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 »
The US Army is under pressure from the desperate relatives of white prisoners of the Comanches to secure their rescue. A cynical and corrupt marshal, Guthrie McCabe, is persuaded by an army... See full summary »
A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the ... See full summary »
"Docudrama" about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 and its results, the recovering of the ships, the improving of defense in Hawaii and the US efforts to beat back the ... See full summary »
Legendary director John Ford's final film involving seven dedicated missionary women in China circa 1935 trying to protect themselves from the advances of a Mongolian barbaric warlord and his cut-throat gang of warriors.
Three vignettes of old Irish country life, based on a series of short stories. In "The Majesty of the Law," a police officer must arrest a very old-fashioned, traditional fellow for assault... See full summary »
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>
"The Sun Shines Bright" is a sequel to John Ford's 1934 "Judge Priest," with Charles Winninger replacing Will Rogers as Judge Billy Priest and Stepin Fetchit reprising his role as Jeff Poindexter. Stepin Fetchit's film career essentially ended with this movie, until he briefly came out of retirement 19 years later. See more »
[the prayer he says at the funeral of Lucy Lee's mother]
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, / look upon a little child. / Pity her simplicity; / suffer her to come to thee. / Amen.
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And there's no need to ask where it's shining from...
It would be nice to be able to discuss this film without having to refer to its politically incorrect depiction of blacks, but it's impossible to do so. The film, which is a remake of director John Ford's own Judge Priest from the 30s (in which Will Rogers played the title role), must have seemed curiously dated even when it was released, and feels like it was made in the early forties rather than the mid-fifties. Whether that's because of its outdated attitude towards blacks and the presence of slow, scratchy-voiced Stepin Fetchit is open to conjecture it could just be that the fog of nostalgia that hangs over the entire work is the reason.
Charles Winninger makes an amiable old judge whose quiet wisdom puts to shame the hypocritically puritanical attitudes of his small town's people and the racist assumptions of an unruly lynch mob out to hang a blameless teenage Negro. The storyline is kind of meandering, reflecting the apparently relaxed pace of life in the turn of the century Deep South, and you do really get a taste of Southern gentility whether accurate not. Its various sub-plots are linked together by the judge's bid for re-election, which serves to emphasise the importance of standing by one's principles no matter what the possible personal costs may be. Of course, the truth is Billy Priest is too good to be true, but I don't think anyone was out to make him a more realistic figure in this milieu than Santa Claus or God would have been.
John Ford's notorious sentimentality is in danger of becoming cloying at times, but he just about manages to rein it in at key moments. The film says as much about Hollywood's take on American social attitudes in the mid-50s as it does about the same in the Deep South at the turn of the century, which isn't in itself a bad thing. I suppose it's even possible that one day films like this will be shown in classrooms to demonstrate the gigantic positive strides made in the cause of racial equality in the latter half of the 20th Century. Better that than they are wilfully ignored in the name of political correctness.
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