Home Movie CraftsActors & Actresses Fredric March Movies: Inherit the Wind + Seven Days in May

Fredric March Movies: Inherit the Wind + Seven Days in May


Fredric March as a fictionalized William Jennings Bryan and Spencer Tracy as a fictionalized Clarence Darrow in Stanley Kramer’s Inherit the Wind.

Turner Classic Movies’ Fredric March tribute ends tonight with the presentation of six movies: Inherit the Wind (1960), There Goes My Heart (1938), Seven Days in May (1964), The Young Doctors (1961), The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944), and Anthony Adverse (1936).

Of those, I’ve seen three:

Stanley Kramer’s Inherit the Wind, a fictionalized account of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial – creationism vs. evolution – is one of Kramer’s Movies with a Message. Unlike the tame Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner or the dull The Defiant Ones, Inherit the Wind actually delivers its message in a dramatically persuasive manner.

Helping things out are Oscar nominee Spencer Tracy in one of his rare unselfconsciously low-key performances as Clarence Darrow (“Henry Drummond” in the film) and a heavily made-up Fredric March in a wildly theatrical but curiously affecting star turn as William Jennings Bryan (“Matthew Harrison Brady”).

What’s most disturbing about Inherit the Wind as a sociopolitical allegory is that it remains as relevant today as – if not even more so than – half a century ago. (They should release it on Blu-ray with the tagline “The Movie Tea Party Republicans Don’t Want You to See!”)

Mervyn LeRoy’s period drama Anthony Adverse only comes to life when either Oscar winner Gale Sondergaard or Claude Rains is on screen, but John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May, a thriller about the “unthinkable” – a military coup in the United States – remains gripping. Fredric March shines as the US president, and so does Ava Gardner in a cameo.

Schedule (PT) and synopses from the TCM website:

5:00pm Inherit The Wind (1960)
In the twenties, a schoolteacher creates a national furor when he breaks the law against teaching evolution.
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Dick York Dir: Stanley Kramer BW-128 min.

7:15pm There Goes My Heart (1938)
An heiress takes a job as a department store clerk.
Cast: Fredric March, Virginia Bruce, Patsy Kelly, Alan Mowbray Dir: Norman Z. McLeod BW-83 min.

9:00pm Seven Days In May (1964)
An American military officer discovers his superiors are planning a military coup.
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner Dir: John Frankenheimer BW-118 min.

11:15pm Anthony Adverse (1936)
An orphan runs off to a life of adventure, then returns to France in search of the girl he left behind.
Cast: Fredric March, Olivia de Havilland, Donald Woods, Anita Louise Dir: Mervyn LeRoy BW-141 min.

1:45am The Young Doctors (1961)
An aging doctor’s resentment of his young assistant could lead to tragedy.
Cast: Fredric March, Ben Gazzara, Dick Clark, Ina Balin Dir: Phil Karlson BW-103 min.

3:30am The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944)
Twain moves from Mississippi riverboats to the Gold Rush to literary immortality.
Cast: Fredric March, Alexis Smith, Donald Crisp, Alan Hale Dir: Irving Rapper BW-130 min.

Turner Classic Movies website.

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Gary Houston -

It is interesting to me that the President of the United States was represented in early Sixties films by actors who rose to stardom in the Thirties. I mean Fredric March in “Seven Days in May,” Lee Tracy in “The Best Man” and Franchot Tone in “Advise and Consent.” The authority these three bring to the occupant of the Oval Office, whatever the flaws and foibles introduced by each, is palpable. It is unmistakable and it is remarkable. It is as if the years each had spent before the camera, and not only the role itself, brought him to a grand career’s summation. March’s special majesty has to do with Jordan Lyman’s greater centrality to the story, but all three performances merit study by the working actor and the discerning viewer.

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