John Ford weaves three "Judge Priest" stories together to form a good- natured exploration of honour and small-town politics in the South around the turn of the century. Judge William ... See full summary »
Richard Girard is part of a New Orleans family working closely with the English Warburtons. When Richard meets Mary Warburton she is engaged to Erik von Gerardt. He does wed Mary but their time in America is financially difficult.
Judge William "Billy" Priest lives in a very patriotic (Confederate) southern town. Priest plays a laid-back, widowed judge who helps uphold the law in his toughest court case yet. In the meantime, he plays matchmaker for his young nephew. Written by
"Based on Irvin S. Cobb's character of 'Judge Priest'" was a compromise onscreen source credit. Fox wanted to use "Based on the Judge Priest Stories by Irwin S. Cobb," but Mr. Cobb objected because he had written over 70 stories, was still writing them, and the statement might inhibit future sales of them. See more »
This is warm movie with plenty of sympathetic characters. And plenty of nasty ones. A young love is threatened by a class-conscious mother, while the uncle is well, he's Will Rogers. (The character's name is the title, Judge Billy Priest, but I suspect he's the "Will Rogers" character.) As with anything cast in the deep south in the 1890s, there are some moments and characters with which you might find yourself uncomfortable. I was taken aback by "Jeff Poindexter," portrayed by then-popular black actor Stepin Fetchit. (Fetchit has an awful, partisan political bio here at IMDb the man deserves much better -- but he is an interesting story.) He seemed to me to be a set of overblown stereotypes, but the Judge befriends him and my wife was simply taken with him.
There's a lot to like about this film, although it does drag in places. (I was surprised when the lawn party ends.) I had to smile, though, when the judge got to play lawyer, called on witness, and the universe stood still to the strains of "Dixie."
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