November 2013
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Inherit The Wind: God(dess) In The Dock

itw_313Was it evolution or was it “intelligent design”?  Schools and teachers being pilloried for explaining the science?  America in 2013 or 1923?  Some things don’t change over time.

Inherit The Wind is a play written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee.  It is based on the actual 1923 trial of a school teacher charged with teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution to his class in contravention of state law.  He did so at the request of one of the students.  However, in the play the story is actually being used as a vehicle to discuss McCarthyism of the early 1950s. The play was first performed in 1955.

itw_006There have been many revivals of the play since that then and it’s been made into a film four times.  The most famous celluloid version was the first.  Made in 1960 it starred Spencer Tracey (It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World), Gene Kelly (Singin’ In The Rain) and Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H).  Our interest though, is in the most recent version committed to 35mm with an equally all-star cast.

Jack Lemmon (Some Like It Hot), George C. Scott (Dr Strangelove), Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys), Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do!), Lane Smith (Louis & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman) and Piper Laurie (Twin Peaks) all bring their thespian talents to bear in a 1999 TV movie remake.  And who is that playing Rachel Brown, the young woman caught in the middle as the daughter of the local preacher and girlfriend of the educator on trial?  Why, can it be true?  Mercy me, as I live and breath, if isn’t Ms. Kathryn Morris.

itw_034Unlike most of the other main characters Rachel (as played by Kathryn) was created for the play and did not exist in the real events of 1923.  It was must have been felt that a person torn between the two sides added an additional emotional layer to proceedings.

Kathryn appears in many scenes throughout the film’s two hour running time albeit often just in the background as one of the spectators at the trial causing a sensation across the country.  She gets to dust off her Southern accent as the red-headed belle with a penchant for hats.  There’s tears too, plenty of them.

I can’t say that I was looking forward to sitting through a long courtroom-based period drama involving such subject matter but it turned out to be very interesting.  It was also frustrating and annoying to see the attitudes of some the people portrayed.  The fact that it was based on a play is clear because the majority of the action takes place in the one room.  I gather this 1999 remake compares favourably with the 1960 original, though modern audiences may prefer this one due to being in colour and having some recognisable faces.  George C. Scotty and Jack Lemmon really get into their roles as they argue back and forth in the courtroom.

itw_0751999 was a busy year for Kathryn.  Along with Inherit The Wind she starred in a couple of episodes of the similarly costumed TV drama series The Magnificent Seven.  Her second appearance in Xena was also this year, as were roles in the films Screenplay and Deterrence.  She also guested in an episode of the TV series Providence.

If you want to purchase this Inherit The Wind on DVD it is on sale via the US Amazon store.  It was released on DVD as recently as 2010 and stars Jack Lemmon and Geoge C. Scott.  If you try and order it from somewhere be sure to get the right one as the earlier 1960 film with Spencer Tracey is also available and often confused with this one.

396 new screencaps of Kathryn in Inherit The Wind are now in the Gallery.

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