Inherit the Wind (Daniel Petrie, 1999)
[originally posted 14Mar2000]
Hold the phone. It's a remake that's almost as good as the original.
Much of the brilliance of the new version of Inherit the Wind comes from finding two old fogeys who have the same love/hate chemistry brought to life in the original by Frederic March and Spencer Tracy; in this case, the friendly adversaries are George C. Scott, in his last performance before his death, and Jack Lemmon. Toss in Beau Bridges as the wisecracking journalist and a surprisingly downbeat performance by Thom Everett Scott as the teacher who ends up a guinea pig in one of the biggest trials of the century, and you got yourself a fine film. The comic timing is impeccable on all counts, the lines form the film that have become cliche are delivered with the same freshness that ignited them decades ago, and one can almost believe that Scott and Lemmon actually are Bryan and Darrow haggling it out in a Tennessee courtroom.
If you've never seen Inherit the Wind, start with the classic Spencer Tracy/Frederic March version from 1960. If you're a fan of the film already, and have been avoiding this remake because nothing can do the original justice, well, you're right... but it comes as close as possible. ****