Inherit the Wind

"Excellent"

Inherit the Wind Review


Stanley Kramer produced and directed one of the masterworks of the legal drama by bringing to the screen this story of one of the landmark lawsuits of history -- the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial." The names have all been changed (unfortunately so), but that takes only a little away from the proceedings. (Odd note -- the descriptions on the cover of the new DVD release refer to the actors playing the characters by their historical names, not the character names from the movie. We'll follow suit in this review.)

And so, for the historically uninterested, we find ourselves in a small town in 1925 Tennessee, where a highschool teacher named John Scopes (Dick York) has done the unthinkable: He has brought Darwin's theory of evolution into the classroom, casting doubt upon the literal interpretation of the Bible in the process. The state arrests him, and his trial became one of the first "celebrity" lawsuits ever. The prosecution was led by Fundamentalist and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan (Fredric March). The defense (hired by the ACLU -- in the movie, by a Boston newspaper) was led by Clarence Darrow (Spencer Tracy), a wild agnostic and verteran lawyer, nearly 70 years old.

Needless to say, the town of Dayton, Tennessee became a circus when the trial began. Bryan quoted scripture. Darrow nearly screamed epithets at him. After eight days, the case came to a dramatic conclusion when Darrow called Bryan to the stand as an expert witness on the Bible. Although Bryan practically collapsed on the stand, Scopes was pronounced guilty and sentenced to a fine of $100. (The state Supreme Court dismissed the case a year later on a technicality over the sentencing.)

But the most dramatic part of Scope is the death of Bryan. In the movie, he dies right there in the courtroom. In reality, he died six days later after gorging his already obese self. And the only real weakness of Inherit the Wind is that it takes an already outrageous case and makes it even more outrageous. Court transcripts show that Bryan was far more composed during his examination about religion than he appears in the film. Gene Kelly's appearance as a newspaperman (here in a rare non-singing role) is total fantasy. Sure, movies stretch the truth, but you have to wonder why they did it in this one.

As a film, Inherit the Wind is well crafted and can entertain even the most jaded of modern audiences. But by and large, its historical accuracy is the movie's real strength. But like Scopes, I have to hope that its existence will foster more people to research the real trial to find out how it really went down.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 1st November 1960

Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Stanley Kramer Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Henry Drummond, as Matthew Harrison Brady, as E.K. Hornbeck, as Bertram T. Cates, as Rachel Brown, as Judge Mel

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.