Gooooood evening. In this months episode of Presenting Hitchcock, Cory and Aaron look for love in all the wrong places as they discuss “The Farmer’s Wife”.
Picture Title: The Farmer’s Wife
Written by: (Play) Eden Phillpotts, (Adaptation) Eliot Stannard
Starring: Jameson Thomas, Lillian Hall-Davis, Gordon Harker, Gibb McLaughlan, Maud Gill, Louie Pounds, Olga Slade, Ruth Maitland
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Year Released: 1928
Our Favourite Trivia:
Eden Phillpotts’ comic play The Farmer’s Wife, based on his earlier 1913 novel Widecombe Fair, was originally staged in Birmingham in 1916. When it transferred to London in March 1924, it proved to be an enormous success and ran for over 1,300 performances at the Court Theatre, eventually ending it’s run on 29th January 1927.
The huge success of the stage play meant that a film version was almost inevitable and speculation in the press as to who would direct the screen adaptation was ended when it was announced at the start of June 1927 that Hitchcock would make the film for British International Pictures. It was also announced that Phillpotts was personally “re-writing, re-shaping and expanding the plot of The Farmer’s Wife himself, ready for the screen version”.
Following Downhill and Easy Virtue, this was the third and final play-based adaptation by Eliot Stannard for Hitchcock.
Established film actors Jameson Thomas and Lillian Hall-Davis were cast in the lead roles of Farmer Sweetland and his faithful housekeeper, alongside Gordon Harker in the comic role of the surly servant Churdles Ash.
Prior to filming, it was reported that Cedric Hardwicke, who had played the role of Churdles in the stage play, would appear in the film. The only actor to be carried over from the London stage play was Maud Gill as the spinster Thirza Tapper.
Production began in October 1927 with extensive location shooting in the Devon, Somerset and Surrey countryside. In the weeks before filming commenced, local newspapers reported that Eden Phillpotts had “personally chosen the locations for the film”.
A few months later, Hitchcock returned to Surrey to buy a weekend country retreat, eventually settling on Winter’s Grace in the quiet Surrey village of Shamley Green.
With location filming completed, the production moved back to Elstree to film interiors. In early December, Mrs Lucy Baldwin, wife of the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, visited Elstree Studios and saw Hitchcock at work on the film.
Some sources state that cinematographer Jack E. Cox fell ill during production and Hitchcock took over the camera for some of the filming.
According to Donald Spoto, the end of filming was celebrated at a London restaurant where Hitchcock played a practical joke on the cast and crew — the waiters had all been replaced by actors who had been instructed to be as rude and clumsy as possible.
As part of the “Save the Hitchcock 9″ campaign, started in 2010, the British Film Institute undertook a full restoration of The Farmer’s Wife. The original camera negatives no longer exist and acetate duplicating positives made in the 1960s from the negatives are now the earliest-generation sources.
The Random Draw for Next Picture:
Next up, we’ll be discussing one of Hitch’s better known and successful films, “Rope.”
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