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||IMDB Rating: 8.2/10 from 19,390 votes
||Release: November 1960 (USA) /
||Genre: Drama, History
||Director: Stanley Kramer,
||Stars: Claude Akins, Dick York, Donna Anderson, Elliott Reid, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Gordon Polk, Harry Morgan, Hope Summers, Jimmy Boyd, Noah Beery Jr., Norman Fell, Paul Hartman, Philip Coolidge, Spencer Tracy
||Synopsis: Teacher B.T. Cates is arrested for teaching Darwin's theories. Famous lawyer Henry Drummond defends him; fundamentalist politician Matthew Brady prosecutes. This is a very thinly disguised rendition of the 1925 "Scopes monkey trial" with debates between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan taken largely from the transcripts. Written by Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
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Like Elmer Gantry I first saw Inherit the Wind in the theater in
Brooklyn when I was 13 years old. Both of those films dealt with issues
arising from the Roaring Twenties out of religion. At the time I
thought both were great dramatic pieces dealing with issues of the
past. I thought how much we'd grown up as a country from 1925 to 1960.
If you had told me that 46 years later we'd be fighting these same
battles and that preachers had as much political power as they do I and
many others would have said you were nuts. Yet here we are today in an
age when Pat Robertson is taken as a serious political figure.
Inherit the Wind is a dramatization of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial
of 1925 when a biology teacher was arrested and challenged a law passed
by the Tennessee State legislature making it a crime to teach anything
other than the account of creation as set down in the Book of Genesis.
Dick York is the biology teacher here, renamed Bertram Cates for the
play and the film version of that play.
In fact all the names of the dramatis personae of the Scopes Trial have
been changed to allow some creativity by the authors Jerome Lawrence
and Robert Lee. Spencer Tracy and Fredric March play fictionalizations
of Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan named Henry Drummond and
Matthew Harrison Brady respectively.
Of course that is what Inherit the Wind is primarily known for, a duel
of double Academy Award winners. In fact Spencer Tracy received another
Academy Award nomination for this film, but lost to Burt Lancaster for
Elmer Gantry. That's ironic to me because I thought March captured the
essence of William Jennings Bryan better. Bryan is a man whose time has
passed him by. But he's still a hero to the folks of small town rural
America in the south and middle west. One thing to remember is that
while Bryan was a great orator and advocate, he had not practiced law
in over 30 years when he stepped into the courtroom for the trial. If
he had been a better lawyer, he might not have fallen into the one big
trap Tracy set for him and the trial and the attending publicity might
have been better for his side.
As good as Tracy is, the year before in Compulsion I think that Orson
Welles captured the real Clarence Darrow in his character of Jonathan
Wilk. No one in Hollywood could do long take speeches quite like
Spencer Tracy though. I'm sure that's why Director Stanley Kramer hired
him and they developed quite the screen partnership with Tracy doing
four of his last five screen roles for Kramer.
Stanley Kramer made some impeccable casting choices filling out the
minor roles of the various townspeople of Hillsboro, Tennessee. There
are two that I would single out. Claude Akins who usually played tough
guys in various action films was astounding as the town preacher, the
Reverend Jeremiah Brown. Sad to say there are still many like him out
there. Akins's offbeat casting worked wonders, it turned out to be the
high point of his screen career.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Noah Beery, Jr. who is a farmer
and who's son was drowned some time before the events of the film.
Beery is the town non-conformist, he refused to allow his son to be
baptized and Akins has said the adolescent is in hell because of it.
In a key scene when Tracy draws the ire of Judge Harry Morgan who
sentences him to jail for contempt of court, Beery offers to put up his
farm for collateral for Tracy's bail. Tracy's about to quit the case,
but that simple gesture gives him hope, in the ultimate decency and
clearheadedness of ordinary people. It's my favorite scene in Inherit
Stanley Kramer lived long enough to see this film become so relevant
for today's times. I wonder what he must have thought.
Tags for Inherit the Wind Full Movie
, Dick York
, Donna Anderson
, Elliott Reid
, Fredric March
, Gene Kelly
, Gordon Polk
, Harry Morgan
, Hope Summers
, Jimmy Boyd
, Noah Beery Jr.
, Norman Fell
, Paul Hartman
, Philip Coolidge
, Spencer Tracy
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