Inherit the Wind (1960)
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as Henry Drummond
as Matthew Harrison Brady
as Mrs. Brady
as Radio Announcer
as Mrs. Krebs
as Mrs. Stebbins
Critic Reviews for Inherit the Wind
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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.
Tolerably gripping in its old-fashioned way, thanks chiefly to old pro performances from Tracy and March as the rival lawyers and ideologists.
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.
Stagey yes, but powerful Tracy and March acting + subject matter make this a must see.
Audience Reviews for Inherit the Wind
A wonderfully-written film that was daring for the time it came out and still feels relevant in our times, as it exposes religion and bigotry as a hindrance to human thinking and impresses us with Fredric March's three-dimensional character, even though it ends in a terrible last scene.
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.
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.
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