The Sun Shines Bright (1953)

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    Information from IMDb

    Plot 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

    Full Cast
    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 Stˆssel ... 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
    James Kirkwood ... General Fairfield
    Ernest Whitman ... Pleasant 'Uncle Plez' Woodford
    Trevor Bardette ... Rufe Ramseur
    Eve March ... Mallie Cramp
    Hal Baylor ... Rufe Ramseur Jr.
    Jane Darwell ... Mrs. Aurora Ratchitt
    Ken Williams ... Maydew's Henchman
    Clarence Muse ... Uncle Zack
    Mae Marsh ... G.A.R. Woman at the Ball
    Jack Pennick ... Beaker (Lynch-Party Member) (uncredited)
    Almira Sessions ... Society Matron at the Ball (uncredited)
    Patrick Wayne ... Cadet (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    Laurence Stallings (screenplay)
    Irvin S. Cobb (short stories "The Sun Shines Bright", "The Mob from Massac" and "The Lord Provides")

    Original Music
    Victor Young

    Archie Stout

    Memorable Quote
    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.

    Filming Location
    Republic Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • The Sun Shines Bright is a 1953 comedy film based on material taken
    from a series of Irvin S. Cobb stories.
    Ford had adapted some of the same material in 1934 in his film Judge Priest.
    That film originally had a scene depicting the lynching of Stepin Fetchitís character
    (and Priestís condemnation of the act), but it was cut by 20th Century Fox.
    The omission was one of the reasons Ford loosely reshaped the
    Cobb stories two decades later as The Sun Shines Bright for Republic Pictures,
    this time keeping the lynching scene (and Fetchit in a supporting role).
    Ford often cited The Sun Shines Bright as his favorite among all his films,
    and in later years, it was championed by critics such as
    Jonathan Rosenbaum and Dave Kehr, who called it "a masterpiece."

    User Review


    Offensive, perhaps, but invaluable
    12 September 2003 | by zetes (Saint Paul, MN)

    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.

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited once, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Another March release from Olive (don't have the exact date yet). Not a John Wayne film but a John Ford film and definitely of interest to all here I'm sure. ;)

  • Roughrider, you must be very busy these days updating your website. :)

    Yes indeed, Paula. Olive Films kept me busy updating last night!

    I can only blame you <g>.

    I know it sounds crazy, but I just bought The Searchers HD DVD. I'm into the format a little late to say the least. But a player and a few boxes of films (still shrink-wrapped) cost about $2 per title.

    Just another crazy film buff.


    NO WAY! This is the one that Pappy wanted so badly to see and no one could find a copy for him. This, Wagon Master and one other were his three favorites as to actually accomplishing what he wanted to! HOORAY!
    Thanks Paula, Keith

    God, she reminds me of me! DUKE

  • From what I've read, John Ford wanted to hire Ben Johnson for a role in The Sun Shines Bright (I presume the John Russell one), ready to forget about that fracas on the set of Rio Grande.

    But -- there are two different stories about why Ben was not in the film.

    Version 1 (This is in Harry Carey, Jr.'s Company of Heroes) -- Unfortunately unbeknownst to Ben, who would have loved to work with Ford again, his agent demanded too much money and Ford hung up the phone and didn't hire Ben again until Cheyenne Autumn in 1964.

    Version 2 -- Ben had taken 1953 off from movie-making to pursue the roping world championship (which he did win) and when Ford called about The Sun Shines Bright, Ben told him he couldn't make it, he had to be at a rodeo on the reporting date for the movie. Ford said, well, if he had somewhere more important to be, never mind, and .. Cheyenne Autumn 1964. ;)

  • Here's the press release for The Sun Shines Bright.



    PREBOOK 2/19/12 STREET 3/26/13

    DVD UPC# 887090058100 CAT# OF581 $24.95srp
    BLU-RAY UPC# 887090058209 CAT# OF582 $29.95srp

    John Ford's remake of his 1934 Will Rogers vehicle, Judge Priest, combines three Irvin S. Cobb stories about the kindly Kentucky magistrate William Priest (Charles Winninger). Set in 1905 Kentucky, it focuses on the judge's battle for reelection against Yankee prosecutor Horace K. Maydew (Milburn Stone). Despite the judge's popularity, it's possible that his generosity and sense of justice may cost him the election. First he tries to persuade the eminent General Fairfield (James Kirkwood) to admit that he's kin to Lucy Lee (Arleen Whelan), whose questionable background makes her a subject for ridicule. Next he faces down an angry lynch mob accusing a black man of a heinous crime - the frustrated vigilantes, dispersed by the gun-wielding judge, vow vengeance at the polls. Director John Ford, notoriously difficult to please, regarded The Sun Shines Bright as his favorite film. The film is filled with Ford’s typical low comedy and fine performances from the ensemble cast that includes John Russell and Stepin Fetchit.

    1953 | B&W | 101 Minutes | Not Rated | 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio

    John Ford and Merian C. Cooper’s Argosy Production “The Sun Shines Bright”
    with Charles Winninger and Arleen Whelan John Russell Stepin Fetchit
    Screenplay by Laurence Stallings Based on Irving S.Cobb’s Short Stories Directed by John Ford

    THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT©1953 Melange Pictures LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • Well, Paula, I prefer to think that it was Son's agent's fault. Really too bad Ben wasn't in more Ford films. Too bad that Pappy didn't realize what his little tirade was going to cause in someone like Son. He lost Henry Fonda for years......but in the end, Hank remembered the good parts about Pappy and came back to the fold. Am into Son's book, but I will email the rest so as not to stray off topic. KEITH

    God, she reminds me of me! DUKE