The Landmark Trial
That Forever Changed A Nation.
Inherit the Wind (1999) is a remake of the 1960 film of
the same name. Both movies are based on the famous Scopes/Monkey trial of
1925. The original leads were prosecuting attorney Fredric March and
defense attorney Spencer Tracy. Our modern version stars George C. Scott
(in his last film) and Jack Lemmon respectively.
The history of these four actors is impressive. March was nominated for
five Academy Awards, winning two: Best Actor for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,
and The Best Years of Our Lives. Tracy (highly respected amongst his
peers) was nominated for nine Oscars: winning Best Actor for Captains
Courageous and Boys Town. Scott received four Academy nominations and won
Best Actor for Patton. To date, Mr. Lemmon has been nominated for eight
Oscars and has won two: Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts and Best
Actor for Save the Tiger. Four actors, 26 Oscar nominations.
It's not just accolades that impress me about March, Tracy, Scott and
Lemmon. I'm also a personal fan of each of them. I think they were
attracted to Inherit the Wind because the movie is like actor's caviar.
Unfortunately, it's a filmgoer's baloney sandwich. Personally, I'm tired
of films like Inherit the Wind. In recent movies such as Pollock and With
a Friend Like Harry, we witness great acting. It seems like that should be
enough. But, I've seen too many lackluster films that contain one (or even
two) Oscar caliber performances.
Earlier this year, I saw a film called The Pledge. Many critics called it
a masterpiece. I was annoyed because I saw The Pledge as nothing more than
a vehicle for actors like Benicio Del Toro, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Wright
and Jack Nicholson. It's as if director Sean Penn worked ass backwards; he
wanted to make a movie with certain actors and then found a screenplay
where he tried to squeeze them in. I feel the same is true for 1999's
Inherit the Wind. However, I look forward to going back and renting the
1960 version to see how it holds up today.
Oh, one more criticism I can't let slide. The new Inherit the Wind
actually ends with a shot of Justice (blindfolded holding the scales).
This is the heavy-handed equivalent of the director bursting through your
door and slapping you upside the head with a copy of Origin of the