180 user 74 critic

Inherit the Wind (1960)

2:17 | Trailer
Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.


Stanley Kramer


Nedrick Young (screenplay), Harold Jacob Smith (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

In 1948, an American court in occupied Germany tries four Nazis judged for war crimes.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A couple's attitudes are challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African-American fiancé.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Two escaped convicts chained together, white and black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier, Theodore Bikel
Inherit the Wind (TV Movie 1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.

Director: Daniel Petrie
Stars: Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Lane Smith
White Heat (1949)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A group of motorists hear about a crook's hidden stash of loot, and race against each other across the country to get to it.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to rekindle his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When a U.S. Naval captain shows signs of mental instability that jeopardizes the ship, the first officer relieves him of command and faces court martial for mutiny.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An African-American police detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racially hostile southern town.

Director: Norman Jewison
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case?

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara
On the Beach (1959)
Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After a global nuclear war, the residents of Australia must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire


Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Tracy ... Henry Drummond
Fredric March ... Matthew Harrison Brady
Gene Kelly ... E. K. Hornbeck
Dick York ... Bertram T. Cates
Donna Anderson ... Rachel Brown
Harry Morgan ... Judge Mel Coffey
Claude Akins ... Rev. Jeremiah Brown
Elliott Reid ... Prosecutor Tom Davenport
Paul Hartman ... Bailiff Mort Meeker
Philip Coolidge ... Mayor Jason Carter
Jimmy Boyd ... Howard
Noah Beery Jr. ... John Stebbins
Norman Fell ... WGN Radio Technician
Gordon Polk Gordon Polk ... George Sillers
Hope Summers ... Mrs. Krebs - Righteous Townswoman


Teacher B.T. Cates is arrested for teaching Darwin's theories. Famous lawyer Henry Drummond defends him; fundamentalist politician Matthew Brady prosecutes. This is a very thinly disguised rendition of the 1925 "Scopes monkey trial" with debates between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan taken largely from the transcripts. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's all about the monkey trial that rocked America.


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

30 August 1960 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Inherit the Wind See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The second of three films in a row where Stanley Kramer cast the biggest former M-G-M musical stars in unexpected dramatic roles: Gene Kelly in this film, following Fred Astaire in On the Beach (1959), and followed by Judy Garland in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). See more »


During the courtroom examination of Matthew Harrison Brady by Henry Drummond, Drummond shows Brady a 10 million-year-old rock, which he places on the judge's desk. Later in the scene, the rock is back in his hand, and when he dismisses Brady, he places it back on the desk without ever having picked it back up. See more »


[first lines]
Bertram T. Cates: [addressing his class as Mayor Jason Carter, Reverend Jeremiah Brown, Jessie Dunlap, and Deputy Sam enter the classroom to arrest him] Good morning visitors. For our science lesson for today, we will continue our discussion of Darwin's Theory of the descent of man. As I told you yesterday, Darwin's Theory tells us that man evolved from a lower order of animals: from the first wiggly protozoa here in the sea, to the ape, and finally to man. As some of you fellas out there probably ...
See more »


Referenced in Mork & Mindy: Pilot (1978) See more »


(Gimme Dat) Old Time Religion
Traditional spiritual
Sung by Leslie Uggams at the start of the movie
Reprised often by the Townfolks
Variations included often in the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

a film (sadly) very relevant in current times, but also watchable for its towering stars
20 March 2010 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Sometimes a film becomes dated over time, that it lacks relevancy due to the way its filmed and its content. But in the case of Inherit the Wind, Stanley Kramer's production in terms of acting and staging is dated, but the themes are sadly still painfully relevant. Evolution vs. Creationism is still a hot button topic, though of course it shouldn't be (and the Supreme Court has ruled against Creationism as unconstitutional), but maybe even more shocking is to see the town of Hillsboro and how it could be like some small towns in America, mostly the South and the Midwest. One wonders if the mob could be as large and howling and fervent today as it was in Hillsboro (or how it was during the actual Scopes-Monkey trial in the 1920's).

But what stays most passionate about the film, and also at its most flawed, is its conviction about the issue. Kramer is a right director for this material, if not the best. It's full of passionate speeches- it could also be said 'preachy' not too ironically enough in some scenes- and blazing courtroom scenes that are not very realistic (the way the lawyers speak and speechify to the jury and the people in the courtroom and, of course, the audience in the theater), but somehow they're highly enjoyable. This doesn't mean the writing in the film is always great, or all of the characters. But the film is compulsively watchable 'issue' film-making, self-important but full of poignant touches.

The wisest choice that Kramer made, akin to what he did with The Defiant Ones, is put BIG actors in these BIG roles. Chiefly these are for Henry Drummond, the defense attorney played by Spencer Tracy, and the prosecutor Matt Brady played by Federic March (or rather, devoured by March). Like Frost/Nixon, the film becomes really as much about these two men, two old characters who have known each other over the years and have a real respect/hate relationship with one another (see the scene where they're on the rocking chairs to see their connection). So throughout the film, while the issue of evolution vs creationism is brought simmering to a boil, Tracy, a sensational actor, has to try to keep up with March who is so over the top that he cracks the ceiling with a sledgehammer.

Best of all is to see their showdown when Drummond puts Brady on the stand, a theatrical gesture but in keeping with the fact of the case (William Jennings Bryant really was called to stand during his own trial), and in having these two actors yell and stare and make big gestures at each other. If nothing else, it's worth it to watch the film for these two, though I might consider Tracy the winner overall, while March gets points in individual scenes, like when he grandstands towards the end when the case is dismissed (also when he stands up for the girl Rachel Brown when she is "damned" by her father, but as a calculating move to get her on the stand).

Which brings me to some of the flaws in the film. Kramer has a lot that he wants to say as a filmmaker, but he doesn't know how to tweak anything down past it being super theatrical. It would've helped, for example, to cut just a little of the dialog, some of the pompous exchanges between characters (albeit some of the dialog is actually pretty funny, mostly when Gene Kelly's reporter disses Brady). Another problem was Rachel Brown, who firstly is concocted as a contrivance (hey, let's make the daughter of the evangelical reverend also the fiancé of the science teacher), but more-so that she's just a lame character, poorly written like many characters end up being in Kramer films, if not anywhere near as bad as the daughter in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. And the last little moment of the film, when Drummond puts together two specific books together, is a completely tasteless gesture, meant to appease both the believer and non-believer sect after what was a satisfactory ending between Tracy and Kelly where the former tells off the latter.

But faults aside, the film does carry some legitimate power, and if nothing else I would watch it again just for the scenes between the two big stars. It's an actor's picture as much as a "message" picture, and as the themes carry some strong weight for discussion, not to mention the impressive semi-frightening sight of the Hillsboro religious mobs, it's really the actors who make it a (near) must-see.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 180 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed