by Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee. Cinematography by Ernest Laszlo. Produced by Stanley Kramer. Music by Ernest Gold. Production Design by Rudolph Sternad. Costume Design by Joe King. Film Editing by Frederic Knudtson. Academy Awards 1960. Golden Globe Awards 1960.
This riveting courtroom drama, based on the play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, is one of Stanley Kramer’s most impressive films. Inspired by the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925 in Tennessee, it stars Spencer Tracy as a defence lawyer assigned to the case of a schoolteacher being discharged for teaching Darwin’s theories in class. Darwin’s theory of evolution goes directly against the story of Creation as written in the Bible, thus creating a fury among residents in the town where the trial takes place. Fredric March is pure fire and brimstone as the fundamentalist preacher-like lawyer (and failed presidential candidate) who prosecutes the case, while Gene Kelly appears as a pessimistic reporter who makes sure to get all down in time for the evening edition. Though the writing and performances are incredibly obvious, blood will definitely boil before the show is out.