Inherit the Wind, made in 1960, is a dramatized retelling of the 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial," the trial in which the brilliant lawyer, Clarence Darrow, defended teacher, John Scopes, for teaching evolution in Tennessee schools. The debate on the issue of evolution between Darrow and former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryant had captured national attention because it concerned questions we still debate today: the separation of church and state, the right of the individual to think freely, and the changing of culture and tradition in our society.
The movie, starring Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, and Gene Kelly, was based on the 1955 play of the same name by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. While the movie was actually about the events of the trial in 1925, it was also commenting on the trials of the McCarthy era and the anti-communist hysteria that swept the country during the Cold War. These so-called "hearings" ruined lives and silenced freedom of speech in our post WWII culture. Thus the story of an attack on intellectual freedom in 1925 resonated strongly in the minds of the film's 1960 audience. Well received, the film was nominated for four Oscars and won several other awards.