Best of… Series – 1930 – City Girl

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

City Girl (F.W. Murnau, 1930)

In honor of my recent purchase of this film on blu ray, I’ve decided I need to review one of my favorite silent films that just missed being on the blog after initial view. This is a great movie. Really, the only thing that didn’t work for me here is the extremely fast start of the main characters’ relationship. Actually, the development worked for me, but the quick marriage was a bit too much of a plot device. (A simple intertitle stating ‘3 months later’, and a slight plot modification could have solved this.) Regardless, though, this might be the best newlywed movie I’ve seen.

city girl2

Despite the hard contrast of upbringings, Murnau does a great job avoiding stereotypes; she’s from the city but is basically a bumpkin, and he never leaves the farm but feels comfortable in a crowd. And as the new man and wife retreat to his family’s farm, the camera sweeps across a field of wheat as the two run playfully together, he clumsily grabbing her into his arms as the sight of endless stretches of land and sky reach infinitely behind them – a beautiful rural setting for a love story. And despite those polar opposite backgrounds, the personality nuances portrayed by Charles Farrell and Mary Duncan and the naturalness of their connection create the sense that these two are in the same ‘place’ in life. It isn’t long, though, before conflict ensues within his family and their acceptance of his marriage. So while love is definitely the central theme, the fear, heartache, humility, and sheltering that sometimes accompany love are honestly presented as well, and an important part of what makes this film so special. A fantastic drama with just the right level of relational complexities.  9.75/10

city girl


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