“Alleged” — a New Movie on the Scopes Trial

Clarence Darrow (Brian Dennehy) & William Jennings Bryan (Sen. Fred Thompson)

THIS appeared a couple of weeks ago at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), but we just learned of it. That source of young-earth creationist wisdom has this article: The Scopes Retrial. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

At last: a Hollywood film on the 1925 Scopes “monkey trial” that does not attack Christianity. Alleged, to be released in theaters soon, provides a counter to the anti-creationist play Inherit the Wind (1955) and its subsequent namesake films (1960 and after).

Here’s the movie’s website: Alleged. That’s where we got the picture you see above this post. Let’s read on:

Alleged stars a familiar face in Hollywood and on Broadway, the Tony Award-winning actor Brian Dennehy. He plays evolutionary attorney Clarence Darrow.

“Evolutionary attorney”? Okay, if AIG says so. We know nothing about Dennehy, but Fred Thompson plays the great creationist-populist blowhard, William Jennings Bryan. That should be fun. Thompson was a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, the site of the Scopes trial. We continue:

Producer and screenwriter Fred Foote told Answers magazine [an AIG publication] that, while the 55-year-old drama Inherit the Wind is well written, the actual court transcripts show how inaccurately the play and subsequent movies depicted the trial.

We have the trial transcript. We know for certain that in the movie where Spencer Tracy played Darrow, his examination of Bryan was extremely accurate. Here’s more:

Foote observes that even though he did not produce Alleged to be a direct rebuttal to Inherit the Wind, two thrusts of his film include showing how Darwinian beliefs can be used for nefarious purposes (e.g., to justify a purging of the human gene pool) and revealing how the major media delivered a distorted view of the trial in its attempt to attack biblical Christianity.

Even if those objections were true, they have no bearing on the scientific value of the theory of evolution — or on the insanity of a state’s banning it from being taught. Oops — Tennessee is Thompson’s state. Interesting casting.

The Scopes Trial was an important event, with fascinating real-life participants. Courtroom trials make great subjects for movies. If this one is an anti-science propaganda piece that celebrates Bryan’s creationism and demonizes Darwin — as this AIG article suggests — the usual creationist websites will be promoting it. If not, it may be worth a look.

Update: See Discoveroids Promote “Alleged,” a Movie to Avoid.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to ““Alleged” — a New Movie on the Scopes Trial

  1. I googled Fred Foote (wondering if he was a son of late novelist/historian/playwright Shelby Foote), and came upon this website maintained by someone of that name:

    http://www.themonkeytrial.com/

    It’s too much of a coincidence; it has to be the same guy. So, when he says, he did not produce Alleged to be a direct rebuttal to Inherit the Wind, he’s lying.

    Do these people do anything but lie?

  2. Bob Carroll

    An interesting addendum: In 2007 Dennehy appeared on Broadway in Inherit the Wind, playing the role based on Bryan.
    Although the play certainly ridiculed creationism, it was written in the 1950s as an anti-McCarthy polemic. The play took some historical liberties, but with regard to Darrow’s examination of Bryan, it was correct, virtually word-for-word.
    Bryan himself was an old-earth creationist, btw. Ham (and AIG) wouldn’t approve.

  3. Clearly Inherit the Wind was never meant to be an accurate portrayal of the original “Monkey Trial.” It was a drama and contained events and characters not present in the original trial and events. It is though one of my all-time favorite movies.

  4. All across the South the Civil War is “reenacted” in hopes of a different outcome.
    I suspect the same of this depiction of the Scope’s Trial.

  5. All across the South the Civil War is “reenacted” in hopes of a different outcome.
    I suspect the same of this depiction of the Scope’s Trial.

    Why would they want that? Scopes lost. The decision was overturned on a technicality but the teaching of evolution in the U.S. essentially died until the ’50s. Were it to be redone they should, frankly, be hoping for the same outcome.

    It will be interesting to see how they spin it. Bob Carroll, my guess is that Darrow’s questioning of Bryan will be, um, “edited to to fit your screen and run in the time allotted,” as they say.

  6. Interestingly, Mencken (Gene Kelly in the movie) thought that it would have been better to let the South secede and wrote about it extensively. I’m not so sure he wasn’t right…

    I would LOVE to see an accurate movie account of the Scopes trial.

  7. I’m not so sure he wasn’t right…

    I’m pretty much convinced at this point that he was. Of course, there’s no reason we can’t encourage them to do it now. Let’s start with Texas. They keep rattling their sabers about it as it is.

  8. Let’s start with Texas.

    The GOP would never let Texas seceed for the same reason they’ll never let DC become a state, even if it wants to be one: representative votes.

    Besides, that would make us more dependent on foreign oil. :P

  9. I’m all in favor of Texas secession. Kinky for Governor!

  10. “At last: a Hollywood film…”
    Yeah, like that is supposed to impress or convince anyone.

  11. Gabriel Hanna

    Fred Thompson is, besides a politician, an actor; he lobbied against abortion restrictions and I haven’t heard that he’s a creationist.

  12. Bob Carroll

    eric,
    I expect you’re right. Let’s check it out when the film is released. Can’t let em get away with the usual crap.