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Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
Lem goes to Chicago to sell the wheat his family has grown on their farm in Minnesota. There he meets the waitress Kate. They fall in love and get married before going back to the farm. Kate is accepted by Lem's mother and kid sister but is rejected by his father, who believes she married for the money. (And the fact that Lem didn't get a fair price for the wheat is her fault too). The reapers arrive and quickly they make things even more complicated by making their move on Kate. Lem misunderstands the situation and believes Kate is actually interested. In despair Kate leaves the farm and Lem goes looking for her. Written by
Frank Dabelstein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director F.W. Murnau wanted the title of the film to be "Our Daily Bread", but the studio refused. In addition, the film, which had been shot silent, was scheduled by the studio to have parts of it reshot with sound. Murnau refused, wanting nothing to do with "talkies", and after this and other clashes with the studio he left the picture before it was completed. An assistant director finished it. See more »
Each time when Lem's father, Kate, and Mac storm out of the farmhouse after Kate bandages Mac's hand, the shadow of the screen door moves across the "sky" backdrop in the background. See more »
Silence Is Golden for F.W. Murnau and Charles Farrell
Minnesota country boy Charles Farrell (as Lem) goes to Chicago, to sell the family's wheat harvest. In the hectic city, he meets pretty coffee shop waitress Mary Duncan (as Kate), who longs for the simple life. The attractive pair fall blissfully in love. After marrying Ms. Duncan, Mr. Farrell takes her home to live with his country family. But, father David Torrence (as Tustine) distrusts the "City Girl", and is angry with his son for selling his wheat at an inferior price. A stern patriarch, Mr. Torrence drives a wedge between the happy couple. To make matters worse, Duncan becomes prey for some arriving reapers
This is another stunner from director F.W. Murnau ("Sunrise"), who would so tragically die in a car accident (after only one more film). "City Girl" was produced by Mr. Murnau as a "silent" ("Our Daily Bread"); but, Fox Films recalled the movie, and turned it into a "talkie". At the time, Farrell's name was rising to the upper reaches of "Box Office" star lists, but, truth be told, only Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo still had the power to draw audiences to a silent movie (and, even that was fading). With re-shoots, a partially talking "City Girl" was seen briefly, and forgotten.
The unearthed full length silent version was, thankfully, preserved. It is a near-perfect film. Farrell, who many felt deserves some "Best Actor" recognition fro his role in "7th Heaven", outdoes himself. Murnau, photographer Ernest Palmer, set director Harry Oliver are also award-worthy. Although she looks too startlingly glamorous in the country portions, Duncan is hot in the city. No wonder leering Richard Alexander (as Mac) couldn't keep his hands off her. The entire cast performs splendidly, right down to David Rollins giving Duncan lift at work.
Sequences to re-play (if not the whole movie): Farrell walking the crowded city streets, Duncan in her apartment (where she blows the city dust off her suffocating plant), the couple's ecstatic run through his father's wheat fields, the arrival of grinning Guinn Williams and the reapers, and their harvesting scenes. Murnau's direction of the horse-driven wagons is especially spectacular. The lighting is brilliant throughout.
********* City Girl (2/16/30) F.W. Murnau ~ Charles Farrell, Mary Duncan, David Torrence, Richard Alexander
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