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Inherit the Wind (1960)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 1



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 9,294

My Rating

Movie Info

The Evolution vs. Creationism argument is at the center of the Jerome Lawrence-Robert E. Lee Broadway play Inherit the Wind. Lawrence and Lee's inspiration was the 1925 "Monkey Trial," in which Tennessee schoolteacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in violation of state law. Scopes deliberately courted arrest to challenge what he and his supporters saw as an unjust law, and the trial became a national cause when The Baltimore Sun, represented by the famed (and

Dec 11, 2001

MGM Home Entertainment

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All Critics (23) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (2) | DVD (11)

Spencer Tracy does his cuddly curmudgeon turn as Clarence Darrow; it's a lazy, vague performance, but its wit provides the only crack of light in the film's somber, gray overcast.

August 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (4)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tolerably gripping in its old-fashioned way, thanks chiefly to old pro performances from Tracy and March as the rival lawyers and ideologists.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Knock-out courtroom drama has deft comic touches.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Director Stanley Kramer can't overcome the trepidations of a verbose courtroom drama, so he lets his two actors, Spencer Tracy and Fredric March dominate and go at each other, pretending it's a deep play of ideas.

March 18, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Stagey yes, but powerful Tracy and March acting + subject matter make this a must see.

February 24, 2008

Absorbing, if long-winded courtroom drama bolstered by two fine central performances from Tracy and March.

August 13, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

An all time classic

April 20, 2007
Atlantic City Weekly

Tracy and March turn in superlative performances, each trying to upstage the other.

April 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Director Kramer at his most unbearably high-minded and ostentatious

March 10, 2004 | Comments (3)

Extraordinarly vivid, rich, and wise about the core questions of how we know and who we are.

April 4, 2003
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

A most worthwhile film, if for no other reason, because it provides a great opportunity to watch Tracy and March go at it in a most entertaining fashion.

February 11, 2002 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Producer-director Stanley Kramer ably handles the incendiary material visually, making good use of deep focus and careful compositions

January 1, 2002 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Inherit the Wind is well crafted and can entertain even the most jaded of modern audiences.

November 23, 2001 Full Review Source:

Inherit the Wind (1960) portrays the famous and dramatic courtroom "Monkey Trial" battle (in the summer of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee)

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

Audience Reviews for Inherit the Wind

Saw this for perhaps the fourth time, this time part of a DVD binge during a snowed in winter. Amazing how little has changed since 1925 when the "Monkey Trial" was held. I think this is the kind of thought provoking movie that is interesting to revisit at various times of your life. When I originally saw (as a kid) I had a real pro-science bias and just saw the white and black--creationists black, evolutionists white--of the argument. This time I saw much more nuance and the question that intrigued me most was: what do you stand for? If you go through life taking the safe middle--"I am not political"--or the sophomoric stance of everything is worthy of sneering contempt--at the end of the day, what are you? You have to take a definite position in life or you are just taking up space.
February 15, 2014
Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

Even for the sixties this film was a hotbed of turmoil and religious fervor, though the story it was based upon was already forty years old. Science and reason are brought up as the cornerstones of knowledge, in this film, and they are the reason why this story exists. The very famous Scopes Monkey Trial, which spurred the play that this film is based on, has a lot to do with the framework that makes it up. Tracy, who was a hardnosed Catholic his entire life, even outright refusing to divorce his wife in the midst of his affair with Katharine Hepburn, plays the opposing counsel in the trial, on the side of the teacher who is prosecuted for teaching evolution. Frederic March takes on the role of a blithering Southern conventionalist, in the vein of William Jennings Bryant. Both roles are crafted to exemplify famous figures in law, between the former and Clarence Darrow. Their friendship and anonymity towards one another plays an interesting role in their battles within the courtroom. Drummond (Tracy) is a very hard to read character, who finds himself defending someone based on the sciences more than his own personal beliefs. Brady (March) is more apt to rely on his showmanship and oratorical skills than to quote law books. He also believes heavily in the forces that govern the trial, which makes his constant blow-ups hard to watch. It's much more about the two lawyer's world views than anything, and though they battle endlessly, neither gets exactly what they want. The courtroom scenes and speeches always feature such riveting and thought provoking performances from both March and Tracy. It's sometimes difficult to discern whether they are fighting about the well-being of a disenfranchised schoolteacher (who is played by Dick York in his last movie role) or about the fate of a country, torn apart by indecision and doubt. This film speaks about contemporary America as well as its contemporaries of the past, and does so with all the gusto of a contemporary courtroom drama.
November 29, 2013

Super Reviewer

Based on the famous Scopes 'monkey trial" of 1925 ("the good ol'days! man, i wish we could go back!") this serious work suffers from the heavy hand of liberalism weighty throughout. Of course, when it was made, 1960, things were decidedly different which can explain the overdoing of things. Anyhow, though it's lost some of its urgency none of its poetry has gone.
February 4, 2013

Super Reviewer

A Tennessee teacher violates a law against teaching evolution.
What is most remarkable about Inherit the Wind is its progressive politics, which are on full display, demonizing, in some cases, the blindly religious and valorizing those on the side of evolution. People march in unison, singing "That Old Time Religion," and the preacher's anti-evolution speech is lit in dark tones, like we're listening to the film's villain. Inherit the Wind doesn't "teach the controversy;" it takes a clear side. Obviously, I'm in line with the film's politics, but I was glad that the film didn't take the easy way out, equating all who believe in creationism with hypocrisy and foolishness; there are a few reasons to like Brady, the prosecutor, and even if one can't like him, one can at least find him pitiable.
I also liked Gene Kelly's performance. He delivers quick, scathing one-liners like a dance step:
"Woman: I know where you can find a nice, comfortable bed.
Kelly's character: I had a nice comfortable bed, and I left it to come here."
What bothered me about this film were the trial scenes. Everything seemed over-the-top, staged, like the lawyers were more concentrated on sounding like skilled rhetors than proving their respective case. Such theatrics, including the defense attorney breaking into a long speech about individual freedom during questioning and the prosecutor addressing the crowd like a cheerleader instead of the jury, seem more common in courtroom movies than in the courtroom. The result is a lack of verisimilitude and, for me, a conscious realization that I was watching actors, not lawyers.
Overall, there's a lot to like about this important film, but I think that the filmmakers took too many liberties with reality.
November 6, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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  • Wer den Wind sät (DE)
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