Here are 10 trivia facts about Inherit The Wind from 1960, which originally appeared as our Mystery Movie Quiz on our Facebook page. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.
1. Betrayal was a subplot of the film.
In the movie, Bertram Cates is engaged to Rev. Brown’s daughter, and Matthew Brady used the relationship to manipulate her to give damaging testimony at the trial. Those scenes are entirely fictional. The real-life John Scopes (portrayed as biology teacher Cates in the film) reportedly was not engaged nor did he have a girlfriend at the time of his trial.
2. This movie was filmed in black and white.
Although today it is almost unheard of to make a movie that isn’t in color, it was very common in the 1950s and 60s. Some people still prefer it.
The intense heat is referenced many times throughout the film and scenes are included of the players fanning themselves with paper fans with “Mason’s Funeral Parlor” advertising on the back of each fan. Both Spencer Tracy and Fredric March played their parts so well, viewers believed they were actually sweltering in the heat.
4. Many of the actors in this film became better known for subsequent TV roles.
Although five of the actors had successful film careers, they were seen by many more millions of people in TV shows… Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H*), Claude Akins (Movin’ On), Norman Fell (Three’s Company), Noah Beery Jr. (Rockford Files) and Dick York (Bewitched). Another piece of trivia is that “Inherit the Wind” was Dick York’s last theatrical appearance.
5. One of the main characters dies in the movie.
Fredric March, playing Matthew Harrison Brady (based upon the real life lawyer William Jennings Bryan), passed out and eventually died from his grueling courtroom scenes… in the movie only — Fredric March died 15 years later in 1975.
6. One of the stars of the film was a two-time Tony-Award winner.
Fredric March also appeared on the Broadway stage and won two Tony Awards. First, as Best Dramatic Actor in 1947 for “Years Ago” and then again in 1957 for his landmark performance in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”
Gene Kelly was no stranger to meaty dramatic roles but by 1956, he was very well known for his musical talents. He originally turned down the role and Robert Vaughn was asked to step in until Kelly heard that both Spencer Tracy and Fredric March were playing the leads and he changed his mind. Oddly enough, this was tremendous risk-taking by the director Stanley Kramer who had not yet actually signed Tracy and March on the dotted line.
8. The director of this film was nominated for an Academy-Award multiple times but never won.
Stanley Kramer, one of the most prolific directors in Hollywood was nominated a whopping nine times for Academy Awards. Believe it or not, some of his respectable “losing” films were: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, The Defiant Ones, High Noon, Ship of Fools, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Caine Mutiny and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
9. The movie is based on true events.
The movie is based on the “Scopes Monkey Trial” where schoolteacher John Thomas Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee law by teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution to his students. Gene Kelly’s character of E.K. Hornbeck was based on American journalist H.L. Mencken, who had notably covered the real Scopes trial. William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow were the opposing lawyers.
10. The title of the film is based on a biblical proverb.
Although many movies have used biblical phrases in the film’s title, this one comes from the Book of Proverbs, 11:29: “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.”
Another piece of trivia, not part of our quiz but interesting nonetheless. Both Fredric March and Spencer Tracy played the same role as the diabolical doctor with a split personality. In 1932, March took home the Best Actor Oscar for Paramount’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and then in 1941, Tracy repeated the role at MGM.
Now you can enjoy Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly in the theatrical trailer for Inherit The Wind: