Down on the Farm (1920)

Laughing Gravy
Balcony Gang, Foist Class
Laughing Gravy
Balcony Gang, Foist Class
Joined: September 1st, 2005, 4:44 am

April 24th, 2018, 2:08 am #1

Down on the Farm (1920) Dir. Erle C. Kenton, Ray Grey
A Mack Sennett Production in 5 reels
Released by United Artists
53 min. / B&W / Silent / 1.33:1

Nefarious James Finlayson holds the mortgage to every farm in the valley, and tries his best to get farm wives and farmers' daughters to, um, pay off the interest on the deed in more, shall we say, creative ways than just money. When poor farmer Bert Roach agrees to let Fin marry daughter Louise Fazenda, she - her heart promised to farm hand Harry Gribbon - concocts a "mystery lover" so that she's been "spoiled" and not fit for Mr. Finlayson. Imagine her dismay when the mystery man shows up looking for his baby.

I wasn't expecting much here - generally, the longer the Sennett film the less I like 'em - but this turned out to be borderline delightful, mainly because it's stretched to feature length with a series of good gags, interesting side-turns in the plot, and of course, a wonderful cast, including a lengthy sequence with victim-of-Fin's-lust Marie Provost and her husband Ben Turpin. I've grown a healthy respect for Miss Fazenda; I knew her fairly well from her 1930s pictures but her comic ability in the silent days was extremely impressive. And of course, Finlayson's a hoot in just about anything. There's also a bit with a runaway baby rescued by Teddy the Wonder Dog and some fun with a cat named Pepper, the name of In The Balcony's late cat, so I shed a little tear.

Million-dollar Intertitles:

When Fin finds out the guy he thought was Miss Provost's husband is just delivering groceries: "Aw, go peddle your prunes!"

Lesson learned: "Some marry in haste, and never regret it; Some marry for love, and then don't get it."

So many of the early silent comedies feature humor derived by making "country folk" out to be yokels - badly dressed, ugly, and stupid. Not this one. It's charming and we liked it a lot. It's on the Mack Sennett Collection Blu-ray set from Flicker Alley in a lovely print with a nice score.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley