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HTF REVIEW: "Inherit The Wind"


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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 11 2001 - 02:01 PM

Posted Image

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.



------------------
Posted Image

Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
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#2 of 23 OFFLINE   David_D

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Posted November 11 2001 - 02:06 PM

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 of 23 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted November 11 2001 - 02:11 PM

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"! Posted Image

Crawdaddy

------------------
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[Edited last by Robert Crawford on November 12, 2001 at 12:35 AM]

Crawdaddy

 

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#4 of 23 OFFLINE   BarryR

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Posted November 11 2001 - 03:10 PM

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 of 23 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted November 11 2001 - 03:26 PM

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
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#6 of 23 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted November 11 2001 - 03:32 PM

Ah the background material is neatly summarized here: www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/scopes.htm
There's some additional commentary about Inherit the Wind here as well.
Feline videophiles Condoleezza and Dukie.


#7 of 23 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 11 2001 - 03:32 PM


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.

------------------
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#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Tina_H_V

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Posted November 11 2001 - 05:04 PM

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!!!! Posted Image

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. Posted Image

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#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Reed Grele

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Posted November 12 2001 - 11:33 PM

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 of 23 OFFLINE   Jeff Swindoll

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Posted November 13 2001 - 06:39 AM

Wonderful film! So glad its on DVD, however, I'll agree with Ron WE MUST HAVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES!! Posted Image My hearing is fine, but I also have a 3 and 4 year old that kick up a little noise every once and awhile Posted Image.

Keep discovering the classics Ron Posted Image

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]
I didnt play Dungeons and Dragons all those years and not learn something about courage.
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#11 of 23 OFFLINE   Michael Dueppen

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Posted November 13 2001 - 12:33 PM

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
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[Edited last by Michael Dueppen on November 13, 2001 at 02:39 PM]
- Michael
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#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Philip Verdieck

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Posted November 13 2001 - 01:24 PM

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 of 23 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 13 2001 - 02:07 PM


Packaging states: Widescreen 1.66:1 Theatrical
release format.

Yes, the trailer is the same -- features a shot
of Berlin premier.

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#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Rob Willey

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Posted November 13 2001 - 04:32 PM

[quote]

Now we need Bad Day at Black Rock.

[quote]

I hear that.

Thanks, Ron. A great film with two of Hollywood's greatest actors (a little past) their prime. Posted Image

Rob

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#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Rob Tomlin

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Posted November 13 2001 - 04:40 PM

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!
For ordinary men, it's a burning, fiery furnace.

#16 of 23 OFFLINE   Justin Lane

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Posted November 13 2001 - 05:11 PM

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 of 23 OFFLINE   Peter M Fitzgerald

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Posted November 13 2001 - 07:37 PM

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!

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#18 of 23 OFFLINE   Kirsten

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Posted November 22 2001 - 05:54 PM

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. Posted Image

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 23 2001 - 01:48 AM

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.

 

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#20 of 23 OFFLINE   BrianP

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Posted November 23 2001 - 09:41 AM

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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