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Alleged (Blu-Ray)

 Unrated   Blu-ray

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Product Description

Charles Anderson (Nathan West) feels trapped writing for his deceased father’s meager newspaper and living in a tiny town (Dayton, TN) in steep decline. Local news is scarce in Dayton but in yonder Nashville the populist statesman and Christian fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan (Sen. Fred Thompson) stirs up the Tennessee legislature to pass an anti-evolution statute. At Robinson’s Drugstore a few local entrepreneurs, keen on a way to channel 20,000 or so folks into dying Dayton for a look-see, concoct a friendly scheme for the small town to host the “Trial of the Century” — they just need a teacher at the high school willing to claim that he taught evolution. John Scopes (Jamie Kolacki) obliges despite never having taught evolution to anybody that he can recall. When the notorious agnostic Clarence Darrow (Brian Dennehy) agrees to defend Scopes and meet the Great Commoner in a battle to see which theory of mankind’s origin is the fittest (the Bible’s or Darwin’s), the entire world shows up and Dayton becomes the center of the journalistic universe. Once in the midst of this staged event, however, Nathan is torn between his love for the more principled Rose Williams (Ashley Johnson), his fiancée, and the escalating moral compromises that he is asked to make as the eager protégé of H.L. Mencken of the Baltimore Sun (Colm Meaney), America’s most colorful and influential columnist. Complicating matters is Rose’s half-sister of mixed race, Abigail (Khori Faison), who local doctors feel is a candidate for sterilization to prevent her, on Darwinian grounds, from propagating her supposedly inferior genes. ALLEGED is a true story of conflicts that boiled over in 1925 but that remain simmering with us to this day — evolution and creation, the role of science in social policy, and media sensationalism motivated by religious and political biases on all sides. When the truth is at stake, Charles discovers, some lies just have to be told.

Product Description

Love and faith are put to the ultimate test in this stirring romantic drama set against the landmark Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925. Charles Anderson (Nathan West, Miracle) is a talented young reporter engaged to Rose (Ashley Johnson, The Help), who works with him at the Tennessee small town newspaper his late father founded. The "Trial of the Century" brings brilliant adversaries William Jennings Bryan (Fred Thompson, The Genesis Code) and Clarence Darrow (Brian Dennehy, Cocoon) to Charles' hometown. But as the trial unfolds, Charles is caught up in the media circus and becomes torn between his journalistic integrity and impressing his mentor, the colorful Baltimore Sun editor H. L. Menken (Colm Meaney, Star Trek: The Next Generation), who presses him to "make a story" instead of report one.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly Fine Family Fare: An Introduction To Complex Topics Suitable For Younger Viewers Nov. 3 2011
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
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.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See Film Oct. 27 2011
By Darwin Researcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The antidote to "Inherit the Wind" Nov. 16 2011
By David L. Bump - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It is a great shame that this video didn't get distributed to theaters. I heard in a radio interview that it has done well in a number of film festivals. It has some well-known actors showing how talented they are, and the quality of the filming is also equal to or better than most films that Hollywood has produced.

I call it "The antidote to Inherit the Wind" because many people have gotten the impression that ItW shows what the Scopes Trial was like, but this movie shows what actuallly happened. However, the primary focus is on the roots of the problems of modern journalism -- sensationalism (shocking stories about what has been "alleged"), focusing on negatives, juicing up the plain facts ("paint a picture"), and seeking to make the public share the "progressive" view of events.

The protagonist of the story is a young reporter, torn between the high, "old-fashioned" standards of his father, and the success of H. L. Mencken, who comes to be a sort of mentor in the new ways of making news. Fans of Star Trek may marvel at how well Colm Meany plays this cynical man, so different from his character in ST:TNG. Meany doesn't soft-pedal Mencken's cynicism and cold-hearted pragmatism, yet he also doesn't go overboard and turn the character into a cardboard evil-doer. He displays Mencken's flashing sense of humor and enjoyment of life. People who admire Mencken shouldn't feel offended, and may well not see anything wrong with his ideas and behavior even when presented as belonging to the closest thing to a "bad guy" in this film. Which is best, honesty and integrity or fame and fortune? And can you have both?

This movie is far from the sort of propaganda or polemical affair that would portray real people as simple villains and immaculate heroes. If anything, Clarence Darrow (expertly portrayed by Brian Dennehy) is treated more positively than he deserves. Atheists and evolutionists needn't fear any offence of that sort. This is not the mirror image of Inherit the Wind in that way.

However, the movie does bring out the sorry lack of evidence, at the time, for the theory that humans evolved from lower animals. Again, the movie is perhaps overly gentle in this regard, for the sake of historical accuracy I assume, showing (for example) a presentation of the doctrine that embryonic development of humans recapitulates our evolutionary history, complete with gill slits. It is not pointed out (few if any knew it at the time) that this was a gross misrepresentation, based largely on fraudulent drawings made by Ernst Haeckel to support his own ideas about evolution. Likewise, the fact that "Nebraska Man" was known only from a tooth is brought out, but the fact that it was later determined to be the tooth of a pig is only brought up in the notes after the movie proper is over. It is interesting that the weaknesses of the evidence that the panel of scientists wanted to present (and did submit in writing) are brought out by Darrow (at least in this movie), as he evaluates how they would play out in the court. Likewise, the movie leaves to the unbelievers Mencken and Darrow to destroy the idea that evolution and Biblical creation are in any way compatible, either way you look at it.

Perhaps the one aspect that some may find offensive is the depiction of the connections from Darwinian evolution to eugenics to the application that included the sterilization of 60,000 people in the States, which was sanctioned by the Supreme Court. However, this too is the way it was historically. While it may be argued that Darwin's theory shouldn't be connected to socio-political attempts to purify the human gene pool, it is a fact that Darwin himself raised questions about the wisdom of allowing inferior sorts to breed, pointing out that it would be considered a bad practice in breeding animals. It's also a historical fact that the biology book that Scopes taught from (briefly, as a substitute) taught many things we would all find offensive now, and tied them to evolution and what it claimed were biological facts. It is clear that these ideas were held by very many scientists and leaders of academia.

Vying for attention with all this is a love story, nearly qualifying this as a romance movie. To my relief, it does not make the film into a "chic flic", although it may add some attraction for women. Fortunately, it also does not distract from the rest of the story, nor does it seem to be an afterthought that interrupts the main storyline. I found all of the different aspects of the story seamlessly blended together.

All of this adds up to a movie that is educational, but in a way that you wouldn't notice if you weren't looking. I was looking, and learned some things even though I've studied the subject a bit more than most people probably have. Some things I wonder about and would like to do some research on, and that's a good thing. You can enjoy it just for the performance of Colm Meany (and/or the other actors; Fred Thompson does a good job bringing William Jennings Bryan to life, again as a man with both good qualities and human frailty). It's enjoyable as a tale of Boy engages Girl, Boy picks up bad habits, Girl breaks off engagement... (Sorry if this is a spoiler, but it has a happy ending!). It's fascinating as a picture of a bygone era, a period when foundations held for centuries were being exchanged for what was considered the modern, progressive way of looking at the world. Without being preachy, it invites us to question things we are told we must accept as true and good.

(BTW, if you would like to experience some of the scenery first-hand, come to Genesee County, Michigan, where much of the filming was done. Look up Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad. It's close to Flint.)
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great cast. Great values. Great entertainment. Better history. Nov. 16 2011
By D. G. Frank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Definitely a movie I will show my three children! A fun love story with great actors that incorporates a strong "do the right thing" message in a meaningful and relevant way.

There are fictional lines in this historical setting, but they are reasonable for their context and they help keep the screenplay engaging and entertaining. They also flesh out the issues of that day including media bias, civil liberties, and eugenics. It is also refreshing to see the events surrounding the "Monkey Trial" presented in a more historically accurate way.

What a great medium to discuss important yet complicated social issues! The ensuing discussions with my children are certain to be meaningful, with tangible examples of real-life questions and challenges.

I originally purchased this film expecting to compare its historicity of it with that of "Inherit the Wind." It is no secret that the public perception of the Scopes trial was highly influenced by the media's portrayal and the play, RATHER than the facts of the case and the historical context. Although "Inherit the Wind" is an entertaining play (and screenplay), it gives a highly biased and blatantly incorrect account of the context and events surrounding the trial that has left most of the public with an incorrect perception...though a politically correct one.

But instead of merely contrasting historicity, I was surprised and delighted to discover an entertaining and well-done film.

Although the "Monkey Trial" is certainly the focal point of the movie, no doubt there is much more history that could be corrected...but how to do this in a short yet entertaining movie?
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...from the Past to the Present ~ ALLEGED ~ Oct. 23 2011
By Gregory T. Garbulinski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
In considering the Past we look towards Understanding the Present and the Future.

Superb dimensional blend adds quality enhancement to interwoven Historical context , flowing action , buildup , and visuals in 'Alleged.'

*Yesterday October 22nd 2011 I participated in viewing 'Alleged' at the Made in Michigan Film Fest , in Lapeer "at the PIX"...I'm glad I went and this film was a highlight work , Also a selected Award winner!*

It was a pleasure to watch this finely developed narrative unfold with depth , warmth and balanced sensitivity to issues of Religion , Regional locale , Science , Medicine , Evolution , Education and Human interaction. At 91 minutes 'Alleged' is right on schedule in drawing emotions and sympathies to the main "Love Interest" taking place as well!
( ...the timetable includes authentic old cars , trains and Antiques too!)

IN the "monkey trial" there are huge and famous egos participating in contrast to some of the more subtle personalities and the Issues taking place do get National Attention. Conflict , tensions , friendships, and enmity , Evolve to Growth although change is not always easy.

...veteran actors Brian Dennehy and Fred Thompson bring expected flair while the "young couple" does a range of nuance...

This feature contains a wealth of material , historical detail research and reference , with fine period piece Visual displays and could be seen and shared enjoyably a number of times. There are many pleasing surprises. Well, enough said ...it's simply best and worthwhile to just watch it yourself! Enjoy!

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