Rhetoric & Reason Seven Films

I teach these seven films as part of the Liberal Studies  Foundations course. An over arching theme in the junction of science and humanities, in particular the ability of the art of film to teach us about science and scientists.

Reason and Rhetoric:Bickering for Humanity 

    As part of LBST120 Core Course On-Line,   students will watch seven feature films.  All are great films, award winners, great acting, faculty favorites. The primary focus of the films is how persuasive arguments are constructed, flow, and resolve. Rhetoric is classically the first Liberal Art. The secondary theme is modern scientific debate- evolution, genes, cosmology. (Liberal arts have outgrown rhetoric, grammar, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.)

 LBST120 in an on-line course. Students must borrow, buy, or rent these films. I will screen the films on-campus for students and course visitors if requested on Wednesdays.  Popcorn and dinner are welcome.   

  My notes on each film are posted here. 


  Rick Rayfield, Instructor


Inherit the Wind(1960)   128 mins.   

                  Courtroom giants  Darrow vs  Bryan. 

                  Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly .

                  Great book, great play, great film.

                   Evolution on trial while the country watches.

 Twelve Angry Men (1957)    96 mins   

                  Ordinary citizens on a jury. 

                 Henry Fonda and all-star cast directed by Sidney Lumet.

                  Everybody who sees this film gets pulled in,

                    and everyone is moved. What is justice?

 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)  108 mins

                  Family persuasion   AA Katharine Hepburn,  

                   Spencer Tracy, Sidney Portier

                   Interracial love disrupts a well-educated liberal family.

Lion in WInter  (1968)     135 mins           

                  Royal family bickering AA Katharine Hepburn,  

                   Peter O’Toole are King and queen with razor tongues

                   arguing over which son should succeed.


Proof (2004)      99 mins           

                  Campus furor on sanity & genius Gyneth Paltrow

                 Jake Gyllenham Anthony Hopkins

                   A mathematical proof needs checking and an author.



Copenhagen (2002)    117 mins          

                  Nobel physicists argue the universe Tony Award winner

                 by Michael Frayn, Brilliant playwright (Noises Off)

                 imagines with clarity two geniuses and  rivals,

     Bohr and Heisenberg, arguing atomic politics and

     subatomic rules.


Gattaca (1997)       106 mins       

                  Evidence of what is human in genetically twisted future 

                 Ethan Hawke wants to be an astronaut,

                  but his hippie parents did not get their genes cleaned.

Here are my rough notes on what I find interesting about these films.

Inherit the Wind
Twelve Angry Men
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Lion in Winter