Farmer’s Wife , The (1928): Hitchcock’s Seventh Silent Film

This first film version of Eden Philpotts’ play, The Farmer’s Wife, was directed by Hitchcock as his seventh silent film..

Hitchcock later said that this film helped him refine his technical skills in his efforts to create “pure cinema,” namely features that rely strongly on visual imagery, sound, and mood–not on dialogue or words.

As a rustic comedy, the story involves a roughhewn widowed farmer, Samuel Sweetland (Jameson Thomas), who after his wife’s death, is searching the countryside for a new bride.

However, every candidate for the “title” proves insufficient, or quite disastrous, for one reason or another.  There are women who fail to meet the farmer’s exacting standards, whereas others simply want no part of him.

Eventually (and predictably), the farmer realizes that his “perfect” mate has been under his own nose all along.  She turns out to  be his housekeeper, Minta Deuch (Lilian Hall Davis, who was in Hitchcock’s previous film, “The Ring”).  Nice and lovely, Minta has secretly adored her boss all along, and when he finally realizes that, they get married.

While the plot is rather simple and straightforward, the sensibility, humor, and visuals are not.  Donald Spoto has singled out the use of subjective camera in the film, the minimal number of titles, and the heavy reliance on images to suggest emotions and inner states of mind.

There are subtle dissolves from chairs that are empty to chairs that are occupied.

Humor prevails in the section that depicts the female candidates, from a tearful old maid to a vulgar chubby woman, wearing big, ugly hats, And watch the funny scene, in which the parson’s mother enters the hall in a wheelchair whose steering device refuses to obey orders

The Farmer’s Wife was remade in 1941, with Basil Sydney in the lead.


Running time: 97 Minutes.

Directed  by Alfred Hitchcock


Jameson Thomas as Samuel Sweetland

Lilian Hall Davis as Araminta Dench

Gordon Harker as Churdles Ash the handyman

Maud Gill as Thirza Tapper

Gibb McLaughlin as Dunnybrigg, Henry Coake

Louise Pounds as Widow Windeatt