Inherit the Wind


2h 7m 1960
Inherit the Wind

Brief Synopsis

In the twenties, a schoolteacher creates a national furor when he breaks the law against teaching evolution.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Legal
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Nov 1960
Premiere Information
World premiere at the Berlin Film Festival: 25 Jun 1960; London opening: 7 Jul 1960; American premiere in Dayton, TN: 21 Jul 1960
Production Company
Lomitas Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, as produced and directed by Herman Shumlin (New York, 21 Apr 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 7m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

The townsmen of Hillsboro, Tennessee, led by Rev. Jeremiah Brown, arrest high school biology teacher Bertram T. Cates for violating a state law that prohibits the teaching of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Soon, the landmark case becomes a national cause célèbre , earning the nickname in the newspapers of "The Monkey Trial." The community leaders are at first dismayed that many Northern journalists are painting the townspeople as closed-minded reactionaries, but when they learn that world-famous politician Matthew Harrison Brady has volunteered to prosecute, they welcome the trial as a boon for both Hillsboro's commerce and the cause of Biblical fundamentalism. In the jailhouse, Bert's fiancée, Jeremiah's daughter Rachel, urges him to apologize, but he counters that the mind's freedom is as important as that of the body. By the time Brady and his wife Sarah arrive in Hillsboro, the town has been overrun by vendors, religious zealots and picketers condemning Darwin. After the mayor proclaims Brady an honorary colonel, the orator thrills the crowd by denouncing "evil-ution" and promising to bring the people back to the word of the Lord. Baltimore Herald newspaperman E. K. Hornbeck, an infamously smooth-talking cynic, then angers the crowd by announcing that his paper has hired the brilliant agnostic Henry Drummond to defend Bert. That night, when Rachel informs her father that she will not abandon Bert, the reverend accuses her of betraying him by "spewing atheistic filth" and, ignoring her pleas to stop, prays fervently on the soul of her dead mother. The next day, Drummond arrives without fanfare, greeted only by Bible salesmen, Hornbeck and a few of Bert's students. In the hotel, Drummond, who was once close friends with the Bradys, warmly greets Sarah and tolerates Brady's boisterous welcome. The next day, the trial begins during a record heat wave. Reporters and onlookers crowd the courtroom, where the judge and jury consist of devout Christian locals. The two seasoned attorneys equal each other in cleverness, vigor and passion. When Drummond refuses to accept a jurist after he affirms his belief in "God and Brady," Brady protests, and later Drummond objects to Brady's use of the honorary title "Colonel," after which the court hastily pronounces Drummond a "temporary honorary colonel." Drummond points out other elements that may prejudice the jury, including the in-court announcement of later Bible meetings, prompting Brady to accuse him of trying to dirty the minds of the young. Later, Rachel once again asks Bert to call off the trial, and despite his growing misgivings, Drummond's support convinces him to press her to choose between him and her father. That night, while Brady eats heartily and pontificates to a table of reporters, Drummond eats alone, joined later by Sarah. They all attend Jeremiah's prayer meeting, where the reverend denounces Bert and urges the crowd to curse him. When Rachel begs him to stop, Jeremiah extends the curse to her, alarming even Brady, who exhorts the crowd to practice forgiveness and looks after a distraught Rachel. Upon their return to the hotel, Brady joins Drummond on the porch rockers and questions how the old friends grew so far apart, stating that the poor people of the region need their dream of a beautiful heaven to buoy them. In response, Drummond compares Brady's vision of Paradise to a gilded rocking horse he coveted when he was young, only to discover that it was shoddily made, "all shine and no substance." In court the next morning, Brady interrogates Bert's student on his lessons, including the demeaning principle that man evolved from monkeys. Drummond asks the boy if the lessons corrupted him, and when Brady objects, the two spar heatedly about the preeminence of "right," Brady's moral approach, versus "truth," Drummond's scientific position. Brady then calls Rachel as a witness and demands that she reveal what she told him in confidence the night before about the reason why Bert left her father's church. She recounts how years earlier, when young Tommy Stebbins drowned, Bert was horrified to hear Jeremiah preach that the boy's soul would writhe in Hell because he had never been baptized. Inflamed, Brady rails at Rachel to divulge the questions Bert raised about religion and the existence of God, until the girl collapses in sobs and Sarah implores her husband to stop. Although Drummond can offset some of the damage by cross-examining Rachel and clarifying her statements, Bert, unwilling to distress her further, insists that he excuse her. Next, Drummond begins his defense, but Brady remains vigilant that he focus not on the law, which is not on trial, but on Bert. To that end, the judge dismisses as irrelevant all of Drummond's expert witnesses who plan to testify to the incontrovertible truth of evolution. With a reluctant defendant and no witnesses, Drummond, infuriated, requests permission to quit and accuses the court of bias, stating that there can be no impartial administration of a "wicked" law. The judge holds him in contempt of court and sets a $4,000 bail, for which John Stebbins, Tommy's father, posts bond. That night, as the townspeople burn Bert and Drummond in effigy, Hornbeck asserts to Drummond that man is still an ape and chides him for not standing firm behind Bert. Drummond gleans inspiration from the sight of the hotel Bible, and the next morning apologizes to the judge and, to the shock of the spectators, calls Brady to the witness stand as an expert on the Bible. Brady, confident that his faith and eloquence will protect him from aiding the defense, asserts that every word of the Bible is literally true. Drummond, who plans to prove that Darwin is not irreconcilable with Genesis, questions Brady on how various passages of the book could occur, but Brady counters that God is able to create, destroy or suspend any natural law. When Drummond examines the concept of original sin, the local prosecutor, Tom Davenport, tries to curtail the interrogation, but Drummond insists that he be able to question his only witness. Querying why God would have given man the power to reason if He wanted us to deny science, Drummond moves on to fossilized evidence of life, dated ten million years old. Brady asserts that the fossil is real, but must be six thousand years old, according to the Bible-based calculations of Bishop Usher, who determined that the world began on 4004 BC at nine a.m. Drummond then craftily presses Brady to clarify the exact length of the first day, which occurred before the sun was created. When Brady admits that the day could have been twenty-five hours long, Drummond pushes him to agree that it could have been ten million years long, scoring a critical concession to Drummond's case. Flustered, Brady accuses Drummond of destroying people's faith in the Bible, to which the defense attorney asserts that the Bible is a good book, but not the only book. Brady responds that God spoke to the writers, and when Drummond asks how he knows God did not speak to Darwin, an impassioned Brady answers that God told him. As the spectators gasp in shock, Drummond shouts that Brady considers himself a prophet, and Brady, shaken and silenced, leaves the stand. That night, Rachel visits Sarah, planning to accuse Brady of cruelty, but Sarah responds that he carries the burdens of all his idolizers, and exhorts Rachel to believe in Bert as much as Brady believes in his cause, and as much as Sarah believes in Brady. At the courthouse the next morning, Rachel returns to Bert's side as they await the verdict. The jury unanimously pronounces Bert guilty, but the judge, warned by the mayor that national bias has swung against them, imposes a sentence of a mere $100 fine. Although Brady wants to address the court with a speech, hoping to regain the adoration of the crowd, the judge proclaims the case closed, and the crowd files out noisily. As Brady attempts to make his speech to the backs of his former supporters, he collapses and dies. Soon after, Hornbeck plans Brady's obituary, using the words the orator invoked at the prayer meeting: "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind." When Drummond quotes from the Bible and defends Brady as a once great man, Hornbeck realizes that the "agnostic" is a believer, and decries him as a hypocrite. Drummond replies that Hornbeck's cynicism has stripped him of either feeling or meaning. After Hornbeck leaves, Drummond packs his belongings and takes his leave of Hillsboro, holding his Bible and his Darwin side by side.

Photo Collections

Inherit the Wind - Movie Posters
Inherit the Wind - Movie Posters

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Promo

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Legal
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Nov 1960
Premiere Information
World premiere at the Berlin Film Festival: 25 Jun 1960; London opening: 7 Jul 1960; American premiere in Dayton, TN: 21 Jul 1960
Production Company
Lomitas Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, as produced and directed by Herman Shumlin (New York, 21 Apr 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 7m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1960
Spencer Tracy

Best Cinematography

1960

Best Editing

1960
Frederic Knudtson

Best Writing, Screenplay

1961

Articles

Inherit the Wind


Courtroom dramas usually provide a bonanza for film extras, who can count on several weeks of work filling in the background as prosecution and defense attorneys battle it out. When producer-director Stanley Kramer brought the Broadway smash, Inherit the Wind to the screen in 1960, they got an added bonus - free acting lessons as two of the screen's very best locked horns.

The fireworks had really started in 1925 when high-school teacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in Dayton, Tennessee. The "monkey" trial that followed attracted national attention. With crusading lawyer Clarence Darrow defending Scopes in the name of intellectual freedom and one-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryant assisting the prosecution in the name of Christian Fundamentalism, it became the true trial of the 20th century, a battle for the hearts and minds of the nation.

Next came the stage production, adapted from actual trial transcripts but with the names changed to avoid litigation (some of the original participants were still alive). Paul Muni and Ed Begley won Tonies for performances based on Darrow and Bryant respectively, while Tony Randall scored an early hit as a newspaper reporter modeled on professional cynic H.L. Mencken, who convinced Darrow to take the case.

For the film version of Inherit the Wind, Kramer only had two choices for the leads, Spencer Tracy and Fredric March. He had no problem convincing the latter. March had scored an Oscar® nomination for his performance in the film version of Death of a Salesman, which Kramer had produced in 1951. Tracy was another matter. The veteran actor had been in poor health and hadn't made a film in two years. But he was flattered at the offer, saying, "I might as well do it. Nobody else wants me." When he protested that he might not have the energy for the role, Kramer assured him that he would shoot around his problems, even guaranteeing him a two-hour lunch break each day.

The first day of shooting, however, Tracy and Kramer faced off. The director asked for a second take because Tracy had mumbled the end of his line. Tracy stared at him for ten seconds, then said, "Mister Kramer, it has taken me just about 40 years to learn to read a line that way. Now do you want some college kid from UCLA to come over here and do this? Just say so, and we can arrange it." Kramer stared back for what seemed an eternity, and then calmly said, "Well, OK Spence, can we do another take?" and his star agreed. The two became close friends after that, and Tracy would make three more films with Kramer.

Tracy and March were great admirers of each other's work, but that didn't stop either from trying to upstage the other. March would fuss with his props during Tracy's lines, while Tracy would react to March in ways that drew the camera to him. But each knew the acting duel perfectly reflected the courtroom battle between their characters. And the challenge lifted both to new heights. As word of their performances got out, the set began filling with visitors eager to watch the two masters at work. During one courtroom scene, Tracy delivered a speech so effectively the onlookers began applauding before March could finish the take. In another exchange, the two delivered their increasingly heated dialogue so convincingly that Kramer was convinced they would never speak to each other again. But when it was over, March said, "You played the scene magnificently," and Tracy replied, "That's because you fed me my lines magnificently."

Inherit the Wind opened to glowing reviews, but ran into problems around the country, where theatres showing the film were picketed by religious fundamentalists convinced the picture was "anti-God." Fearing more protests, the distributor, United Artists, cut back its advertising budget to nearly nothing. Kramer had to tour the nation on his own in a futile attempt to drum up box office. Yet the film was well enough liked in Hollywood to garner OscarÆ nominations for Tracy, the screenplay, the cinematography and the editing, all of which had helped ensure that this particular courtroom drama would be anything but static.

Director/Producer: Stanley Kramer
Screenplay: Nedrick Young, Harold Jacob Smith (Based on the play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee)
Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo
Editing: Frederic Knudtson
Music: Ernest Gold
Production Design: Rudolph Sternad
Cast: Spencer Tracy (Henry Drummond), Fredric March (Matthew Harrison Brady), Gene Kelly (E. K. Hornbeck), Dick York (Bertram T. Cates), Donna Anderson (Rachel Brown), Harry Morgan (Judge), Elliott Reid (Prosecutor Davenport), Florence Eldridge (Mrs. Sarah Brady).
BW-129m. Letterboxed.

by Frank Miller

Inherit The Wind

Inherit the Wind

Courtroom dramas usually provide a bonanza for film extras, who can count on several weeks of work filling in the background as prosecution and defense attorneys battle it out. When producer-director Stanley Kramer brought the Broadway smash, Inherit the Wind to the screen in 1960, they got an added bonus - free acting lessons as two of the screen's very best locked horns. The fireworks had really started in 1925 when high-school teacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in Dayton, Tennessee. The "monkey" trial that followed attracted national attention. With crusading lawyer Clarence Darrow defending Scopes in the name of intellectual freedom and one-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryant assisting the prosecution in the name of Christian Fundamentalism, it became the true trial of the 20th century, a battle for the hearts and minds of the nation. Next came the stage production, adapted from actual trial transcripts but with the names changed to avoid litigation (some of the original participants were still alive). Paul Muni and Ed Begley won Tonies for performances based on Darrow and Bryant respectively, while Tony Randall scored an early hit as a newspaper reporter modeled on professional cynic H.L. Mencken, who convinced Darrow to take the case. For the film version of Inherit the Wind, Kramer only had two choices for the leads, Spencer Tracy and Fredric March. He had no problem convincing the latter. March had scored an Oscar® nomination for his performance in the film version of Death of a Salesman, which Kramer had produced in 1951. Tracy was another matter. The veteran actor had been in poor health and hadn't made a film in two years. But he was flattered at the offer, saying, "I might as well do it. Nobody else wants me." When he protested that he might not have the energy for the role, Kramer assured him that he would shoot around his problems, even guaranteeing him a two-hour lunch break each day. The first day of shooting, however, Tracy and Kramer faced off. The director asked for a second take because Tracy had mumbled the end of his line. Tracy stared at him for ten seconds, then said, "Mister Kramer, it has taken me just about 40 years to learn to read a line that way. Now do you want some college kid from UCLA to come over here and do this? Just say so, and we can arrange it." Kramer stared back for what seemed an eternity, and then calmly said, "Well, OK Spence, can we do another take?" and his star agreed. The two became close friends after that, and Tracy would make three more films with Kramer. Tracy and March were great admirers of each other's work, but that didn't stop either from trying to upstage the other. March would fuss with his props during Tracy's lines, while Tracy would react to March in ways that drew the camera to him. But each knew the acting duel perfectly reflected the courtroom battle between their characters. And the challenge lifted both to new heights. As word of their performances got out, the set began filling with visitors eager to watch the two masters at work. During one courtroom scene, Tracy delivered a speech so effectively the onlookers began applauding before March could finish the take. In another exchange, the two delivered their increasingly heated dialogue so convincingly that Kramer was convinced they would never speak to each other again. But when it was over, March said, "You played the scene magnificently," and Tracy replied, "That's because you fed me my lines magnificently." Inherit the Wind opened to glowing reviews, but ran into problems around the country, where theatres showing the film were picketed by religious fundamentalists convinced the picture was "anti-God." Fearing more protests, the distributor, United Artists, cut back its advertising budget to nearly nothing. Kramer had to tour the nation on his own in a futile attempt to drum up box office. Yet the film was well enough liked in Hollywood to garner OscarÆ nominations for Tracy, the screenplay, the cinematography and the editing, all of which had helped ensure that this particular courtroom drama would be anything but static. Director/Producer: Stanley Kramer Screenplay: Nedrick Young, Harold Jacob Smith (Based on the play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee) Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo Editing: Frederic Knudtson Music: Ernest Gold Production Design: Rudolph Sternad Cast: Spencer Tracy (Henry Drummond), Fredric March (Matthew Harrison Brady), Gene Kelly (E. K. Hornbeck), Dick York (Bertram T. Cates), Donna Anderson (Rachel Brown), Harry Morgan (Judge), Elliott Reid (Prosecutor Davenport), Florence Eldridge (Mrs. Sarah Brady). BW-129m. Letterboxed. by Frank Miller

TCM Remembers - Stanley Kramer


In High Noon (1952), a sheriff stands alone as the clock ticks down toward a deadly showdown. A World War II veteran is forced to come to terms with his paralyzed body in The Men (1950). On the front lines of battle, an African American soldier is hounded by racist comrades in the groundbreaking drama, Home of the Brave (1949).

With these films, Stanley Kramer built his reputation as a producer of important films. He made movies with a conscience, movies with a message. Although his films were sometimes criticized as being too simplistic in dealing with tough subjects, Kramer still deserves a great deal of credit for tackling sensitive subject matter no other director or studio wanted to address. His exploration of timely social issues is what makes his cinema unique and his recent passing leaves us with no one to fill his shoes.

Kramer learned his craft within Hollywood's studio system. He began as a production assistant on So Ends Our Night(1941) and was soon writing and editing. By the late forties, Kramer broke away from the studio hierarchy and formed an independent production company. Outside of the Hollywood system, he could tackle social issues head-on while producing well-crafted and meaningful dramas. In The New York Times obituary for Kramer, the director was quoted in accessing his own career and it's most appropriate here: "I decided that somewhere between the films on outer space and Sylvester Stallone, there is a place for me. I was always associated with films that had an opinion. I don't believe films change anyone's mind, but I was spawned during the Roosevelt era, a time of great change, and I still believe in trying to get people to think."

For his directorial debut, Not As A Stranger (1955), Kramer signed up the all-star cast of Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Olivia de Havilland and Gloria Grahame to reveal the trials and tribulations of doctors and nurses balancing medical school with their personal relationships. In The Defiant Ones (1958) shackled Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier together as escaped convicts. As they flee the law they're forced to confront each other's racism and ultimately discover that beneath their skin color, they are not so different. On the Beach (1959) was Kramer's anti-atom bomb polemic in which Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins and Fred Astaire survive an initial nuclear holocaust only to face a slow, painful death from fallout.

From the arms race to Biblical scripture, the following year Kramer turned his attention to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Inherit the Wind(1960). This famous courtroom trial was a true-life clash of the titans as Fredric March and Spencer Tracy face off on the issue of Evolution versus Creationism. Although names are changed, March gave a grandstanding performance as William Jennings Bryan, the mouthpiece for conservatism, while Tracy played Clarence Darrow, a tireless fighter for progressive thought.

Kramer's films were more than just entertainment; his stories were political platforms for the Civil Rights Movement, disarmament and liberal thinking. For audiences who thought the director couldn't take on an issue greater than the Scopes Monkey Trial, Kramer's next film would prove to be even more controversial. Again, Kramer booked a cast of Hollywood's hottest names to bring mass appeal to his very serious film.

In Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Spencer Tracy presides over a German war-criminal trial which delves into the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Burt Lancaster sits smugly on the stand as Ernst Janning, an unrepentant officer of the Gestapo, as Maximilian Schell mounts his defense. Montgomery Clift, as a Jew subjected to a sterilization experiment, nervously submits his testimony. Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich each take the stand. Hollywood's greatest stars came out to shed light on one of the darkest moments of the 20th century. The Academy responded with 11 nominations, including for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Tracy), Supporting Actor (Clift), Supporting Actress (Garland), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Editing. Schell won Best Actor for his dynamic performance as Herr Rolfe.

However, Stanley Kramer wasn't "Mr. Message Film" all the time. In a lighter moment, he produced the surrealist anti-fascist fantasy, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T(1953) in which he enlisted the talents of Dr. Seuss. More famously, he pooled the greatest comics together for an insane Cinerama screwball farce - It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

By Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford

TCM Remembers - Stanley Kramer

In High Noon (1952), a sheriff stands alone as the clock ticks down toward a deadly showdown. A World War II veteran is forced to come to terms with his paralyzed body in The Men (1950). On the front lines of battle, an African American soldier is hounded by racist comrades in the groundbreaking drama, Home of the Brave (1949). With these films, Stanley Kramer built his reputation as a producer of important films. He made movies with a conscience, movies with a message. Although his films were sometimes criticized as being too simplistic in dealing with tough subjects, Kramer still deserves a great deal of credit for tackling sensitive subject matter no other director or studio wanted to address. His exploration of timely social issues is what makes his cinema unique and his recent passing leaves us with no one to fill his shoes. Kramer learned his craft within Hollywood's studio system. He began as a production assistant on So Ends Our Night(1941) and was soon writing and editing. By the late forties, Kramer broke away from the studio hierarchy and formed an independent production company. Outside of the Hollywood system, he could tackle social issues head-on while producing well-crafted and meaningful dramas. In The New York Times obituary for Kramer, the director was quoted in accessing his own career and it's most appropriate here: "I decided that somewhere between the films on outer space and Sylvester Stallone, there is a place for me. I was always associated with films that had an opinion. I don't believe films change anyone's mind, but I was spawned during the Roosevelt era, a time of great change, and I still believe in trying to get people to think." For his directorial debut, Not As A Stranger (1955), Kramer signed up the all-star cast of Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Olivia de Havilland and Gloria Grahame to reveal the trials and tribulations of doctors and nurses balancing medical school with their personal relationships. In The Defiant Ones (1958) shackled Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier together as escaped convicts. As they flee the law they're forced to confront each other's racism and ultimately discover that beneath their skin color, they are not so different. On the Beach (1959) was Kramer's anti-atom bomb polemic in which Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins and Fred Astaire survive an initial nuclear holocaust only to face a slow, painful death from fallout. From the arms race to Biblical scripture, the following year Kramer turned his attention to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Inherit the Wind(1960). This famous courtroom trial was a true-life clash of the titans as Fredric March and Spencer Tracy face off on the issue of Evolution versus Creationism. Although names are changed, March gave a grandstanding performance as William Jennings Bryan, the mouthpiece for conservatism, while Tracy played Clarence Darrow, a tireless fighter for progressive thought. Kramer's films were more than just entertainment; his stories were political platforms for the Civil Rights Movement, disarmament and liberal thinking. For audiences who thought the director couldn't take on an issue greater than the Scopes Monkey Trial, Kramer's next film would prove to be even more controversial. Again, Kramer booked a cast of Hollywood's hottest names to bring mass appeal to his very serious film. In Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Spencer Tracy presides over a German war-criminal trial which delves into the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Burt Lancaster sits smugly on the stand as Ernst Janning, an unrepentant officer of the Gestapo, as Maximilian Schell mounts his defense. Montgomery Clift, as a Jew subjected to a sterilization experiment, nervously submits his testimony. Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich each take the stand. Hollywood's greatest stars came out to shed light on one of the darkest moments of the 20th century. The Academy responded with 11 nominations, including for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Tracy), Supporting Actor (Clift), Supporting Actress (Garland), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Editing. Schell won Best Actor for his dynamic performance as Herr Rolfe. However, Stanley Kramer wasn't "Mr. Message Film" all the time. In a lighter moment, he produced the surrealist anti-fascist fantasy, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T(1953) in which he enlisted the talents of Dr. Seuss. More famously, he pooled the greatest comics together for an insane Cinerama screwball farce - It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). By Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Yes! The individual human mind. In a child's ability to master the multiplication table, there is more holiness than all your shouted hosannas and holy holies. An idea is more important that a monument and the advancement of Man's knowledge more miraculous than all the sticks turned to snakes and the parting of the waters.
- Henry Drummond
Suppose God whispered into a Bertram Cate's ear that an un-Brady thought could still be holy? Must men go to jail because they find themselves at odds with a self-appointed prophet?
- Henry Drummond
We must not abandon faith! Faith is the most important thing!
- Matthew Harrison Brady
Then why did God plague us with the capacity to think? Mr. Brady, why do you deny the one thing that sets above the other animals? What other merit have we? The elephant is larger, the horse stronger and swifter, the butterfly more beautiful, the mosquito more prolific, even the sponge is more durable. Or does a sponge think?
- Henry Drummond
I don't know. I'm a man, not a sponge!
- Matthew Harrison Brady
Do you think a sponge thinks?
- Henry Drummond
If the Lord wishes a sponge to think, it thinks!
- Matthew Harrison Brady
Hornbeck, I'm getting tired of you. You never push a noun against a verb without trying to blow up something.
- Henry Drummond
We're growing a strange crop of agnostics this year.
- E. K. Hornbeck

Trivia

The title of the movie comes from the Book of Proverbs, 11:29: "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind."

Based on the true events of the Scopes Monkey Trial which took place in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925.

Was the first in-flight movie ever shown on Trans World Airlines.

When Stanley Kramer offered the role of E.K. Hornbeck to Gene Kelly, Kelly initially turned it down. When he found out that his co-stars would be Fredric March and Spencer Tracy, Kelly changed his mind.

To heighten the tension of Spencer Tracy's final summation to the jury, the scene was filmed in a single take.

Lawrece and Lee called the over-zealous prosecutor "Matthew Brady". When Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle was tried for manslaughter three times in 1921/22, the real over-zealous prosecutor San Francisco District Attorney was called Matthew Brady

Notes

The film's title, as noted in the picture, comes from the Biblical passage of Proverbs 11:29: "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind." Although the picture was copyrighted twice by Lomitas Productions, Inc., the first copyright, dated September 2, 1960 under number LP17779, lists the production company as Lomitas Productions, Germany, and was for a 16mm version. This version was probably shown at the film's premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on June 25, 1960. The second copyright, also held by Lomitas Productions, Inc. and for a 35mm version, was registerd on November 12, 1960 under number LP17367, and the company is listed by the copyright records only as Lomitas Productions. Director Stanley Kramer stated in a November 1959 New York Times article that he considered Inherit the Wind the third in his trilogy of socially provocative films beginning with The Defiant Ones (1958, ) and On the Beach (1959, see below).
       The film is based on the play Inherit the Wind, which was inspired by the 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial" in Dayton, TN. During that trial, then dubbed "The Trial of the Century," Chicago labor lawyer Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) defended teacher John T. Scopes (1900-1970). Scopes was accused of propounding Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in defiance of Tennessee's Butler Law, which prohibited the teaching of any theory other than creationism. The prosecution was led by fundamentalist politician William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), who was known as "The Great Commoner." Bryan ran for United States President three times, in 1896, 1900 and 1908 and served as Secretary of State from 1913-1915. Unlike as depicted in the film, Bryan died not on the day the trial ended but five days later, of complications from diabetes.
       Another famous figure represented in the play and film versions of the story was H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), a journalist celebrated for his clever wit and iconoclastic liberalism. In the play and film, the names of the major characters are changed from Clarence Darrow to Henry Drummond; William Jennings Bryan to Matthew Harrison Brady; H. L. Mencken to E. K. Hornbeck; and John T. Scopes to Bertram T. Cates.
       Although the film's version of the trial hewed closely to actual events, in other areas many facts were changed. For example, unlike in the film, the real trial was initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which considered the Butler Law, prohibiting the teaching of evolution in Tennessee classrooms, unconstitutional. When Dayton resident George W. Rappelyea learned of the ACLU's desire to test the law, he convinced Scopes, who rarely even taught evolution, to join the case. According to modern sources, because the theory of evolution was included in the state's textbook, many Tennessee teachers included it in the curriculum. Also in contrast to the film, according to some historians, Darrow wanted Scopes to be found guilty so he could appeal the decision to a higher court.
       As shown in the film, the trial began on July 10, 1925 during an extreme heat wave. The town filled with onlookers and salespeople, and the trial was covered by reporters from around the world. After Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, the decision was overturned on a technicality by a higher court. Although the Butler law was upheld by the court, the trial succeeded in embarrassing its proponents, and no one in the state was ever again prosecuted for defying it. In 1967, the Tennessee courts overturned the law.
       In 1950, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee wrote the play Inherit the Wind, which opened on Broadway on April 21, 1955, directed by Herman Shumlin and starring Ed Begley (as Brady) and Tony Randall (as Hornbeck). Paul Muni originated the role of Drummond, which was later taken over by Melvyn Douglas. Contemporary reviewers saw the play as a parable of the anti-Communist fervor pervading society in the 1950s. The playwrights added the fictional characters of "Reverend Brown" and "Rachel" and lightly fictionalized much of the action. The printed play contained a note cautioning that "Inherit the Wind is not history."
       Modern sources note that, unlike the playwrights, the film's writers, Nedrick Young and Harold Jacob Smith, took most of the courtroom scenes' action and dialogue from the real court transcripts. Other changes invoked by the filmmakers included expanding the romance between Bert and Rachel; promoting Bert to a major character; the addition of the focus on economics and the boon to Hillsboro's business; and the polarization of Drummond and Brady, who in the play were not presented as old friends.
       In March 1956, Los Angeles Examiner reported that Kramer had acquired the screen rights to the play for an "astronomical" amount "in six figures." Kramer reported in his autobiography that he paid $200,000. In March 1959, Los Angeles Examiner stated that Theodore Bikel had agreed to play the role of Hornbeck, but by September 1959 Hollywood Reporter reported that Gene Kelly had been cast in the role. The Hollywood Reporter news item also mentioned Roddy McDowall and Anthony Perkins as contenders for the role of Bert. Kramer wrote in his autobiography that he considered no one but Tracy and March for the starring roles and that he asked Kelly to play a rare dramatic turn because of his mixture of intelligence and devilish humor.
       Controversy surrounded the film's production and release. In December 1960, Limelight reported that critics of the film were accusing Kramer of "attempting to burlesque religion." As noted in Kramer's autobiography, religious groups complained throughout the production and protested the picture's release.
       Kramer also came under attack for hiring Young, a blacklisted writer. Young had earlier written The Defiant Ones with Smith, and although he used the pseudonym of Nathan E. Douglas, his real identity was revealed in a January 1, 1959 New York Times news item. Two weeks later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences repealed an amendment that prohibited Academy Award recognition to anyone admitting or refusing to deny membership in the Communist Party. Douglas and Smith were then nominated and subsequently won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for The Defiant Ones. In September 1959 New York Times reported that the American Legion had condemned Kramer and United Artists for hiring him for both films, and in February 1960 Hollywood Reporter noted the statement of Legion commander Martin B. McKneally specifically condemning Kramer for contributing to "a renewed invasion of American filmdom by Soviet-indoctrinated artists." Days later, New York Times published an interview with Kramer's response rebuking the Legion and the film industry in general, and asserting that "he would hire any writer he pleased." As a result, on February 14, 1960 Kramer and McKneally engaged in a debate televised on CBS's FYI program. As noted in a July 30, 1996 Hollywood Reporter article, the Writers Guild of America officially restored Young's credit in 1996.
       The film's production ran from October-December 1959. According to press materials, Kramer shot the courtroom scenes, in continuity, for twenty-two days, before a crowd of 300 spectators. Many modern sources relate that Tracy and March competed playfully during their scenes together. Modern sources describe the banter between the two, spurred on by the many visitors who came to watch their scenes being filmed, including reporters, studio personnel and friends.
       Inherit the Wind marked the seventh and last onscreen pairing of March with his wife, Florence Eldridge. Although a December 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Kramer placed the name of On the Beach on a cinema marquee in the town of Hillsboro, no such marquee was visible in the viewed print. 1959 Hollywood Reporter news items add John Lawrence, Peter Virgo, Gloria Clark, Jay Jostyn, Susan Vann, Hank McGuire, William McLean, Hampton Fancher, Doodles Weaver, David White, Burt Ramsey, Bernard Sells, George DeNormand, John Barton, Tony Regan, Sally Vernon, Syl Lamont, and Harry Spear to the cast. However, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources also add Donald Elson, Sam Harris, Frank Mills, Bob Perry, Snub Pollard and Harry Tenbrook.
       The film first screened at the Berlin Film Festival on June 25, 1960, where it represented the official United States entry and won awards for Best Foreign Actor (March) and Best Feature Film Suitable for Young People. The London premiere took place on 7 Jul, after which the film had its American premiere in Dayton, TN on 21 Jul, the 35th anniversary of the trial's conclusion. Although a June 1960 Newsweek article reported that Scopes was unsure if he would attend the premiere, as noted by an July 8, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item, he was the guest of honor.
       Although Time magazine called Inherit the Wind "a sluggish, confused manipulation of ideas and players" that caricatured both sides of the debate, most reviewers praised the film highly. New York Times called it "one of the most brilliant and engrossing displays of acting ever witnessed on the screen." The Variety review stated that the "pairing of Tracy and March was a master stroke of casting....If they aren't top contenders in the next Academy sweepstakes, then Oscar should be put in escrow for another year." However, only Tracy was nominated, as well as Ernest Laszlo for Best Cinematography (black-and-white), Frederic Knudtson for Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay, Young and Smith. In addition, the picture was nominated for the BAFTA Best Film Award and has gone on to be recognized as a classic of its genre. Despite the critical acclaim, the film was not a box-office success. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, in December 1960, Trans-World Airlines tested its new in-flight film program by showing Inherit the Wind on a 707 en route from New York to Los Angeles, using a miniaturized screen in the first-class cabin. The screening was meant to showcase new technology, which the Hollywood Reporter article called "a possible new source for distributors."
       Other versions of the film include a 1988 NBC television movie, starring Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas, and a 1999 cable movie starring Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott. In 1996, Tony Randall, who appeared in the first staging of the play as Hornbeck, directed a stage version of the play starring Scott and Charles Durning.
       The story's central conflict has continued to have resonance in the American justice system and in American society. For example, in 1968 the Supreme Court invalidated a law in Arkansas similar to the Butler law, and in 1987 they ruled unconstitutional a Louisiana law requiring public schools to teach creationism alongside evolution. On January 19, 2005, New York Times published an editorial criticizing creationist activists for attempting to modify state science curricula in Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, to preclude the teaching of evolution. The article stated that "Recent surveys of high school biology teachers have found that avoidance of evolution [for fear of reprisals] is common among instructors throughout the nation."

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1960 New York Times Film Critics.

Winner of the Best Actor Prize (March) at the 1960 Berlin Film Festival.

Released in United States Winter December 1960

Released in United States 1960

Shown at the 1960 Berlin Film Festival.

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States Winter December 1960

Released in United States 1960 (Shown at the 1960 Berlin Film Festival.)

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1960 National Board of Review.