If you want to commune with the soul/id of neo-confederate America, step inside. That this beautiful celebration of common decency contains such cringe-inducing casual racism—even as racism is something it claims to condemn—says so much about the USA. Almost a masterpiece, almost noxious. Another note, telling of Ford: here, the little people take the lead, and the square-jawed hero gets pushed to a supporting role.
I'm not a "Fordist", being it. Let me explain: i can not conceive an ideological world as Ford conceived, but i conceive some cinema, especially the classic, as he exemplary did, being a depuration of it. In this movie, for instance, bothers me the representation of "the black" and the social archetypes, but amazes me how it is staged and how the camera is at the height and size of the human.
I love Ford's use of cinematography to add tone to his films: having just made The Quiet Man, which was so grand and lush in scale, to then, a year later, make this charming picture captured in a rustic and simple image - amazing. With that comparison aside, The Sun Shines Bright captures the beauty of the old American South with such tender sweetness. Said to be Ford's personal favorite, it needs a DVD release.
“In the cinema sophistication wears strange colours, and the most austere judge will admire a piece which to a reading man may appear tearful tosh. Nothing sadder than to watch some devoted film critic trying to explain to a dramatic or a literary critic that to appreciate a film you have to look at it, not just listen to it. Human desperation can go no further.” Dilys Powell, 1953
Just watched this...needless to say my emotional state has degenerated into some sort of "ground zero." Perhaps Ford's most thematically and formally complex film, as well as his most personal statement. Not as a person, but as an artist. How many films are there that are this operatic but this beautiful? And what an ending. "Jeb, I gotta get my medicine! I gotta get my heart started!"