BY KENDALL ERICKSON
Year Released: 1953
How It Fared Back Then: The Sun Shines Bright, directed by John Ford, is a self-remake of his earlier film Judge Priest. While The Sun Shines Bright was entered into the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, receiving positive reviews, it was not considered as powerful of a piece as Ford’s original work. However, the film was nominated for a BAFTA, Britain’s highest prize in film. I would say that it fared well, if only for the controversy that arose around the film at the time.
Why It’s Lasted: This movie is a classic example of one that did not get all of the love it deserved at its time of release. However, since 1953, it has reached further audiences. It is a classic depiction of the small town dynamic that was very prevalent in the South at the time. It weaves three different stories throughout the film, literally offering something for everyone, and the performance from Charles Winninger as leading character Judge William Pittman Priest is nothing short of genius.
Classic Moment: This movie is littered with scenes that are both dramatic and comedic. However, one of the most memorable scenes takes place near the beginning of the movie when US Grant “You Ess” Woodford is in court and demonstrates his stellar banjo skills, leading all of the men to join in with harmonicas, trumpets and light-hearted dancing.
Does It Still Hold Up?: I wish I could say yes, but it’s really a coin toss. The movie is a great one, blending comedy, drama and small-town politics, though I’m not sure it’s one that someone would necessarily pick up on a whim. The film was recently released on Blu-ray and I think it’s the perfect chance for people who may not be aware of the film to see it. It’s well worth the watch, and you will not regret it if you do.