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The Judge Steps Out

The Judge Steps Out(1949)

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  • Reinvention and Return

    • Bob Mukai
    • 3/27/15

    A burned-out Brahmin judge escapes from Boston's straitened corridors of propriety one slushy winter, and makes his way as a book peddler to the Central California coast, where the ever-verdant possibilities of personal reinvention and second chances once made the name "California" something mystic and wonderful. There our judge encounters Peggy, owner of a diner on rustic Highway 101, and settles in as cook and chief bottle washer. Falling for Peggy, and becoming a local fixture to the denizens of the highway, our judge one day stolidly resolves to settle his affairs in Boston, then return to California free to begin the rest of his life. Before I saw "The Judge Steps Out" for the first time in the 1980s, I had only seen Alexander Knox as "M" in the BBC's production of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," made in 1979 when Knox was in his 70s, but I'd seen Ann Sothern in her wonderful "Private Secretary" and "Ann Sothern Show" TV successes of the 60s. When Sothern made "Judge" (the movie was evidently made in 1947 but not released in the U.S. till 1949) she had already been making movies for over 20 years, yet at close to age 40, she was cast as the younger woman opposite Knox's too-old-for-her runaway Boston judge. Knox himself was barely 40 at the time. Yet both are amazingly convincing, with the California coast helping make an impossible May-December affair not only plausible but the most natural thing in the world. Though this film has something of the feel of an Olive Higgins Prouty story, Alexander Knox wrote the screenplay with Boris Ingster, who directed. The cinematography credited to Robert de Grasse, which plays up California's glaring brightness and curvilinear landscapes against the dark, straitened rectilinearity of Boston, makes its own statement. The great supporting cast includes some of the best character actors of the age (the great Florence Bates is, well, a revelation) and an impossibly young-looking Martha Hyer as the judge's daughter.

  • A Wonderful Story. Poignant. Romantic

    • Muriel
    • 12/2/12

    A very poignant story of a man who runs away from his job, home, and neglectful family and finds contentment and love, only to be conflicted by his new found happiness and the duty and responsibility he left behind. Very bittersweet and romantic. What fellow wouldn't fall for beautiful Ann Sothern?I saw this many years ago on late night TV when I was very young. I was very taken with the story and am glad to report it is just as good as I remember. With his distinctive voice and intellectual mien, Alexander Knox sometimes seems cold and dry in his roles, but that's typecasting. In this film he shows a quiet humorous charm and yearning that is very appealing and believable.

  • Movie to watch on a rainy day

    • maureen vv
    • 12/1/12

    This was an OK movie. I actually felt sorry for the man. He went back to a life that he was unhappy with. Although he still acted like a Judge and his wife had changed her way of thinking,he was sad when he went to his front door at the end of the movie. Near the end, the Judge looked into a mirror and he realized that he was an old man and Ann Southern was a young woman. Too young for him.When Southern came towards him, I had hoped that he would say or think "I want to be happy" and go with her but the writers of the movie sent him back to his wife who he just divorced.

  • Very nice film

    • Jack
    • 12/1/12

    Any film with the underated Ann Sothern is well worth seeing, ditto for Alexander Knox (so good in Sea Wolf), when you put them together and add Ian Wolfe and H.B. Warner, among others, Highly recommended.

  • Magical

    • Paul
    • 12/1/12

    A simple, well-acted, sweetly written gem. A man runs away in the Indian summer of his life and finds love in California. I loved it.

  • New York Opening

    • Richard de
    • 8/19/12

    The film opened in New York at the Palace Theater on June 3, 1949.

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