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The Late Movie: The Sun Shines Bright (1953) – John Ford


A John Ford Classic


The Sun Shines Bright is a 1953 American drama film directed by John Ford, 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 Fetchit’s character (and Priest’s 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 including Judge Priest’s defusing of the mob determined to lynch U.S. Grant Woodford (played by the young black actor, Elzie Emanuel), with Stepin Fetchit playing the part of Judge Priest’s assistant.

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 Rosenbaumand Dave Kehr, who called it “a masterpiece”.

Adam posted Judge Priest for comparison as his Midnight Movie today.

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