A landmark case for lawyer and civil rights leader Clarence Darrow is heading to the big screen. Russell Crowe is in talks to star alonside David Oyelowo, who just closed his deal, for Arc of Justice. The movie centers around a 1925 racially-charged case that was one of the most groundbreaking cases for Clarence Darrow. No production schedule or release date has been announced at this time, but with this cast coming together, it’s possible that filming could be starting sooner rather than later.
Variety broke the news of Russell CRowe and David Oyelowo‘s casting. The plot will be adapted from the Kevin Boyle book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, which follows a racial incident in 1925 Detroit that lead to an African-American doctor named Ossian Sweet (Oyelowo) being charged with murder. His defense was funded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), with Clarence Darrow leading the defense.
On September 9, 1925, a white mob was formed to drive out Dr. Ossian Sweet and his family, after they had purchased a home in an all-white neighborhood of Detroit. During the struggle, a white man was killed, which lead to each member of Ossian Sweet’s family, and the other African-American men in the house with him, to be arrested and charged with murder. After the initial trial resulted in a misfire, all 11 members were tried individually, with Clarrence Darrow defending Ossian Sweet’s brother Henry, who had confessed to firing the shot that killed the white man. Clarence Darrow’s closing argument in the case, which lasted seven hours, is seen as a landmark moment in the Civil Rights movement, as Henry was found not guilty by reason of self-defense, as the trials for the 10 remaining defendants were then dropped.
Jose Padilha is directing from a screenplay by Max Borenstein (Godzilla) and Rodney Barnes (The Boondocks). Mark Gordon, Max Borenstein, Hawk Koch, and Matt Jackson will serve as producers, while Josh Clay Phillips will oversee the production for the Mark Gordon Company. Kevin Boyle’s book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age won the National Book Award in 2004, and it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award that year.
Russell Crowe will next be seen in The Mummy reboot, which hits theaters on June 9, and he also starred in last year’s comedy hit The Nice Guys. David Oyelowo is no stranger to movies about the Civil Rights movement, playing Martin Luther King in the Best Picture nominee Selma. He most recently starred in Queen of Katwe, and will next be seen in the upcoming Cloverfield Movie which was previously known as God Particle. Hopefully we’ll have more on Arc of Justice in the near future.