Author Topic: Inherit the Wind (1960)  (Read 1678 times)

Offline Antares

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Inherit the Wind (1960)
« on: June 24, 2010, 01:28:48 AM »
Inherit the Wind

Year: 1960
Film Studio: United Artists, Lomitas Productions
Genre: Drama, Classic
Length: 128 Min.

Stanley Kramer (1913)

Nedrick Young (1914)...(Screenplay) Originally As Nathan E. Dou
Harold Jacob Smith (1912)...Screenplay
Jerome Lawrence (1915)...Play
Robert E. Lee (1918)...Play

Stanley Kramer (1913)

Ernest Laszlo (1898)

Ernest Gold (1921)...Music

Spencer Tracy (1900) as Henry Drummond
Fredric March (1897) as Matthew Harrison Brady
Gene Kelly (1912) as E. K. Hornbeck
Dick York (1928) as Bertram T. Cates
Donna Anderson (1939) as Rachel Brown
Harry Morgan (1915) as Judge Mel Coffey
Claude Akins (1926) as Reverend Jeremiah Brown
Elliott Reid (1920) as Prosecutor Tom Davenport

       It’s a shame that Stanley Kramer has been largely forgotten by film fans over the last three decades, for he was one of the maverick pioneering directors who emerged in the post-World War II film era. At a time when the studio system was coming apart at the seams, and directors were given more freedom to create, Kramer would tackle the taboo subjects of racism and religious intolerance in successive films, starting with The Defiant Ones in 1958 and finishing with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 1967. Sandwiched in the middle of these ten years was the release of Inherit the Wind in 1960, which recreated the famous Scopes monkey trial of 1925. The religious intolerance to the teaching of Evolution by a Tennessee schoolteacher in 1925, would juxtapose itself quite well with another religious issue that was at the forefront of American politics in the early sixties; the outlawing of school prayer in public schools. Kramer would use the film to show that when one group of individuals forces its will upon all, the result is a loss of freedom for everyone and a recessive journey in our own nation’s intellectual evolutionary process.

       Bertram Cates (Dick York of Bewitched fame) is a high school teacher in Hillsboro, Tennessee. The time is the roaring twenties, and the sleepy little hamlet is about to be thrust upon the world stage as Cates has been arrested for teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to his students. At first, the residents of Hillsboro pay no heed to the event that is unfolding in their town. But when the esteemed orator and three time presidential nominee Matthew Harrison Brady (Frederic March) agrees to represent the prosecution in the case, they all see it as divine intervention. Their enthusiasm will be somewhat tempered when it is also announced that the defense will be represented by liberal, atheistic lawyer Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy). Drummond is an anathema to the God fearing folk of Hillsboro, a town best described by E.K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly) as the buckle on the Bible belt, and they promptly declare that they’ll run him out of town. But Brady believes that he can defeat any minion of Satan sent to do the devil’s work, and welcomes the challenge of his one time friend and political ally.

       The film mainly takes place in the Hillsboro courthouse and when it is focused on the trial, the film fires on all cylinders. But being a Stanley Kramer film, you get a fair dose of filler sub-plots that are pretty sparse on subtlety. Claude Akins plays the fire and brimstone preacher who fans the flames of religious intolerance like a carnival barker imbued with a demonic possession. Another wasted bit of filler is the reverend’s tormented daughter, who is chomping at the bit to break away from her overbearing father and who also happens to be the love interest of Cates.

       Kramer would benefit from having two of the most revered actors in Hollywood film history to star as the opposing lawyers in the galvanizing trial; Spencer Tracy and Frederic March. Each was a two time Oscar winner and would bring credibility to the roles that they played and to the film itself. Tracy would play the character based on Clarence Darrow, while March’s character would be based upon William Jennings Bryan. The scenes in which these two characters are verbally sparring are the most riveting in the film, and only when Kramer delves into the sub-plots I mentioned, does the movie tend to derail momentarily. At Oscar time, Tracy would be nominated for his performance, but for some insane reason, March was not. Now while Tracy is superb as the atheist with religious convictions, it is March who gives the truly exemplary performance. His character’s foibles, strengths and convictions never once appear to be overstated, and in the end, even after witnessing what a political windbag he is, you feel sorry for him after Drummond eviscerates him on the stand. It takes an actor of incredible talent to pull this off, and March succeeds admirably. One of the greatest acting performances in the history of film, and well deserving of the award he should have won.

Review Criterion
5 Stars - The pinnacle of film perfection and excellence.
4 ½ Stars - Not quite an immortal film, yet a masterpiece in its own right.
4 Stars - Historically important film, considered a classic.
3 ½ Stars - An entertaining film that’s fun or engaging to watch.
3 Stars – A good film that’s worth a Netflix venture.
2 ½ Stars - Borderline viewable.
2 Stars – A bad film that may have a moment of interest.
1 ½ Stars – Insipid, trite and sophomoric, and that's its good points.
1 Star – A film so vacuous, it will suck 2 hours from the remainder of your life.
½ Star - A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 12:04:46 AM by Antares »

Offline Kathy

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Re: Inherit the Wind (1960)
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2010, 01:30:40 AM »
I've often wondered, but don't recall seeing, what movie(s) do you consider "A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid"?

Offline Antares

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Re: Inherit the Wind (1960)
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2010, 01:32:47 AM »
I've often wondered, but don't recall seeing, what movie(s) do you consider "A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid"?,6001.0.html