Tuesday, May 14, 2013

1953 - THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT, John Ford's favorite film?

By now it's fairly well known by film buffs and scholars that this is supposedly John Ford's favorite film.  It's kind of hard to believe when you compare The Sun Shines Bright to films like The Searchers, The Grapes of Wrath, Three Bad Men, They Were Expendable and How Green Was My Valley among others. 

If The Sun Shines Bright is Ford's favorite film it's probably because he was able to indulge himself in many of his favorite themes and situations.  There's his general feeling for a romanticized American past which he saw as a country that was now losing many of it's values by the 1950's.  Also the setting of Kentucky a state in the defeated South plays into his "victory in defeat" theme he rehashed in many of his films.  There's also the usual stuff about the importance of ritual, parades, cornball comedy and a very outdated view of Black Americans. 

Not generally though of as a director good  of actors, the performances are very good in this film with Charles Winninger who was usually cast in character parts as the main lead,  Billy Priest  excellent as the southern judge up for reelection. 

Ford's direction is excellent as usual, with interesting but not showy camera work and deliberate but not leisurely pacing throughout the film.  If the film seems a little patronizing especially towards Black Americans this film is infinitely preferable to Ford's first Judge Priest film with Will Rodgers.

100 minutes.

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