The Sun Shines Bright (1953) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Sun Shines Bright (1953)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

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." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

Charles Winninger
as Judge William Pittman Priest
Arleen Whelan
as Lucy Lee Lake
John Russell
as Ashby Corwin
Milburn Stone
as Horace K. Maydew
Stepin Fetchit
as Jeff Poindexter
Russell Simpson
as Dr. Lewt Lake
Ludwig Stossel
as Herman Felsburg
Paul Hurst
as Sgt. Jimmy Bagby
Mitchell Lewis
as Sheriff Andy Redcliffe
Grant Withers
as Buck Ramsey
Dorothy Jordan
as Lucy's mother
Elzie Emanuel
as U.S. Grant Woodford
Henry O'Neill
as Jody Habersham
Slim Pickens
as Mink Sterling
James Kirkwood
as General Fairfield
Ernest Whitman
as Uncle Pleasant Woodford
Trevor Bardette
as Rufe Ramseur
Eve March
as Mallie Cramp
Hal Baylor
as Ramseur
Jane Darwell
as Mrs. Amora Ratchitt
Ken Williams
as Maydew's Henchman
Clarence Muse
as Uncle Zach
Mae Marsh
as G.A.R. Lady at Ball
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Critic Reviews for The Sun Shines Bright

All Critics (3)

Nostalgic for a world he never knew and which never really existed, progressive-minded and a little reactionary at the same time, innately sad for the passing of an era, deeply humane, and, yes, with a dash of utterly arbitrary beefcake.

March 17, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

A marvelously entertaining film, laid back and effortlessly told, despite the social commentary and intertwining subplots.

March 28, 2013 | Full Review…

A heavy mix of mushy sentimentality and low-brow comedy.

December 26, 2004 | Rating: C | Full Review…

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