Inherit the Wind

1960

Inherit the Wind

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 24

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,618
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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 atheistic) journalist H. L. Mencken, hired attorney Clarence Darrow to defend Scopes. The prosecuting attorney was crusading politician William Jennings Bryan, once a serious contender for the Presidency, now a relic of a past era. While Bryan won the case as expected, he and his fundamentalist backers were held up to public ridicule by the cagey Darrow. In both the play and film versions of Inherit the Wind, the names and places are changed, but the basic chronology was retained, along with most of the original court transcripts. John Scopes becomes Bertram Cates (Dick York); Clarence Darrow is Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy); William Jennings Bryan is Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March); and H. L. Mencken is E. K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly). Dayton, Tennessee is transformed into Hillsboro -- or, as the relentlessly cynical Hornbeck characterizes it, "Heavenly Hillsboro."

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Cast

Spencer Tracy
as Henry Drummond
Fredric March
as Matthew Harrison Brady
Gene Kelly
as Hornbeck
Dick York
as Cates
Elliott Reed
as Davenport
Elliott Reid
as Davenport
Claude Akins
as Reverend
Jimmy Boyd
as Howard
Gordon Polk
as Sillers
Ray Teal
as Dunlap
Norman Fell
as Radio Announcer
Hope Summers
as Mrs. Krebs
Renee Godfrey
as Mrs. Stebbins
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Critic Reviews for Inherit the Wind

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (2)

  • 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.

    Aug 13, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Tolerably gripping in its old-fashioned way, thanks chiefly to old pro performances from Tracy and March as the rival lawyers and ideologists.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It confirms Mr. Kramer as the versatile man he is, full of object lessons for the world; this time a forceful one about the right to think.

    Jun 18, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Stanley Kramer's 1960 film is a searing indictment of religious fundamentalism and anti-intellectualism. Inherit the Wind's relevance continues beyond its immediate parallels with McCarthyism.

    May 24, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Knock-out courtroom drama has deft comic touches.

    Jan 1, 2011 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Mar 18, 2008 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Inherit the Wind

  • Mar 26, 2016
    A immensely riveting drama with amazing dialogue, Inherit The Wind is both important in it's message as it is clever in it's execution. Heavy handed? Yes. Engaging as all hell? You betcha.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2016
    This wonderfully-written film was daring for the time it came out and remains 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 with a terrible last scene.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 15, 2014
    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.
    Bathsheba M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 04, 2013
    Slightly creaky now, Inherit the Wind remains a great Sunday classic to curl up with. Fredric March and Spencer Tracy give it their all as competing interests in the create Scopes monkey trial. Gene Kelly has a great "commentator" role as well.
    John B Super Reviewer

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