Inherit the Wind

Inherit the Wind

The themes presented in Inherit the Wind are timeless and just as important today as they were back then

Inherit the Wind

Click Here Or On The DVD Itself
To Purchase Inherit the Wind

Search for DVD Review keywords here...

There is an old saying that everything that was old will become new again. The most basic, the most fundamental problems that the race of man confronts are visited upon us time and time again.

Recently in the news there have been several cases of religion and government coming to grips in court, whether the Ten Commandments should be displayed on a public building or prayer in schools. One of the first cases of religion versus the law was in 1925 during the now famous Scopes Monkey trial where a school teacher faced charges of teaching evolution in a public school. Not only was this a landmark case it gave rise to one of the most gripping dramas in American culture, Inherit the Wind. While the names of the participants where changed they are still recognizable.

John Scopes, the defendant becomes Bertram T. Cates (Dick York), the prosecutor William Jennings Bryan is seen as Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredrick March), the defense lawyer Henry Drummond is actual Clarence Darrow (Spencer Tracy) and the liberal reporter E.K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly) was in fact Baltimore Sun reporter H.L. Mencken. What propels Inherit the Wind to greatness is that it is not just concerned with the debate over the theories of Charles Darwin; it explores complex human emotions and relationships with a power and force rarely seen. Cate’s fiancée Rachel (Donna Anderson) is the daughter of the fundamentalist preacher (Claude Atkins), trapped between her father, his devotion to his religion and the man she loves Rachel is emotionally strained and lost. There is a long standing friendship between Brady and Drummond, one that in more recent years become distant as their political views formed a wedge between them. The differences between these two powerful, forceful men comes to a boil towards the conclusion of the screen play, while each maintains a mutual respect they find their differences in views is major. Both men are head strong with a conviction of their beliefs that forces them into a conflict far beyond the fate of the distraught defendant. There is the love story between Burt and Rachel, one that although seen in many forms many times before is touching since the backdrop is so fraught with tension. This young woman is forced to decide between her father and everything she was brought up to believe and the man she is to marry. It is these strong, explosive sub plots that carry Inherit the Wind. Rather than settling for a typical courtroom drama it transcends the mundane to explore the depths of what makes us human.

While every member of the Inherit the Wind cast is perfect the two leads are a marvel to behold. Just as two legal giants Darrow and Bryan once faced off, Tracy and March give what amounts to one of the finest performances in two incredible careers. Both actors give balance to their characters rather than portraying them just as the lawyers in this case. In one memorable scene, late at night on a hot, steamy front porch Drummond recounts a childhood memory to his old friend Brady, Golden Dancer, a rocking horse that as a child he greatly desired. His parents sacrificed so much to purchase it but when he got it, it fell apart. It was all glitter with no real substance. This interaction brings the audience to the realization of what is at the heart of Inherit the Wind, that what is on the surface only covers the decay at the heart of the matter. Watching these two actors shows us how rare such talent actually is. Gene Kelly gives his best dramatic performance in Inherit the Wind. As the cynical reporter he often plays devil’s advocate, stirring the pot to keep the pace and the tension moving ever forward. Atkins as the preacher performs far beyond many of the roles he has taken on during his career. His character’s dilemma, his religion or his daughter, grows as Inherit the Wind unfolds. So strong is faith that he would rather deny his own flesh and blood over his religion. He represents the fanatical religious people whose motives often start out benign but all too frequently are propelled into a point where no other viewpoints can even be considered.

Director Stanley Kramer is a rare gem in American film. His resume includes such films as Judgment at Nuremberg, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Inherit the Wind is based upon a stage play and Kramer manages to retain the look and feel of such a production. Most of the sets are simple; there is not a lot of attention to a myriad of location shots. The focus of Inherit the Wind is on the dialogue and the great performers that present these well chosen words. As with most classic black and white movies the lighting is crucial. The play of shadows and light emphasizes the conflict. The frequent close-ups that highlight the inner emotions boiling out, each scene is a lesson in how to make a movie. With a film that depends so heavily on dialogue pacing is very important. In Inherit the Wind it is perfection. The heated courtroom scenes are punctuated with more quietly presented yet still emotionally charged moments. Kramer takes what could have become a run of the mill legal flick and he brings Inherit the Wind to unimagined heights. The characters are so strongly presented that we are carried along for the ride. The audience quickly becomes involved with the depths of these characters, waiting to see what twists are to be presented. Kramer builds one scene upon another until the explosive, dramatic conclusion.

The Inherit the Wind DVD is one of the bare bones releases typical of MGM/UA. Don’t let this deter you from purchasing Inherit the Wind. A great movie like Inherit the Wind deserves to be owned by all of us that enjoy film at its best. The video is presented in non-anamorphic 1.66:1 black and white. It is apparently a direct port of the old laser disc presentation and for the most part is clear and free of defect. The blacks are reasonably well defined. The Dolby mono audio and does the job for such a film that depends not on the work of the Foley artist but the voices of the actors. Even though there are no extras provided Inherit the Wind is one disc that should be seen, enjoyed and discussed. Although set in 1925 the themes presented are timeless and just as important today as they were back then.

Movie Review of Inherit the Wind by Doug MacLean of

If You Are Done Reviewing Inherit the Wind
Click Here To Return To The DVD Reviews Page