Filmsite Movie Review
Inherit the Wind (1960)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
The Story (continued)

Early in the Court Case - The Selection of Twelve Jurors:

There was a decided contrast between the receptions afforded the two lawyers as they walked through a gauntlet to enter the Hillsboro Courthouse building for the case already in session:

  • Brady: the band played "That Old Time Religion," and the crowds cheered and applauded
  • Drummond: the band played a funeral dirge, and the crowds booed

The presiding Judge Merle Coffey (Henry Morgan) called the trial to order. There were two desks facing the judge: the sole defense attorney Drummond on the left, and Matthew Brady with Tom Davenport on the right. Throughout the entire proceedings, Brady cooled himself with a 'Funeral Parlor' fan - a humorous criticism of his 'old-time' dying religious stance.

ACTUAL FACT:

  • Darrow was not Scopes' lone or sole attorney. Darrow was joined by a team of lawyers, including the ACLU's Arthur Garfield Hays, New York divorce attorney Dudley Field Malone, law partner W.T. Thompson, private Knoxville law school dean John R. Neal, and Biblical authority Charles Francis Potter.
  • Bryan was assisted by chief prosecutor Thomas "Tom" Stewart - DA of the 18th District, and six other 'assistant prosecutors' including his son William Jennings Bryan, Jr.
  • Judge John Raulston refused to end his practice of opening each day’s proceedings with prayer - a clear indication of his religious bias.

The selection of the members of the 12-person jury was already in progress. Inside the stifling hot courtroom, the Judge became exasperated by the flashes of the newspaper photographer's pictures, and reporters who loudly called in their stories on telephones (reporting via radio) within the courtroom. Hornbeck reported to his Baltimore paper:

"As you know, for all last night and today, the legion of the unwashed and holy have been rivering out of the rustic back ways to listen to their plump messiah coo and bellow. Their high priest of mumbo jumbo, Matthew Harrison Brady, has alternately been stuffing himself with fried chicken and belching platitudes since his arrivaI here two days ago."

ACTUAL FACT:

  • The 'Scopes Trial' was the first US trial to be broadcast on national radio.

The 12th and final juror was in the process of being chosen. Before proceeding, Brady (who was called "Colonel" by the Judge) was permitted to make a motion for a procedural change - that the lawyers be allowed to shed their "few superfluous outer garments" since the temperature in the courtroom was 97 degrees F - and it would be "getting hotter." Drummond showed off his fancy suspenders that he claimed were not purchased in his hometown of Chicago, but bought in Brady's hometown - "Weeping Water, Nebraska."

ACTUAL FACT:

  • William Jennings Bryan did not speak a word in court until the 4th day of the trial.

At first, Tom Davenport questioned a personally-biased juror Jessie H. Dunlap (Ray Teal), a farmer, who affirmed his strong belief in the Bible ("I believe in the holy Word of God") and in the prosecution's lead lawyer: ("I believe in Matthew Harrison Brady"). He was accepted by the prosecution - solely for his strong religious beliefs.

Under pressure from Brady, Drummond was forced to ask the same juror only one question - an unrelated and simple "How are ya?" - and then pronounced that the man was unacceptable to the defense and he was "excused."

ACTUAL FACT:

  • Four prospective jurors were excused by Darrow, usually due to religious partiality.
  • Bryan did not speak during the jury selection process.

When Brady objected to Drummond's "levity" brought into the courtroom, Drummond counter-objected to the use of the prestigious title of "Colonel" for Brady:

Drummond: "And I object to all this Colonel Brady talk. I am not familiar with Mr. Brady's military record."
Judge: "Well, he was made honorary Colonel in our state militia the day he arrived in Hillsboro."
Drummond: "Well, the use of the title prejudices the case of my client. It calls up a picture of the prosecution astride a white horse, ablaze in the uniform of a military colonel and with all the forces of right and righteousness marshaled behind him....Break him. Make him a private. I have no serious objection to the honorary title of Private Brady."

To assuage Drummond, the Mayor also named the defense lawyer as "a temporary honorary colonel in the state militia" and from then on in the trial, Drummond was addressed as "Colonel Drummond."

ACTUAL FACT:

  • There was no mention of making Bryan an Honorary Colonel during the trial. Bryan did not receive his title of "Colonel" bestowed upon him by the Mayor of the town. Note: However, Bryan was an actual "Colonel" in the US Army during the Spanish-American War in 1898, but did not serve on the battle lines.
  • There was no objection by Darrow in the court over the use of the title "Colonel" for Bryan.

Another possible juror appointee was dim-witted, local feed store clerk George Sillers (Gordon Polk), who was pointedly questioned by Brady: "Do you have any personal opinions with regard to the defendant that might prejudice you on his behalf?" Sillers responded that Cates was a one-time customer who bought peat moss and paid his bill. Brady accepted Sillers as an acceptable 12th juror - hastily judging him as an "honest, God-fearing man." When Drummond began his cross-interrogation, he determined that Sillers let his wife tend to all of the family's religious matters:

"While your wife has been taking care of the religion for the family have you ever heard of a fellow called Charles Darwin?...From what you've heard of this fellow Darwin, do you think he's the kind of a man you might invite up for Sunday dinner?"

Drummond realized that the selection of the less-than-religious juror by Brady might have been too impulsive, and that the prosecution was entertaining second thoughts about withdrawing their approval: "I have already established that Mr. Sillers is not working very hard at religion. Now, for your sake, I'm trying to establish that he is not working at evolution." Drummond scolded Brady for choosing jurors who all had the same mind-set: "Oh, conform, conform. What do you want to do? Run the jury through a meat grinder to have them all come out the same?" And then, he promptly approved Sillers as the last juror.

The court trial was adjourned until 10:00 am the following morning, due to the heat. As the courtroom cleared out, Reverend Brown passed a note to the Judge, informing everyone of a prayer meeting to be held that evening at the picnic grounds: ("Pray for justice and guidance"). Drummond objected to the Judge's biased endorsement and promotion of a "commercial announcement" and insisted to be fair that the courtroom entry's sign ("Read Your Bible") be taken down in exchange, or replaced with another comparable sign - "Read Your Darwin." Brady was upset with Drummond's coarse and vulgar behavior:

Brady: "Stop using this courtroom as a platform for your obscene ideas. Trying to dirty the minds of our young people here."
Drummond: "My conduct in this courtroom is not under question, and certainly not by you!"
Brady: "Well, your language is!"
Drummond: "I don't swear just for the hell of it! Language is a poor enough means of communication. I think we should use all the words we've got. Besides, there are damned few words that anybody understands!"

A woman from the courtroom shouted at Drummond, calling him an "atheist." Hornbeck told the woman: "He that sups with the devil must have a long spoon." Another man chastised Cates: "We'll fix you, Cates. We'll run you out of town."

The Difficult Dilemma Facing Rachel and Bert Cates:

Rachel rushed to Bert's side to compel him to pull out of the case, but Drummond defended the 'rightness' of Bert's stand against injustice, even if it meant the ruination of his life and reputation:

Rachel: "You've got to call the whole thing off now...Don't you see what's happening, Bert? They're using you as a weapon against your own people. What you think or believe isn't the point anymore. You're helping something bad."
Drummond: "No, young lady, it's not as simple as all that. Good or bad, black or white, day or night. Do you know that at the top of the world, the twilight is six months long?"
Rachel: "Bert and I don't live on top of the world. We live in Hillsboro. And when the sun goes down, it's dark. And why do you have to come here to make it different?"
Drummond: "I didn't come here to make Hillsboro different. I came here to defend his right to be different. And that's the point. How about it, boy?"
Cates: "I don't know what the point is anymore. I tried to open their kids' minds...I tried to give 'em knowledge they could use. They're using it - as a stranglehold on me."
Hornbeck: "You're learning, Cates. Disillusionment is what little heroes are made of."
Cates: "Where do I finish? Dead with a paper medal on my chest? - 'Bert Cates. World's biggest chump. He died fighting.' Well, let's face it. (To Hornbeck) To him, I'm a headline. (To Drummond) To you, I'm a cause."

Drummond reminded the disillusioned and distraught Cates that he had chosen and volunteered to enter the case - by and for himself:

"Now, you chose to get into this by yourself. You didn't get into it because of his headline, or because of my cause, or maybe even because of their kids. You got into it because of yourself. Because of something you believed in for yourself."

Cates hadn't foreseen the personal backlash he would face: "I didn't believe it would happen this way," although Hornbeck cautioned him that it would get worse: "Those people are in a lean and hungry mood." The teacher was dismayed: "They look at me as if I was a murderer." Drummond agreed and explained the terrible price of challenging long-held notions:

"In a way, you are. You know, you-you kill one of their fairy-tale notions, and they'll bring down the wrath of God, Brady and the state legislature on you every time."

Drummond assured Rachel, but then gave Cates the choice to back down and change his plea, or to proceed with the trial:

"I know what Bert is going through. It's the loneliest feeling in the world. It's like walking down an empty street listening to your own footsteps. But all you have to do is to knock on any door and say - 'If you'll let me in, I'll live the way you want me to live, and I'll think the way you want me to think.' And all the blinds will go up, and all the doors will open, and you'll never be lonely, ever again. Now, it's up to you, Cates. You just say the word, and we'll change the plea. Th-that is, of course, if you honestly believe that the law is right and you're wrong. Now, if that's the case, just tell me, and I'll pack my bag and go back to Chicago where it's a nice, cool 100 in the shade."

ACTUAL FACT:

  • Scopes' employment did not suffer as a result of the trial. At the time of the trial, he was under a one-year contract (Sept 1924 - May 1925). He was not dismissed from his teaching position, and was offered re-employment at the HS after the trial.

Cates realized he must remain steadfast even though Rachel felt that his opposition to the town's prevailing attitudes would jeopardize their future married life there:

"What kind of a life could we have if I gave up now? Your father's kind? 'Hallelujah' and 'Ignorance, here we come'? Rach, what goes on in this town is not necessarily the Christian religion every place else. Rach, I can't live the way you want me to. You're the one who's got to decide. It's his church or our house. You can't live in both."

Dinner Conversation at the Mansion House:

Over a banquet dinner that evening, Brady was holding court among the other guests as he lectured about his strict and doctrinal interpretation of the Bible - in direct opposition to the tenets of science. According to his viewpoint, the ways of God were in conflict with the "gods of science" and "the way of scientism" - and godless city life:

"I have been to their cities and I have seen the altars upon which they sacrifice the futures of their children to the gods of science. And what are their rewards? Confusion and self-destruction. New ways to kill each other in wars. I tell you, gentlemen, the way of scientism is the way of darkness."

ACTUAL FACT:

  • William Jennings Bryan was not the buffoonish, fanatical, completely biased, anti-science spokesman portrayed in the film. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Brady was confident that his anti-evolutionist views were in the majority: "There isn't one state in the union where the evolutionists are in the majority." And he downplayed the personal attacks that his crusade was facing from the liberally-biased, city-oriented press: "The attacks upon me stem from a vociferous minority which happens to control the press." And then he commented:

"God may be a matter of indifference to the evolutionists, and the life beyond hold no charms for them...But the mass of mankind will continue to worship."

He bragged how he had received letters of support from the governors of 22 states. Sara Brady graciously joined Henry at his separate dining table, and they reminisced about their past positive associations. She realized that her husband was in the fight of his life with Henry, and they were being drawn apart: "You don't make many good friends in a lifetime. I never dreamed our ideas would separate us." Drummond was opposed to Brady's conformist doctrines "about how everybody else should live." However, he gave her a compliment: "I don't think Matt would have made a great president, but I would have voted for him for king - just to have you for queen." Then, Drummond added how he would have served as "your Majesty's loyal opposition."

Evening Prayer Service with Fanatical Reverend Brown:

That evening at the town's picnic grounds, Reverend Brown held a prayer meeting (attended by Rachel, Hornbeck, Drummond, and the Bradys). He delivered an impassioned and fervent sermon to the impassioned crowd, to denounce Cates and the teachings of evolutionism. He told the literally-interpreted story of creation that was accomplished in one week - as described in the Biblical book of Genesis:

"Hearken to the Word! The Word tells us that the world was created in six days. In the beginning, the Earth was without form and void. And the Lord said, 'Let there be light'...And there was light!....And the Lord saw the light, and the light saw the Lord. And the light said, 'Am I good, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'Thou art good.'..."

After the Biblical rendition, Rev. Brown then roused the wild-eyed and frenzied crowd with a series of shouted questions:

  • Do we believe?
  • Do we believe the Word?
  • Do we believe the truth of the Word?
  • Do we curse the man who denies the Word?
  • Do we call down hellfire on the man who has sinned against the Word?

Then, he condemned Cates to be punished and struck down by God: "O Lord of the tempest and the thunder, strike down this sinner as thou did thine enemies of old in the days of the pharaohs. Let him know the terror of thy sword! Let his soul for all eternity writhe in anguish and damnation!" Rachel cried out to her father: "Don't pray to destroy Bert!" The Reverend sought to accuse her also, even though she was blood-related: "Lord, we ask the same curse for those who ask grace for this sinner, though they be blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh!"

Matthew Brady intervened to side with Rachel, to admonish the Reverend to curb his "overzealous" accusations. He urged moderation and prayers for forgiveness - by quoting Proverbs 11:29:

"I know it's the great zeal of your faith which makes you utter this prayer, but it is possible to be overzealous, to destroy that which you hope to save so that nothing is left but emptiness. Remember the wisdom of Solomon in the Book of Proverbs - 'He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.' The Bible also tells us that God forgives his children, and we as children of God should forgive each other."

Brady called for the meeting to disperse: "My good friends, return to your homes." Although comforted by Mrs. Brady, Rachel was devastated by her hateful father's denunciations of her: "He hates me...He damned me. My own father damned me to hell...He's always done it." She brought up examples in the past of how her father had unfairly damned to hell both Bert and a young and innocent Stebbins child, without going into further detail. The Brady's accompanied her home.

A Private Conversation Between Brady and Drummond On Mansion House's Porch - Differing Viewpoints:

After returning to the Mansion House later that evening, Brady shared a few words with Drummond. Both were seated on side-by-side rocking chairs (out of synch with each other) on the outdoor porch lit by the moonlight. Brady expressed how religion was comforting and "something beautiful" to believe in, while Drummond (after speaking about his own childhood's hope for a beautiful rocking horse) called it a false but promising "shining paradise" riddled with bigotry, lack of substance, and hate:

Brady: "No use trying to fool ourselves, Henry. We're just not the men we used to be."
Drummond: "Ha, ha. By the size of that meal you packed away tonight, I'd say you hadn't changed in 40 years."
Brady: (laughing) "Funny how two people can start from the same point - and drift apart."
Drummond: "It's the nature of the life process."
Brady: "There used to be a mutuality of understanding and admiration between us, Henry. Why is it, my old friend, that you've, you've moved so far away from me?"
Drummond: "Well, all motion is relative, Matt. Maybe it's you who have moved away by standing still."
Brady: "Hmm. If progress means abandoning God, abandoning the faith of our fathers..."
Drummond: "I saw a demonstration of that faith tonight. It's a pretty deadly instrument, I'd say."
Brady: "What you saw was a reflection of the violence and hate in the world around them, Henry - your world. But they're driven to it because their faith was challenged. These are simple people, Henry, poor people. They work hard and they need to believe in something - something beautiful. They're seeking for something more perfect than what they have."
Drummond: "Window shopping for heaven."
Brady: "Why do you want to take it away from them, Henry? It's all they have, like a golden chalice of hope."
Drummond: "Ahh, like my Golden Dancer...She stood in the big side window in the general store in Wakeman, Ohio. I used to stand out on the street and say to myself, 'If I had Golden Dancer, I'd have everything in the world I ever wanted.' I was about seven years old at the time and a great judge of rocking horses. Golden Dancer had a bright-red mane, blue eyes, and she was gold all over with purple spots. And when the sun hit her stirrups, she was a dazzling sight to behold. But she was a week's wages for my father. So Golden Dancer and I always had a big plate-glass window between us. And then, let's see. It couldn't have been Christmas. It must have been my birthday. I woke in the morning, and there was Golden Dancer at the foot of my bed. Mom had skimped on the groceries, and my father had worked nights for a month. I jumped into the saddle, and I started to rock - and it broke...Split in two. The wood was rotten. The whole thing was put together with spit and sealing wax. All shine and no substance. And that's how I feel about that demonstration I saw tonight, Matt. All glitter and glamour. You say you're giving the people hope, I think you're stealing their hope....As long as the prerequisite for that shining paradise is ignorance, bigotry, and hate, I say, 'The hell with it.'"

Trial Testimony in the Courtroom: The Prosecution's Case - Witness Howard, A Student:

The trial resumed the next morning, when Brady interrogated Howard (Jimmy Boyd), one of Cates' young male students, on the witness stand. Testimony revealed that Cates' was teaching evolution from Darwin's 'Origin of Species':

"We had to keep an open mind on the origin of species...He said at first the Earth was too hot for any kind of life. Then it cooled off a mite, and cells and things began to grow...Little bugs, like in the water. Then the little bugs got to be bigger bugs, and sprouted legs and crawled up on the land....A couple million years - maybe longer. Then comes the fishes and the reptiles and the mammals. Man's a mammal...."

Brady was interested in knowing how man had evolved from the lower forms of life, asking: "How does man come out of this slimy mess of bugs and serpents?" Howard's further clarifications about man's evolution from monkeys were mocked by Brady:

Howard: "Man was sort of evoluted - from the old-world monkeys."
Brady: "Did you hear that, my friends old-world monkeys! Ha! According to Mr. Cates, you and I aren't even descended from good American monkeys....In all this talk of bugs and evolution of slime and ooze, did Mr. Cates ever make any reference to God?"
Howard: "Not as I remember."
Brady: "Of the miracle he achieved in seven days as described in the beautiful Book of Genesis?"

As Brady was about to launch into a long-winded 'Chautauqua-style' lecture or speech, Drummond objected, but then had to endure Brady's lengthy lecture to the packed courtroom:

"I am sure that everyone on the jury, everyone within the sound of this boy's voice, is moved by his tragic confusion. He has been taught that he wriggled up like an animal from the filth and muck below. I say that these Bible haters, these evolutionists, are brewers of poison! And the legislature of this sovereign state has had the wisdom to demand that the peddlers of poison, in bottles or in books, clearly label the product they attempt to sell. I say that if this law is not upheld, this boy will become one of a generation shorn of its faith by the teachings of godless science! But, if the full penalty of the law is meted out to Bertram Cates, the faithful the whole world over, who are watching us here and listening to our every word, will rise up and call this courtroom blessed!"

Drummond dramatically paused for a few moments, then sarcastically joked: "I sure am glad the Colonel didn't make a speech."

During Drummond's questioning of Howard, the defense attorney learned that Cates had taught the students from a book titled: "Charles Darwin's Theory of the Evolution and the Descent of Man" - it was held up for the court to see. He then asked for the boy's personal opinion: "Do you think there was anything wrong in that?", but the prosecutor Davenport objected - and was sustained by the Judge. Drummond argued with the Judge that the "right to think" was the crux of the trial -- much more so than the debate between science and religion:

Drummond: "I think the right to think is very much on trial here - and it is fearfully in danger in the proceedings of this courtroom."
Brady: "A man is on trial!"
Drummond: "A thinking man! And he's faced with fine and imprisonment because he chooses to speak what he thinks."

ACTUAL FACT:

  • One of Cates' students from Rhea County HS, named Howard Morgan, did testify, as in the film - he claimed he was present when Cates allegedly was teaching about evolution.
  • A second student from the same HS also testified, named Harry Shelton.
  • The prosecution called only four witnesses: (1) Howard Morgan, (2) Harry Shelton, (3) Walter White, the Rhea County Superintendent of Schools, and Frank (Fred) Robinson, the owner of Robinson's Drug Store and chairmain of the Rhea County Board of Education. As in the film, Scopes was never called to testify.

Drummond rephrased his question to Howard: "All this fuss and feathers about evolution - Do you think it hurt you any?...Did it do you any harm? Still feel reasonably fit? What Mr. Cates told you, did it, ah, did it hurt your baseball game any? Did it affect your pitching arm?...Still honor your father and your mother?...Haven't murdered anybody since breakfast, have you?" The prosecution again objected to the false premise, using an unknown word: "This is an absurd piece of jactitation." Brady suggested a new question to ask: "Ask him if his faith in the Holy Scriptures has been shattered." Ignoring Brady's unprovoked interruption, Drummond pursued a new line of questioning: "Did you believe everything Mr. Cates told you?" Howard replied: "I'm not sure. I gotta think about it." Drummond was pleased by Howard's response revealing independence of thought.

Drummond hypothesized how many other elements of human life were not endorsed or mentioned in the Bible:

  • "Do you think there's anything sinful about a tractor because it isn't mentioned in the Bible?
  • "You know, Moses never made a phone call. You figure that makes the telephone an instrument of the devil?"

Brady jumped to his feet to invalidate Drummond's questions: "Your honor, the defense makes the same old error of all godless men. He confuses material things with the great spiritual value of the revealed Word. Why do you bewilder this child? Does right have no meaning to you, sir?" Drummond caused a stir and murmuring in the courtroom when he asserted the primacy of truth, not morality or ethics:

"I must tell you that right has no meaning for me whatsoever. But truth has meaning - as a direction! But, it is one of the peculiar imbecilities of our time that we place a grid of morality upon human behavior, so that the action of every man must be measured against a - an arbitrary latitude of right and a longitude of wrong in exact minutes, degrees, and seconds, so..."

Realizing that his questions were only confusing Howard, Drummond dismissed the boy from the stand, and then defended himself against Brady's assertion that he was twisting, confusing and tangling the truth for the jury:

"I'm not trying to get away with anything! I am simply trying to prevent the clock-stoppers from dumping a lot of medieval nonsense into the United States Constitution."

Brady accused Drummond of using distracting tactics:

"Your honor, it's obvious what he's trying to do. He is trying to make us forget the lawbreaker and put the law on trial."

Trial Testimony in the Courtroom: The Prosecution's Case - Witness Rachel Brown:

The prosecution called for a surprise witness - Rachel Brown, causing Hornbeck to alert the alarmed Cates: "Sit down, Samson. You're about to get a haircut." When Rachel began her testimony, it was revealed that Brady (while comforting her the night before after the prayer rally) had allowed her to confide in him so that he could slyly betray her and use her personal testimony against Cates. He insisted that she repeat what she had explicitly told him the previous evening, including:

  • the fact that they were engaged to be married
  • that at one time, they had both attended the same church, until Cates left the "body" of the church, but not in spirit; Cates' reason for leaving the church had occurred after an event two summers earlier
    • 13 year-old Tommy, the "little Stebbins boy," one of Cates' bright, science-minded students, had drowned during a river-swimming accident (due to a cramp), and was damned to hell (according to Rachel's father) because the boy had not been baptized

She told how at the funeral, her father had "preached that Tommy didn't die in a state of grace because, because his father wouldn't allow him to be baptized." Cates stood up and insisted that she speak more emphatically: "Tell him what your father really said, that Tommy's soul was damned, writhing in hellfire!" When called "a sinner" by a member of the audience, Cates yelled back: "Religion's supposed to comfort people, not frighten them to death!" When Cates was subdued by the Judge, Rachel explained her understanding of Bert's reasoning:

"Bert thought it wasn't fair that a little child couldn't go to heaven! It wasn't God he abandoned, only the church!"

Brady urged Rachel to further make the conclusion that Bert had been "led astray" by the Stebbins incident, bringing Drummond to his feet with a sustainable objection about Brady's interpretative statement. Brady pressed further for more of Cates' opinions about religion, but again, Drummond objected that the question was improper and "inadmissable" because he was asking for hearsay. However, the Judge overruled Drummond and permitted the line of questioning. Cates stood and begged for Rachel to not divulge his most private religious doubts and "questions - questions you ask your own heart. If you say those things out loud, he'll make them sound like answers."

Brady continued to cruelly badger the witness into continuing her damning, blasphemous testimony against Cates - he also put false words into her mouth:

Brady: "Describe to the court your innermost feelings when Bert Cates said to you, 'God did not create man. Man created god.'
Rachel: "Bert didn't say that! He was just bitter because of the little Stebbins boy! He said man created a vengeful god out of his own bigotry and the devil out of his own hell!"
Brady: "And when he was wondering about what was on the other side of the moon, did he ever mention the possibility of heaven? Did he ever mention that? Or did he there was nothing but a world of stars, and moons, and galaxies, and universal dust. Tell us, tell us some more. What'd he say about the holy state of matrimony? Did he compare it to the breeding of animals?...You want the good people of this town to see what happened to his brain so they can help bring him back to his senses, don't ya? Come on! Tell it! Tell it all! Tell it! Tell it! Tell it!"

From the audience, Brady's wife shouted for him to stop causing Rachel to sob! The Judge offered Drummond the opportunity to postpone his cross-examination, but the defense attorney couldn't let the moment pass: "The defense must have a chance to challenge the words put into the mouth of the witness by the prosecutor." Drummond turned to convince the reluctant Cates of his need to cross-examine her in an attempt to repair the damage: "Do you want every word he just put in her mouth to go in to the record?" Hornbeck added: "He just pulled you apart like a plucked chicken." But Cates insisted that they leave Rachel alone: "Let her go." Hornbeck knew that Rachel's testimony would jail Cates and seal his fate: "You all-American idiot. She just handed them your head on a silver platter." Cates threatened: "Let her go, or I'll change my plea to guilty." Frustrated, Drummond was forced to concede and the witness was excused. The prosecution rested its case.

ACTUAL FACT:

  • In the movie version, completely contrary to historical fact, the testimony by the fictional character of Rachel was the most convincing and crucial - most certainly detrimental and leading to Cates' conviction.

Trial Testimony in the Courtroom: The Defense's Case - Science Witnesses:

To begin Drummond's defense of the case, he first called Dr. Amos Keller (Stuart Hall), the head of the Department of Zoology at the University of Chicago. When Brady objected, Drummond justified calling on six scientists and knowledgeable experts on the meaning of the theory of evolution:

Drummond: "Why, it has every relevance. My client is on trial for teaching evolution. Certainly any testimony relating to his so-called infringement of the law must be admitted."
Brady: "Irrevelant, immaterial, inadmissable."
Drummond: "But why? If Bertram Cates were on trial for murder, would it be irrelevant to call in witnesses to examine the weapon? Would it rule out testimony that the so-called murder weapon was incapable of firing a bullet?"

Brady stipulated the opposite side of the argument: "I hold that the very law we're here to enforce excludes such testimony! The people of this state have made it very clear that they do not want this zoological hogwash slopping around the schoolrooms, and I refuse to allow these agnostic scientists to employ this courtroom as a sounding board, as a platform from which they can shout their heresies into the headlines." The Judge sustained the prosecution's objects and forbid such testimony, ruling that Zoology was "irrelevant" to the case's trial.

Drummond's second witness was Dr. Allen Page, Deacon of the Congregational Church and Professor of Geology and Archaeology at Oberlin College (in Ohio). Immediately, the Judge also sustained the prosecution's objections, prompting Drummond to ask: "Does your honor deny in one breath the existence of Zoology, Geology and Archaeology?" The bigoted Judge answered: "We do not deny the existence of these sciences, but they do not relate to this point of law."

ACTUAL FACT:

  • In actual fact, there were eight "expert witnesses," not six, though only one of them actually made it to the witness stand - Dr Maynard Metcalf - who was not in the film.
  • In the movie as in historical fact, Judge Raulston undermined Darrow's defense strategy by ruling that expert scientific testimony on evolution was inadmissible. He argued that it was Scopes who was on trial for teaching evolution, not the issue of evolution itself.
  • However, Judge Raulston allowed the experts to submit written statements so that their evidence could be used at the appeal.

A third witness, Walter Aaronson, anthropologist, philosopher, author, and "one of the most brilliant minds in the world today," was also denied the opportunity to testify. Drummond had brought six witnesses (all "noted scientists") - "at great expense and great inconvenience" to Hillsboro, and felt exasperated that he could not prove his case:

"I intend to show this court that what Bertram Cates spoke quietly one spring morning in the Hillsboro high school is no crime. It is incontrovertible as geometry to any enlightened community of minds."

Tom Davenport argued that the Hillsboro community (in the sovereign state of Tennessee) did not need "experts." Drummond responded: "What do you need? A gallows to hang him from?...This community is an insult to the world!" At the end of his rope, Drummond requested that he could never win against such odds. He asked to withdraw from the case, and when asked why by the Judge, he stated that the packed courtroom was not impartial: "Well, there are 200 of 'em! And if that's not enough, there's one more. I think my client has already been found guilty." He also bitterly denounced Brady - and the Judge - for believing that the trial and state laws were fair. He denounced censorship with a profound speech about the spread of "fanaticism and ignorance" that was sending the human race backwards:

"I say that you cannot administer a wicked law impartially. You can only destroy. You can only punish. And I warn you that a wicked law, like cholera, destroys everyone it touches, its upholders as well as its defiers....Can't you understand that if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools. And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it? And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man! If you can do one, you can do the other! Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating, we'll be marching backward! Backward! Through the glorious ages of that 16th century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind."

The judge, feeling personally assailed as a bigot, held Drummond in "contempt of court." He ordered him jailed in the custody of the Bailiff (with bail fixed at $2,000 dollars), and told Drummond to show cause by 10:00 am the next morning why he should not be held in contempt of court.

ACTUAL FACT:

  • Clarence Darrow was charged with "contempt of court," but not for his delivery of a righteous speech about the rule of law and justice as in the film. He was charged with continually interrupting and insulting Judge Raulston, and for complaining that permission for Bryan to cross-examine defense experts was prejudicial.
  • The Judge actually issued the contempt citation not at the moment of argument, but the next day (after reading the transcript), and then rescinded the contempt citation when Darrow apologized.

Hornbeck offered to have his newspaper post the bail bond (doubled to $4,000 dollars), but until legal approval was received, Drummond would still be jailed. Farmer John Stebbins (Noah Berry, Jr.), whose boy had drowned and was supported by Cates, approached the bench and offered to put up his farm as collateral for Drummond's bail. The town's banker also reinforced Stebbins' offer by backing it up with guaranteed cash from the farm's considerable equity: ("My bank will honor the offer on the security of this farm"). Drummond was noticeably puzzled by the stranger's act - until he learned the man was the father of the boy who drowned. The court was adjourned until 10:00 am the next day.


Previous Page Next Page

Welcome to Filmsite.
Please support the website by allowing ads.

We've detected that you are using AdBlock Plus or some other ad blocking software which prevents the page from fully loading.

With support from readers and visitors like you, we can continue to deliver the best commentary and film information on the web. You can support us for free by allowing ads.

Please add filmsite.org to your ad blocking whitelist or disable your adblocking software.

×