Judge Priest (1934) - Rotten Tomatoes

Judge Priest1934

Judge Priest (1934)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Judge Priest Photos

Movie Info

Will Rogers stars as Judge William "Billy" Priest, the common-sense Kentucky jurist created by humorist Irvin S. Cobb. The Judge's easygoing manner bothers many of the self-righteous good citizens of his small 19th-century hometown, imperiling his chances for re-election. The anecdotal plot boils down to a single storyline involving orphaned Anita Louise, reclusive David Landau (secretly Louise's father), and young attorney Tom Brown.The testimony that saves Landau from a murder charge is delivered by Civil War veteran H.B. Walthall, whose stirring loyalty to the Confederacy inspires everyone in town to organize an impromptu parade! Some of the best scenes are highlighted by Will Rogers' affectionate rapport with stereotyped black-actors Stepin Fetchit and Hattie McDaniel, though these scenes are frequently removed from TV showings of Judge Priest due to their undeniably racist overtones. If you haven't guessed by the first frame of the film that John Ford was the director, you'll recognize Ford's personal stamp the moment Will Rogers kneels by his wife's grave and carries on a warm conversation with his long-departed bride. Ford would remake (and improve upon) Judge Priest in 1953 as The Sun Shines Bright, with Charles Winninger as the judge.

Watch it now


Will Rogers
as Judge William 'Billy' Priest
Tom Brown
as Jerome Priest
Anita Louise
as Ellie May Gillespie
Henry B. Walthall
as Reverend Ashby Brand
Rochelle Hudson
as Virginia Maydew
David Landau
as Bob Gillis
Berton Churchill
as Senator Horace K. Maydew
Brenda Sue Fowler
as Mrs. Caroline Priest
Hattie McDaniel
as Aunt Dilsey
Stepin Fetchit
as Jeff Poindexter
Frank Melton
as Flem Tally
Roger Imhof
as Billy Gaynor
Charley Grapewin
as Sgt. Jimmy Bagby
Francis Ford
as Juror #12
Matt McHugh
as Gabby Rives
Hyman Meyer
as Herman Feldsburg
Louis Mason
as Sheriff Birdsong
Grace Goodall
as Mrs. Maydew
Paul McVey
as Trimble
Vester Pegg
as Herringer
Winter Hall
as Judge Fairleigh
Hy Meyer
as Herman Feldsburg
Mary Rousseau
as Guitarist
Margaret Mann
as Governess
Vera Brown
as Singer
Robert Parrish
as Festival Taffy Puller
Harry Tenbrook
as Townsman in Saloon
Pat Hartigan
as Townsman in Saloon
Harry Wilson
as Townsman in Saloon
Frank Moran
as Townsman in Saloon
Constantine Romanoff
as Townsman in Saloon
View All

Critic Reviews for Judge Priest

All Critics (5)

The best Rogers picture for some time.

July 22, 2019 | Full Review…

What the movies need is something with a little color and spirit, with a flash of insight or sincerity -- not mild sedatives of this sort.

May 31, 2019 | Full Review…

Ford spends more time setting up a kind of slow-going Southern atmosphere, where everyone knows everyone and it's always just about time for another mint julep.

June 13, 2008 | Full Review…

Agreeable Will Rogers vehicle from John Ford.

August 29, 2006 | Rating: 4/5

Will Rogers has found a part that is best suited for his talents as a populist humorist.

May 9, 2006 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Judge Priest

Ugh! What a piece of slug. Racist even by 30's standard and syrupy sweet to boot. Stay away!

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Surprisingly humorous social drama featuring the indomitable Will Rogers in the title role. Often cited as John Ford's favorite film, Judge Priest is part Western, part Courtroom Drama and part Depression-Era Escapism. Good stuff.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Judge Priest Quotes

News & Features