Patsy Brand is a chorus girl at the Pleasure Garden music hall. She meets Jill Cheyne who is down on her luck and gets her a job as a dancer. Jill is engaged to adventurer Hugh Fielding and... See full summary »
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>
"'Tis almost indecent to see 'em all on one bit of paper"
This early Hitchcock silent, his first for British International Pictures, is a simple romantic comedy adapted from a stage play. A far cry from crime and suspense, but at this point Hitchcock had neither the influence nor the realisation of his true forte to select his projects.
As with all but one of the Hitchcock silents, the screenplay was by Eliot Stannard. Stannard, with his typical understanding of the visual medium, dispenses with the wordiness of a direct stage-to-screen adaptation. He allows time for the characters to reveal their feelings in reaction shots and point-of-view shots, and replaces verbal gags with visual ones. The Farmer's Wife is thus as devoid of unnecessary intertitles as, say, The Manxman.
Given its rural setting, Hitchcock was more or less obliged to include some shots of rolling hillsides. Hitch doesn't seem to have liked the countryside much in most of his later films if it appears at all it's as a functional back-projection but he doesn't do too badly here as far as pure photographic beauty goes. Other than that the shooting style is typical of Hitchcock. There is a growing use of fluid camera movement, and we can see that Hitchcock technique, whereby the camera appears to be leading the audience, gradually revealing to us or drawing us in.
Whether it comes from Stannard's script or Hitchcock's head I don't know, but there is a massive tendency here towards point-of-view shots during dialogue scenes, in which the other speaker looks straight into camera. The majority of these are rather pointless, with the exception of several appropriately ghastly close-ups of the Farmer's bridal candidates.
To say the conclusion of The Farmer's Wife is predictable would be a grand understatement. A shortsighted person could see it coming through several miles of fog. Not a bad thing in itself, but rather than play upon its obviousness (which Stannard and Hitchcock must have been aware of), the picture simply becomes a tedious game of waiting for the inevitable. The Farmer's Wife is only quite funny, and is altogether too long.
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