Getting upset about "Inherit the Wind" because it doesn't literally follow the Scopes Trial is like getting upset about "Jurassic Park" because it suggests you could clone dinosaurs from mosquitoes, or "Ten Commandments" because Moses is involved in a love triangle found nowhere in Genesis. They're just movies. The real Scopes trial is far more interesting than the movie: read de Camp's "The Great Monkey Trial" or Larson's "Summer for the Gods" if you want historical accuracy and entertainment. Or, buy the DVD of the NOVA special 'Judgement Day' on Kitzmiller vs Dover and read Hume's "Monkey Girl", both available on Amazon.
The centerpiece of the movie is the courtroom confrontation of Tracy and March, which is true to the spirit of the trial, and the central issues involved. The Gene Kelly character has led myself and others to read H. L. Mencken, for which I thank the writers.
On the other hand, I dock one star for the playwrights' insistence that their script illuminates something about the McCarthy era, rather than a post-WWI isolationist retreat-to-certainty reaction. Bryan *did* deny a 6 days of 24 hours creation on the stand, but otherwise came down four-square for biblical literalism. It was a defense attorney who was said to "strut while sitting down," they left out the choice exchange as to whether the serpent bounced along on its tail before being condemned to go on it's belly, and there's that truly silly ending with closet Christian "Darrow" slapping the Bible and the Origin of Species together.
On the third hand, those who want to list historical inaccuracies should get them right. "A Customer" and others off in the one-star fringe don't. A few correctives.
1. The city fathers of Dayton did promote the trial for publicity, pure and simple. However, legislators for the State of Tennessee went to a lot of trouble pass a law to ban the teaching of evolution in favor of a straight-up biblical account, so I think its fair to say the Creationists assaulted the Evolutionists.
2. Bryan took a lot of flak for testifying that the world wasn't created in six days of 24 hours. Most of his supporters did believe that and continue to do so. A 6,000-year-old Earth was absolute mainline Christian dogma well into the 19th century, even at Oxford and Cambridge, both church schools. As to which protestant denominations currently favor hard-core, young-earth creationism, see Ronald Numbers 'The Creationists'. A 6,000 year-old Creation figures prominently in Kitzmiller vs Dover and the whole ID movement, no matter the disingenuous cover-up of religious motivations for to advance religion in schools.
3. The only reason to be upset with the historical fact of evolution is because that fact contradicts the first of two very old creation myths, included in the inaccurate KJV English translation of the original Hebrew that many take as Gospel. Choose one: it's a literal six-day X 24 hr creation just like it says in English *or* it's subject to interpretation and just maybe allegorical [Genesis 3: humankind 'adam' was formed from the ground 'adamah', not in God's image], and we can have hundreds of denominations, each of whom is absolutely right in its own interpretation. Mine is of course the correct one.
4. Dissecting the conflation of evolution and eugenics in the 1920s requires a book: see Gould's "Mismeasure of Man." Many of the leading eugenicists were good white-supremacist Christians who opposed immigration because it would pollute their gene pool. The expert witnesses on evolution in Scopes weren't allowed to testify: every one of them was a church-going Christian, except for the Rabbi, and there is not one single word in their affidavits about eugenics or race. Abraham Lincoln found the Republican Party, and is not responsible for Dubyuh, Guantanamo, or the Iraq War. Hitler was raised Catholic, came to power on a platform of saving white Christian civilization, and swore der volk into the army with an oath to God. Many people who take the Bible to heart subsequently become drug users or wine-drinkers, community organizers or vice-presidential candidate, and vote republican or NDP.
5. Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution, fined $100, just like in the movie. The state Supreme court threw out the conviction on a technicality, the law was eventually repealed, and straight-ahead Creationism teaching declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS. The case was definitely not a victory for teaching evolution or for science education generally. Many states enacted religiously-based anti-evolution laws, evolution was kept out of school textbooks, and US science teaching was watered down for thirty years until *beep beep beep* we woke up to Sputnik. Textbooks were overhauled, the BSCS was structured around evolution as the central principle of biology, and we were off to the Moon.
6. The Preacher's tent meeting in "Inherit the Wind" is rough stuff: it always gets cut from TV broadcasts for fear of offending audiences: 'He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind." But you will absolutely find this in contemporary American churches, every day and twice on Sunday. To preachers and parents: your intelligent daughters and sons are going to go to school, think and find out for themselves that evolution is an historical fact, and that those whom harangued them otherwise are misinformed or lying to them. When you force them to choose between fact and dogma, don't be surprised when they throw out the Baby with the Flood water ['He who has ears, let him understand!"]. Here endeth the lesson.