7.0/10
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20 user 12 critic

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:

John Ford

Writers:

Laurence Stallings (screenplay), Irvin S. Cobb (short stories "The Sun Shines Bright", "The Mob from Massac" and "The Lord Provides")
Reviews
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
Arleen Whelan ... Lucy Lee Lake
John Russell ... Ashby Corwin
Stepin Fetchit ... Jeff Poindexter
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
Grant Withers ... Buck Ramsey
Milburn Stone ... Horace K. Maydew
Dorothy Jordan ... Lucy Lee's Mother
Elzie Emanuel ... U.S. Grant 'You Ess' Woodford
Henry O'Neill ... Joe D. Habersham
Slim Pickens ... 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:

HER NAME WAS SHAME!..She got off the freight boat in the dead of night...walked down Main Street with those bold-brazen eyes...and the town was never the same again! (original print ad) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

2 May 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le soleil brille pour tout le monde See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Argosy Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (video) | (original theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Featured in John Ford (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

My Old Kentucky Home
(uncredited)
Music by Stephen Foster
Arranged by Jester Hairston
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Offensive, perhaps, but invaluable
12 September 2003 | by zetesSee all my reviews

I feel like I have to walk over eggshells to say anything at all about this movie, Ford's remake of his earlier, 1934 Will Rogers vehicle Judge Priest. Both films have some hard-to-take racial stereotypes, first and foremost in the personage of Stepin' Fetchit, who, along with Butterfly McQueen, stand as the ugliest black performers of their era. But the offense doesn't stop there. The Sun Shines Bright contains a plethora of objectionable material, some of which probably well deserves to be objected to, and some of which will be construed as hateful by modern audiences when it really isn't. The story concerns an aging judge running for re-election in Kentucky, somewhere near the Mason-Dixie line around the turn of the 20th Century. Judge Priest is a Confederate veteran, as are many of his friends. They celebrate this with open nostalgia, although there isn't really any hatred between them and those in the county who fought for the North. The main story of the film is of Judge Priest's deep humanity, and his love for all people. There are two main plot threads, that of a lynch mob out to hang a young black man and that of a dying prostitute, who happens to be the long absent mother of one of the town's outstanding young women. Priest must defend the black man from the mob and arrange a dignified funeral for the prostitute, even though it very well could cost him the election. The film's treatment of African Americans seems quite more in tune with the 1930s than the 1950s. The original film, Judge Priest, might be less offensive, actually. Yes, the blacks in that film were caricatures. However, the star of that film, Will Rogers, who famously never met a man he didn't like, seemed more like a friend to the African Americans around him, including Stepin' Fetchit and Hattie McDaniel. He even sings with McDaniel at one point. Priest in that film seems something of an outcast from the whites; they respect him, even love him, but he is not exactly one of them. In The Sun Shines Bright, Priest spends most of his time with his fellow veterans. Stepin' Fetchit is there most of the time, too (he even attends a veterans' meeting with a gray cap on his head), but he and Priest don't seem like buddies. Fetchit is his servant. Even though Fetchit and McDaniel were also his servants in the earlier version, like I said, they seemed more like friends. When Judge Priest helps out the African Americans of his county in the later version, his actions seem more patronizing than friendly. He is the father figure to every black person. At the end of the film, it almost seems like they're worshiping him. Worse yet, when the election is held, we see everyone vote except for the blacks. It's not even implied that they have already voted. Despite these very important problems, The Sun Shines Bright is a very good film that would indeed inspire a deep love for humanity long before it would ever inspire bigotry. I would never dismiss the problems of the film, but I think that what it accomplishes is much more valuable than what most would damn it for. 9/10.


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