Farmer Sweetland is a lonely old widower. He is determined to marry again and he enlists the help of his housekeeper Minta to pick a wife from the local single women. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Charming Semi-Romantic Comedy, From ... Alfred Hitchcock!
"The Farmer's Wife" is a charming rustic, semi-romantic comedy from the
silent picture era. Without seeing the credits, you might never guess
it was made by the "Master of Suspense", Alfred Hitchcock - but if you
who the director was, it is easy to see the masterful touches Hitchcock
The story is a simple one. Farmer Sweetland (Jameson Thomas) has lost his
beloved wife some time ago, and comes to decide that he should marry
He methodically evaluates, and plans to propose to, all of the eligible
women he can think of. But all the while he overlooks the best, and
(to the audience) choice: his devoted housekeeper Araminta (Lillian
Hall-Davis, who is charming in the role). "Minta" is far wiser, sweeter,
and prettier than the other candidates, and she also cares for Sweetland
a way they never will. The plot, therefore, revolves around whether he
figure this out before he gets stuck with an unsuitable mate
Hitchcock applies the creativity and attention to detail that he would
use in his great suspense films, and makes out of a simple plot a movie
is very funny, and also at times quite touching. A great deal of the
characters' feelings and thoughts are communicated without dialogue cards,
through masterful silent camera work. The most powerful recurring image
a pair of chairs near the fireplace, where Farmer Sweetland had obviously
spent many happy hours with his dear departed first wife. Early in the
film, as he hosts a wedding dinner for his daughter, he begins to look
longingly at the chairs, and we know what he is thinking even before the
dialogue cards tell us. As the film proceeds, we occasionally come back
the fireplace, and eventually "Minta" begins to sit with him by the
fireplace, sympathizing and helping with his disappointed matrimonial
projects. The suggestion is obvious to everyone but Sweetland.
In the lead role, Thomas responds to Hitchcock's direction, sometimes
his character appear somewhat ridiculous in his miscalculated plans, and
other times evoking our complete sympathy and pity for his loneliness.
rest of the cast works very well too, especially Gordon Harker, whose
comic timing plays wonderfully in the role of Farmer Sweetland's
There is one long, hilarious comic sequence, at a house party hosted by
of Sweetland's prospective mates, and you have to watch it two or three
times to catch all of the detail Hitchcock packed into the sequence. The
rest of the movie is filled with lighter comic touches, and concentrates
giving us a surprisingly tender look at the characters'
Hitchcock fans should take delight in seeing how the master used his
in such a different genre, and any fan of romantic comedies who is willing
to try a silent film should also enjoy "The Farmer's Wife".
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