Filmsite Movie Review
Inherit the Wind (1960)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)

Inherit the Wind (1960) is an absorbing liberal "message" film that portrays, in partly fictionalized form, the famous and dramatic courtroom "Monkey Trial" battle (in the sultry summer of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee) between two famous lawyers (Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan). Both volunteered to heatedly argue both sides of the case (over 12 days, including two weekends, from July 10-21, 1925). The film's title was taken from the Biblical Book of Proverbs 11:29: "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind" - mentioned twice in the film.

Its very literate story (with many lengthy passages and quotable speeches) centered around the debatable issue of Darwinistic evolutionism vs. Biblical creationism, during the prosecution of 24 year-old Dayton High School mathematics teacher and sports coach. The substitute science teacher - John T. Scopes - was charged and arrested for violating state law (the uncontroversial 1925 Butler Act passed in March) by teaching the theory of evolution (the doctrine that man had descended from lower life forms) in a state-funded Tennessee school. The law - that made it a misdemeanor to "teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals," was punishable by a small fine.

The film's taglines emphasized the controversial theory of evolution:

  • "It's All About the 'Monkey Trial' That Rocked America..."
  • "They Clash Head-On in History's Most Dramatic Trial by Jury"
  • "The Scandal That Shook Main St. USA Now Shakes the World!"

Film-maker Stanley Kramer was known for some other heavy-handed, unsubtle and edgy B/W 'liberal message' and 'social consciousness' movies, including Home of the Brave (1949) (about black prejudice in the military), The Defiant Ones (1958) (about racial prejudice), On the Beach (1959) (about nuclear annihilation), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) (about Nazi Fascism), Ship of Fools (1965) (about anti-Semitism and the rise of Nazism), and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) (about inter-racial marriage). Kramer both produced and directed this timely film that modified and disguised the historical event of the "Monkey Trial" by changing the names of the prototypical characters and making them fictional figures, and placing the action in fictional Hillsboro, Tennessee.

His allegorical film was specifically designed as a protest against the repressive, anti-intellectual thinking of the 1950s McCarthy era. [Note: American playwright Arthur Miller had created his 1953 play The Crucible, about the late 17th century Salem Witch Trials, to make the same anti-McCarthy statement.] Protestant Christian Fundamentalist groups picketed the controversial 'anti-God' film in some states, complaining about the depiction of ultra-religious groups, and labeling director Kramer as "The Anti-Christ." Critical response was mixed (with some cinemas picketed), and the film's distribution suffered from limited censorship by certain factions.

One must be careful to remember that the fictionalized film's very familiar and accessible version of the 'Monkey Trial' was vastly different, altered (and in some cases fabricated and invented) when compared to the actual historical trial:

  • Place names and names of trial participants were changed.
  • Two new fictional characters were created: the town's fundamentalist Reverend Brown and his daughter Rachel (the fiancee of the 'Scopes' character).
  • Both characters portraying the dueling attorneys were extreme caricatures: the 'Darrow' character was softened and made heroic and altruistic, while the 'Bryan' character was lampooned as an extreme, fanatical 'Bible-Belt' believer.
  • The 'Scopes' character was widely expanded as a central figure, although in reality was only a minor figure. In the film, it was fictionalized that he was dramatically arrested while teaching class, put in jail, burned in effigy, and condemned by the town's hellfire-and-brimstone Reverend.
  • The townsfolk of 'Hillsboro, TN' (representing Dayton, TN), experiencing a circus-like atmosphere during the trial, were portrayed in the film as ignorant, mean-spirited, and fanatical Bible literalists.


Schoolteacher John T. Scopes volunteered to challenge the Tennessee legislature's statutes and become a "friendly" test case for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) by allegedly teaching theories that denied the Biblical story of the divine creation of man. Although Scopes was brilliantly defended by Clarence Darrow (and prosecuted by William Jennings Bryan), Scopes was found guilty (due to Darrow's request) and leniently fined $100 by the judge in the case on July 21, 1925.

In 1926, Darrow and the ACLU appealed the case before the Tennessee Supreme Court, which in early 1927 decided to invalidate the Dayton court decision on a minor technicality - the fine should have been set by the jury, not the judge, they ruled - and the case was dismissed without further appeal.

Because the Butler Act was still on the books in the mid-1950s, on July 10, 1955, the ACLU formally requested that Tennessee Governor Frank G. Clement initiate the repeal of that law. But the law remained on the books for over another decade. In 1968, the US Supreme Court ruled in Epperson v. Arkansas that bans such as the Butler Act were unconstitutional, because they contravened the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, since their primary purpose was religious.

Most of the townsfolk (seen as mean-spirited fundamentalists) were characterized as ignorant, bigoted, unlearned, fanatical, and hypocritical - along with their heroic savior Matthew Harrison Brady, while the intellectual defense attorney Drummond from the big city was portrayed as smart, witty, courageous, progressive and liberal-minded - with hardly any faults.

Fictional Prototype Characters in Film
Historical Figures in Real "Monkey Trial"
Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy), Chicago attorney Clarence Darrow, 68 year-old famed defense lawyer (known for the 1924 Leopold and Loeb case)
Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March) William Jennings Bryan, 65 year-old three-time former Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, former Secretary of State, populist Chautauqua orator and firm fundamentalist
Sara Brady (Florence Eldridge) Bryan's wife Mary Baird Bryan
Tom Davenport (Elliott Reid), lead Prosecutor 18th Circuit DA Thomas "Tom" Stewart - a future United States Senator, and the lead prosecutor assisting Bryan
Bertram T. Cates (Dick York) John T. (Thomas) Scopes, 24 year old Tennessee high-school teacher at Rhea County HS
E. K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly), cynical newspaper columnist of the Baltimore Herald H. L. Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun's acid-penned writer/reporter
Judge Merle Coffey (Henry Morgan) Judge John T. Raulston, Circuit Judge for the 18th District
Hillsboro, Tennessee (fictional), at Hillsboro County Courthouse Dayton, Tennessee, at Rhea County Courthouse

The film starred two major Oscar-winning giants and veterans of the cinema with remarkable career-high performances - Spencer Tracy and Fredric March - who had never before acted together in a film. It was honored with four Academy Awards nominations, but won no Oscars: Best Actor (Spencer Tracy), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best B/W Cinematography (Ernest Laszlo) and Best Film Editing (Frederic Knudtson).

Much of the film's story (and dialogue), written into a screenplay by Nathan E. Douglas (Nedrick Young was the blacklisted screenwriter's real name) and Harold Jacob Smith, was based on the successful Broadway play (by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee) that opened in New York in April, 1955, and ran successfully for three years. Its stars were Paul Muni (as Henry Drummond), Ed Begley (as Matthew Harrison Brady), and a young Tony Randall (as E.K. Hornbeck).

The courtroom-bound drama was opened up in the film with added scenes, including the contrasting arrivals of Brady and Drummond, a night-time revival meeting, lots of demonstrators and picketers (including a lynch mob), and the invention of a conflicted romance with a distraught fiancee. Hymns and other examples of religious music ("Gimme That Old Time Religion" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic") were layered onto the soundtrack to slightly soften the film's anti-religious stance.

The film was remade three times on television, in 1965 (with Melvyn Douglas as Drummond, and Ed Begley as Brady), 1988 (with Jason Robards as Drummond, Kirk Douglas as Brady, and Darren McGavin as Hornbeck) and in 1999 (with Jack Lemmon as Drummond, George C. Scott as Brady, and Beau Bridges as Hornbeck).

Plot Synopsis

The Title Credits: The Arrest of Bertram Cates in a Hillsboro, Tennessee Classroom

The film's title credits were marked by the soundtrack's ticking (the plucking of violin strings) while viewing the Hillsboro Courthouse's clock (as it approached 8 o'clock in the morning). This was followed by the ominous singing of the old-time, traditional gospel song Give Me That Old Time Religion (sung by Leslie Uggams), while the camera pulled back (in an impressive crane shot) and moved past a statue of Blind Lady Justice to follow the path of a white-hatted gentleman walking across a grassy courthouse courtyard:

Give me that old time religion...
It's good enough for me...
It was good for little David
and it's good enough for me...
It was good for old Jonah...
It was good for the Hebrew children
and it's good enough for me...

Under the credits, the camera followed the man as he joined three other solemn, stony-faced town officials (including the stern-looking Reverend Jeremiah Brown (Claude Aikens), the Mayor and the Sheriff) as they marched across town to the local high school, Hillsboro Consolidated School. A fifth individual, a photographer, awaited them there. The group proceeded into the classroom of a young, meek, but earnest southern high-school Biology teacher - Bertram T. Cates (Dick York) - in the fictional town of "Heavenly" Hillsboro, Tennessee.

Mr. Cates was at the blackboard, lowering a chart titled "Muscular Anatomy of Male Gorilla" for his class of "young ladies and gentlemen." He was interrupted in his continuing science lesson (a "discussion of Darwin's Theory of the Descent of Man") by the arrival of the five 'visitors' who listened for a few moments to his teachings:

"Darwin's theory tells us that man evolved from a lower order of animals, from the first wiggly protozoa here in the sea to the ape and finally to man. Say now some of you fellas out there are probably gonna say that's why some of us act like monkeys. (laughter from class) But what Mr. Charles Darwin was trying to tell us, in his own way..."

Cates was promptly placed under arrest (with a warrant) by his long-time town friend Deputy Sam (Robert Osterloh) - he was charged with breaking the state law (Tennessee's Butler Act, recently passed in March of 1925) against the teaching of the theory of evolution:

"Violation of Public Act 31428, Volume 37, Statute no. 31428 of the State Code, which makes it unlawful for any teacher of the public schools to teach any theory that denies the creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from the lower order of animals."


  • John Scopes was not a full-time biology or science teacher, but a teacher of math and physics (and a football coach). He allegedly broke the law on April 24th when he was substituting for the regular biology teacher (who was sick). He wasn't 'arrested' or 'charged' until May 7th, 1925, and then attended a preliminary hearing two days later that upheld the charge. Scopes' 'indictment' was confirmed on May 25, 1925, about two months before the trial.
  • Scopes did not grow up in Dayton, Tennessee but was well-liked there.
  • There was no evidence that a group of Dayton townsfolk visited Scopes' class to verify what he was teaching. According to numerous accounts, Scopes never taught evolution or Darwin.
  • When the Butler Act was endorsed by TN state representative John Butler, and then passed and signed into law by the Governor on March 25, 1925, the anti-evolution law was never intended to be enforced or to interfere with existing science curricula, but only to garner support from rural constituents.
  • It was unusual then, that the official record charged Scopes with teaching evolution from a chapter in George William Hunter's Biology textbook, Civic Biology: Presented in Problems (1914), which described the theory of evolution, race, and eugenics. The state of Tennessee required HS teachers to use in the book in 1925 - in clear violation of the Butler Act.

The photographer took a picture of the arrest - the frame was frozen, and the picture became the centerpiece of Baltimore's national newspaper headlines, and soon after, other stories followed:

  • Baltimore Herald ("Teacher Jailed in Test of Evolution Law")
  • Indianapolis Journal ("Are We Men or Monkeys?")
  • The Philadelphia Globe ("Heavenly Hillsboro: A Return to Middle Ages")
  • New York Chronicle ("Monkey Trial in Hillsboro")
  • Baltimore Herald ("Monkeyshines in Hillsboro")

Hillsboro, Tennessee Town Meeting Amongst "Bible Belt" Citizens and Businessmen:

There was concern among the "Bible Belt" community's prominent male citizens during a town meeting that the town of Hillsboro was receiving negative publicity. The town was being laughed at for its rigid stance against Darwinism and enforcement of the Butler Act. Reverend Brown confirmed though, that they righteously represented the godly forces fighting "the Lord's Battle":

"Well, they mocked the Lord, too, didn't they? And they smote him and they spat upon him, and he turned to them his other cheek....Heaven has chosen us to show the way, to light the road for others, back to the shepherd, back to the fold."

Some felt the controversy was hurting the town's reputation, while others were unconcerned: "What do we care what a bunch of foreigners and city slickers think?" Mayor Jason Carter (Philip Coolidge) of Hillsboro, only two months away from the end of his term, also spoke up: "I stand to uphold the laws of this community, no matter how it may affect my political future. Now, I shall just ignore these, these slanders just like water off a duck's back." Another viewpoint was delivered by the town's progressive banker (George Dunn), who feared that some students would be ineligible to apply at the country's better universities because of the state law, and he might like to see his son go to Yale:

"Are you aware, my friends, that the great big universities throughout the country will consider student applicants from our state ineligible because of this law. Now, I don't know whose idea it was to hang a shingle on Hillsboro spelling 'horse-and-buggy,' but as for me, I won't invest in antiquity. I want my bank holding credit with New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and I may want my son to go to Yale. Now, I believe in - just as much as anyone in this room, in a basic fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, but we can't close our eyes to all progress, to everything which represents..."

A copy of the most recent Chattanooga Tribune newspaper was brought into the room - with the news that noted statesman and politician Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March) (who had run for President and lost three times) had volunteered to serve as the main attorney for the "Monkey Trial," to prosecute Cates.

The fundamentalists in the room were pleased with the announcement that the bombastic, religiously-conservative Biblical scholar was coming to town. Reverend Brown interpreted the appointment as an answer to prayer and sign of God's favor: "The Lord has sent us his right hand." Others worried what the major influx of people into town would create, although it was certain that business would boom: ("This town will fill up like a rain barrel in a flood. It'll be bigger than the Chautauqua at Chattanooga, and people are gonna have to have some place to stay, and they gotta eat. This'll put Hillsboro on the map of this country").

Cates in Jail - With His Conflicted Girlfriend/Fiancee Rachel:

In the next scene, the incarcerated Cates listened to the town's Bailiff Mort Meeker (Paul Hartman) praise the great orator Brady: "You better start praying, son. imagine... Matthew Harrison Brady coming here....I seen him once at a Chautauqua meeting in Chattanooga. When he spoke, the tent poles shook." Cates claimed he had written to a Baltimore newspaper asking for a lawyer to represent him. The schoolteacher's homely girlfriend/fiancee Rachel Brown (Donna Anderson), the daughter of the strict Reverend Brown, was emotionally-torn, conflicted and hesitant about coming to speak to Bert.

In the adjoining Hillsboro County Circuit Courtroom next to the jail, where the bailiff had let Cates out of his cell to play cards, she was worried about his fate and as she embraced him, she suggested: "Tell them you're sorry. Tell them it was all a mistake." However, Cates was determined to proceed with the case: "Tell them if they let my body out of jail, I'd lock up my mind? Could you stand that, Rachel?" He reminded her that he was standing trial as an heroic, martyred figure fighting for freedom of speech and for the sake of truth and learning:

"Rachel, do you remember those warm, dark nights down by the riverbank, just watching the water, wondering about the, the miracle of it, wondering what the stars were for, what's on the other side of the moon? There'd be no more of that, Rach."


  • John Scopes was "nominally" arrested and never detained or jailed for any length of time. A violation of the state's Butler Act was not considered a major imprisonable offense, but was subject only to a fine.
  • John Scopes did not have a girlfriend or fiancee at the time of the trial.
  • There was no Reverend Brown.

The Introduction of Reporter Hornbeck From Baltimore:

Influential Baltimore Herald writer/reporter E. K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly, cast against type) appeared on the right side of the frame, crunching into an apple (an apt symbol of the tempting fruit in the Garden of Eden). [Note: Throughout the film, he would provide sarcastic commentary from the side about the proceedings - functioning much like the Chorus in an ancient Greek drama.]:

"So, this is where the fate of learning will be decided for the next 10,000 years. O tempora, o mores. Well, I see we have both beauty and biology on our side."

The learned troublemaker introduced himself as the one who had received Cates' letter requesting a lawyer. Hornbeck had been writing about the case ("My typewriter's been singing a sweet, sad song about the Hillsboro heretic - B. Cates, latter-day Dreyfus, Romeo with a biology book"). He knew that the religiously-conservative, backward town of "Heavenly Hillsboro" had "no tree of knowledge" but was verging toward ignorance. Hornbeck's goal was to make Cates a martyr - after facing withering questioning from Brady:

"You could be. Martyrs always have a point to prove, and so do you, but you haven't won your halo yet. That won't come until they've tossed you into the arena - with the lion."


  • Real-life satirist, pungent culture critic and journalist H.L. Mencken of the Baltimore Evening Sun was mostly contemptuous of ignorant US rural folk and others whom he felt would be better ruled by an oligarchy of enlightened leaders, such as himself.
  • Originally, Mencken wrote an article defending the state's setting of curriculum guidelines in schools (and thereby also criticized Scopes for breaking the state law), but then sided with Darrow's defense team, mostly to caustically critique and ridicule Bryan, prudery and the anti-evolution fundamentalists and literalists.

Cates wasn't interested in being a martyr setting out to prove anything:

Cates: "All I want to do is teach my students that man just wasn't planted here like a geranium in a flowerpot. That life comes from a long miracle. It just didn't take 7 days."
Rachel: "But it's against the law. A schoolteacher's a public servant. He should do what the law and the school board want him to."

Hornbeck butted in to tell Cates what he had accomplished - his newspaper had sponsored a lawyer (unnamed) to represent Cates: "I came to tell boy Socrates here that the Baltimore Herald is opposed to hemlock, and will provide a lawyer." He acknowledged to the young couple his cynicism and sarcasm about life, but admitted he was supportive of Cates' side of the argument:

"I do hateful things for which people love me and I do lovable things for which they hate me. I'm admired for my detestability. Now don't worry, Little Eva, I may be rancid butter, but I'm on your side of the bread."


  • Scopes had not sent for a lawyer to represent him. He was directly recruited by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to challenge Tennessee’s Butler Act. The ACLU agreed to pay defendant Scopes when he volunteered to participate in the test case and stand trial.
  • There was no animosity between Scopes and the townsfolk in Dayton, Tennessee. In fact, some of the townsfolk encouraged the trial to be held in Dayton in order to stimulate business and put Dayton on the map. In the movie version, the people of the town were inaccurately portrayed as mean-spirited, ignorant hicks, and frenzied in their 'Bible Belt' beliefs.

Prosecutor Matthew Brady's Celebrated Arrival in Hillsboro:

The next day brought the balding, bow-tied Matthew Harrison Brady to the main street of town. During his celebratory arrival into Hillsboro, the silver-tongued fundamentalist - who would serve as the prosecuting attorney in the trial - sat in the rear of an open chauffeured car with Mrs. Sara Brady (Florence Eldridge), while being welcomed by a parade and marching band (with the singing of Give Me That Old Time Religion by a group of housewives and suffragettes, substituting the line: "If it's good enough for Brady, then it's good enough for me"). Placards and signs read: "DOWN WITH DARWIN," "DELIVER US FROM EVIL," "ATHEIST - GO BACK TO YOUR APES," "DOOMSDAY FOR DARWIN," "DON'T MONKEY WITH US," "DON'T PIN A TAIL ON ME," "KEEP SATAN OUT OF HILLSBORO," and "GODLINESS AND GORILLAS." The town's mayor formally welcomed Brady in a ceremonial speech:

"As mayor of Hillsboro, may I say that this municipality is proud to have within its city limits the warrior who has always fought for us ordinary people. Why the lady folk of this town would not have the vote if it hadn't been for you fightin' to give them all that suffrage. Mr. President Wilson would not have got to the White House and won the war if it hadn't been for you supportin' him and bein' his Secretary of State. In conclusion, the governor of our glorious state has vested in me the authority to confer upon you a commission as honorary Colonel in the state militia."

Brady stood up to the adoring crowds on the warm and sunny afternoon, thanked the Mayor for his new title of Colonel, and delivered a response. In some ways, his speech was another self-serving campaign stop (he had already run for President three times, in 1896, 1900, and 1908) - he condemned the assault of the wicked, godless and evil Northern cities against the rural, Bible-fearing South:

"My friends of Hillsboro. You know why I have come here. It is not merely to prosecute a lawbreaker, a young man who has spoken out against the revealed Word. I have come here because what has happened in a schoolroom in your town has unloosed a wicked attack from the big cities of the north. We did not seek this struggle. We are simple folk, who seek only to live in brotherhood and peace, to cherish our loved ones, to teach our children the ways of righteousness and of the Lord. But what would they teach them, these idolaters, these priests of 'evil-ution.' What would they have them do? They would have them measure the distance between the stars and forget Him who holds the stars in His hands. They are lost, my friends. For, I tell you, if man believes he is descended from the beasts, he must remain a beast! And as the young wolf turns upon the old, these innocent ones, corrupted and despairing of salvation, will turn upon their fathers, and our land will become a land of Sodom and Gomorrah, of pestilence, of fire, of hatred and of death."


  • There was no parade or motorcade held in Dayton, Tennessee for the arrival of William Jennings Bryan, but a band did play patriotic and religious tunes as he stepped off the train.
  • Half of the town showed up (about 900 people), it was estimated, to meet Bryan as he arrived from Miami on the train - the "Royal Palm Special" that normally didn't stop in town.
  • Bryan arrived on July 7, 1925, three days before the trial began

Hornbeck interrupted Brady's speech (he shouted out: "I disagree!"). He announced that his newspaper was supporting a defense attorney for the schoolteacher - the reknowned and eminent Chicago attorney Henry Drummond:

"Ladies and gentlemen, my paper is happy to announce that it is sending two representatives to, uh, 'Heavenly Hillsboro' - the most gifted reporter in America today - myself - and the most agile legal mind of the 20th century, Henry Drummond."

One of the women yelled: "We'll send him back to hell," and others chimed in: ("Ride him out on a rail!," "Don't let him into town!" and "Keep him out!"). Contrary to the others, Brady welcomed Drummond - in order to publically defeat him:

"If the enemy sends his Goliath into battle, it magnifies our cause. Henry Drummond has stalked the courtrooms of this land for 40 years. When he fights, headlines follow. The whole world will be watching our victory over Drummond. If St. George had killed a dragonfly instead of a dragon, who would remember him? We here in Hillsboro have not only the opportunity to slay the Devil's Disciple but the Devil himself!"

Afterwards, one of the stern church ladies baited Hornbeck ("the stranger") with a question about his accommodations in Hillsboro: "Are you looking for a nice, clean place to stay?" - hoping to turn him down, but the reporter was quick to reply: "I had a nice, clean place to stay, Madam, and I left it to come here."

Preachy Reverend Brown and His Daughter Rachel:

That evening, single father Reverend Brown argued with his schoolteacher daughter Rachel. He relished the upcoming trial and became preachy: "We must thank God that the sinner stands naked and exposed," but she was not swayed by him to betray her support for Bert: "I'm not leaving Bert....I love him, Pa. I love him," although her father compared Bert to Judas: ("That is the love of Judas. This man has nothing to offer you but sin"). Rachel demanded that her father explain his extreme hatred - he answered maliciously: "Because I love God, and I hate his enemies."

He regarded the agnostc Henry Drummond as an objectionable force who was siding with Bert: "What is he doing with Henry Drummond? Why is he bringing Henry Drummond here to spew his atheistic filth into the ears of our people?" He denied that Bert could love God if he twisted young minds with his vile evolutionary, anti-Biblical teachings. He also demanded that she retract her words and repent:

"You know how easy it is to mold minds for good or to twist them for evil. You're infected with the poison of his agnosticism. Now get down on your knees and pray for forgiveness."

Rachel refused to comply ("I'm not betraying anybody"), and admitted her fear of her unloving father's fanatical faith throughout her entire life since childhood. The Reverend begged and prayed for God's forgiveness for himself and Rachel after lowering himself down to his knees in front of a picture of his deceased wife: "I have failed. Tell me what to do, dear Lord. Guide my faltering steps. I love my daughter. How can I save her?"

Drummond's Low-Key Arrival in Hillsboro:

The next day, Hornbeck was the only one to welcome the celebrated, libertarian lawyer Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) upon his anonymous arrival on a bus to the "Bible Belt" town: "Hello, Devil. Welcome to Hell." However, the bushy, white-haired Drummond, wearing a white hat, strode confidently into town carrying his own luggage, and accompanied Hornbeck to their shared accommodations at the Mansion House. As Hornbeck stopped to buy a hot dog (after asking himself: "Which is hungrier - my stomach or my soul?"), an older Bible salesman (Will Wright) asked him: "Are you a evolutionist? A infidel? A sinner?" Hornbeck confessed he was the "worst kind" of sinner - a newspaper writer.


  • Clarence Darrow was greeted at the train station (he didn't arrive by bus) by a friendly group of townsfolk. The town of Dayton, Tennessee also held a banquet in his honor.
  • As in the film, Dayton, Tennessee did adopt a carnival-like atmosphere, in which chimpanzees were displayed, and vendors sold their wares: Bibles, toy monkeys, hot dogs, and lemonade.

In the carnival and circus-like atmosphere in town, a sideshow huckster known as Dr. Britton (Earle Hodgins) who sold Tonic, called himself a Devolutionist. He preached to the crowds while a clothed 'missing link' chimpanzee (in farmer's overalls) smoked a cigarette and sat next to him on a stool:

"Ladies and gentlemen, devolution is not a theory but a proven fact. My friends, man did not evolve from the ape, but the ape devolved from man. Now, you take a look at this creature sitting here. There before you is an example of the ungrace to which man can fall because of his own bestiality. Look at those beady little brows. Look at those shifting eyes. For as sure as the good Lord cast out Satan from heavenly glory, so did he devolve this poor beast from man. (To the chimp) Quit lookin' at me, will ya, son? These are the wages of sin, my friends. You take a lesson. Look and beware."

As Drummond walked with Hornbeck through town, the two were confronted by an unfriendly farmer, Royce McHenry: "I want to tell you we're just plain folk down here. We don't need no outsiders to tell us how or what to think...why don't you go back where you came from?" Hornbeck informed Drummond about Brady's arrival: "Their Messiah arrived yesterday," and tried to discourage Drummond: "Look, uh, Drummond. Why don't you give your ulcers a break and go home? You'll win no victories here," but the lawyer was resolute about defending the jailed teacher: "I've been a lawyer long enough to know there are no total victories anywhere."

The reception was capped by a threatening-looking group of young males in school letter sweaters in front of the Mansion House, one of whom tried to wrestle Drummond’s case from him - but they were actually some of Mr. Cates' enlightened and supportive students who welcomed the lawyer to defend their teacher: "We're all members of Mr. Cates' homeroom and Biology class. W-we all like Mr. Cates very much. And we hope you do right by him."

Drummond's First Encounter with Brady:

Inside the Mansion House, Drummond met his long-time acquaintances, both Mr. and Mrs. Brady. To Brady, Hornbeck defended his "biased" newspaper article from the day before: "It's the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Drummond was introduced to the local prosecuting district attorney Tom Davenport (Elliott Reid), who graciously welcomed the coming battle of the minds: "Mr. Drummond, sir, let me assure you, while we may not agree with your ideas, we respect your right to voice them." The two eminent lawyers, Drummond and Brady, were long-time acquaintances and now adversarial, sparring opponents:

"Henry Drummond and I have worked side by side in a good many battles for the rights of the common folk of this country...Now, after all these years, we find ourselves on the opposite side of an issue."

Drummond quipped: "Well, that's evolution for you."

Next Page