|Fredric March and Spencer Tracy.|
|Dick York played the defendant.|
|Gene Kelly in his best dramatic role.|
The other major character in Inherit the Wind is the town of Hillsboro. Director Stanley Kramer expertly shows the town’s transformation from quiet hamlet to frenzied carnival, complete with side shows, hucksters, and a ferris wheel. Even the courtroom is a circus, a media circus with reporters typing and sending reports on telephones during the trial.
Kramer stages these courtroom theatrics with an astonishing attention to detail. The stifling Southern heat hangs heavily over the room—people actually sweat…profusely. Kramer carefully positions his camera to capture contrasting actions in the same frame. It’s a textbook example of how to adapt a stage play to film, although a couple of talky scenes could have been trimmed.
The film's title comes from Proverbs: “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.” Ironically, it is Brady that paraphrases this moral, cautioning that one can be “overzealous to save that which you hope to save, so nothing is left but emptiness.”
Spencer Tracy received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The film also earned Academy Award nods for screenplay, editing, and cinematography--though it didn't win in any category. The play has been adapted for television three times with Drummond and Brady being played by: Melvyn Douglas and Ed Begley in 1965; Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas in 1988; and Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott in 1999. On Broadway, the roles were originated in 1955 by Paul Muni as Drummond and Begley as Brady. Muni had to drop out temporarily due to cataracts and was replaced by Melvyn Douglas.