The Sun Shines Bright (1953)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Republic Pictures Corporation

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
Francis Ford
as Feeney
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
Jack Pennick
as Beaker
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Sun Shines Bright

All Critics (3)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | March 17, 2015
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

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

Full Review… | March 28, 2013
Combustible Celluloid

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

Full Review… | December 26, 2004
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003
Film4

Audience Reviews for The Sun Shines Bright

One of the most egregious forms of bigotry is bigotry under the guise of liberalism. Ford wants us to treat blacks as equals, but paints them in ugly stereotypes, ridiculous caricatures who have no ambition but servitude to their white superiors. I kept waiting for one of them to blurt out "I sho do love me some white folk!". The courtroom scene is almost as offensive as anything from Birth of a Nation. The white characters aren't much better, and tend towards either "annoying" or "bland". And then there's the usual sentimental hooey about God and country, and a disturbingly affectionate stance towards the Confederacy. Plus, alcoholism is portrayed as a charming character trait. There's a few good scenes, but Ford's predilection for myth-making taints even those. Thankfully not as awful as Tobacco Road, but definitely not my sort of thing.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

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