Judge Priest (1934)
Ford, Rogers And Fetchit
5 October 2019
Will Rogers plays the title role in the movie that John Ford later said was his favorite of his movies. It's easy to see why. It features the folksy, self-satisfied humor and unvarnished sentimentality which a transplanted Irishman -- born in Maine, but stuffed with the hereditary anger of a lost cause that won him Oscars for THE INFORMER and THE QUIET MAN. It was also a financial winner for Fox Films; it must have played to packed audiences in the Whites-Only theaters of the South.

Rogers is superb, of course, but I found, as I always do, that the comedy of Stepin Fetchit hard to take, with his inert character and difficult-to-understand dialect. Fetchit, (born Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry) has long been problematic. His comedy character made him a rich man, but it personified the stereotyped of the lazy Black man. For me there is also a strong element of passive-aggressive behavior in it. I recall reading that a part of his stage act was to put a recording of his in-character voice on a player, and then sit and read a newspaper on stage while it ran.

Regardless of these issues, there are some very strong elements in this movie. It is a must-see for fans of John Ford.
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