40 user 31 critic

City Girl (1930)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 30 January 1930 (USA)
A Chicago waitress falls in love with a Minnesota farmer, and decides to face a life in the country.


F.W. Murnau


Elliott Lester (play), Berthold Viertel (adaptation) | 6 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Charles Farrell ... Lem Tustine
Mary Duncan ... Kate
David Torrence ... Mr. J.L. Tustine
Edith Yorke ... Mrs. J.L. Tustine Blair
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Reaper (as Guinn Williams)
Anne Shirley ... Marie Tustine (as Dawn O'Day)
Tom McGuire ... Matey
Richard Alexander ... Mac
Patrick Rooney Patrick Rooney ... Butch (as Pat Rooney)
Ed Brady ... Reaper
Roscoe Ates ... Reaper


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 <frank@dabelstein.dk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SEE AND HEAR LIFE IN THE "RAW" WITH THE "CITY GIRL" (Print Ad-Urbana Daily Courier, ((Urbana, Ills.)) 14 March 1930)


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The wheat harvest scenes took place near Pendleton, OR, and the entire cast had to learn how to operate the wheat combine. The combines were pulled by a team of 32 mules. 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 »


Kate: Life on a farm must be wonderful!
See more »

Alternate Versions

There is a silent version, shot by F.W. Murnau, and a part-talkie sound version, with music and parts re-shot by two directors hired by the studio, after Murnau's refusal to do so. The sound version is now considered lost. The silent version was restored and edited in DVD and Blu-Ray with an original score added in August 2008. See more »

User Reviews

Silence Is Golden for F.W. Murnau and Charles Farrell
26 April 2009 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

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

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 40 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

30 January 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Our Daily Bread See more »

Filming Locations:

Athena, Oregon, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)| Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.19 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed