Inherit the Wind (1960)

Inherit the Wind
Directed by Stanley Kramer
Written by Nedrick Young and Harold Jacob Smith from a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
1960/USA
Stanley Kramer Productions

Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Matthew Harrison Brady: I do not think about things I do not think about.

Henry Drummond: Do you ever think about things that you do think about?

Worth seeing just to witness Spencer Tracy go mano a mano with Fredric March.

The story is loosely based on the Scopes Monkey Trial in which a school teacher was prosecuted for teaching evolution.  “Bertram T. Cates” (Dick York) stands in for Scopes, “Henry Drummond” (Tracy) stands in for celebrity defense attorney Clarence Darrow, Matthew Harrison Brady (March) stands in for celebrity prosecutor William Jennings Bryan, and E.K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelley) stands in for journalist H.L. Mencken making snarky comments from the sidelines.

The setting is a largely fundamentalist Christian small town in early Twentieth Century Tennessee.  The famous trial and advocates turn the community into kind of a circus and whip the townspeople into a religious frenzy.

The conviction is a foregone conclusion.  The trial is kept vastly entertaining by the speechmaking of Brady and the withering cross-examination of Brady himself as an expert on the Bible.  With Florence Etheridge, March’s real life wife, as Brady’s wife.

Tracy got the Oscar nomination and he is great but I thought March was robbed.  Between his makeup and his acting he absolutely becomes the consummate politician and bible thumper with a fragile ego hid where he hopes it doesn’t show.  This is still tragically relevant in 2017 and definitely worth a watch.

Inherit the Wind was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Actor (Tracy); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Written for Another Medium; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; and Best Film Editing.

Trailer

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