In contrast to The Pleasure Garden, Downhill and especially The Lodger this is feeble. Take the plot: a widower determines to remarry, has semi-comic encounters with a variety of caricatures before realising that he had been in love with his housemaid all along. Not a great deal to work with there. Even the title is unprepossessing and mundane.
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It’s hard to think of Alfred Hitchcock as just a jobbing Director unable yet to pick and choose his scripts- like the Beatles playing at Working Mens Clubs on a Sunday lunchtime- but he must have rolled his eyes at The Farmer’s Wife.  It is a comedy without jokes, other than the sight gags that Hitchcock, screenplay writer Eliot Stannard and gurning co-star Gordon Harker can conjure up. By playing it broad, Harker (playing the delightfully named servant Churdles Ash) draws the best of our attention- even if he does look a chimpanzee mimicking George Cole’s Flash Harry doing it.
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There isn’t much else to commend the film. I liked the scene where Thirza Tapper, fresh from an unwanted proposal, backs into the crowd and faints. It works like a reverse zoom and is played out nicely. I liked the big reveal where the Farmer envisages the women he had proposed to looking incongruous in his late wife’s chair before the visions fade and the maid,  sat demurely, looks perfect. Key to this was the build-up where his mood and hers visibly GP on opposite directions as he recounts his failures. What else? Well, the Farmer’s attempt to woo Louise Windeatt by calling her a fat hen tickled me. Finally, the groom at the beginning of the movie wiping his palms nervously made me smile.
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You know what the real problem is? It isn’t the mundane plot, it’s the over-reliance on title cards. With previous films I commented upon how hard Hitchcock worked to tell the story without them (the first ten minutes of The Lodger, for example) but there’s very little of that here. Perhaps he just didn’t have the time with the rate that he was churning these films out? Then again, perhaps he didn’t have the enthusiasm for this one?
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