Director: Stanley Kramer
Year Released: 1960
Supposedly "classic" film (with Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly) is not only dated, but also very silly and not believable. It's got an A-list cast but is dealing with a C-list screenplay. It's based on the "Monkey" Trial in the mid-late twenties in which a schoolteacher was put before a court for teaching Darwin's theories of the evolution of man. To prosecute him, famous politician/lawyer Matthew Brady (March) comes to town and brings with him mass hysteria and religious extremism. Meanwhile, another famous lawyer from Chicago, played by Tracy, comes to defend the teacher and his right to teach evolution. One thing leads to another and soon there are mobs forming, throwing things at the teacher, acting up in court, etc. There are people gathered in the fields to pray - very corny I might add - with the biased and closed-minded town reverend. There's a shouting match between Tracy and March in court that's both hard-to-swallow and pathetically melodramatic. And finally, there's Gene Kelly, always cocksure and ready with an inappropriate barb to launch at the ignorant southerners. The whole production has an air of self-importance and pomposity that's hard-to-take. Ever hear of subtlety?