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The Sun Shines Bright (1953)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Western | 2 May 1953 (USA)
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 »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (short stories "The Sun Shines Bright", "The Mob from Massac" and "The Lord Provides")
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Winninger ...
Judge William Pittman Priest
...
Lucy Lee Lake
...
Ashby Corwin
Stepin Fetchit ...
Russell Simpson ...
Dr. Lewt Lake
Ludwig Stössel ...
Herman Felsburg (as Ludwig Stossel)
Francis Ford ...
Feeney (Old Backwoodsman)
Paul Hurst ...
Army Sgt. Jimmy Bagby
Mitchell Lewis ...
Sheriff Andy Redcliffe
...
Buck Ramsey
...
Horace K. Maydew
...
Lucy Lee's Mother
Elzie Emanuel ...
U.S. Grant 'You Ess' Woodford
Henry O'Neill ...
Joe D. Habersham
...
Sterling, Lanky Backwoodsman
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Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Another triumph of entertainment comes your way in John Ford's magical story of an American River-Town, and all its secrets! (original print-ad) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

2 May 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le soleil brille pour tout le monde  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (video) | (original theatrical)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of Paul Hurst. See more »

Quotes

[the prayer he says at the funeral of Lucy Lee's mother]
Ashby Corwin: Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, / look upon a little child. / Pity her simplicity; / suffer her to come to thee. / Amen.
See more »

Connections

Version of Judge Priest (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Genevieve
(uncredited)
Music by Henry Tucker
See more »

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User Reviews

And there's no need to ask where it's shining from...
7 September 2010 | by (www.2020-movie-reviews.com) – See all my reviews

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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