by Ken Korman
It's a rare topical movie that never loses its relevance. But the Evolution vs. Creationism debate at the center of director Stanley Kramer's 1960 classic Inherit the Wind still shows no signs of abating. The names and locations have been changed, but the movie was based on the infamous 1925 "Monkey Trial" in which a schoolteacher named John Scopes was indicted for teaching Darwin's Theory of Evolution in a Tennessee classroom. In real life, Clarence Darrow defended Scopes, William Jennings Bryan served as prosecuting attorney, and H.L. Mencken was the journalist who turned it all into national news. Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, and Gene Kelly, respectively, take on these roles with unequivocally thrilling results. That the whole thing was also intended to criticize McCarthyism and its threats to intellectual freedom only adds another layer of meaning to an already bountiful film.
The Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania Street in New Orleans, presents Inherit the Wind at noon on Saturday, June 2, Sunday, June 3, and Wednesday, June 6.