19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
As the first release of the faith based film label Slingshot Pictures, "Alleged" certainly tackles one of the largest subjects imaginable. In 1925, the Scopes "Monkey Trial" (famously depicted in Inherit the Wind) unfolded in a small Tennessee town and debated whether evolution should be allowed to be taught in public schools. A massive confrontation that pitted science against theology and two of the most famed orators/lawyers of the period (Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan) against one another, the case was branded as "The Trial of the Century." I, for one, think it's an inspired idea to revisit the Scopes Trial from a modern vantage point as the play "Inherit the Wind" was written in 1955 and didn't really evoke all of the complexities inherent in the situation. But while "Alleged" does offer some insight into the background of this notorious event, it really doesn't attempt to be a definitive and comprehensive study of it either. The movie really centers on an ambitious local reporter who faces difficult decisions about his values and principles when pressed by an unscrupulous editor.
Likable Nathan West plays our intrepid young reporter, and Ashley Johnson is his equally appealing gal pal. As the Scopes trial is being engineered by local dignitaries to bring tourism and prosperity to the dying town, West also sees it as an opportunity to achieve big city success and notoriety. But at what cost? When Brian Dennehy (as Darrow) and Fred Dalton Thompson (as Jennings Bryan) square off, Colm Meaney (as Baltimore Sun editor H.L. Mencken) pushes him to dish the dirt for maximum provocation. But being enticed to the dark side has its price, and right wills out every time. The film lacks a bit of subtlety as Meaney is practically evil incarnate and the lead actors are too sweet and modernly sensible to be awarded anything but a happy ending. The film throws in a haphazard sideplot about eugenics and forced sterilization that happens to be dramatically and conveniently timed for maximum impact. It is just one of many important topics that take a backseat to the central gentle love story.
"Alleged" is certainly at its most effective when the trial is front and center. Dennehy and Dalton Thompson are a pleasure and their interactions with one another bring a livelihood to the proceedings. This being a family film, however, it paints a rather pretty picture of our past. Although racism is mentioned, no one in this little town seems the least bit prejudiced. Johnson's sister, in fact, is half black and there is relatively no reaction to that whatsoever (except by the evil character). Even though a certain character is slated for sterilization (as was common practice), a last minute injunction saves the day. Whew! Difficult topic over, never to be mentioned again. Few things can be more incendiary or heated than evolutionary debate, but most of the actual townsfolk don't seem to have an opinion one way or another. It's like they're gathering for an ice cream social.
Again, "Alleged" hints at a lot of topics without digging too deep. As an introduction, it's fine--but at 90 minutes (and most of that devoted to young lovers), important issues are given short shrift. The Special Features of the DVD include a Discussion Guide to be utilized in possible church or school settings. So that kind of gears you toward the targeted audience for the film and its intentions. It's all gently likable without being too challenging. I enjoyed the movie, but I still think there is a great film yet to be made that really digs into the Scopes trial in a relevant way. For my taste, the film rates about 3 1/2 stars for pleasantness. A good introduction, but strictly family fare--I'll round up for good intentions. KGHarris, 11/11.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
It seems that the knowledge people have these days comes from the easiest source and that more often than not is the television. The sales of newspapers are down and it seems the art of discussion is rare these days. Fortunately the internet has changed some of this but even there a ton of misinformation can be found. So imagine what it must have been like years ago when the only source of information was the newspaper.
That's the basis of the story found in ALLEGED, a different takes than we've witnessed before concerning the Scopes monkey trial. For years the only way to learn about this trail was through the film INHERIT THE WIND. I've always loved that film, in particular the acting done by both Spencer Tracy and Frederick March. But that movie made it seem as if the trial was the result of the people's wills often depicting anyone who was religious as fanatical.
This time around we have a different story. Instead of the trial being brought about by a teacher who has a fire burning inside of him to teach students about Darwin we instead have a town that's slowly fading that needs a hook to get folks into town again. They recruit the local science teacher into saying he believes in Darwin so that they can get people riled up about the question of creationism versus evolution.
Pulled into the midst of this whole circus is Charles Anderson (Nathan West), a reporter for the local newspaper whose father was the owner years ago. He wants to move on to better things, to the big city where he can achieve fame like his idol, H.L.Menken (Colm Meaney). Menken was the leading journalist of his time and one of the most read. Getting him involved means more folks hearing about the town and then coming for the trial.
To make it an even bigger event, the townsfolk get the best speaker they can find for the prosecution, Williams Jenning Bryan (Fred Dalton Thompson). Bryan has already decried the idea of evolutionism and the trial seems like a slam dunk. But then Menken and his paper bring in noted lawyer Clarence Darrow (Brian Dennehy) for the defense. What seemed like a slam dunk is now a case that will be viewed and used across the country.
In the middle of it all is the story of Charles. He becomes caught up in the spectacle of the entire situation more interested in impressing Menken than in reporting facts. And while hanging around with Menken he is tutored in the art of twisting a phrase or creating a story where none exist. This was the state of journalism at that time and is represented much more here than in INHERIT. Charles becomes so invested in the lines and way of life Menken presents him that he nearly loses the most important thing in his life, his fiancé Rose (Ashley Johnson). It isn't until a crisis slaps Charles in the face where he must decide to either tell the truth or become a part of the bigger world where truth is not told but created.
The movie is well made but appears to settle into the made for TV format in feel and appearance. This movie would not have made much released to the box office. But it does offer a nice evening's entertainment as well as offer a new look at an old story.
It also has the ability to make you think differently when looking at the news. How much of what we are told these days is the truth and how much of it is twisted to suit the needs of those in charge of dispensing the news? Many claim that FOX is little more than this but the fact of the matter is that in these days EVERY news network has their own agenda when it comes to the news they disseminate. It is rare to find the absolute truth without digging deeper to find it.
Perhaps it is this reason that more people are turning away from the major news networks we all grew up watching and trusting. Too many fake stories, too many stories that turned out to be twisted and too many stories that were ignored to support one side or the other. I think that's a good thing. People need to look deeper than the surface no matter what the outcome. And with movies like this at least getting made, perhaps more people will take the time to do so.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
If you like history this film is for you. This DVD will correct some of the many incorrect beliefs about the famous 1925 Scopes trial, such as those in the play Inherit the Wind. One fact that it covers was the importance of racism as a motivating factor of W. J. Bryan to involve himself in the trial. Those who have read the trial transcript will soon realize how distorted the public view of the trial is, especially the play Inherit the Wind. This film was embellished slightly, but such is necessary to get a story out of a trial. Nonetheless, the basic story is accurate and the acting and cinematography are great!!! In contrast to the play Inherit the Wind, no one is demonized except possibly the Baltimore Sun news reporter, and anti-just about every minority, H. L. Mencken. The fact that the evidence for human evolution in 1925 was pathetic is brought out well in the film. The examples include Nebraska man (named Hesperopithecus found out to be a pig's tooth, specifically a peccary), Piltdown man (found out to be a hoax in the early 1950s), Neanderthal Man (now considered just another race of humans) and Java man (regarded simply as an Australopithecus). I would have quoted more from the trial transcript, which included the written testimony of the leading scientists, to show this, but the producer had to get this information in the film into a brief segment to keep the story moving, so had to abbreviate. A must see film.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Indiana Jeff Reynolds
- Published on Amazon.com
Yes, the setting for this movie is the Scopes Monkey Trial. Yes, it's taken from an anti-evolution viewpoint. I'll get to that later. In reality, though, this movie deals with a young man who has the apple of fame and fortune dangled in front of him, a prize that threatens to cost him his friends, fiance, and conscience.
The focal point is Charles Anderson (Nathan West), a young reporter who wants to make it big-time like H. L. Menken (Colm Meaney). He gets the chance at the above mentioned trial, with Menken arriving. He learns, though, that some see journalism not as much as reporting the facts as influencing the reader.
I've recently read John Truby's Anatomy of Story. This book does an excellent job of following his advice in the writing of the story. The acting is strong enough to make it as well, with West a great lead, Meaney a human villain and Ashley Johnson being doing a great job as the love interest. Fred Thompson and Brian Dennehy fill the shoes of the big names of the trial, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. Thompson did a fair job, and I'm a Dennehy fan, but in this rendition they're the supporting cast.
This movie does have an agenda on the issue. There is no question it takes an anti-evolution stand. Note I did not say creationist, which most equate with a six day view -- It sites Bryan allowing for a long day interpretation. However, it does show some of the weakness in evolutionary evidence (effectively with Darrow questioning "witnesses" for evolution). It also shows the tie in between evolution and eugenics/forced sterilization, which I've noted in a novel dealing with the creation/evolution debate (The Shadowed Mind by Julie Cave).
That being said, the only person who may be considered villainized is Menken. Darrow here is a good antagonist, one you root against but also has some redemptive qualities. Scopes is seen more as the innocent bystander that gets hit by the train. Bryan is showed very favorably, ignoring some of his weaknesses such as racism, but the reality is that Bryan was beloved and respected and while losing three elections himself also had a hand in the election and re-election of Woodrow Wilson.
On this video is a discussion guide, dealing with six or seven topics for a discussion of a church or home group. The focus on those questions reveals what the movie is about -- it focuses on integrity as opposed to creation/evolution.
I loved this picture, and whole heartedly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Alleged attempts to stir human emotions in favor of a faith-based description of the origins of life. The movie also encourages the viewer to misinterpret Clarence Darrow's agnostic views as favoring Christianity. In reality, Clarence Darrow was just as much a humanist as he was agnostic which meant the theory of evolution wasn't a blueprint for morality and it meant he could never support the notion or application of eugenics. The theory of evolution was simply a more evidence-based argument for the origins of man than the imaginative origins of man that are now a major part of our human heritage. In addition, he realized that any organized body of ideas - faith-based or factual - could serve as a basis for poor choices and irresponsible acts. There are plenty of Christians who believe in the death penalty and plenty of Darwinist who believe in eugenics. Being properly or improperly educated about the origins of life has nothing to do with the wisdom necessary to live life compassionately. Religion and science is not like a mixture of vomit and water. Religion has been the best carrier for moral ideas even if generally unapplied. Science is only worthwhile if it serves humanity in a moral as well as compassionate way. Einstein placed it best: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."