The Farmer's Wife (1928)
Starring: Jameson Thomas, Lillian Hall-Davis, Gordon Harker
Plot: A widowed farmer searching for a new wife. Meanwhile his lovely housekeeper would be the perfect candidate yet he seems to not get the picture.
My Review and Thoughts:
Boy this is an old silent classic directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This is a comedy of the olden days before sound penetrated the pictures. This is another one of those silent British films that have been lost with today’s public. This old silent is pure classic golden age cinema before the talkies ever took over. The camera work and cinematography is stunning. The images of the farm and animals is purely priceless.
Stunning acting you could feel the emotions displayed without words. Truly a dramatic and comical piece with romantic actions and humor. The farmer Mr. Sweetland loses his wife to sickness. He feel’s alone and is depressed and angry at times. Soon his daughter is getting married. His maid Minta takes care of him and the household, waits on him hand and foot. Minta becomes like the mother to the household fixing dinners, setting up weddings, washing clothes and tending to the farmer’s wants and needs.
The stark emotional reality of letting one of his daughters go to marriage is filmed flawless in that classic melodramatic silent fashion. The showcasing of reactions with facial expressions and silence is perfect. The dread of loneliness and being alone is displayed wonderful by Jameson Thomas as Mr. Sweetland. What stands out in this movie is the wonderful humor. I loved the moment Mr. Sweetland starts to go through his possibilities with all the local widowed women or single ladies because he wants to marry again.
The written out words on the screen cracked me up with laughter at times with his response of:
“I don’t mind they pillowy women….so long as they be pillowy in the right places.”
Then Minta responds “A woman that’s a pillow at thirty be often a feather bed at forty.”
What the farmer does not realize is he is blind to true love and romance for right in front of him is Minta his maid who loves him and knows him better than anyone. The funny thing is there is some very sexual innuendos in this oldie in the written dialogue at many times that the viewer picks up on and giggles under their breath if not out loud.
The greatest ordeal is when Sweetland starts out against the local women for their hand in marriage, then the humor and crazy antics set in and his frustration to wed is laugh out loud funny. The golden moment, the pure golden ticket to the whole film is Gordon Harker who plays Mr. Ash the stable man, his slap stick comedy and his facial attitude is some of the best comedy I have ever seen. He is priceless as the grumpy old man with too many women bossing him around.
Gordon Harker was both a silent movie star and also a talkie star. He was a perfect comical actor and also an actor that could steal the movie and own it even as a secondary character. He was born in 1885 and went on to star in many films. He sadly passed away in 1967 but he left his grace and wonder and humor for future generations on film. Seek out some of his other work 1927’s The Ring, 1928’s Champagna, 1935’s The Phantom Light, 1939’s Inspector Homleigh, 1948’s Things Happen at Night, 1957’s Small Hotel. He was a genius and an actor that should always be remembered but he has sadly been forgotten and that’s a true shame and injustice to the art of cinema history.
In one starring moment Mr. Ash is the door announcer to all the party guest and his pants don’t fit and they keep falling down leaving a priceless ordeal of classic comedy that many actors would use as their style such as Jerry Lewis, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello and so many others.
A pure piece of cinema to always remember and always laugh with. Sadly these type of classics are lost.