The Scopes Monkey Trial

I made an oversight in the Quickies this morning, so I’m making up for it with a bonus video clip – on this date in 1925, John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in a Tennessee school. Enjoy Spencer Tracy, as defense lawyer Clarence Darrow, make his case in the 1960 film Inherit the Wind:


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. I always liked that movie. I liked the way that the town fathers at the end of the movie wanted to aqcuit scopes because the trial was making the town look stupid. From what I learned later it appears that the entire trial was a publicity stunt.

  2. So a friend just wandered in and heard part of clip and started railing about how horrible it is that we still have to deal with crap like this, and I agree completely. Almost a hundred years later, and we’re still fighting the same fight.

  3. You know, Ventura’s a little bit crazy, but at least he’s a brand of crazy I can understand, relate to, and wouldn’t really mind seeing in office. I think he’s made it pretty clear that he wants the best for the country. He’s honestly trying to make his home a better place. Probably most important of all, he’s not afraid to stand up and call people out on it when they’re out for something else, and I respect the Hell out of a man like that.

    I’d rather live in a world full of his brand of crazy than “invisible man will smite you, but he loves you” brand of crazy.

  4. Ummm…can I be a nitpicky bastard? The film “Inherit the Wind” as only -very- loosely inspired by the events of the Scopes Trial. It was not in any way a docudrama. The accused in the film was not John T. Scopes, but rather “Bertram Cates”. Spencer Tracy does not play Clarence Darrow, but rather a fictional doppelganger called “Henry Drummond”. And so forth. In short, it’s a good gateway to whet curiosity about the real Scopes Trial, and it does capture the essence of the cultural debate, but if you’re watching this film thinking you’re getting history, you’re not. That said, it’s a great film and I’ve seen it several times.

  5. Rystefn, after seeing that clip (and commenting to the BF that is Jesse Ventura were to be commander in chief, we would be one step closer to life imitating art in the form the movie Idiocracy – remember how the president was some WWF type guy?), I though, dang! That guy rules! There’s gotta be a catch.

    The catch is that he’s kind of a truther. Too bad. He has like a +17 charisma.

  6. A fellow from Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, firmly of the belief the world was no more than 6,000 years old, recently sought the presidency.

    Does that worry you?

  7. @johncsnider – Are you kidding? We’re ALL nitpicky bastards around here. :)

    You’re right that the film took a ton of liberties, and I wasn’t very clear that I didn’t exactly mean Tracy played a character named Darrow – I meant that he was played the point of view we usually associate Darrow with. Just trying to keep things as brief and familiar to those who know who Darrow is as possible, but thanks for the clarifications.

  8. I still don’t get it.. I’ve seen the movie and I’ve READ the transcript of the actual trial! No matter how closely I look I STILL haven’t seen a monkey!

  9. Hi there!

    My wifey and I actually saw the recent revival with Brian Dennehy and Christopher Plummer. When she bought the tickets, we noticed that there was a discounted rate for “Stage Seating”. This sounded a lot closer than “Orchestra”, so we were curious as to why the tickets were so cheap.

    As it turned out, “Stage Seating” meant that you were seated in the gallery of the on-stage courtroom. The seats were that much cheaper simply because you watched the entire play from behind the action, and could not leave your seat during the performance. But it genuinely felt like you were watching a real TRIAL taking place.

    So as far as I’m concerned, creationists can debate the Scopes-Monkey trial until they’re blue in the face. I was THERE! Saw it with my own eyes, yes indeed. :P

    — Craig

    (Yeah, I know, it was actually the Cates-Monkey for the purposes of the play, but let me dream a little …)

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