HTF REVIEW: "Inherit The Wind"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Nov 11, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    INHERIT THE WIND

    I'll be the first to admit that I am the most
    uncultured individual when it comes to my knowledge
    of classic film. It took this wonderful format
    known as DVD to make me want to watch more classics
    because the format presents these films not only in
    their original aspect ratio, but cleaned up and
    neatly presented in a package that makes the viewer
    appreciate what the Director originally intended
    this film to look like.
    What a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than
    to get into my bathrobe and curl up on the couch
    and watch a classic movie I never had watched before.
    Right off the bat, I have to thank MGM. This week
    they sent me "Bill & Ted" and "Fritz The Cat". You
    have no idea how appreciative I am that the studio
    also included "Inherit The Wind", a DVD that wouldn't
    insult my intelligence. I am so grateful that I got
    the opportunity to watch a movie that I normally
    would not have ordered, but now urge all of you to
    add to your collection.
    This is one of the most remarkable and riveting
    classic films I have ever seen.
    Let me talk a little about the story. The film
    is based on a real-life court case that pitted
    science against religion -- Darwin vs. the Bible.
    It is based upon the 1925 "Scopes monkey trial" with
    debates between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings
    Bryan, though I understand the film is not historically
    faithful.
    Bertram Cates (Dick York of BEWITCHED) is a Biology
    teacher in a small Tennessee town located smack in
    the middle of the bible belt. Bertram teaches his
    students Darwin's theory of evolution -- the scientific
    approach that man evolved from Ape. This angers an
    entire town of religious citizens who rally against
    the schoolteacher and have him arrested. This throws
    the town into one of the most titanic courtroom cases
    in history.
    This controversial case pits two individuals
    with extreme opposite beliefs against each other.
    Fundamentalist leader William Jennings Bryan (Fredric
    March) is brought into town by the cheering
    townsfolk as if he were the Messiah, to square off
    against Attorney Clarence Darrow (Spencer Tracy),
    who sees the town's blind faith and tries to prove
    the notion that man must think for himself.
    Watching this film is like watching a heavyweight
    fight with the coutroom as the ring. Everyone owes
    it to themselves to watch two powerful actors (Tracy
    and March) at the prime of their careers, trying to
    outdo each other. The refereree is a patient but
    stern Judge (Harry Morgan of MASH). From the
    moment the court case begins, you the viewer will
    feel the tension of this drama. This film grabs you,
    holds on to you, and makes you think. The film
    still holds a message that is as fresh today as it
    was 40 years ago.
    Credit must also be given to Ernest Lazlo's camera
    work. His ability to move around the courtroom in
    such a swift manner, or knowing how to place his
    actors in the forefront or background, is remarkable
    to watch.
    I also cannot write this review without giving
    credit to Gene Kelly, who takes an interesting
    turn in a dramatic role playing a wise-mouthed
    newspaper reporter. He is a welcome addition
    to this film in a performance that is memorable.
    The transfer quality of this DVD is average.
    The transfer shows a few scratches and dirt. You
    would think that this is a film that could have been
    cleaned up a little better by the studio. Overall,
    however, the presentation quality looks fine.
    There is an original theatrical trailer included
    that is more of a mini featurette hosted by Director
    Stanley Kramer which shows scenes from the film's
    opening. Very interesting to watch.
    Anyone looking for a little diversity from some
    of the mindless films of the past few decades owe
    it to themselves to add Inherit The Wind to
    their DVD collection. If you have never seen it
    before, I think you'll be as impressed with it as
    I was.
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
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  2. David_D

    David_D Stunt Coordinator

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    You're absolutely right about this film, Ron. It is fabulous, and I'm looking forward to the DVD. Isn't it great to have these opportunities to experience such films on DVD?
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Ronbo,
    This is perhaps one of those rare films that gives the masses a chance to see two of the greatest actors of all-time on the screen doing their thing. The opening and closing sequences are some of my favorite scenes in cinema. Man, I can't wait to I get my dvd of this great film. In closing, "Give me that ol' time religion"! [​IMG]
    Crawdaddy
    ------------------
    Peter Staddon: "I didn't say you can put 'Monkeybone' back!"
    [Edited last by Robert Crawford on November 12, 2001 at 12:35 AM]
     
  4. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    YEAH!!!!! I've loved this film since I first saw it as a teen in the '70s; it's excellent all around, and by far still the definitive version despite two subsequent made-for-TV versions.
     
  5. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    When first got to law school I looked up the actual case upon which Inherit the Wind was based. I was amazed to find that the dialog in the film is extracted in large part from the verbatim transcripts of the trial. Give me some time and I'll post a link to the Scopes v. Tennesee case material.
    ------------------
    Feline audience members Katie, Susie, and the one and only Fluffy Pumpkin
     
  6. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    So nice to read these responses.
    I forgot to mention that my only disatisfaction
    with this DVD was that MGM included no English
    subtitles. This really impairs people like me
    that have slight hearing loss. I thought MGM
    was putting English subtitles on all their releases.
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
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  8. Tina_H_V

    Tina_H_V Supporting Actor

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    Congratulations, Ron, on your discovery of such a fine classic film based on a historical event whose subject matter, to this day, continues to stir the emotions of many around the nation. Such an on-going debate of evolution vs. creationism continues to render this classic play/musical very, very relevant today.
    This is indeed a DVD I am happy to see. I picked up the old analog stereo-only laserdisc last fall. But I shall discard that in favor of this DVD. Bring it on!!!! Welcome!!!! [​IMG]
    And, again, thanks for the word on this one, Ron. And, BTW, lest we forget, Claude Atkins, to me, was very stirring as the Rev. Brown, Rachel's--Bertran T. Cates' financee--father. Nor, for that matter, Leslie Uggams' stirring rendition of the hymm, Ol' Time Religion, at the beginning and end of the film.
    And as for the reporter Gene Kelly played in this one: a figure every bit as compelling as the Tracy (Darrow/Drumond) and March (Bryan/Brady) characters, the muckracking journalist, E.K. Hornbeck, patterned after the infamous H.L. Menckein, who covered the Scopes Trial for The Baltimore Sun, the paper he worked for. [​IMG]
    ------------------
    The Acid Queen Still Rocks and Souls!!!! ;D
     
  9. Reed Grele

    Reed Grele Screenwriter

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    Ron,
    This has always been a favorite of mine. I have the laserdisc, and plan on getting the DVD.
    If you ever have a chance to see Leslie Nielsen's one man show of Clarence Darrow, go for it. I saw it at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT a few years ago. I don't know if he still does the show, but I'm sure you would find it enjoyable.
    After all the comedy he's done lately, it's refeshing to see Mr. Nielsen's dramatic side for a change. Also, for a man his age, I was amazed that he could still hold an audience transfixed for over 2 hours with a near flawless performance.
    I wish this play was available for posterity on DVD.
    Reed Grele
    [Edited last by Reed Grele on November 13, 2001 at 01:34 AM]
     
  10. Jeff Swindoll

    Jeff Swindoll Supporting Actor

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    Wonderful film! So glad its on DVD, however, I'll agree with Ron WE MUST HAVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES!! [​IMG] My hearing is fine, but I also have a 3 and 4 year old that kick up a little noise every once and awhile [​IMG].
    Keep discovering the classics Ron [​IMG]
    I do like this Inherit, but preferred the TV version with Jason Robards (as Darrow), Kirk Douglas (as Brady), Darren McGavin (as the reporter) and Jean Simmons (as Mrs. Brady). Douglas and Robards give excellent performances IMHO. I copied it off of CourtTV (of all places!) last year methinks.
    Cheers.
    BTW, www.deepdiscountdvd.com has it for $9.36 shipped!!
    ------------------
    I didnt play Dungeons and Dragons all those years and not learn something about courage.
    --Bernie Faulkner
    [Edited last by Jeff Swindoll on November 13, 2001 at 11:36 AM]
     
  11. Michael Dueppen

    Michael Dueppen Stunt Coordinator

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    quote: It took this wonderful format
    known as DVD to make me want to watch more classics [/quote]
    Thank you very much for this great review, Ron.
    The quote above also exactly describes me. Since I am 24 years old I haven't seen any of those classics in their time. With DVD I get the perfect opportunity to catch up on all these great films.
    Edit: I just went over to my preferred etailer and they have it listed as 1.66:1 non-anamorphic. Since this is MGM I guess this is correct. Could you please confirm this, Ron? Thank you.
    ------------------
    - Michael
    My DVD collection
    [Edited last by Michael Dueppen on November 13, 2001 at 02:39 PM]
     
  12. Philip Verdieck

    Philip Verdieck Second Unit

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    Finally! Yes. This is one of my favorite Spencer Tracy films. Now we need Bad Day at Black Rock.
    The opening featurette is probably the same one on my VHS, that covers the opening of the movie here and overseas in either Berlin or Munich.
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Packaging states: Widescreen 1.66:1 Theatrical
    release format.
    Yes, the trailer is the same -- features a shot
    of Berlin premier.
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
    All forum questions & to get on our private forum mailing list (new members)... Email: hometheaterforum@home.com
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  14. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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  15. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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    As a huge fan of Spencer Tracy, and being an attorney, this is truly one of my favorite movies! It is surprising how well this film holds up after so long! Tracy gives an excellent performance (as usual).
    This film deserves its status as a great classic!
     
  16. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I will be getting this film no doubt. The first time I got a chance to view this was in high school biology class, and I have been a fan ever since. For 10 bucks or less, this film should be in every film fan's collection. You just don't get performances like these anymore.
    J
     
  17. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Nice review, oh great HTF poobah! If INHERIT THE WIND has given you renewed interest in seeing more classics on DVD, Ron, just wait until December, when MGM gives us Jules "RIFIFI" Dassin's TOPKAPI (1964) and Billy Wilder's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1957), while Columbia releases Fritz Lang's THE BIG HEAT (1953)! Three most excellent reasons to fire up the DVD player this holiday season, indeed!
     
  18. Kirsten

    Kirsten Stunt Coordinator

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    WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS HIGHLY SENTIMENTAL.
    I am so glad that this film has finally been released on DVD. A number of years ago, I played the role of Rachel Brown in our local community theatre's production of the play. While rehearsing, I met a number of wonderful people including my fiancé, Scott. Scott played the role of the mayor of Hillsboro. It is a small role, but he managed to leave a lasting impression on me. I don't think a rehearsal went by where he didn't tie my shoelaces together or commit some other ridiculously childish prank. It became clear to most of the cast that he had a terrible crush on me. A number of the actors tried to set us up, but their efforts were to no avail. I simply wasn’t interested. It was about six months later that I finally relented and went on a date with Scott. That was the best decision of my life. It has now been three years since Scott and I were in that play together. We are now engaged and plan to be married August 18. We certainly plan to make Inherit the Wind a part of our DVD collection.
    Scott, if you are reading this, and I know you will, I love you. [​IMG]
     
  19. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Kirsten,

    It's not even 5 am here, have not had my morning

    cup of coffee, and already I am in a great mood

    from reading your post.

    What a really nice story to read.

    Welcome to our board. We hope you stick around.
     
  20. BrianP

    BrianP Supporting Actor

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    I never saw this movie myself but just ordered a copy from Deepdiscountdvd for only $9.36 shipped. I do have to admit I ran across this title while browsing a website recently, and was somewhat interested in the title before reading your review. It helped me to make up my mind to purchase the DVD.
     

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