A good, abbreviated version of the Lawrence - Lee Play
I saw this in 1965 and enjoyed it almost as much as the film version with Spencer Tracy and Frederic March. Melvyn Douglas portrayed Henry Drummond / Clarence Darrow in this version. He had briefly played the role on stage while Paul Muni was making a film or was on vacation. But more interesting was seeing Ed Begley Sr. doing his performance as Matthew Harrison Brady / William Jennings Bryan. He played Bryan on stage opposite Muni, and so his performance in this production was actually one of the few times a Broadway production was repeated and preserved on tape or film.
Begley was somewhat softer around the edges than March was in the film version. It was like Begley took Bryan's great orator (which March repeatedly returns to) and made it into an evangelical preacher type. Not that he forgot to be threatening at the right moments (when cross-examining Bert Cates' girlfriend, for example). It was just that the silk glove around the fundamentalist iron fist was more apparent.
It would not be Begley's only "Bryan" role. He appeared on an episode of the television show THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR as an honest reformer politician seeking to restore democracy to the town by running for Mayor. In that episode, where Begley's character represented the more progressive side of William Jennings Bryan, he actually made up - in part - for the negative view of Bryan that arises from this play.
It's also interesting to notice that Dick York plays Betram Cates again in this version of INHERIT THE WIND as in the film.
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