The Farmer’s Wife

Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Screening on Film
Recently Restored
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Lillian Hall-Davis, Jameson Thomas, Maud Gill.
UK, 1928, 35mm, black & white, silent, 107 min.
Print source: British Film Institute

“I don’t remember too much about The Farmer’s Wife,” Hitchcock told Truffaut, “but I know that filming that play stimulated my wish to express myself in purely cinematic terms.” Indeed, contrary to the chatty nature of Eden Phillpotts’ bucolic romantic comedy (in its time the longest-running play on the London stage), Hitchcock channels his characters’ desires and regrets with telling glances and point-of-view shots. The story of a wizened widower looking for love in all the wrong places is played for laughs, though the protagonist’s repetition complex and easily wounded pride anticipate the masochistic streaks of James Stewart’s characters in Hitchcock’s later films. Comic actor Gordon Harker introduces a welcome note of cynicism as the cranky farmhand dubious of his master’s romantic turn.

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