The Sun Shines Bright (Ford, 1953)

The Sun Shines Bright (John Ford, 1953)

In a scene towards the end of the film, a funeral is held for a prostitute where an incomplete version of the story of Jesus with the woman caught in sin is preached. Ford’s purpose here is obvious, and if ever there were a scene that desperately needed the use of Amazing Grace, it is this, because that could have been much more humbling and powerful without having to manipulate a story to make a point. Regardless, the scene is still good, and helps further illustrate the integrity of our protagonist (a judge who was the only person willing to officiate the prostitute’s service).

The film centers around this judge during a time where he is seeking re-election. He’s a confederate man, and Ford in no way tries to mask his character’s flaws in that regard. He still believes in the ways of the south and is imperfect because of that. But he believes in the ways of the law more, and even risks his life for a black man targeted by a lynch mob. Like everyone, there’s good and bad within this man. But in the two most important decisions he’s faced with, the bad choice is not even a consideration for him. He’s a complex man written so precisely that it’s hard to even recognize that without looking closely. Overall, the film is a bit over-sentimental in its ‘rah, rah’ attitude (at least it’s a quiet ‘rah’), but when it comes to the ‘God and country’ thematic approach, I guess that’s to be expected.  8.25/10

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