The Farmer’s Wife (1928)

farmers wife poster 1928 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some strong, funny dialogue

Rather typical romance comedy, long

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Farmer’s Wife

Studio: Movie Studio

Genre(s): Silent/Comedy/Romance

Release Date(s): March 2, 1928 (UK)/January 4, 1930 (US)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

farmers wife hitchcock jameson thomas lillian hall davis

Damn…these are the finest single ladies in town!

After the death of his wife and the marriage of his daughter, Samuel Sweetland (Jameson Thomas) has decided he cannot continue through the later years of his life alone.  With an empty chair beside the fire, Sweetland has recruited his housekeeper Araminta “Minta” Dench (Lillian Hall-Davis) to help him craft a list of potential brides.  Four women have made Sweetland’s list…and he intends to determine if any of them could fill the chair.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Farmer’s Wife is a silent black-and-white romantic comedy.  Following Hitchcock’s 1927 film Downhill, the movie is based on the 1916 play by Eden Philpotts which was adapted from his 1913 novel Widecombe Fair.  The movie is in the public domain and widely available, but restored versions do exist.

I love Hitchcock, but silent films can often be a chore.  In a lot of Hitchcock’s silent films, he hasn’t really established himself as “Hitchcock” so they sometimes lack the flare and style of his later films.  This is true of The Farmer’s Wife (which doesn’t have one of his signature cameos), but it does feel that there are things in the script that feel like Hitchcock’s sense of humor.

farmers wife mary hearn hysterical olga slade

Love this lady’s “hysterical” acting

The story rolls out as expected even by today’s rom-coms.  The farmer has all these (faulted) women that he likes and doesn’t realize the one he likes is right in front of him (and of course likes him back).  The script has some clever and somewhat racy dialogue for 1928 with descriptions of women’s back sides vs. their front sides and how married women can turn from “fluffy pillows” to a “feather bed” if they are already plump at thirty.  It is typical misogynistic dialogue, but it feels pretty modern here.

As with most silent films, the actors have to really emote what they are trying to express without words.  You often find yourself reading their lips and getting more information from that than the title cards.  Jameson Thomas is smug and believes he can land any woman he wants, but he also selects women (played by Maud Gill, Louie Pounds, Olga Slade, and Ruth Maitland) who are judgmental and have their own opinions on marriage.  He ends up (of course) with the nice witty girl played by Lillian Hall-Davis…who feels like the good girl though Jameson Thomas is ten years her senior.

farmers wife lillian hall david chair

I wonder who…who could fill this chair?

The movie doesn’t have a lot of Hitchcock’s touches.  There are a few outdoors shots in the countryside, but the story and the dialogue largely takes place on sets.  The quality of the transfer varies from copy to copy so you might have to seek out a nice version if you are collecting for Hitchcock completists (and unfortunately, my transfer isn’t the best).

The Farmer’s Wife is a simple, predictable comedy-romance.  There is something quaint about this and to know that Hitchcock has something like this in him when compared to his later films (or even some of his earlier ones).  Like many silent films, it runs rather long and getting into it can sometimes be tricky.  Hitchcock followed The Farmer’s Wife with Easy Virtue also released in 1928.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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