Robert Vaughn was offered the role of E.K. Hornbeck, in case Gene Kelly turned it down. But he instead opted to make The Magnificent Seven.
Fredric March and Spencer Tracy both played the dual roles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1931 (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and 1941 (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) respectively. March received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal.
Dick York's final feature film.
A venireman is the technical name for someone called to jury duty by the order of a judge.
A young Burt Reynolds got to visit the set and watch some of the courtroom scenes being filmed because he was doing some TV work nearby and Spencer Tracy was one of his idols.
Although the defense lost the actual Scopes Monkey Trial, it was later reversed on a technicality. This fact is usually overlooked by most people.
Based on the true events of the Scopes Monkey Trial which took place in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925.
Because of the criticism directed at producer Stanley Kramer by the American Legion for hiring Nedrick Young, who they considered subversive, Moss Hart as president of The Authors League of America sent Kramer a telegram: "The Authors League of America council, which has always unalterably opposed any form of blacklisting of writers, unanimously voted at a meeting today to commend and applaud you for your courageous stand in rejecting publicly the effort to interfere, on pseudo-patriotic grounds, with the right of writers to work."
In the scene where Drummond (Spencer Tracy) tells the story of his rocking horse "Golden Dancer" to Brady (Fredric March), they are sitting in rocking chairs on the porch of the boarding house. The actors are both rocking their chairs but are never in sync with each other to emphasize their differences of opinion.
The actual Scopes Monkey Trial testimony was quite dull, until Darrow (Drummond) called Bryan (Brady) as a defense witness. Firing questions about the earth's origins and Adam and Eve, Darrow quickly forced Bryan into raging contradictions, proving his point that the Bible, in light of scientific knowledge, cannot be interpreted literally.
The character Henry Drummond is based on real-life attorney Clarence Darrow. Matthew Harrison Brady is based on William Jennings Bryan. Schoolteacher Bertram T. Cates is based on schoolteacher John Thomas Scopes (hence "Scopes Monkey Trial").
The character of E.K. Hornbeck was based on American journalist H.L. Mencken, who had notably covered the Scopes trial.
The original Broadway production of "Inherit the Wind" by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee opened at the National Theater on 21 April 1955, ran for 806 performances and won two acting Tony Awards in 1956. The opening night cast included Paul Muni as Drummond (Melvyn Douglas later took over the role when Muni developed a cataract), Ed Begley as Brady and Tony Randall as Hornbeck. There has been 2 Broadway revivals; in 1996 with Charles Durning and George C. Scott and in 2007 with Brian Dennehy and Christopher Plummer.
The real-life John Scopes upon whom the Bertram Cates was based had an unusual epilogue of his own. After the famous trial, he was approached by a representative of the University of Chicago, which offered him a scholarship for graduate study in geology. Scopes then did geological field work in Venezuela for Gulf Oil of South America, and went on to make a name for himself in the field of geology.
The subplot concerning Cates' engagement to the Rev. Brown's daughter Rachel, and Brady's manipulation of the girl to give damaging testimony at the trial, is entirely fictional. The real-life John Thomas Scopes had no known fiancée or girlfriend at the time of the trial.
The theatrical trailer, hosted by Stanley Kramer, shows Kramer, along with Gregory Peck and his wife Veronique Passani (aka Celia Peck), Jeff Chandler, Otto Preminger, Walter Wanger, and West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt attending the Berlin Film Festival premiere, where Kramer receives an award presented by Harold Lloyd, who was on the festival committee.
The title of the movie comes from the Book of Proverbs, 11:29: "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind."
There are several references to "chautauqua meetings" and "chautuqua tents" throughout the film. "Chautauqua" was an education movement for adults in the US. The movement was highly popular at the end of the 19th and in the early 20th centuries. Chautauqua meetings spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. William Jennings Bryan (represented in the film by "Matthew Brady") was a popular speaker at Chautauquas. Chautauqua meetings or assemblies brought a variety of entertainment and culture for the whole community, with a range of speakers, musicians, etc.
To heighten the tension of Spencer Tracy's final summation to the jury, the scene was filmed in a single take.
Was the first in-flight movie ever shown on Trans World Airlines.