The Sun Shines Bright

Overview

Director John Ford, notoriously difficult to please, regarded The Sun Shines Bright as his favorite film. Laurence Stalllings' screenplay is based on several short stories by Kentucky humorist Irvin S. Cobb, some of which had previously been cinematized in Ford's 1934 Will Rogers vehicle Judge Priest. Charles Winninger stars as Judge William Pittman Priest, whose down-home, common-sense approach to his job has endeared himself to most of the residents of his small Kentucky home town, while alienating many of the ...
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Blu-ray (Remastered / B&W)
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Overview

Director John Ford, notoriously difficult to please, regarded The Sun Shines Bright as his favorite film. Laurence Stalllings' screenplay is based on several short stories by Kentucky humorist Irvin S. Cobb, some of which had previously been cinematized in Ford's 1934 Will Rogers vehicle Judge Priest. Charles Winninger stars as Judge William Pittman Priest, whose down-home, common-sense approach to his job has endeared himself to most of the residents of his small Kentucky home town, while alienating many of the "better" people. Up for election, Judge Priest is challenged by a Yankee upstart who has most of the influential citizens in his pocket. Almost deliberately courting defeat, the doggedly honest Priest champions several unpopular causes. In the film's most memorable scene, the Judge arranges a fancy funeral procession for an impoverished town prostitute. The film retains much of the charm of its predecessor Judge Priest; unfortunately at least by P.C. standards, The Sun Shines Bright also retains the most questionable aspect of the earlier film: the stereotyped routines of African-American comedian Stepin Fetchit. One hardly knows how to react to the sequence in which the supplicative Fetchit tries to hush up a defiant young black man who is in danger of being lynched Ford plays this scene for laughs! While Fetchit's participation will hardly endear the film to modern audiences, it is unfair to write off the rest of The Sun Shines Bright, which otherwise fully lives up to director Ford's affectionate assessment. Long available only in its 90 minute release version, the film has in recent years been restored to the 100-minute "director's cut."
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Since legendary and iconic director John Ford considers The Sun Shines Bright to be one of his personal favorites of his own movies, one approaches it with high expectations. Unfortunately, despite Ford's expert work and the admirable leading performance of Charles Winninger, modern viewers are likely to wonder at just why Ford ranks it so high in his list. The problem, as you may have guessed, lies primarily with the screenplay which is mawkish and overly sentimental, as well as often too predictable. Worse for latter day viewers, the film indulges in some racial stereotyping that is patently offensive. Still, Bright does have Ford at the helm, and his love for the film and for the simple-but-wise judge that is its lead comes through quite powerfully. Ford' incredible skill also comes through, albeit in spurts. He gives in to the sentimentality a bit too much, but he also knows the most powerful way to frame a shot and just how to pull forth a reaction when he wants it. And the funeral sequence is stunningly realized. The film also benefits from Winninger's jim-dandy performance, the glue that holds the picture together. His natural warmth is there, of course, but he finds layers and nuances to the man that are a tremendous help in getting the film over its rough spots. Adding together the film's pluses and minuses, the result comes across ahead, if not the meaningful work it was to its creator.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/26/2013
  • UPC: 887090058209
  • Original Release: 1953
  • Rating:

  • Source: Olive Films
  • Presentation: Remastered / B&W
  • Time: 1:41:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 32,359

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
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 Stossel Herman Felsburg
Francis Ford Feeney
Paul Hurst Sgt. Jimmy Bagby
Mitchell Lewis Sheriff Andy Redcliffe
Grant Withers Buck Ramsey
Milburn Stone Horace K. Maydew
Dorothy Jordan Lucy's mother
Elzie Emanuel U.S. Grant Woodford
Henry O'Neill Jody Habersham
Slim Pickens Mink Sterling
Ernest Whitman Uncle Pleasant Woodford
Trevor Bardette Rufe Ramseur
Eve March Mallie Cramp
Hal Baylor Ramseur
Jane Darwell Mrs. Amora Ratchitt
Ken Williams Maydew's Henchman
Clarence Muse Uncle Zach
Mae Marsh Old Lady at Ball
James Kirkwood General Fairfield
Jack Pennick Beaker
Patrick Wayne Cadet
Technical Credits
John Ford Director, Producer
Irvin S. Cobb Original Story
Merian C. Cooper Producer
Frank Hotaling Art Director
John McCarthy Set Decoration/Design
George Milo Set Decoration/Design
Jack Murray Editor
Adele Palmer Costumes/Costume Designer
Laurence Stallings Screenwriter
Louis Clyde Stoumen Cinematographer
Archie J. Stout Cinematographer
Victor Young Score Composer
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