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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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>
According to a 1968 interview with John Ford, this is his favorite of all of his films. 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 »
When discussing this enriched remake of his 1934 film featuring Will Rogers, director John Ford, not one to speak with crossed fingers, is quoted by Peter Bogdanovich: " 'The Sun Shines Bright' is my favorite picture - I love it. And it's true to life, it happened. Irvin Cobb got everything he wrote from real life, and that's the best of his Judge Priest stories." Three Cobb stories: "The Sun Shines Bright", "The Man From Massac", and "The Lord Provides", form the basis of a Laurence Stallings screenplay set in 1905 Fairfield, Kentucky, where incumbent magistrate William Priest (Charles Winninger in a rare starring turn) faces a close election against Yankee prosecutor Horace Maydew (Milburn Stone), while traces from a good many of Ford's customary themes are in place, including his relish for lost causes, Christian based parables, and the significance of closely-knit communities. When 20th Century Fox destroyed expurgated negatives from his initial Judge Priest effort, Ford decided to re-film it, and this unabashedly sentimental essay displays remarkable artistry from this highly visual director, as evil is mastered by simple good nature, even without the "director's cut" that restores over ten minutes of important footage, and is not widely available. Ford employs many of his favourite stock company players including two, Stepin Fetchit and (for the last time in a Ford picture) his brother Francis, who had been cast in the 1934 production, and all perform with enthusiasm, Winninger earning acting honours for his full-blooded performance, and viewers will appreciate the magnificent funeral procession and service scenes along with others where Ford's brother-in-law, assistant director Wingate Smith, utilizes his outstanding control of extras, a superlative element in a film that benefits from many such, and from which was reproduced a large print that was placed over the head of Ford's bed until his death.
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