Wednesday, February 1, 2012

BOOK VS MOVIE: Inherit the Wind

There's always something so appealing about courtroom dramas. The points of view can vary from either one of the lawyers, the defendant or even a bystander.

Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's play Inherit the Wind was written during a time when one's ideal and beliefs must match everyone else's. Like Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Inherit the Wind was written during the height of McCarthyism. This of course was when anyone could be accused of being, for lack of a better word, "inhuman".

The writing style of Lawrence and Lee is very straightforward. Through the dialogue, the characters get their points very much across, and this very thing is still in effect for the film.

Stanley Kramer's adaptation, apart from a few minor additions here and there, stays true to the play. It stars Spencer Tracy and Frederic March as opposing lawyers in the re-telling of the Scopes "Monkey" Trial. Both are great in their roles, as with Gene Kelly in an excellent non-musical role. Of the trio, my favorite performances came from Tracy and Kelly mainly for their biting dialogue and their complete disinterest in the Bible.

Inherit the Wind is a great work, both on the page and screen. Lawrence and Lee's writing is fantastic, and Kramer's film garners impressive work from its three big stars. Choosing which is better is next to impossible.

What's worth checking out?: I'd go with both.

2 comments:

  1. I know, I know - Oscars are not the end-all and be-all of film, but I always found it bizarre that only Spence was remembered here (they love Fred and Gene, they love Stanley). This film is excellent, as is the play, one of those interesting takes on the courtroom drama that's surprisingly poignant.

    Yeah, Spencer's the best though.

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  2. A tour de force acting competition between Spencer Tracy and Fredric March. A truly great film.

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