|Index||6 reviews in total|
It's easygoing, middle-of-the-road entertainment so no point taking it
too serious or being critical. I happen to like Betty Grable films and
this one is a lovely setting for her to shine in, a very photogenic
Dale Robertson, as Daniel, is the farmer who finds work on the canal to pay his way so he can join a ladylove and settle down to farming in future, but plans don't always work out as intended. I feel it's a lesser role for Dale compared to other movies of his I've seen such as Golden Girl (1951) which was a very good role for him to star in.
Thelma Ritter too is a favorite of mine and here she plays the rich widow, Lucy Cashdollar, who plans on having a husband No. 6. She's beautifully dressed in all scenes, more so than I've ever seen her in other films, which of course fits her role here.
There's the usual barroom mêlées or free-for-all fights, songs sung by the lead characters, and romance where as they say, Love always finds a way. It's just charming entertainment meant for a pleasant Saturday afternoon, and is a video I like to have for cheering up when needed.
"The Farmer Takes a Wife" is a charming, forgettable piece of fluff of
the "Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl back" school of film
musical. Fox musicals were almost always rather forgettable, with their
insipid songs and frequently bad singing. However, they were also
bright and colorful, since Fox used Technicolor longer and more
frequently than the "Tiffany" studio, MGM. "The Farmer Takes a Wife" is
especially charming in costume, art and set decoration.
Betty Grable is, well, Betty Grable, and if you adore her (and I do), you're likely to adore "The Farmer Takes a Wife". Betty's ably supported by Dale Robertson, John Carroll, Eddie Foy, Jr. and, the always wonderful Thelma Ritter. I won't pretend it's a great movie, or even a good movie, but "The Farmer Takes a Wife" is a "Betty Grable" movie, and that's good enough for me. I give "The Farmer Takes a Wife" a "6".
I would lke to give this a 6 but I just cannot even though I am a big
Grable fan, Also a fan of Robertson but this was not his best
performance by far. Maybe he felt as out of his element as I perceived
him to be.
However the weak script and scenes lets the two of them have several moments that the songs couldn't completely ruin.
I did burn this to DVD because I really do want to have a complete library of both the stars.
The costumes were nice and the color was nice and the 4 major actors/actresses did as much as you could hope for in a weak vehicle.
Watch it but don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.
As I think on it a 5 might be a little high but I will stick witn it
"The Farmer Takes a Wife" is so disappointing that it could serve as an example of "the last gasp of the Hollywood musical." It's hard to believe that the marvelous "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" came out the following year. To start with, none of the songs are memorable, and the production numbers are so stylized and overstuffed with flounces, ruffles and ribbons that they are effectively deadened. Grable herself looks slightly overblown in this context and John Carroll who has a very pleasing voice and good presence, is not allowed to sing at all other than humming a few bars. Dale Robertson, who is not a singer and probably had his singing dubbed, is given one of the best songs to sing while taking a bath in a rain barrel...and is repeatedly shown apparently scrubbing at his crotch while performing the song! Viewers are well advised to skip this one, which is for extreme Grable and/or Carroll fans only. Even they will have a hard time tolerating it.
It's sad that The Farmer Takes A Wife was owned by 20th Century Fox
instead of Warner Brothers. Had Jack Warner been in charge he had the
right person for the female lead in Doris Day. As it is this musical
adaption of the Frank Elsner-Marc Connelly play has a most miscast
Betty Grable doing a part that had Doris stamped all over it. When
Betty says 'Uticky' it doesn't quite come out right.
The original play ran for 104 performances in the 1934-35 season and was the vehicle that made Henry Fonda a star. In fact producer Walter Wanger took the highly unusual step in bringing Fonda to Hollywood to star in the role that made him. Playing the parts that Betty Grable and John Carroll have in this version are Janet Gaynor and Charles Bickford.
Of course with this being changed to a musical and the billing reflecting it, the emphasis was changed from the male to the female lead. Seeing Dale Robertson as Dan Harrow though, he makes an admirable substitute for Fonda.
Too bad that Harold Arlen and Dorothy Fields didn't write anything memorable in the score. And for the life of me I can't figure why John Carroll who does sing well, wasn't given more to do musically.
The story is an old fashioned rustic one set during the final days of the Erie Canal. Everyone but Betty seems to realize the railroad will eventually put the canal out of business as the major venue of transportation. Still she and soft spoken farmer Robertson do eventually come together as Robertson wins her over Carroll who is a real lout in this film. I can readily see Charles Bickford in that part in the first film version.
At the same time Betty was doing this, Doris Day was doing Calamity Jane over at Warner Brothers in a similar role with much better songs. Maybe with a better score, The Farmer Takes A Wife would have been more memorable.
Still I think it would have needed Doris Day.
A career-killing movie for Betty Grable, who is wasted, along with
everyone except Eddie Foy Jr. in this prettified musical version of the
movie that made Henry Fonda a star. Dale Robertson plays the farmer,
who is a moron, Thelma Ritter is wasted and some fake-looking scenery
still leaves one mystified at how people can live in riverfront saloons
and on farms and know nothing at all of the facts of life or the baser
side of human nature -- it must be those perfectly maintained canal
boats with red-striped awnings they travel in. The songs are also
pretty poor, including an ode to Schenectady that did not make Rodgers
and Hammerstein jealous.
While none of Gable's starring musicals are likely to make any top-100 lists, most of them have fairly good musical numbers and enough plot and comedy relief to get you from one standard to the next. This one doesn't.
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