THE FILM & WATER PODCAST
Episode 36: INHERIT THE WIND
Rob Kelly welcomes back Mike Gillis (RADIO VS. THE MARTIANS) to talk about one of their favorite films, Stanley Kramer's 1960 true-life drama INHERIT THE WIND, starring Spencer Tracy and Fredric March!
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7 responses to “Film & Water #36 – Inherit The Wind”
So glad you guys covered this movie. I saw it back in high school when researching the play for Speech & Debate and have always loved it. I remember watching the scene where Brady is on the stand so many times. Such an incredible movie with powerful portrayals by amazing actors.
In regards to the “send ’em to Hell” lady, doesn’t every small town have at least one of those? Goodness knows where I grew up had a whole small society of them.
Tremendous piece of storytelling and a true actor’s clinic. I love Spencer Tracy’s battle of wits with Frederick march, over literal interpretation of the Bible, blind obedience vs scientific curiosity and discovery. Gene Kelly holds his own with the acting powerhouses of Tracy and March.
ps I think you either meant James Gregory, in Beneath the Planet of the Apes or you meant Claude Akins in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Akins played General Aldo, in Battle for the Planet of the Apes, while James Gregory is General Ursus, who leads the invasion of the Forbidden Zone, to destroy the alleged enclaves of humans.
If you’re looking for another Spencer Tracy social issue drama (based on an actual event) you should check out FURY (1936). This is Fritz Lang’s 1st American film & the issue is lynching, which was still prevalent at the time. It co-stars Sylvia Sidney (known to younger folks from Beetlejuice & Mars Attacks).
For what it’s worth here are my 4 favorite courtroom movies (in no particular order):
1. Witness for the Prosecution
2. Judgment at Nuremberg
3. 12 Angry Men
4. My Cousin Vinny
My favorite courtroom battle movie of all time? The original Planet of the Apes.
Before I get to my real comments, a few points of relevant self-disclosure:
1. I am not only a Christian, but I’ve spent my entire adult life (more than 20 years now) as either a student or staff person in Christian higher education. Also, my wife is a member of the clergy.
2. I am NOT a Creationist.
3. I love both the play and the film versions of Inherit the Wind.
I was rather intrigued by the comments near the beginning of the podcast about how atheists and agnostics are often portrayed less than favorably. I have no intention to dispute the assertion. The fact is, I’ve never thought to look into the matter enough to know. But I *have* spent a lot of time reading comments from Christian believers claiming that THEY are poorly portrayed in the media. Personally, I’ve always considered such assertions to be misplaced, but it makes me wonder about how we, as people, are often inclined… not necessarily to take offense at every little thing (certainly neither of the hosts seemed to be offended)… but certainly to see ourselves misrepresented by people we perceive to be outsiders. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I nonetheless found it interesting.
This is one of those oft retold stories where I’m more familiar with the off-brand version. In my case I was shown the 1980s version with Kirk Douglas. Needless to say I quite enjoyed that (I mean, it’s Kirk Douglas!!!) but I should probably acquaint myself better with the more iconic version.
I found Mike’s discussion about representation to hit home in many ways, though not for reasons of atheism in my case. But when something you identify as is rarely portrayed in entertainment, and the instances you can find conform to a rigid, unrepresentative, or unflattering template it’s confusing, frustrating and potentially damaging to one’s self worth. That’s not to say that every depiction of every stripe of life needs to be Shiny Happy Rainbow Funtime. But it’s the consistency of showing characters with certain traits in always the same light and the weight of that which does the damage.
Yes there are valid reasons to have Muslim terrorist characters in certain stories. But when characters are only Muslims as a way to justify them being terrorists, that’s a problem. There are reasons to have a man in a dress serve as a punchline. But when such characters are shown to only be things to be mocked and laughed at, that’s a problem. And there are character based reasons to have an atheist be that way because of some kind of trauma or perceived failing of religion towards them in certain stories. But when the only time a character’s atheism is pointed out it’s as part of a “this is why he’s such a prick” background trait, that’s a problem.