23 AUGUST 1975, Page 5

Darrow and Fonda

Sir: I am indebted to Miss Llewellyn (August 9) for her natural desire to put me right about three errors I'm alleged to have made in my recent article on Darrow. But am I wrong in only dealing with what my judgement tells me to be the case regarding Darrow's previous delineators on both screen and stage rather than what could be hearsay or even Miss Llewellyn's personal taste? I regret not having seen Paul Muni and Ed Begley, fine actors both, in Inherit the Wind on Broadway, but does the fact of missing a treat invalidate what 1 wrote about Henry Fonda being the best Darrow I have ever seen on either screen or stage? It was your correspondent's good fortune, no daunt, that she saw one-man shows that were good plays, again on Broadway. I was referring solely to those numerous one-man entertainments that, in my view, were not plays when I saw them in the West End of London. Missing Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Jr, as Will Rogers and James Whitmore as Harry Truman, none of them, to the best of my knowledge, produced in this country (but regarding whose talents I accept Miss Llewellyn's word) does not correct the personal view, already stated, that Fonda as Darrow is better than any other one-man show I have ever seen — and I have seen many: Emlyn Williams as Dickens (and Dylan Thomas), the late great Max Adrian as GBS, Michael Mac Liammoir as Wilde, Margaret Webster as the Brontes — the list is long and varied; surprise, surprise! — even those talented compatriots of Miss Llewellyn's; Windom as Thurber recently, and long, long ago, the legendary Ruth Draper. And there is nothing I can add, or wish to retract, regarding "the vice-presidential candidate (of the US) in 1896". Richard Nixon was vice-presidential candidate, also, as well as being an attorney. It is a simple statement of fact to describe Darrow's bigoted opponent, William Jennings Bryan, as "a fundamentalist lay preacher". It was also what he liked to be known as.

Peter Cotes Savage Club, 9 Fitzmaurice Place, London WI