Inherit The Wind / Daniel Petrie (1999). When I looked at the cast – Jack Lemmon as Drummond (the stand-in for Clarence Darrow) and George C. Scott as Brady (in real life William Jennings Bryan), my first thought is: shouldn’t those actors switch roles? Scott had, years earlier, played Drummond on Broadway. But after watching this fine presentation, I agree that the producers got it right. George C. Scott was coming to the end of his life and this was one of his final performances. “Inherit The Wind” is a great American play and, like most classics, no production can satisfy at every point nor are any two the same. In 1925, the state of Tennessee wanted a court case to test their new law that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution could not be taught in public schools. A high school teacher from Dayton, Tenn. was arrested for breaking that law. Then some heavy hitters came to down. To prosecute, William Jennings Bryan, three time Democratic candidate for President and three time loser, a fundamentalist trained preacher who believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. For the defense, Clarence Darrow, an early progressive civil rights lawyer, who was notorious for his political agenda (also a Democrat who had supported Bryan in the 1896 presidential election). “Inherit The Wind” is a fictionalized account of that trial with historical peoples’ names changed, although many excerpts from the trial transcripts were used. This Made For Showtime movie uses the script of the famous 1960 film with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March instead of the play’s full text, which is sometimes a weakness. Lane Smith as Rev. Brown and Tom Everett as the defendant in this new treatment have it all over Claude Akins and Dick York in the 1960 film. The role of Mrs. Brady is slightly enlarged for Piper Laurie. Beau Bridges is a perfect E.K. Hornbeck, reporter from “that Sodom and Gomorrah of the east…Baltimore!” a version of the real journalist, H.L. Mencken.
I don't think you fully understand, Mr. Bigelow. You've been murdered.