Judge Priest (1934) Movie Script

Hear, hear. Hear.
Court's called to order.
Your honor, there is no doubt in the mind
of the Commonwealth...
...that this prisoner
is a confirmed chicken thief.
He has no place in this
God-fearing community.
He is a vagrant.
He cometh from no man knows whence.
Since arriving in our midst...
...he has been known to do no honest work.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky asks-...
...nay, demands-...
...that he be adjudged guilty...
...and sentenced to six months
on the chain gang.
Hey. Hey, boy. Wake up there.
Sheriff, wake him up there.
If anybody's gonna sleep
in this court, it'll be me.
Hey, wake up.
- Huh?
Come here, boy.
Here. Come on over here.
Right there.
What's your name?
Uh, Jeff Poindexter.
- Yeah.
Who gave you that?
- Mr. Ranny.
You mean Major Randolph Poindexter
from down at-at-at Pine Bluff?
Yes, Pine Bluff.
Yeah. Looks like you, uh, Poindexters...
...is always gettin' mixed up
with some chicken somehow.
Hey, Sergeant...
...it seems like I recollect,
uh, you and Major Ranny...
...havin' some, uh, connection
with the flesh of fowl at one time.
Doggoned if we didn't.
You know, Major Ranny was
the fire-eatin'est soldier...
...that ever chased a Yank up a tree.
You know, Billy, you and me
pretty near starved that day...
...when we went foraging for a snack
after the Battle of 'Chickamaugy.'
No, no. It was the-
It-It was the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.
'Twas no such a thing.
It was 'Chickamaugy'.
No, you're both wrong.
- I'm not wrong.
It was the summer of'63,
and we were just outside of Nashville.
No, Billy's right.
I remember.
For wasnt I there with you?
Your Honor, the Commonwealth
objects to this digression.
Now, now, now, Senator,
uh, you know-
Now the- Now the point is that,
uh-that the major-...
...uh, he acted the part
of a gentleman and a soldier.
And he removed the temptation
from out of our path...
...by eatin' up all the fat hens
i-i-in the whole bunch...
...and leavin' us nothing but a lot
of old skinny dominick roosters.
You remember, boys?
- Come to think of it, Billy,
They were no such a thing.
They were Yankee chickens.
They were Rhode Island Reds.
I know 'cause l-...
Your Honor.
- Dominick.
Your Honor.
- It was dominicks.
Is this a court of law?
- I know this.
I ask you, is this a court of law?
Now, now, now, Senator.
I wouldn't- I would, uh-
Don't get on your high horse that way.
You know we ain't in any great big hurry,
but, uh, incidentally...
...what are you-what are you
charged with there, boy?
Nothing, Judge, but I wasn't
near them chickens, sure enough.
I just fishin'.
Where was you fishin'?
Down Sleepy River.
Ain't no fish in Sleepy River.
- There are so.
Ain't neither.
- Full of catfish.
Doc's right, Jimmy.
- Yeah?
Sure enough.
I catch catfish in there that long.
There's your proof hes lying.
Here. Come here.
What-What-What do you use for bait?
Oh, I get a hunk of beef liver.
Beef liver?
That's good, huh?
Yes. I take the beef liver and put it
on the hook and chuck it out there.
Let 'em have a first piece for nothin', see?
And then you put some more on
there and chuck it out there.
And then they think they
gonna get that for nothin'.
And you catch 'em as long
as you got the liver.
And I go down there all the time,
and I don't carry nothin' but that liver.
Y-Yeah. I remember.
Oh, down there. I bet it must have
been that long, you know?
Sure, sir. Sure enough.
I've got to take down the judge's clothes
Got to take 'em in the house
Yes, Lord
Got to get out that old ironin' board
Fix 'em up for the judge to wear
Yes, Lord
That's what I is a goin' to do
Praise the Lord. Mr. Rome.
Is you here or is you ain't?
- Hi, Aunt Dilsey.
How come you here? The
judge say you up there...
...at that college learnin' to be a lawyer man.
Aunt Dilsey, I got stomach trouble.
Lord help you, white child.
What them Yankees been feedin' you?
Not a darn thing.
That's the trouble.
What have you got for supper?
- Mr. Rome, you stay here.
Us is gonna kill the high-steppin'est
rooster in the yard.
And a great big bowl of
milk gravy and grits.
And waffles?
Don't you worry none, honey.
You is home now.
Mr. Rome's home Mr. Rome's home
Mr. Rome's home Mr. Rome's home
Hey, Uncle Billy.
Well, if it ain't Rome.
Well, salt me down.
What happened up there?
Did them Yankees...
...kick you out of that law school, huh?
Sure, they did...
with a diploma.
You're now lookin' at
a full-fledged member of the bar.
Let me look at you. Hmm.
Full-fledged, my gizzard-a lawyer.
You know, you better
get your britches half-soled...
'cause you're gonna sit around
a long time before you get your first client.
Well, I don't mind, Uncle Billy.
You know what happened to me
before I got my first client, don't you?
Lord, l- I sat through
two Republican administrations before l-
Who are you playing?
Oh, I'm just doin' a little practicing
here for the championship.
I got Jeff here. He's doin'
the retrievin' for me.
Uh, me and Herman Felsberg is gonna
play against Jimmy Bagby and Doc Lake.
Put two of them balls
down there, will you, Jeff?
Two again?
- Mm-hmm.
Remember the last time.
- Mm-hmm.
I'm gonna show you what would happen
to Jimmy Bagby now if hes, uh-
I just wanna show you how far I can-
Ooh, look here.
Look at them Yankee shoes
he's got on there, Jeff.
Look at that.
Yes, sir, I never seen shoes
with buttons on 'em before.
I seen pants with buttons.
Judge, l-
- Oh, say, that's fine.
Oh, uh, just, uh, take
your button shoes with you...
...and just step that off
and see just how far it is.
All right, Uncle Billy.
- Think that's about a record.
One, two, three, four.
- Rome.
Glad to see me?
Why, I thought you were still up north.
Uh-uh. I got in this morning.
How'd you know I was back here?
Well, I didn't, but Uncle B-
My, you-you look pretty with those things.
Isn't this a lovely spray?
Now, young lady, I want
to ask you a question.
Oh, please let me down, Rome.
Miss Gillespie, will you please tell this court
why you didn't answer my letters?
I've got to go in. Really, I have.
- Now tell the truth...
...the whole truth
and nothing but the truth, so help you-
You know why.
All I know is that you've
changed since I went away.
Well, that isn't it, Rome.
It's- It's just that we've grown up.
You mean you don't like me anymore?
Oh, Rome.
Well, if my mother or
anybody has said anything-
Oh, Ellie May, I mean-...
Well, I'm old enough to
choose my own friends.
Please let me go.
We've gotta get this thing
settled once and for all.
I've got to go in.
Really, I have.
All right, then I'm comin' back tonight
and find out what it's all about.
You can't. I have an engagement.
- Who with?
Fleming Talley.
- Oh.
Well, how about tomorrow night?
Oh, Rome, it's no use.
All right. If that's the way you feel about it...
...you can sit right there
till we understand each other.
That's all right.
That's all right.
We don't need any more practice
for them old men.
Besides, that, uh, exertion calls for a julep.
Yes, but you gonna wait
for that young gentleman before you-...
Wait for him?
- Uh-
Unless young folks has changed
since I was skirmishin' around...
...he won't be back for quite a while.
Hey, Judge, look at that goat.
Ain't that a pretty sight?
- What? That goat?
Ain't nothin' prettier in the world
than two young folks in love in the spring.
Uh, Judge, what you
gonna do about that goat?
Oh, goat. My Lord,
ain't you got any sentiment?
Ain't you got no girl?
Wasn't you ever in love?
Standing around here talkin'
about a goat or something.
But your mint.
- What about my mint?
That's goat's in your mint bed.
- It's in my mint bed.
Get out of there.
- Get.
Get on out of here.
Acting like you was starved.
Get you home with you. Shoo.
Why, William Priest.
- Oh, hello, Carrie.
This is a fine how do you do.
What will the neighbors say?
I'm ashamed of you.
What's ailing you now?
Dadgum goat come in here
and eat up my mint bed there.
I'll bet he must have
been the ruination of a million juleps.
You and your precious mint juleps-
a circuit court judge.
Where is your dignity?
I don't reckon the Priest family...
...will ever have to worry about dignity
as long as you're alive and kickin'.
Well, it's a good thing somebody
in this family has pride.
I always told my brother
when he married you...
...that he saved the family name.
Well, if he were living, he wouldn't be
fooling around the front yard with a goat.
That's not what I came for.
Have you seen Rome?
Oh, Rome?
Oh, appears like I did see that, uh,
son of yours around here a while ago.
I expect he's downtown though now,
uh, you know...
...struttin' around,
showin' off his button shoes.
Now don't you play possum with me.
As if I didn't know
you've been encouraging that-...
...that girl over there
to set her cap for Rome.
Carrie, Carrie...
...if I didn't know that
you had the biggest heart...
...of any woman in the world...
I'd think you was the most
suspicious creature...
...that ever come down the pike.
Never mind that.
You come up on the porch.
I want to talk to you.
If I'd have known that's the way you felt...
...about it, I wouldn't
have hurried home so fast.
I'm sorry, Rome.
After all, you have your career...
...and your family and
everything in the world...
...that matters to you right here.
I don't think you care what matters to me.
- That's not fair, Rome.
After all, I'm- I'm only telling you
for your own good.
William, I'm not a woman
to beat about the bush.
This business of Rome
and that girl next door has got to stop.
What do you got against Ellie May?
She's an awful sweet girl,
it seems to me.
She's got gumption,
and she teaches school
and supports herself.
I don't want to be unkind.
She may be a very nice girl and all that...
...but, after all, Rome is
one of the Kentucky Priests.
And the name of Priest
means something in Kentucky.
Well, uh, I've never heard
that it meant intolerance.
It means good stock and family pride.
You know the kind of stock
she comes from.
Yep. Her, uh-
Her ma come to this town penniless
and died givin' birth to Ellie May.
I remember the night.
She was a frail little woman-...
...uh, wasn't any bigger than
Ellie May is now-and just as pretty.
But who was her father?
Well, uh, nobody don't,
uh, rightfully know.
Well, family may not
mean anything to you...
...but it means a whole lot to me.
I'm not going to have my grandchildren
come into the world under a cloud.
You, uh, haven't, by any chance, picked
Hod Maydew as a grandpappy, have you?
Oh, I know you've never
liked Senator Maydew...
...but you can't say anything
against his folks.
They've got money,
they're an old family...
...and Virginia's a lovely girl.
She's always been crazy about Rome.
He could do a lot worse.
Well, I guess, uh, me and Rome...
...we ain't got anything to say about it.
I knew you'd come around to my way.
You're gonna-You're gonna
stay for supper, ain't ya, Carrie?
Not tonight, thank you, William.
The Daughters of the Confederacy are...
...having a chicken supper
at Kate Maydew's...
...and I'm late already.
Looks like you Daughters
get more ferocious every year...
...towards Yankees and, uh, fried chicken.
Got your badge on there.
- Yes.
Mighty pretty.
- Good night, William.
Sometimes, I, uh-
I think you women got
more badges and medals...
...out of the war than the soldiers did.
Good night, Carrie.
Listen to that old whip-poor-will
callin' his mate.
Him and his kin has been nestin'
around here for nigh on 30 years.
A lonesome kind of sound,
isn't it, Uncle Billy?
Mmm, 'tis so.
You know, the good Lord
never meant for nobody-...
...either man or bird- to live by theirself.
Uncle Billy, why didn't you come
live with us after Aunt Margaret died?
Oh, l-
I never could stand your ma's cookin'.
Awful fine swing over there
on that other porch.
I wouldn't be surprised if there
ain't a pretty girl sittin' in it now.
She's got another fella tonight.
Ellie May sure is pretty.
The fella who gets her
will certainly have to do some prancin'.
He can't sit around
and look glum all the time.
There he is now.
- Who?
That Flem Talley.
The barber?
- Yeah.
Gives an awful poor shave,
that fella.
Whoa. Whoa, babe.
Here I am, honey.
Hee, hee, hee.
Ellie May, here's good news.
Hee, hee.
Hee, hee, hee, hee.
Uh, son, uh, there ain't nothing'll
get your mind off womenfolks like work.
Will you run back in my library there
and get my old Kentucky Code of Statutes?
It's, uh- It's an old calfskin book
up on the top shelf there.
Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee.
That gets me, that braying there.
Long ears. I'm just
gonna see if I can't stop him.
Gabby Rives and Joe Herringer-...
...you know, the boys that work
for me down at my barbershop-...
...well, they comes to me tonight
and wants me to go over to old town.
Some high-flying gals over there.
But I tells 'em no.
I can have all the fun I want
right here at home.
Now, guess who I was talkin' about.
Couldn't l-
Couldn't I make you some lemonade?
Lemonade? Sure, honey.
And I got something to sweeten it with...
...right out of the mountains
and kickin' like a mule.
Hee, hee, hee.
Judge. Oh, Judge.
Y-Y-You seen anything of Mr. -
Mr. Flem Talley,
the barber man, around here?
No. What he be doin' around here?
Uh, I don't know, Judge, but-...
...but they's- they's
headed this way for him.
What are you- What are you talkin' about?
Who's they?
Uh, some lady's pappy with
a two-barrel shotgun.
He says Mr. Talley's been messin' around.
He sure is in a killin' mood.
What? You mean that,
uh, he's going to annihilate him?
Uh- Uh, no, sir.
He- He just-just gonna shoot him.
That-That's all.
Oh, there ain't a thing that I can do about it.
My job don't start until, uh...
...they've got him all, uh,
laid out in the morgue...
...full of buckshot, cold and dead...
...and, uh, ready for burial.
And then I steps in.
Uh, b-but, uh, y-you-you, Judge-...
...y-y-you is the law.
Oh, I can't do a thing about
it, as I said before...
...until the shooting is over.
And, uh, then I'll certainly
see that the, uh, murderer gets a fair trial.
Giddap. Giddap.
Uncle Billy, I couldn't
find that book anywhere.
What book?
- That Kentucky law book.
Oh. Maybe I didn't have one.
Ellie May is waitin' for you over there.
- What?
Well, l-l-l- How do you know?
Are you sure?
Now don't be standin' here like a jaybird
gawkin' when I tell you she's waitin'.
Go on out of here and go.
That dumb whip-poor-will.
Mighty poor company on a night like this.
Good night, Jeff.
Been a long time, honey, since...
...you and the babies...
...went away.
Mmm, honey, it sure is a pretty night.
Been an awful late spring.
But I don't know when I've seen the flowers
lookin' better this time of year.
People are funny things-...
...always got their eye set on something.
Rome, he's got his eye set on Ellie May.
And Carrie, she's got hers set on
old Hod Maydew's daughter for Rome.
Old Hod, he's got his eye set on my job.
And some of 'em's gonna be disappointed.
Mmm, them honeysuckles
sure do smell sweet.
Seems like I just can't get
my nose full enough of 'em.
Why, dad-burn, honey.
There's Bob Gillis over there at a grave.
It's at Ellie May's mother's.
Hi, Jimmy.
- Hello, Billy.
What are you- What are you doin' there?
Figurin' on gettin' called
to the colors again?
Hello, Gillis.
You never know what
them Yanks is gonna do.
We licked 'em once,
and I'm keepin' old Dead-eye ready...
...in case we- in case we gotta do it again.
Say, uh, better look
at old General Forrest there.
Think he's gonna need
a little shoein' pretty soon.
Well, I'm- I'm mighty busy right now, Billy...
...shoein' them two horses over there.
Hey, Bob, we better take a look
at the judge's horse.
There's somethin' wrong.
Have a snifter? Good corn.
You can smell the feet of
the boy that plowed it.
That breath of yours is like a hot mince pie.
Where you goin'?
- Goin' fishin'. Sleepy River.
Sleepy River?
Why don't you fish in the trough there?
Need shoein'?
- Nope. All right for a while yet.
Say, bad scar you got there.
- Get that in the war?
Uh, folks say you come from up north.
Must have got that up there.
As well talk to Jeff
as far as finding out anything.
Hey, wake up here.
Somebody come along
and steal the horse...
...and leave you sittin' here holdin' the lines.
All right. Come on with that beef liver now.
The bait is in the bait bag.
I always keep it in here.
Hurry up now.
- Uh, liver, uh-
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Don't tell- Don't tell me you ain't got it.
It looks like that liver
done walked off by itself.
Here. How am I gonna catch any catfish
when I ain't got no bait?
Take this dime now and hurry on
back to town and get me that beef liver.
All right, sir.
- Hurry up now.
All right.
I'm practically runnin' now.
Ain't you gonna put your shoes on?
Well, I'm savin' 'em
in case my feet wear out.
And then I'll have 'em.
As much sittin' around as you do,
it won't be your feet that will wear out.
Massa Jesus wrote me a note
He wrote it on the moon
He tells me to put on my Sunday clothes
For he's coming to fetch me soon
Massa Jesus
Wrote me a note
He dropped it in a star
Say he gonna wash me white as snow
A coat. I got on a hat...
...and this good old pretty vest
hangin' up in there doin' nothing.
By grabs.
Plague take you.
I thought I told you
to stay away from that vest.
But, Judge, it got hung up on my-
- You got my coat on there too.
Yes, but this old skunk coat-
- Skunk coat?
I mean possum-
- What do you mean, possum?
Uh, rabbit-
Rabbit? Say, listen. Every
inch of that is raccoon.
Better be raccoon.
I took it off a rich Yank.
And now you get in there and put
them things away from there.
Better get on over to that festival there.
Dilsey might be needin' you too.
How are you, Judge?
- Just tolerable, Reverend. Just tolerable.
I'm afraid it takes ice cream and cake
to get you old soldiers out to church.
If the Lord ever gets in a jam,
why, uh, he knows who to call.
That's right. Going to church
isn't everything there is to it.
Evening, Senator.
- Good evening, Reverend.
Good evening, Judge Priest.
- Good evening, Hod.
There's one of our best churchgoers.
Yes, it's- it's surprisin'
how far some men will go...
...to, uh, get a few votes.
To bad we, uh-we didn't get rid of him
and get him off up to Congress there...
...after him spendin' that,
uh, term in the state senate.
I understand he thinks you
deprived him of that honor.
Me? Hmm. Great Democratic party
and Thomas Jefferson.
Evidently, the senator
doesn't see it that way.
They tell me that his cases in your court...
...have taken on the appearance
of a personal feud...
...now that he's a candidate for your job.
Oh, I wouldn't say that, Ashby.
But I am gonna have to get out and do
some mighty tall electioneering, you know.
Hod is a- He's a spellbinder and a-...
...and a silver-tongue from way back.
I'm just a-well, an old country jake
who- kind of a baby kisser.
I ain't got much to offer the boys
in the- in the way of rhetoric.
I understand he doesn't
approve of your grammar.
My grammar?
First thing I learned in politics
was when to say 'ain't.'
Speakin' of ice cream, did I
ever tell you about Shiloh?
- Didn't I? Didn't I?
Wait a minute, Doc.
I want you to hear this.
Come here. Come on over here. I want you
to hear this.'Twas the eve before Shiloh...
...and them orders had to get across
the river to General Beauregard.
What did I do?
I took off my clothes...
...and I stuffed the orders in my mouth,
and I plunged in.
It was pitch dark.
Well, sir, I was going-
Good evening.
Are you swimming again, Jimmy?
Now where was I?
Where was I?
- Right in the middle of the river, Jimmy.
Yes. Yes, sir. There you are.
Swimming, and 12 miles to go yet.
And there I was,
swimmin' and swimmin'...
...divin' under and
around Yankee gunboats.
Yankee boats all around me.
Surrounded by Yankee gunboats,
and me dodgin' 'em.
- Yes, sir.
Puttin' them gunboats in there
is a new touch, ain't it, Jimmy?
Hello, Rome.
- Hello.
Now don't you young people
think you have to entertain us old folks.
That's right. Uh, run along now.
They're getting ready for the candy pull.
Perhaps Rome has other plans.
Oh, no, he hasn't.
I declare, Virginia gets
prettier every time I see her.
And I know you're happy
to have Rome home again.
Oh, he's such a nice boy.
Don't they look fine together?
Look at them, Horace.
Ah, yes.
Youth, beauty.
I remember when I first crossed
the threshold of my young manhood...
...and listened to the sweet
murmurings of my heart.
Double portion, please.
You have a full portion there.
Oh, but we can pay for it,
can't we, Rome?
I propose to conduct my campaign
on a dignified basis.
No personalities.
Others may censure the homespun
manners of Judge Priest on the bench.
Not I.
Others may question the methods
by which he has held...
...political control of the county
for a quarter of a century.
Not I.
For, gentlemen, merit alone will count
in the forthcoming election.
Where have you been
keeping yourself, Rome?
I think you've forgotten where I live.
Nothing like that.
Mother and Daddy are always
teasing me about you.
I tell them you don't
care anything about me.
Bet you have a girl up north.
Well, even if I did have, haven't you got
every boy in town on your string?
Oh, those stick-in-the-muds...
...they make me tired.
Besides, I've been waiting
for somebody else.
Say, what's the-...
...what's the prettiest gal
at the-at the festival here...
...moping around back here
by herself for, huh?
You want some taffy, Judge?
I ain't much of a taffy puller.
On second thoughts, uh,
you can give me a wad of that too.
All right. Put the butter on your hands first.
- Oh.
Hello, Uncle Billy.
Oh, hello.
You ain't doin' that right.
- What's the matter with it?
Here. Let me see your hands.
You ain't got no butter on there.
No wonder.
Here. Here, let me show you.
Put mine in here. Let me show you.
There. Go on up there. Run on up there and...
...put some more stickum
on your hands there.
Go on, right up there.
- All right, Uncle Billy.
That's it. Now here.
Put that right over in there now.
Now here- Here, here, here.
There's one-That's the thing.
Candy pullin', you got to keep
your mind right on it. Right on it.
Look, that's how you're
gettin' it all on your hands.
Keep your mind on what
you're doin' there now.
Lord, you're pullin'
candy with the champion...
...candy puller of this neighborhood now.
I think this is your fault.
The sun shines bright
In my old Kentucky home...
'Tis summer
The darkies are gay
The corn top's ripe
And the meadow's in the bloom
While the birds
Make music all the day
Weep no more...
My lady
Oh, weep no more today
We will sing one song
Of my old Kentucky home
Of my old Kentucky home
Far away...
Mornin', everybody.
- Good mornin', Judge. You're next.
Say, Flem, you've got the only
lively spot in town.
Hee, hee, hee.
Here, Gabby, what's the latest news
in the paper this morning?
Hello, Lige.
- Howdy, Judge.
Say, you ain't been in lately, have you?
Good mornin', Mr. -
- Good mornin'.
Nice day.
- Yeah.
Oh, Flem, here she comes.
And does she like her Flemmie.
Hee, hee, hee.
Hey, Flem, when you two gettin' hitched?
Don't know as I heard
nobody talkin' about marriage.
You ain't scared
of no shotgun wedding, are you?
Not as long as she ain't got no pa.
Say, that fella's gonna make himself
mighty unpopular around here.
That's right, Judge.
- Yeah.
There's about 2,000 male citizens here
that's gonna be mighty sore at him-
When they find out that he punched you
in the jaw before they could.
Yes, he's gonna be
awful unpopular around here.
Don't see you around much.
Joe, get some more beer while I knocks me
that 14 ball down there in the corner.
I'll pay for it.
Hey, Flem, Gillis is out there.
- Yeah?
- Come on. Let's get him.
No. Hold your horses now. He'll be headin'
through here in a minute goin' home.
You fellas with me?
- Sure.
Sure, we're with ya.
- Nope.
Get him, Joe. A knife. He's got a knife.
I got him. Oh, he cut me.
Get a doctor, quick.
- What happened?
Why, he pulled a knife on Flem and cut 'im.
He cut Flem. We saw 'im.
With a knife?
- Yeah. We saw 'im. Look at that.
Hey, Uncle Billy.
Uncle Billy. Uncle Billy.
- All right.
Look out. Look out. In a minute.
- This is important.
Oh, no. No, no.
- Will you get outta here?
You're already out of the game.
Git. Get outta here.
- Oh, no. Oh.
Oh, no.
- Go ahead and hit it.
Get away. Get away. Get away. Get away.
- Uncle Billy.
Ah, he missed it.
He missed it. He missed it.
He missed it.
- Rome, please. Will you?
Wait. This is an important game.
- Keep still. Keep still now.
Keep still. Keep still.
Yippee. Yippee.
We're champions.
Uncle Billy, lemme talk to you.
- Golly.
I don't see how the South lost the war
with a guy in it could argue like you.
Uncle Billy-
- What is the matter? You've...
Uncle Billy, I got a client.
Well, who is it? What's the matter with 'im?
Gillis. You know, Mr. Bagby's man.
What's that? Bob Gillis?
What's he done?
He cut up Flem Talley.
- Yeah?
Uh-huh, and right after
he gave himself up, he sent for me.
Well, I'll be kicked by a mule.
Did he cut him bad?
- Well, can't tell yet.
Gee, Uncle Billy, he sent for me.
It'll be the biggest case in your whole
court session, and I'll be defendin' 'im.
Well, I wouldn't gloat too soon now.
Oh, don't you worry.
Hey. Ellie May.
See here-
I'm going to get down to that jail...
...and see what that fella's
got to say for himself.
I'm going to see Talley.
- Them darned robbers.
They robbed us out of that, Herman.
Now, uh, you better
get on down there with me...
...because, uh, you're liable
to get a chance to, uh, go as bailiff.
Ellie May.
Ellie May, I got a client.
- Oh, Rome, I knew you would.
Come on over. I want to talk
to Uncle Billy and tell you about it.
That's sort of novelty,
Herman, the barber getting cut up.
Whoever cut him up couldn't have...
...cut him much if they
used the barber's razor.
Where's Rome?
I won't have it. That's all. His getting
mixed up with that kind of people.
Oh, what's he done now?
- Well, he's done enough.
Mother, what's the matter?
Is something wrong?
If you're in the habit of discussing
your affairs before strangers, I'm not.
Well, Ellie May's not a stranger.
- Excuse me, Rome, I'll go.
No, wait.
- All right. I have nothing to hide.
Carrie, what's the matter?
Have you-...
Have you been out in the sun too much?
- You shut up, William Priest.
I hold you responsible
for everything that's happened.
Are you going to defend that man?
Mr. Gillis?
You bet I am.
Oh, no, you're not.
- Mother, what do you mean, I'm not?
I suppose you know
what's behind this drunken brawl.
No? Well, then, I'll tell you.
They were fighting over
that girl in a saloon.
Mother, that's not so.
Carrie, you can accumulate
more misinformation...
...in a shorter time than anybody-...
Who told you all this rigamarole?
- Virginia Maydew.
- Virginia Maydew.
- She got it straight from her father.
A-And brought it straight to you.
She wanted to warn Rome.
I know you've never liked me, Mrs. Priest.
I know you've tried to stop Rome
from going with me.
I know you think
I'm not good enough for him.
Well, let me tell you something.
If Rome were half as mean as you are,
he wouldn't be good enough for me.
Well, of all things.
Carrie- Looks like you run second.
Oh, no, I don't. If Rome's father
were alive, he'd back me up.
Rome's already got himself
talked about all over town with this girl.
And I'm not going to have him
publicly defending her in court.
Well, Rome, you see how
your mother feels about it...
...so, looks like you lost your first client.
They're certainly hard to get too.
No, Uncle Billy, I haven't lost anything.
- Rome.
Mother, I think I'm old enough
to know my own mind.
I said I'd defend Mr. Gillis,
and I'm going to go through with it.
Court now called to order.
We're going to have a long session today.
May it please the court...
I would point out that for many years...
...a political and personal difference has
existed between Your Honor and myself.
Now that I am a candidate
for the exalted office...
...which you have held for so many years...
...those differences have reached a point...
...where for the protection of the people...
I must demand an impartial trial judge.
Uh, per-perhaps I'm-I'm gettin' deaf...
...but, uh, the fact
had never reached me before.
Are you insinuating that you
won't get full justice in this court?
I maintain that my language was
sufficiently plain for any comprehension...
...however obtuse.
And I will make it even franker.
I charge in the presence of two witnesses...
...you took sides with the defendant Gillis...
...in a prior attack upon this plaintiff.
I been sittin' on this bench
for nigh on 20 years.
And nobody
has ever asked me to step down.
I'll file an affidavit of prejudice.
That won't hardly be necessary.
Then, I call upon you, Judge Priest,
to vacate the bench during this trial...
...and yield your place to a qualified judge.
I, uh-
I'm- I'm not denying,
Senator, that you-
Well, you kind of took my breath away.
I guess I had, uh, just sort of...
...got the habit that I was
took for granted here on this bench.
Gosh, I was- I was pretty near raised
in this- in this courtroom.
When I quit fighting in '65...
...for what we thought was right...
I kind of calmed down...
...found out l- I couldn't lick
the whole United States.
I come back here to my hometown.
And I put up my shingle.
It wasn't long before
I was sittin' on that bench.
Maybe I did have a hankering
for the spirit of the law-
And not the letter...
...but as far as I know,
nobody ever found cause to complain...
...till now.
Now, you, uh-you jury...
...you forget everything that I've said.
And, uh, my feelings has no place...
...in the, uh- in the records of-of this trial.
Now, if you'll excuse me...
...and neither side has any objection...
I'd like to ask
the Honorable Floyd Fairleigh...
...if he won't come up here...
...and take-...
...take my- my place on-on the bench.
Well, what happened then?
Well, what happened then?
Gentlemen of the jury,
in plain language...
...the defendant here
burst in upon these three worthy citizens.
L- I object, Your Honor.
I deny that my client ever
burst into any place or anything.
Objection sustained.
So be it, Your Honor.
Nevertheless, I shall demonstrate that
my young friend's client here...
...did burst into something.
That armed with a lethal weapon, to wit...
...a dirk, dagger or knife
of deadly length and deadly sharpness...
...he burst into Mr. Talley's quivering flesh.
I object, Your Honor.
- Objection sustained.
Your Honor's humble servant
bows to Your Honor's august ruling.
In due time, Mr. Talley's scarred
and mutilated person...
...will bespeak the verity of my claim...
...with a silent eloquence far exceeding
the powers of my poor tongue.
We was playing bottle pool
when he come in and attacked at me.
Didn't you attack him with a billiard cue?
Not until after he come at me with a knife.
Well, it-it's just like Flem says.
We wasn't paying him no mind
until he come lookin' for Flem.
But weren't you three all
armed with billiard cues?
Well, never heard of nobody
playing pool without 'em.
It's just like Flem and Joe says.
He come in lookin' for trouble.
You don't like the defendant, do you?
- Who does?
Your Honor, the defense is through
with the witness.
I should think
my young learned colleague...
...would be glad to be through
with the witness.
Your Honor, the prosecution rests.
Before the defense proceeds,
this court recesses for half an hour.
Sure told him something.
I don't know why you did it,
Mr. Gillis...
...but Judge Priest told me
what happened in the barber shop.
Oh, you've got to tell the jury.
They'd never convict you in a million years...
...if they knew you were
defending a girl's name.
Don't you see? You can't think of me now.
You've got to think of yourself.
Look, Mr. Gillis, I don't
want to bring Ellie May's...
...name into this thing
any more than you do...
...but she's right.
They can give you 10 years for assault...
...and the way Maydew's working
on the jury, they'll give you the limit.
Oh, you've got to tell the truth, Mr Gillis.
Don't you see? You've got to.
I ain't gonna tell 'em anything.
Yes, sir, Talley lied all the way through.
And Herringer and Gab Rive,
they lied too.
It was three against one
in Billy Gaynor's back room.
And it's three against one
in this here courtroom.
Have you ever been in any other
cutting scrape in town before?
No, sir.
- That's all.
One moment.
Where do you come from, Mr. Gillis?
I ain't a-sayin'.
You aren't exactly what we Southerners
would call a sociable person, are you?
I mind my own business.
- Precisely.
Except when you go looking for trouble.
- I don't go looking for trouble.
But I ain't the one to run away from it.
How long have you had
a grievance against Mr. Talley?
Mmm, we had a run-in
a few days before he jumped me.
Oh, a run-in, eh?
And what was this run-in about?
Well, well, come on. Tell the jury.
What did you hate him for?
I ain't a-sayin'.
Then you didn't have any
reason for knifing him?
I didn't say that.
Make up your mind. Why did you hate him?
I ain't a-sayin'.
That's all, Your Honor.
Anything further?
That's all, Your Honor. The defense rests.
This court will adjourn
till tomorrow morning.
It is our hope
that the summations will be brief...
...so that we may all attend the reunion
ceremonies which will begin at noon.
Well, Reverend Ashby.
Say, this is a pleasure...
to welcome you.
L-I don't get the chance to do this often.
It certainly does me honor.
Here, Jeff. Uh, make the reverend
comfortable there.
It, uh, looks like you, uh, kind
of caught me red-handed there.
Well, could I, you know, kind of inveigle-
Been a long, tiresome day,
and, uh, it's mostly mint.
No, thank you, William.
I appreciate your subtlety.
You know, I kind of thought
that, uh-that, uh-...
...that you'd be working on
your Memorial Day address for tomorrow.
Oh, that'll take care of itself.
What I'm worried about
is this poor devil of a Gillis.
You know Gillis?
My trade takes me
into queer quarters sometimes.
Well, you know, I feel just as sorry
for that fellow Gillis as you do...
...but, uh, I'm, well- I'm plumb out of it.
Hod got the best of me.
He sure did.
Case is closed.
It's all settled...
...and I don't think Hod'll, uh-...
...he'll be fool enough to reopen the case
for nobody or nothing.
William, I have a duty to perform-...
...the Christian's duty.
I'm going to violate
the sacred confidence of another.
I'm going to break a pledge of secrecy...
...because it's the only course
that I see that lies before me.
I'm listening, Ashby.
Twenty-five years ago-
The judge is sure been
In misery
Reckon folks ain't been acting just right
Maybe his stomach's been complaining
And he needs a toddy this night
Yes, Lord Yes, Lord...
'Cause tomorrow
he's got to be like Mr. Samson
Saving Daniel from the lion's den
Saving Daniel from the lion's den
Yes, Lord Yes, Lord
The judge could do with
a toddy right now...
Yes, Judge
- Yes, Dilsey...
Soon as I gets me some mint
- Soon as you gets me some mint
Oh, Jeff. Jeff.
Yes, sir.
- Come on. Hurry up here.
Come on here when I holler at you.
Where you been?
- Yes, sir. I was-
Say, listen. You want to earn that
old coonskin coat of mine?
I can have that coon coat, Judge?
Thank you, Judge.
Wait a minute.
Come back here.
You can if you do everything I tell you to.
Uh, do you know a gentleman
by the name of Mr. Hod Maydew?
Yes, that mean man in that courthouse?
Yeah. Well, you see that he gets that.
But don't you let him know how it got there.
That's all I got to do, Judge?
Thank you.
Say, wait a minute. C-C-Can you
play 'Dixie' on that thing there?
For that coon coat? Yes, sir, I play Dixie,'
'Marching Through Georgia'-
Wait. Hey.
'Marching Through Georgia'?
Yeah. I got you out of one lynching.
Yes, but for that coon coat-
If you play 'Marching Through Georgia',
I'll join the lynchers.
Hello, childrens.
- Hi.
What do you all got in your baskets?
Fried chicken.
- Chicken.
That's just what I got.
That's what the judge likes, you hear?
Hey, Les. Hey, Les,
the jury's comin' in.
Hey. Come on.
The jury's comin' in.
I'm tellin' you, sir.
We've lost the bass drum.
How could you lose a bass drum?
Someone stole it.
We need it for the parade.
You may begin
your summation, Mr. Prosecutor.
May it please Your Honor...
...since adjournment yesterday,
certain information...
...has come to the hands
of the Commonwealth...
...which in the interests of justice,
impels me to reopen the case.
The Commonwealth desires
to recall the defendant
Gillis for further cross-examination.
Very well, Mr. Maydew.
Robert Gillis, take the stand.
Your Honor, as I recollect our procedure...
...for the time being,
I'm an ordinary member...
...of the bar in good standing?
Not ordinary, sir...
...but absolutely in good standing.
Oh, thank you, sir. Thank you kindly.
Then I have the, uh,
honor of announcing myself...
...as associate counsel for the defense...
...seeing as the case has, uh...
...been... reopened.
Mr. Gillis, were you always
a man of turbulent and violent nature?
I always left them alone as left me alone.
Is that so?
What was the name of the man
you once upon a time murdered?
L-I never looked on it as no-...
No, it wasn't murder.
- A man was killed, wasn't he?
- And they stuck you in jail, didn't they?
And they charged you with
murder, didn't they?
- And the jury found you guilty, didn't they?
- Were you sentenced to be hung?
No, l- I went up for life.
- Did you escape, or were you pardoned?
I ain't a-sayin'. I won't tell you no more
no matter what you ask me.
You don't need to.
Judge Priest, your witness.
No questions, Your Honor.
But Uncle Billy-
Hasn't the defense any evidence
to offer in rebuttal, Judge Priest?
One character witness, Your Honor.
Mr. Clerk, will you kindly call
Reverend Ashby Brand?
Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth,
the whole truth and nothing but the truth...
...in the case now pending in this court?
- I do.
Reverend Brand, before
you come to this town,
what was your occupation?
In my early manhood,
before I took holy orders...
I had the honor to be
a captain of artillery in the late war.
In the War of the Rebellion?
No, sir. The war for
the Southern Confederacy.
Yes, sir.
That's right.
He's right.
- Yes, sir.
My- My error.
One moment please, Your Honor.
I yield to no man in love
and everlasting devotion...
...to that sacred lost cause
for which my people fought and bled.
But though I cherish all those dear
and everlasting memories...
...which even the bare mention
of that great conflict...
...must awaken in every
true Kentuckian's bosom...
I fail to see any possible connection...
...between this reverend
gentleman's military record...
...and the guilt of this man Gillis.
Hee, hee, hee, hee.
I think the court
will commit no grave legal error...
...by allowing a minister of the gospel
to tell his story in his own way.
Meander along, Reverend Brand.
As many of you know,
I am a Virginian.
On the day my state
seceded from the Union, I enlisted.
I was a private in Penn's Virginia Battery.
By the latter end of the third year,
I was in command of that battery.
All the officers ranking me
had been killed or disabled.
We lost heavily at Chancellorsville.
At Fredericksburg,
we were almost wiped out.
We kept our field pieces.
We kept our pieces until the end.
But we'd not sufficient men
to man those guns...
...nor anywhere to turn for more men.
There were no more men left to come in.
The Confederacy in '64...
...was robbing both the cradle
and the grave... for cannon fodder.
Well, sir, I got temporary leave...
...and went to Richmond
to see our war governor.
I said to him, 'Sir, I've come to you
to ask for men to serve my guns.'
He laughed and said,
'Tell me where they're to be found.'
I said, 'Among the chain gangs
from the state penitentiary.'
He said, 'You've come too late, young man.
'I've freed every convict that might
conceivably be trusted with freedom.
'There are left only the lifers...
'and I dare not turn them loose.
They're working under guard
building defenses for you to fight behind.'
He opposed me,
but I argued with him.
Finally, I won.
He gave me authorization,
signed it, and with his own hand...
...affixed the seal
of the sovereign State of Virginia.
I rode back to the lines, sir,
and I found my chain gang.
I told them to drop their tools
and line up before me.
I told them,
'If you go with me, you go to face...
'a hell of destruction
and suffering and death...
'but,' I said, 'if you do go,
you go as free men...
'as soldiers of the Confederacy.
'Your past will lie behind you.
'And your future, if you survive,
is in your own hands.
'And I promise you this much.
'If you stand fast,
if you do your duty...
'if bravely and honorably,
you acquit yourselves as men...
'than such of you
as live through to the end-...
'and some of you will live-...
'are not to come back to this.
'It's for you to decide.
'Those who remain behind, stand fast.
Those who come with me,
advance one pace.'
Gentlemen of the jury...
I tell you they came at me
like a wave from the sea...
...every one of them.
And as time went on...
...they won for themselves the name
of 'The Battalion from Hell.'
Those men, those felons...
...with the scars of their shackles
still on their legs...
...they fought for the South like men.
None better.
And they died like men, most of them.
There was one of those men of whom
I wish to speak a special word of tribute.
He stood out for his courage
and his fidelity.
For his worth as a soldier and a man.
Most of all, for his invariable truthfulness...
...under all circumstances.
He was from the mountains
of my own state-...
...a man who spoke little but did much.
I saw him once go out under fire...
...during a battle to rescue,
at his own risk, a wounded Union officer...
...who lay there helpless between the lines.
Another time, our stars and bars
was wrested from our hands.
We fought breast to breast that day.
This man of whom I'm speaking
threw himself on a riderless horse...
...and rode into the thick of it...
...and by the grace of God came
galloping back from the jaws of death...
...our colors clutched in his hand.
And another day...
...when every man who served his gun
excepting him was down...
I saw him,
when the Union Infantry charged...
...sitting astraddle his useless gun...
...and with a rammer for his only weapon...
...waiting for the enemy
to come within reach.
A countercharge from
our infantry saved him.
But he had stood fast,
and he was alone.
After the surrender,
I kept his secret.
I've kept it to this very hour.
Though I've seen him daily at his work...
...watching over his daughter...
...providing for her education through me.
And all unknown to Ellie May.
Gentlemen, as a soldier,
I knew that man as Roger Gillespie.
You know him by the name he now wears...
Robert Gillis.
Hooray for Jeff Davis,
the Southern Confederacy and Bob Gillis.
Well, get out of the way.
Can't you see that poor,
helpless child needs a mother?
That's fine. That's great, Jeff.
That's great.
Keep on goin'. Keep goin',
you can have that white vest.