I is for Inherit the Wind

For this year’s A-To-Z Challenge, my theme is MOVIES. I will be working my way through the alphabet during the month of April with movie titles and short blurbs about each movie. Today’s movie is “Inherit the Wind.”

“Inherit the Wind” was a 1960 American film based on the 1955 play written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. The film was directed by Stanley Kramer and starred Spencer Tracy as lawyer Henry Drummond and Fredric March as his friend and rival Matthew Harrison Brady. It also featured Gene Kelly, Dick York, Harry Morgan, Donna Anderson, Claude Akins, Noah Beery Jr., Florence Eldridge, and Jimmy Boyd.

In the 1920s, Tennessee schoolteacher Bertram Cates (Dick York) is put on trial for violating the Butler Act, a state law that prohibits public school teachers from teaching evolution instead of creationism. Drawing intense national attention in the media with writer E. K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly) reporting, two of the nation’s leading lawyers go head to head: Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March) for the prosecution, and Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) for the defense.

The film is based on the so-called “Monkey Trial” of 1925, that put a young high school teacher named John T. Scopes on trial for violating a state law, passed the same year, prohibiting the teaching of any theory that denied the biblical account of divine creation. Darwin’s theory of evolution was also therefore on trial. Two of the most famous lawyers and orators in the land contested the case. Scopes was defended by the legendary Clarence Darrow, and the prosecution was led by three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. Darrow’s expenses were paid by the Baltimore Sun papers, home of the famed journalist H.L. Mencken, who meticulously covered the trial.

In the movie, after his six expert scientific witnesses are not allowed to testify, Drummond boldly calls Brady onto the stand as a defense witness. The bombastic Brady is unable to refuse a chance to show off, and Drummond quizzes him on biblical details, more or less destroying his credibility in the process; Brady is finally reduced to agreeing with Bishop Usher that God created the Earth at exactly 9 a.m. on Oct. 23, 4004 BC. This impactful movie scene was an actual, masterfully performed reenactment of what Darrow really did when he called Bryan to the stand and methodically ground him down.

Spencer Tracy was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in “Inherit the Wind.” The movie was also nominated for Best Screenplay based upon material from another medium, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing. From my personal perspective, it is one of the best films ever, and I highly encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to watch it.

Previous A2Z 2022 posts: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

42 thoughts on “I is for Inherit the Wind

    • Fandango April 11, 2022 / 10:52 am

      And “12 Angry Men” may be the best jury movie ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. kajmeister26 April 11, 2022 / 7:33 am

    Great movie, but why did you put the colorized poster up front? That’s an offense! Also, I can never recognize Frederic March, one of those actors who just seems like corncob-up-the-you-know-what white guys. But that probably makes him perfect for this part. And Tennessee is still debating evolution, too…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 11, 2022 / 10:54 am

      The colorized poster was found on Google. Perhaps I should have de-colorized it. And yes, Tennessee and throughout the bible-belt states in the South, evolution is still controversial.


      • Fandango April 11, 2022 / 7:56 pm

        It’s GOP hypocrisy.


        • Marleen April 11, 2022 / 10:11 pm

          I was watching Chris hayes’ show, again, and Rachel is back. (Her hour is right after his.)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Fandango April 11, 2022 / 10:45 pm

            I know. She’ll be on Mondays thru Thursdays for the rest of this month, but she said on tonight’s show that starting in May, she’ll only be on Monday nights.


            • Marleen April 11, 2022 / 11:13 pm

              Yeah; strange she said that after she said she didn’t need any more breaks/another break. Huh?

              Liked by 1 person

  2. eschudel April 11, 2022 / 10:04 am

    I remember reading the book and watching the movie way way way back in like Grade 10. It made quite the impact!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 11, 2022 / 11:03 am

      Yes, it was a very impactful movie. Too bad evolution is still controversial in the southern states still today.


  3. JT Twissel April 11, 2022 / 10:30 am

    One of my favorites – I’ve seen it many times. I’ve even blogged about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nope, Not Pam April 11, 2022 / 1:15 pm

    It sounds quite gripping and slightly frightening

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marilyn Armstrong April 11, 2022 / 5:12 pm

    You really have been hitting on ALL our favorite movies. When Garry and I were courting (seriously and for the final time), this was the movie he brought with him for us to watch. The second one was a time travel romance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. PCGuyIV April 11, 2022 / 7:47 pm

    How have I not seen this movie? I read Inherit the Wind when I was a kid, and absolutely loved it. It was one of the few things I read in my school-age days that I read just for my own amusement, and not for a forced reading assignment or book report.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 11, 2022 / 8:18 pm

      I believe the movie was relatively true to the book. I think it’s available to watch on YouTube.


      • PCGuyIV April 11, 2022 / 8:31 pm

        That’s one of the good things about plays. They translate well to movies with minimal reworking. I’m sure I can find it streaming somewhere. I will have to make that a priority tomorrow.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. jilldennison April 11, 2022 / 8:45 pm

    This is an incredible movie with some of the best acting I’ve seen … I just watched it myself week before last! And then, I began doing some research about the actual Scopes trial and one interesting tidbit came out. Apparently, the town of Dayton, Tennessee, was struggling and the town’s leaders came up with a plan to increase tourism, to ‘put the town on the map’. Scopes actually agreed to be arrested for teaching evolution in order to help with the plan. Some interesting trivia about the trial, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 11, 2022 / 10:43 pm

      That is interesting. I didn’t know that.

      Liked by 1 person

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