Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

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  • The Farmer's Wife (1928) - Plot Summary - On an idyllic farm in the English countryside complete with fancy thatched manor house, small household staff, roaming geese, and two adorable twin puppies, middle-aged and appropriately named Farmer Sweetland (Jameson Thomas) waits near the deathbed of his wife whose last words are to their faithful housekeeper 'Minta (Lillian Hall-Davis) to make sure to "air the master's pants". Cut to several years later and the wedding of his daughter, where at the reception in his home he realizes how lonely he is. Declaring "There's a female or two be floating around my mind like the smell of a Sunday dinner.", the farmer decides to end his loneliness and seek a wife (and his eccentric old handyman, a real "character", is of the opinion that "To see an old man in love be worse than seeing him with the whooping cough"). Sweetland runs over the "possibles and impossibles" with 'Minta, recruiting her to help write a list. With four possible local widows and spinsters in mind, he slicks himself up and goes a-courtin', though his abilities at this are quite inept! Meanwhile, he seems to have missed the notion of the very one who may want him - his own housekeeper!

    Review - Stylishly directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this British silent romantic comedy is a visual treat with loads of interesting camerawork often used to portray character's emotions visually rather than via intertitles. For example, the farmer's loneliness is shown by his glance at the two empty chairs by the fireplace. The passage of time following the death of his wife is shown by shots of his pants drying inside by the fire, then outside in the sun, then inside, etc. Parts of the film are quite amusing too, particularly a lengthy scene at a party that is being hosted by a widow who is a rather anal personality with a bee in her bonnet about a properly set food service table, all while Farmer Sweetland is busy trying to ask her to marry him. This party scene almost seemed like it came out of a screwball farce comedy of the 30s. I was also amused by the handyman character and his facial reactions throughout the film. I thought this film was quite a good one and really showcases the obvious abilities of a great director near the beginning of his career. The only flaw I see at all is that I think it could have been more tightly edited as it dragged just a bit in the later parts, there were a few scenes I think could have been shorter. Just wanted to add - the two puppies seen in this in the opening scene are just about two of the cutest pups ever seen on film (I backed up the DVR I was watching of this three times just to get another look!). This restored version was screened (2013) on TCM with an exquisite black and white print that was so good in quality it looked like the film was shot yesterday. The music was a nicely done piano score. Rating - * 9 to 9.5/10 stars *

    Director: Alfred Hitchcock
    Film Genre: Romantic Comedy
    Film Runtime: 107 minutes

Links / Resources

film review Alfred Hitchcock directed The Farmer's Wife


10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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