Hear ye, hear ye! Court is now in session. All rise for our examination of Stanley Kramer’s sterling courtroom drama, Inherit the Wind (1960). This film, an excoriation of McCarthyism dressed up in the garb of the Scopes Monkey Trial, is a true cinematic building block of my adulthood. As a young man, I discovered this film just as I was venturing out into the world on my own for the first time. I was leaving behind small town life in southwest Oklahoma for the college experience (in a slightly bigger small town) and was curious and excited about the path ahead. It turns out Spencer Tracy was waiting for me on that path and his passionate defense of free thought in this film was galvanizing, a watershed moment for me, so much so that his words still inspire me and make my pulse pick up decades down the road. You can read it as the struggle of science versus religion, you can read it as a rebuke of McCarthyism with help from a previously blacklisted writer or you can do what I did and use it as encouragement to live a life devoted to curiosity, exploration, forging your own path and standing your ground. Stanley Kramer was sending a message and it’s a message I received loud and clear.
What you’ll find in this episode: that old time religion, the Dick Powell defamation league, Spencer Tracy’s magnificent mane, the sage of Baltimore and the descent of man (in more ways than one).
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Inherit the Wind on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Anatomy of a Murder.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Swoon.
Everything you didn’t know about Clarence Darrow
Joseph N. Welch letting Joseph McCarthy have it.