Friday, April 13, 2007

The Privilege of a Sponge

After mentioning Christopher Plummer, the other day, I was excited to read about him opening on Broadway in a revival of Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.

Inherit the Wind is based on the 1925 Tennessee trial of teacher John Scopes who was being tried for teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which was illegal under Tennessee law. The proceedings became known as the 'Scopes monkey trial'. Plummer portrays the defense attorney, Henry Drummond, who, in reality was Clarence Darrow, and Brian Dennehy plays prosecutor Mathew Harrison Brady who's real world counterpart was William Jennings Bryan. The play originally opened on Broadway in 1955 with the names having been changed because of the prevalent McCarthyism of the times.

One of my favorite films is the 1960 version of the play which starred Spencer Tracey as Drummond and Fredric March as Brady. The film is also populated with the familiar faces of Harry Morgan (pictured), Dick York (yes, Derwood), Claude Akins, Norman Fell, and Gene Kelley in an early dramatic roll. The chemistry between Tracey and March coupled with the incredible story creates a movie that can be enjoyed, as well as felt, over and over again, and judging from what I've read, so far, Plummer and Dennehy have powerfully taken over the roles.

If you're lucky enough to have the opportunity to see this wonderful play, don't be daft and pass it up and if you're not going to be in the Broadway area anytime soon, at least you can pick up the dvd and see an amazing version in the comfort of your own home.

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