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The story doesn't matter much, except that it gives these entertainers a chance to do their work in a relaxed manner and, no less important, to be very nice to each other. By no particularly strange coincidence, that makes an audience feel good, too. Metro has a particular fondness for these experiments in Gemütlichkeit. When they go wrong, they go awfully wrong. But when they go rightand Scripter Isobel Lennart, who also wrote Anchors Aweigh, seems to have a hand for itthey are something for cinemagoers to be thankful for.
The Farmer's Daughter (RKO Radio) takes a story that is almost as moss-green as its title, and turns it into amusing, lifelike entertainment. The story is not The One About The Traveling Salesman; it is The Other Oneabout the country girl (Loretta Young) who comes to the big city, gets work as a maid in a mansion, softens up the crusty butler (Charles Bickford), wins over the lady of the house (Ethel Barrymore), takes part in the conversation as she passes the canapes, and eventually romps off with the son of the house (Joseph Cotten).
With minor variations, this story has been used by the movies since movies began. For a long time before that, it was used in paperbacked novels. The chief variations in this one: 1) the family is one of the great political families of its state, 2) the son is a Senator and the dowager is the Party Boss and 3) the country girl herself, no slouch at politics, runs for the Senate on a sort of Common-Woman ticket, against dirty opposition. Like J some of Frank Capra's films, the picture I teaches a few easy-to-take lessons about the good & bad that is possible in a democracy.
But The Farmer's Daughter turns out to be excellent entertainment because Producer Dore Schary and his associates evidently know a good deal about the special kinds of people they are telling about. Whenever the political and bluebook friends of the family gather for cocktails or a council of war, it is a notably convincing and specialized kind of party or council, with minor characters that are beautifully drawn. Miss Young, blonde for the occasion and sporting a Swedish accent,* acts rather like a nice girl playing a charade, yet she is very likable. Messrs.Cotten and Bickford are exceedingly competent. And Ethel Barrymore, besides being invincibly persuasive as a great lady, suggests, with a mere flick of her eyes, that she has enough political savvy to save the nation.
* Rumpled into her diction by Ruth Roberts, who irons it out of Ingrid Bergman's.