“I’d like to know what you expected to get out of marryin’ Lem.”
When the son (Charles Farrell) of an overbearing farmer (David Torrence) meets a waitress (Mary Duncan) while in Chicago to sell his family’s wheat, the two fall in love and he brings her back to his farm — but can Torrence’s new “city girl” wife handle life in the country?
- City vs. Country
- F.W. Murnau Films
- Silent Films
F.W. Murnau’s next-to-final film before Tabu (1931) was this overwrought romantic tale of love between a “country boy” and a “city girl”. While the visuals and settings are beautiful (as to be expected in any film by Murnau), the storyline leaves a lot to be desired. Torrence is a caricature of a disciplinarian father-figure, heavy-handed in everything he says and does:
He chastises his young daughter (Anne Shirley) not once, but twice, for daring to play with a few stalks of precious wheat (!). While Duncan is a refreshingly spunky female lead, her entire existence revolves around swatting off obnoxious men making a play for her (other than Torrence, who simply hates her for no good reason). Supporting characters — i.e., all the leering men — aren’t given much depth, and the romance between Farrell (who comes across as somewhat dim-witted) and Duncan doesn’t really have anywhere to go. Feel free to skip this one unless you’re a Murnau completist.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
No, though of course Murnau fans will want to check it out. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.
One thought on “Our Daily Bread / City Girl (1930)”
First viewing. Not must-see, but I’m a little more inclined to speak in the film’s favor – for those who enjoy silents, this isn’t a bad one.
What genuinely startled me in this film is the first meeting between Kate (Duncan) and her father-in-law (Torrence). I anticipated something awkward but not an actual physical fight (!).
I didn’t find the film “overwrought” especially – nor did I see the main character (Farrell) as “somewhat dim-witted”. I think Farrell and Duncan make for an attractive, appealing couple – and I was certainly rooting for them.
As noted, ‘CG’ is quite nicely photographed – with some particularly impressive framing and lighting. It’s not a challenging film at all; its aim is simple. I found it engaging-enough as it moved along to its conclusion.