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The Sun Shines Bright [Blu-ray]
(John Ford, 1943)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Republic Pictures
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 21,616,375,901 bytes
Feature Size: 21,539,868,672 bytes
Video Bitrate: 25.98 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: March 26th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 939 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 939 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Description: John Ford's remake of his 1934 Will Rogers vehicle, Judge Priest, combines three Irvin S. Cobb stories about the kindly Kentucky magistrate William Priest (Charles Winninger). Set in 1905 Kentucky, it focuses on the judge's battle for reelection against Yankee prosecutor Horace K. Maydew (Milburn Stone). Despite the judge's popularity, it's possible that his generosity and sense of justice may cost him the election. First he tries to persuade the eminent General Fairfield (James Kirkwood) to admit that he's kin to Lucy Lee (Arleen Whelan), whose questionable background makes her a subject for ridicule. Next he faces down an angry lynch mob accusing a black man of a heinous crime - the frustrated vigilantes, dispersed by the gun-wielding judge, vow vengeance at the polls. Director John Ford, notoriously difficult to please, regarded The Sun Shines Bright as his favorite film. The film is filled with Ford's typical low comedy and fine performances from the ensemble cast that includes John Russell and Stepin Fetchit.
Usually cited as Ford's personal favourite among his own films, this picks up the story of Judge Priest, his 1934 Will Rogers vehicle, and follows the picaresque experiences of the old judge of Fairfield, Kentucky, some 15 years on, as the twentieth century exerts a pull forward equal to the retrograde magnetism of the Civil War. Winninger's judge casts benevolent paternalism over an American community idealised almost to the extent of the Irish village in The Quiet Man, but still riven with vestiges of racism, religious prudery, and the scars of the North/South divide, and now facing an electoral tussle between the Old and the New. A mosaic of Americana both sentimental and self-consciously critical, with the emphatic past tense its safety valve.Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE
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.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Sun Shines Bright has a fabulous Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is only single-layered but the image is immaculate with grain and a few unnoticeable speckles. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively - this really looks crisp. The black levels are strong and contrast wonderfully layered. The outdoor sequences, naturally, looked the best and showcase a bit of pleasing depth. Detail is equally strong and the smattering of texture adds the impressive film-like appearance we crave. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and I thought the video quality was magnificent.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is in the form of a DTS-HD Master mono track at 939 kbps. It is authentically flat and the iconic composer Victor Young (Shane, Johnny Guitar, China Gate etc.) sounds great with a touch of depth. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with most of their releases. This is one film that deserves some extras so it's a shame there is nothing available.
April 16th, 2013
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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