NCSE's Scott on Inherit the Wind


As the fiftieth anniversary of the film adaptation of Inherit the Wind approached, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott discussed its enduring relevance with the Los Angeles Times (October 2, 2010). Scott, Edward J. Larson (who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book on the Scopes trial, Summer for the Gods), and Karen Kramer and Kat Kramer (the widow and daughter of Stanley Kramer, who directed the film adaptation) will participate in a panel discussion on Inherit the Wind at the Malibu Film Society on October 3, 2010.

Karen Kramer, Larson, and Scott all emphasized that Inherit the Wind was not intended as a documentary, with Kramer saying, "It is not about the Scopes trial. It's about freedom of thought, freedom of speech," Scott explaining, "I always tell people, 'Don't look at it as a movie reporting on the Scopes trial,'" and Larson adding, "In the 1950s, everybody realized that. ... What happens was that they set up the Creationists as strawmen for McCarthy and they didn't think there were any Creationists left. But the strawmen outlived the McCarthyites."

Nevertheless, Scott contended, Inherit the Wind "does capture a very important mood that reflects the anti-evolution movement ... That theme is particularly strong in the movie and is central to the Creationist message today: Evolution leads to evil, and evolution means that you can't believe in God and you have no moral rudder." In addition, she suggested that the film retains its appeal simply "because it's a great story. It engages your interest and deals with serious issues. The Scopes character … he does what is right."