- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 14 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: July 27, 2010
- Originally Released: 1934
- Label: Alpha Video
- Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Description by OLDIES.com:
Beloved humorist and political commentator Will Rogers stars as down-to-earth Solomon like Judge Priest who presides over his post Civil War Kentucky courtroom with compassion and humor. His pride is wounded when a political rival forces him to remove himself from the bench in a controversial assault case. Nevertheless, "private citizen" Priest will take desperate measures to see that justice is served.
Will Rogers appeared in over 70 movies in addition to his success as a political commentator in his syndicated column. He was enormously popular at the time of his death in 1935 in a tragic plane crash. Legendary director John Ford shows his ability to powerfully portray basic American decency and honesty in the face of adversity in this early sound effort. Ford would go on to win a record four Best Director Oscars for The Informer (1935), The Grapes Of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941) and The Quiet Man (1952).
In a 1972 interview, John Ford claimed that this slice of Americana, starring Will Rogers as the title character, was his favorite among his films. Certainly Rogers rarely found a part better suited to him than that of this humorous, commonsensical small-town justice. Essentially a string of anecdotes connected by the humor of the judge, JUDGE PRIEST features a plot that revolves around the legitimacy of Ellie May Gillespie (Anita Louise), a pretty orphan sought after by the judge's nephew, Rome (Tom Brown), a young lawyer. During a warm (quintessentially Fordian) monologue at his wife's grave, the judge glimpses local blacksmith Bob Gillis (David Landau) putting flowers by the grave of Ellie May's mother. When the aging Gillis gets into a brawl with three young men after they've cast public aspersion on Ellie May's virtue, the leader of the young men, Talley (Frank Melton), takes Gillis to court. Since Rome is defending Gillis, Judge Priest must excuse himself from the process. Despite Rome's best efforts, Gillis refuses to reveal his motives for defending the girl's reputation. Perhaps only Judge Priest can solve the problem. The highlight of this extremely enjoyable character-based comedy is the performance of the great monologuist Rogers, who spreads his wings wide in a role where he is basically playing himself. The unfortunate racist stereotyping built into small roles played by Stepin Fetchit and Hattie McDaniel offer an illuminating, albeit painful, window into a grotesque (and widespread) convention of the period.
A humorous judge in a small Kentucky town rescues his nephew from a matchmaking mother and ingeniously discovers an approach to helping out his friend, the town blacksmith, by keeping him out of jail.