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Charming love story set on the Erie Canal in the mid-19th Century. A farmer works on the canal to earn money to buy a farm. He meets a cook on a canal boat, but she can't even consider leaving the exciting life on the canal for a banal one on a farm... Written by
Ed Lorusso <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The map shown at the beginning of the movie contains several errors for the 1850s, including showing West Virginia as a separate state. The second map shows an arrangement of European states that would not be valid until 1871. See more »
Henry Fonda Attains Screen And Stage Stardom With The Same Vehicle
When The Farmer Takes A Wife completed its run of 104 performances on Broadway in 1934 it was readily seen as a tailor made property for the number one star on the Fox Film's lot, Janet Gaynor. She specialized in playing sweet and rustic rural girls both on the silent and talking film.
But when Winfield Sheehan could not get either Gary Cooper or Joel McCrea to play the male lead, he took the unusual step of hiring the actor who originated the part on Broadway. And that boys and girls is how Henry Fonda became a motion picture star.
Even with Gaynor getting first billing, the accent here is on Fonda's character, a farm kid who's working on the Erie Canal in its last days because the railroad is coming through. Fonda just wants to earn enough money for good piece of farm land, not unlike Gary Cooper's Sergeant York character before he went to war. He's not into the Canal and what it's meant to the history and economy of upstate New York, in fact the whole Northeast of the USA.
Gaynor and most of the rest of the cast depend on the canal for a living and they don't like progress. But she does like Fonda, prefers him in fact to another Erie Canal boat pilot, Charles Bickford who plays a real lout. You know he and Fonda will tangle.
The Farmer Takes A Wife made Fonda both a stage and screen star, unusual for one work to accomplish both. But on the screen it also type cast Fonda into playing rustics for years. Think about all the roles he had in his early days. His next film was a sound remake of Way Down East, after that he did The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine, Slim, Chad Hanna which was based on a novel by Walter Edmonds just as The Farmer Takes A Wife was. Even his acclaimed parts for John Ford in The Grapes Of Wrath, Drums Along The Mohawk, and Young Mr. Lincoln fall in this same vein.
After almost 80 years, The Farmer Takes A Wife still holds up well as a drama. This is a quintessential Janet Gaynor film and if a young viewer didn't know Henry Fonda became a major star because of this film, they'd guess it right away.
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