Inherit the Wind (1960)

Drama, History
Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Dick York
Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.
  • MGM Home Entertainment Company:
  • TV-PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 01 Nov 1960 Released:
  • 11 Dec 2001 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Nedrick Young (screenplay), Harold Jacob Smith (sc Writer:
  • Stanley Kramer Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

The right to think................very much on trial.10/10
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 the Wind.

Stanley Kramer lived long enough to see this film become so relevant for today's times. I wonder what he must have thought.
If there is such a thing as a perfect movie, this is it.10/10

After recently watching each remake of this film, one can easily appreciate what an incredible film the 1960 version is. It is the perfectly made film and should be held up to all as the pinnacle of film making. It has the perfect director and the perfect actors. It probably has the best behind-the-scenes crew ever assembled including the perfect film editor. The choice of black and white is also perfect. This is one of those few gems where every element of film making came together to make the perfect movie.

The story is very thought provoking from both points of view, the evolutionist and the fundamental Christian. While I am not even close to being a Christian of any kind, I am haunted by the speech given by Matthew Harrison Brady that says how our children will turn into a godless mob with no direction without the teachings of the Bible (paraphrasing). But, isn't that what has happened some 80+ years after the story takes place? The actors effortlessly sell each character's point of view.

There is very little that can be said about Spencer Tracy, Frederick March and Gene Kelly that hasn't already been said. When you see the new version of this film, you can really understand why these actors are held in such high esteem. These guys are actors!

In short, this is one of the finest films ever made and should be seen by everyone.

acting tour de force.10/10

I have recently seen this movie on t.v. and was highly impressed with direction, photography and of course the acting! Spencer Tracy is one of my all time greats along with Frederic March so imagine seeing them together! Some may thing March a little over the top but personally I find his performance one of the most riviting and engaging I have ever come across in film, he should have received an Oscar for this. Somehow although acting styles have become more naturalistic over the years the spark and energy given by the greats of the past is simply missing in the vast majority of modern performances. That God they are preserved on film.
Brilliant - One of the finest movies ever made10/10

This movie is well acted both March and Tracy perform remarkably. The story line depicts how ignorance and blind faith can generate a mob mentality. It beautifully reflects the social values of the time and depicts very well the attitudes of the time in which the movie was set. Like 12 angry men, it has simple sets and gives hope to the notion that not only can movies be educational and entertaining, there are producers that care about making a meaningful statement using a plot and acting to entertain.
Tracy at his zenith10/10
We have been blessed with many, many wonderful films over the decades, and we have also been blessed with seeing many, many fine actors and actresses. Here you have a film, with a host of stars; brilliantly portraying characters from a true story, with acting that is sublime. The dialogue is sharp, witty, and each performance is gripping. Small town America, religious bigotry are all handled in a sympathetic manner by the use of powerful acting. I gave this film a 10 purely because it is one of those rare gems that stay in the mind forever. It is truly memorable, and one can watch it time and time again to marvel at the superb portrayals. There is a saying that they don't make 'em like they use to. No sir, they certainly don't!