Monday, September 21, 2015

Inherit the Wind

Director: Stanley Kramer
Story: Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly
Year: 1960
Country: USA

Based on a real-life trial, Stanley Kramer's Inherit the Wind records on film an adaptation of a smartly written play. The direction is unintrusive and lends the thrust of the narrative to the dialogue and acting, both of which are remarkable. Spencer Tracy particularly is convincing as the smart yet nuanced character of Drummond.

The writing is imaginative and rousing. Two examples follow: The reporter Hornbeck (Gene Kelly) posits that when man first learned to stand upright he must have looked at the stars and thought they were fruit, when he couldn't reach them he decided they were food for a higher being - thus inventing God. One of the strong features of this film/play is the development of characters: Rachel comes to the Marches' room and asserts that she is no longer looking for anyone to believe in, unlike the older Mrs March; her growth represents a beacon of hope for America's young women in a time of social change.

While the actual trial exposed America's questionable attempt at separating Church and State, the film Inherit the Wind is careful to not ruffle too many God-fearing feathers. Although it is keen to mock Brady (Fredric March) as an anti-intellectual craving food you can eat rather than food that makes you think, it is ambivalent about Drummond's faith and the final scene has the compensatory air of upholding the Bible as a means to a good, happy life: one that Hornbeck the atheist is shown to lack. Inherit the Wind has great elements of drama and has relevance to this day in an America where each new president is expected to invite (the Christian) God's blessing for the land when they come to power, 

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