Picks and Pans Review: Darrow
Kevin (Wiseguy) Spacey stars in this well-intentioned, overstuffed bioflick about lawyer Clarence Darrow (1857-1938). The American Playhouse production follows the famed defense attorney over 30 years, covering such cases as the Leopold-Loeb murder trial and Darrow's own little-known trial for jury tampering.
Spacey (see story, page 53) gives a hearty but not very convincing performance. While he affects the standard Darrow bowed posture, too many of his eager facial mannerisms and gestures seem contemporary. And while no film since Warren Beatty's Reds has worn pro-labor sympathies on its sleeve so proudly, the script is too thick and un-involving to be effective as either propaganda or entertainment.
The project, which also features Rebecca Jenkins, Chris Cooper and Paul Guilfoyle, succeeds in portraying its protagonist as a man of wit, eloquence and compassion. But the one-man stage show Henry Fonda toured with in 1974 accomplished the same thing much more succinctly.