Clarence Darrow is certainly one of the most famous lawyers in American history. A leading figure in the ACLU’s infancy, Darrow was the defense lawyer during the first “Trial of the Century” in 1925 regarding the killers Leopold and Loeb, and he famously defended the right to teach evolution against William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Trial that same year. It hence stands to reason that more films about the legendary figure’s career would eventually make it to the screen beyond the fictionalized account of Scopes in Inherit the Wind (1960).
Thus enter Arc of Justice, a new budding courtroom drama that explores the turbulent and still vital struggle of race in America during the NAACP’s early days. As according to Variety both Russell Crowe and David Oyelowo are poised to star in the picture, with Oyelowo officially signed on and Crowe nearing a close in negotiations.
The film, which would be helmed by José Padilha (Elite Squad, RoboCop) also already has a screenplay by Max Borenstein (Godzilla) and Rodney Barnes (The Boondocks). Based on Kevin Boyle’s Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, the film follows African American doctor Ossian Sweet (Oyelowo), who is charged with murder in 1925 Detroit after a “racial incident.” Supported by the 16-year-old NAACP, his defense fund brings in Darrow (Crowe) to defend him against the charge.
The picture is being produced by the Marc Gordon Company and touches on an explosive topic during an appropriate time. It also is a return to the biopic arena of moviemaking, which has treated both actors well before. Crowe earned Oscar nominations for The Insider and A Beautiful Mind, as did Oyelowo for Selma where he played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.