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>
John Ford had originally adapted some of Irvin S. Cobb's short stories in his film, Judge Priest (1934), but had been frustrated at 20th Century Fox's insistence on removing a lynching scene. This reworking of Cobb's stories was Ford's attempt to redress that balance. 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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Three known versions exist: a 90, 92, and 100 minute version. When originally prepared the film ran 100 minutes, which the studio forced Ford to cut to 92 minutes. When the film did poorly it was cut by another two minutes. The 90 minute cut became the standard TV print. The 100 minute cut was accidentally discovered after preparing a video print. The print given to Republic Video was Ford's personal copy, which had never been publicly viewed. Thus the main print in circulation is the 100 minute "director's cut". See more »
Liberal, Dixie judge takes a principled stand against small town hypocrisy in turn of the century Kentucky
One of the odd aspects of this film is the post Civil War background that looms large to a greater or lesser degree throughout. This takes the form of a blatantly obvious pro Confederate stance, and an almost religious idolatry of 'Dixie'. Halliwell tells us that Judge Priest, the moral heart of the film, "has trouble quelling the Confederate spirit" - but the opposite is the case - the judge is absolutely central to maintaining and celebrating that spirit. The oddness comes because, it seems to me at least, we are not used to seeing such a character defending black rights, preventing a lynching, etc. Even more peculiar is to see such a 'happy' black population - particularly the quite disturbing courthouse scene where 2 black characters suddenly burst into a grotesque song and dance routine. "Mississippi Burning" this certainly isn't! But certainly a film worth watching, and the prostitute's daughter's funeral scene is excellently done. It somehow feels older than 1953.
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