Friday, January 29, 2010

85. Judge Priest (1934)

Running Time: 80 minutes
Directed By: John Ford
Written By: Irvin S. Cobb, Dudley Nichols
Main Cast: Will Rogers, Tom Brown, David Landau, Anita Louise, Stepin Fetchit,


Despite not even being able to find a poster for this lesser known John Ford film, "Judge Priest" is still a very good example of early Ford work and a precursor to what the western directing legend, would go on to do.

Judge William Priest (Rogers) is a level headed and sometimes stubborn judge, who resides over his courtroom, while reading the funny pages. His nephew Jerome (Brown) has just returned home from New York with a law degree and soon falls back into the embrace of his former love, Ellie May (Louise). Judge Priest couldn't be happier about this fact, as he is quite fond of the happy couple and wants nothing more than for them to be married. However, Jerome's mother wants no part of Ellie May and discourages her son for associating with her, the reason being, that she doesn't have a known father. When Judge Priest is out one evening at the cemetery, having a little chat with his deceased wife, he notices a man, Bob Gillis, placing flowers on the tombstone of Ellie May's mother. Well, Judge Priest puts two and two together and realizes that Mr. Gillis is Ellie's long lost father.

Upon confronting Mr. Gillis, Judge Priest finds a hard man, who keeps to himself and only speaks the necessary words required to give an appropriate response. One day at the barber shop, when the barber is taking verbal liberties with Ellie May, as she walks by the front of the shop, Mr. Gillis, who is waiting for a shave, takes the opportunity to punch out the big mouth barber and be on his way. Later that evening at the saloon, while the previously punched barber and his barber buddies are playing a little pool, and Gillis is at the bar having a drink, they decide to jump Gillis with pool cues in tow. Gillis gains the upper hand, ultimately pulling a knife and minorly stabbing the barber that he punched out earlier that day. The film ends with the trial of Bob Gillis and Jerome taking him on as his very first client. However, due to the objections of the prosecuting attorney, Judge Priest won't be presiding over this court case.

The character of Judge Priest was the type of man that would make you wanna move down south and find one just like him, befriend him and sit on the back porch with him as he told stories and you listened to the whippoorwills singing their peaceful song. The character is an everyday man, someone that we've probably all come across at one point in our life. An gentleman of increasing age, who is wise and stubborn, yet always speaks for the right and just cause. Will Rogers wasn't just an old name that you heard of, but he was also able to bring the acting chops to the table and he MADE this film, and he made it a great one. I thoroughly enjoyed "Judge Priest" and really enjoyed the portrayl of him by the great Will Rogers. This film is home to some touching moments, like when the Judge talks to his deceased wife and you just want to leap through the screen and give the old man some company. The ending is also a very touching scene, which I'll let you experience for yourself.

RATING: 8.5/10 Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this movie, but you'd think I'd learn by now to always be surprised and always be ready for a really great film.

NEXT UP: It Happened One Night...More Frank Capra, and Clark Gable bursts into the picture. It's on Netflix to watch instantly, but I'll more than likely save it for tomorrow.

January 29, 2010 6:56pm

1 comment:

  1. The scene you mentioned of the Judge speaking to his deceased wife made my husband weepy the first time we watched this movie.

    Ford is my favourite director and this is a lovely introduction.


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