Inherit the Wind (1960) Poster


To heighten the tension of Spencer Tracy's final summation to the jury, the scene was filmed in a single take.
Because of the criticism directed at producer Stanley Kramer by the American Legion for hiring Nedrick Young, whom they considered subversive, Moss Hart as president of The Authors League of America sent Kramer a telegram: "The Authors League of America council, which has always unalterably opposed any form of blacklisting of writers, unanimously voted at a meeting today to commend and applaud you for your courageous stand in rejecting publicly the effort to interfere, on pseudo-patriotic grounds, with the right of writers to work."
When Stanley Kramer offered the role of E.K. Hornbeck to Gene Kelly, Kelly initially turned it down. Kramer told him that his co-stars would be Fredric March and Spencer Tracy, and Kelly changed his mind. This was a risky move on Kramer's part, as he had not yet asked March or Tracy to participate.
The original Broadway production of "Inherit the Wind" by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee opened at the National Theater on 21 April 1955, ran for 806 performances, and won two acting Tony Awards in 1956. The opening night cast included Paul Muni as Drummond (Melvyn Douglas later took over the role when Muni developed a cataract), Ed Begley as Brady and Tony Randall as Hornbeck. There have been 2 Broadway revivals; in 1996 with Charles Durning and George C. Scott and in 2007 with Brian Dennehy and Christopher Plummer.
The real-life John Thomas Scopes upon whom the Bertram Cates character was based had an unusual epilogue of his own. After the famous trial, he was approached by a representative of the University of Chicago, which offered him a scholarship for graduate study in geology. Scopes then did geological field work in Venezuela for Gulf Oil of South America, and went on to make a name for himself in the field of geology.
Was the first in-flight movie ever shown on Trans World Airlines.
Fredric March and Florence Eldridge, the actors who play Matthew and Sarah Brady, were married in real life from 1927 until his death in 1975.
In real life, Clarence Darrow asked the jury to find John Thomas Scopes guilty so that he could appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court where he could put an even bigger dent on the law. The guilty ruling was overturned but on a technicality, which wasn't Darrow's hope.
The character of E.K. Hornbeck was based on American journalist H.L. Mencken, who had notably covered the John Thomas Scopes trial.
The title of the movie comes from the Book of Proverbs, 11:29: "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind."
In the scene where Drummond (Spencer Tracy) tells the story of his rocking horse "Golden Dancer" to Brady (Fredric March), they are sitting in rocking chairs on the porch of the boarding house. The actors are both rocking their chairs but are never in sync with each other to emphasize their differences of opinion.
Dick York's final feature film. He went onto a long career in television on shows such as The Twilight Zone (1959) and Bewitched (1964), the latter featuring his most famous performance ever.
The actual Scopes Monkey Trial testimony was quite dull, until Clarence Darrow (Drummond) called William Jennings Bryan (Brady) as a defense witness. Firing questions about the earth's origins and Adam and Eve, Darrow quickly forced Bryan into raging contradictions, proving his point that the Bible, in light of scientific knowledge, cannot be interpreted literally.
The buzz about Fredric March's and Spencer Tracy's performances spread around the studio lot and Hollywood to the point that a lot of extras made their way to the set just to see the action. In one instance, the extras were applauding so much at one of March's dramatic speeches that they ruined the take by not waiting until the end.
The character Henry Drummond is based on real-life attorney Clarence Darrow. Matthew Harrison Brady is based on William Jennings Bryan. Schoolteacher Bertram T. Cates is based on schoolteacher John Thomas Scopes (hence "Scopes Monkey Trial").
There are several references to "chautauqua meetings" and "chautauqua tents" throughout the film. "Chautauqua" was an education movement for adults in the U.S. The movement was highly popular at the end of the 19th and in the early 20th centuries. Chautauqua meetings spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. William Jennings Bryan (represented in the film by "Matthew Brady") was a popular speaker at chautauquas. Chautauqua meetings or assemblies brought a variety of entertainment and culture for the whole community, with a range of speakers, musicians, etc.
Although the defense lost the actual John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial, it was later reversed on a technicality.
Based on the true events of the Scopes Monkey Trial which took place in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925. The defendant was John Thomas Scopes.
When Drummond's attempt to call scientific experts to the stand to testify in behalf of the defense is thwarted, Stanley Kramer adds a couple of elements from the actual John Thomas Scopes Trial, combining the fiery closing of Clarence Darrow's speech on the motion to quash the indictment with the change in which Judge Raulston cited Darrow for contempt.
Fredric March and Spencer Tracy both played the dual roles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1931 (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)) and 1941 (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)) respectively. March received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal.
Stanley Kramer was advised against casting Fredric March and Spencer Tracy in the lead roles as it was felt young audiences would not want to see veteran stars.
The second of three films in a row where Stanley Kramer cast the biggest former M-G-M musical stars in unexpected dramatic roles: Gene Kelly in this film, following Fred Astaire in On the Beach (1959), and followed by Judy Garland in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
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.
8 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Unlike his fictional counterpart Matthew Harrison Brady, William Jennings Bryan did not object to the $100 fine as too lenient. Instead, he offered to pay the fine himself. Bryan supported state laws prohibiting public schools from teaching Darwin's theory of human origins, but he believed such laws should not include punishments for violating them.
8 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The subplot concerning Cates' engagement to the Rev. Brown's daughter Rachel, and Brady's manipulation of the girl to give damaging testimony at the trial, is entirely fictional. The real-life John Thomas Scopes had no known fiancée or girlfriend at the time of the trial.
A venireman is the technical name for someone called to jury duty by the order of a judge (known as a "venire facias").
The film is notable for featuring a large number of actors who would later become recognizable figures on popular television shows: Dick York, Harry Morgan, Claude Akins, Norman Fell, and Noah Beery Jr.
A young Burt Reynolds got to visit the set and watch some of the courtroom scenes being filmed because he was doing some TV work nearby and Spencer Tracy was one of his idols.
Writers Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee named the overzealous prosecutor "Matthew Brady". When Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle was tried for manslaughter three times in 1921 and 1922, the real overzealous prosecuting San Francisco District Attorney was named Matthew Brady. Matthew Brady was also the name of several real life historical figures including an English "Gentleman Bandit" who robbed several farms but refused to harm women in Tasmania in the 1820s. But the name Mathew Brady (with only one t) is most famously connected with the famous portrait and landscape photographer of the mid-1800s, best known for immortalizing American Civil War casualties.
Despite his delightfully audacious, youthful cynicism displayed in the film, Gene Kelly was 47 during the filming of the movie.
Final film of Florence Eldridge.
8 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Robert Vaughn was offered the role of E.K. Hornbeck, in case Gene Kelly turned it down. But he instead opted to make The Magnificent Seven (1960).
Florence Eldridge, Fredric March's wife in real life, also portrayed his wife twelve years earlier in 'An Act of Murder'.
H.L. Mencken was born in 1880, so in 1926 he would have been around Gene Kelly's age of 47 when the film was shot. However, while it is true that Mencken wrote Byron off as "the tragic ass of the century" it is also true that the Mencken character Hornbeck as written by Lawrence and Lee projects an immaturity in his cynicism contrary to the wry personality of the Sage of Baltimore.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The theatrical trailer, hosted by Stanley Kramer, shows Kramer, along with Gregory Peck and his wife Veronique Peck (aka Celia Peck), Jeff Chandler, Otto Preminger, Walter Wanger, and West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt attending the Berlin Film Festival premiere, where Kramer receives an award presented by Harold Lloyd, who was on the festival committee.
There are references to the "Chautauqua meetings at Chattanooga" at the beginning of the film. It is interesting that these lines are in the movie, because the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee is only a 45 minute drive from Dayton, Tennessee, the real city where the actual Scopes Monkey Trial took place in 1925.
4 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
6 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
After the court is adjourned, a little boy climbs up on the judge's bench and bangs the gavel 14 times. Supposedly a reference to the 14 Stations of the Cross familiar to Catholicism.
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
William Jennings Bryan, like his fictionalized alter ego Matthew Harrison Brady, ran for President three times and lost each time.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page