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 ...
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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 Priest is involved variously in revealing the real identity of Lucy Lake, reliving his Civil War memories, preventing the lynching of a youth and contesting the elections with Yankee Horace K. Maydew. Written by
Bernard Keane <BKeane2@email.dot.gov.au>
A beautiful about loyalty in a time that never was
It is a lovely film to watch. Archie Stout one of fords favorite cameraman, shot it. The last scene where Judge Priest is seen in the doorway echos the last scene in the Searchers. It is a film about loyalty, honor and redemption. But there are scenes where the black people of the town are shown to be childlike, and in awe of their white leaders. This marks the film as a product of a time long past. Some of the scenes of the black people are demeaning. But over all, Judge Preists sense of honor, his fairness to all, his sense of decency looms over the film. Ford makes Judge Priest (played by Charles Winninger in his best role) a heroic figure. But a figure that is isolated even in a crowd. A former bugler he is left to carry on the codes of honor and fairness that the old south thought it contained. People vote for him, return him to office year after year, yet he goes into his home alone. He is man out of his time. A man of the community but set apart from it by his strict adherence to his code. Some of the acting in the film is over acting. But the last fifteen minutes are lovely to watch.
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