Saturday, May 7, 2011

Inherit the Wind

Stanley Kramer, 1960, bw (8.3*)
A Tennessee science teacher, played by Dick York of Bewitched fame, goes on trial for teaching evolution in school. Acting great, and two-time Oscar® winner Fredric March, prosecutes the case. Spencer Tracy, also a two-time Oscar® winner, defends the teacher.

This is obviously a thinly disguised version of the famous "Scopes-Monkey Trial" of 1925. In fact, the films four screenwriters actually used some of the original trial transcripts for dialogue, they just changed the name of the characters.

The amazing part of this film is, of course, the acting from the two leads, who battle back and forth like heavyweight boxers. Fredric March, due to makeup designed to make him resemble William Jennings Bryan (see photo bottom), is almost unrecognizable. Thanks to their performances, this is one of the best legal films ever made. Fans of either actor, or of this rather specious reason for a trial, will love this classic film.

Here's a good description of the real trial at a legal site that reviews famous trials

Clarence Darrow (l.) and William Jennings Bryan (rt.),
at the famous 'Scopes Monkey Trial'

Note: just to show how much hype surrounds this non-issue, the fundamentalists actually invented the concept that Darwin said we descended from apes - he said "man and apes are parallel branches on the tree of life". On top of that, Charles Darwin didn't even invent the theory of evolution, his uncle did. Naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace actually sent him an essay describing the same theory in 1858 before Darwin had published his own theory.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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