Teacher B.T. Cates is arrested for teaching Darwin's theories. Famous lawyer Henry Drummond defends him; fundamentalist politician Matthew Brady prosecutes. This is a very thinly disguised rendition of the 1925 "Scopes monkey trial" with debates between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan taken largely from the transcripts. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
The play Inherit the Wind and its various film adaptations have decisively shaped popular assumptions about the Scopes Trial, despite the fact that the story departs in numerous ways from the actual history of the trial. For instance, the townsfolk of Dayton, Tennessee, were not up in arms ready to lynch John T. Scopes for teaching Darwinism. Instead, leading citizens invited Scopes to be the defendant in a test case to challenge the law. Scopes's students had to be coached to testify that Scopes had taught them Darwinism so there could be a trial in the first place. Far more accurate is the depiction of the town's leading citizens seeing the trial as a chance to put their community on the map. See more »
The film is set in 1925. During Drummond's cross-examination of Brady, he uses the word "sex", not to mean "gender", but as a shorthand for "sexual intercourse". The first known example of this usage was not until 1929. See more »
This movie is made by the performances. The material is very good, but at time its a bit melodramatic and obvious, which is the way the play is. Were it not for the collision of Spencer Tracy and Frederick March this would be just an excellent Hollywood film instead of the classic that it is.
I would be tempted to say that all you need is a basic knowledge of the plot and the ability to jump straight to the court room scenes, but that would be unfair. Watch the movie once and then after that you can simply watch the fireworks.
What can I say about the battle between Tracy and March? Nothing. Words fail me. This is one of the great battles on screen in any film. It should be seen by anyone who wants to see how "easy" acting should appear. All the more important is the fact that this is a battle of ideas that still matter today as much as then. If only all of the world's problem could be debated this perfectly we'd live in a happier place.
See this movie.
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