Absorbing, if long-winded courtroom drama bolstered by two fine central performances from Tracy and March.
In the summer of 1925 the sovereign state of Tennessee played host to one of the most spectacular and ludicrous court trials in the history of American jurisprudence. A teacher named John T. Scopes had been arrested for teaching Darwin's theories of evolution in a public school, thus violating a
state law. Prosecuting Scopes was the Rock of Ages fundamentalist, William Jennings Bryan, and defending him was the champion of liberal thinking, Clarence Darrow.
Producer-director Kramer used this high-voltage "Monkey Trial," as it came to be known, as the basis for one of his best film efforts. The names of the historical figures were all changed for the film, but their characters remain clearly recognizable. York plays the meek teacher, imprisoned for
daring to teach Darwin in tiny Hillsboro. His girl friend is the daughter of fundamentalist preacher Akins, who agonizes over his daughter's affection for the religious infidel and sends for March to prosecute the young teacher. Tracy plays March's liberal opposite number, and song-and-dance man
Kelly is inadequate as cynical journalist E.K. Hornbeck (based on H.L. Mencken).
INHERIT THE WIND acutely captures the farcical Monkey Trial and offers the awesome talents of two double-Oscar winners, Tracy and March, in their only film together. March's real wife, Florence Eldridge, plays his onscreen spouse, and Harry Morgan turns in a fine performance as the judge caught
between heavyweights. Much of the dialog is lifted from the successful Broadway play by Lawrence and Lee and first starring Paul Muni and Ed Begley.
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