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Inherit the Wind

  NR Closed Captioning

Stanley Kramer

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About the Movie

The Evolution vs. Creationism argument is at the center of the Jerome Lawrence-Robert E. Lee Broadway play Inherit the Wind. Lawrence and Lee's inspiration was the 1925 "Monkey Trial," in which Tennessee schoolteacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in violation of state law. Scopes deliberately courted arrest to challenge what he and his supporters saw as an unjust law, and the trial became a national cause when The Baltimore Sun, represented by the famed (and atheistic) journalist H. L. Mencken, hired attorney Clarence Darrow to defend Scopes. The prosecuting attorney was crusading politician William Jennings Bryan, once a serious contender for the Presidency, now a relic of a past era. While Bryan won the case as expected, he and his fundamentalist backers were held up to public ridicule by the cagey Darrow. In both the play and film versions of Inherit the Wind, the names and places are changed, but the basic chronology was retained, along with most of the original court transcripts. John Scopes becomes Bertram Cates (Dick York); Clarence Darrow is Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy); William Jennings Bryan is Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March); and H. L. Mencken is E. K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly). Dayton, Tennessee is transformed into Hillsboro — or, as the relentlessly cynical Hornbeck characterizes it, "Heavenly Hillsboro."

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 22
  • Fresh: 20
  • Rotten: 2
  • Average Rating: 7.8/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Tolerably gripping in its old-fashioned way, thanks chiefly to old pro performances from Tracy and March as the rival lawyers and ideologists. – Geoff Andrew, Time Out, Aug 17, 2007

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Language Arts Honors

This movie is super boring!!!!! I had to watch it with my Language Arts class and I fell asleep 5 times!!!

Thoughtful, Funny, and Smart Courtroom Drama

This is arguably Spencer Tracy's best movie. Between the brillant writing and Tracy's powerful performance, any hard-core movie buff will enjoy this classic courtroom drama. If you've never seen it, you're letting a masterpiece pass you by.

"Significant Historic Value, Smaller Cinematic Value"

There have been numerous times in cinematic history where famous events or periods have been tried to brought to film. Some went above and beyond expectations, and others failed to meet the mark. However, films like "Inherit the Wind", directed by Stanley Kramer, fall within the grey area between the two. The Scopes Trial was one of the most controversial moments in history, and is one of the best examples of the science vs. religion dispute. However, it is hard to capture it in film form. It is not really a "courtroom drama" (since it is more-or-less a biographical film) that will be able to captivate just any viewer. As with much of Hollywood, they try to dramatize and exaggerate the events from which they actually happened. Fortunately, they keep that in check. But still, it is rather difficult for a film like "Inherit the Wind" to be the first film choice for any one individual looking for a good movie to watch on a Saturday night. To sum up, the film has a highly significant historic value, but a smaller cinematic value. The writers did their best to recreate something, and for those looking for a peek into the past, then they succeeded with it. For those looking for a dramatic film, then it will fall quite short of their expectations. ~ Greg

Inherit the Wind
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  • $14.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 2001

Customer Ratings