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The Farmer Takes A Wife

Director: Henry Levin Studio: 20th Century Fox Year: 1953
Stars: Betty Grable, Dale Robertson, Thelma Ritter, Eddie Foy Jr.   Video: A video is generally available.
Description :

This was a remake of a 1935 Henry Fonda film. Joseph Fields was involved in the screenplay. In the story Betty Grable plays a cook on a barge on the Erie Canal. My knowledge of barges and cooks is limited, but the sumptuous frocks Betty sports look mighty impractical. This is an enjoyable movie however, mainly due to Betty's good-natured charm. The musical score is neither Fields' nor Arlen's best work, with the best songs being Grable's swinging Today I Love Everybody, and Something Real Special sung by Grable and her hunky leading man in their bathtubs.

I have heard the full score as written, and it is a much fuller, coherent work than the remnants surviving in the final version of the film suggest. Despite plenty of location work throughout the film, the finale is for some reason on a completely undisguised soundstage.








The supporting cast is particularly interesting, but sadly underused. Thelma Ritter is a joy as always, but the script gives her little to do, and she doesn't sing - you need to go to the cast recording of Broadway show New Girl in Town to hear her delicious throaty warble. (Her timing with a song is as reliable as her timing with a joke.) Eddie Foy Junior gets a brief novelty number. And there is a small part for a young Gwen Verdon, dancing with Betty on the barge in the We're in Business number.



Notes on songs: These songs were written for the film.

Songs (Composer: Harold Arlen)

Can You Spell Schenectady?
I Could Cook
On The Erie Canal
Somethin' Real Special
Today I Love Everybody amsong, hartman, arlen
We're Doin' It For The Natives In Jamaica
We're In Business
When I Close My Door
Why Am I Happy?
With The Sun Warm Upon Me byarlen

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