Combustible Celluloid
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With: Charles Farrell, Mary Duncan, David Torrence, Edith Yorke, Anne Shirley (a.k.a. "Dawn O'Day"), Tom McGuire, Richard Alexander, Patrick Rooney, Ed Brady, Roscoe Ates, Eddie Boland, Mark Hamilton, Ivan Linow, Arnold Lucy, Helen Lynch, Jack Pennick, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
Written by: Marion Orth, Berthold Viertel, H.H. Caldwell, Katherine Hilliker, based on a play by Elliott Lester
Directed by: F.W. Murnau
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 90
Date: 02/09/1930

City Girl (1930)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Wheat Smart

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After the financial failure of Sunrise, Fox was forced to reign in his star director, and so City Girl is fairly compromised. Like Murnau's earlier Phantom, it's a routine picture, with only a few signature, cinematic touches to distinguish it. Farm boy Lem (Charles Farrell) goes to the big city to sell his domineering father's wheat crop and is forced to sell for less than he hoped. But he also meets and falls for a waitress, Kate (Mary Duncan), who has grown weary of her cat-calling male customers and dreams of the country. So they marry and return to the farm, only to find that life there is even harder. The moment at which they first return, running through the wheat with the camera tracking alongside them, is truly wonderful. But Murnau uses light to wonderful effect as well, most notably Lem's moment of revelation in the big city, with a single beam lighting the sidewalk from the sky above. And in the final, pre-storm sequence the midnight wheat fields are lit with roving lanterns. (It was originally to be called Our Daily Bread.)

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