TORONTO'S CELEBRATED ONGOING EXPLORATION OF SILENT CINEMA!
ABOUT THE FILM
F.W. Murnau’s CITY GIRL (1930)
USA 1930 88min PG
Directed by F.W. Murnau
Starring Charles Farrell, Mary Duncan, David Torrence
The film that inspired Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven and a companion piece to the legendary Sunrise (programmed earlier this season), City Girl is master director F.W. Murnau’s final Hollywood film and one of his most underrated. Tackling the same discord between the urban and the rural as the earlier film, City Girl transforms the basic good vs. evil narrative into something sublime, heart wrenching, a stylistically innovative. Filmed in 1928 in Pendleton, Oregon, but not released until 1930 with studio-mandated talking sequences tacked on, we present the film in its original, far-superior silent cut rediscovered and restored by MoMA and on 35mm.
The son of a wheat farmer, Lem (Charles Farrell) travels to Chicago to sell the season’s crop. As wheat prices plummet he quickly sells off his family’s assets for far below what his stern father had instructed him. Enchanted by the bright lights of the big city, he falls for and marries hardboiled diner waitress Kate (Mary Duncan), whose disillusionment with the city’s workaday disappointments fuels her pastoral fantasy of life on a farm. After bringing Kate back to his family, resentment, rejection and the threat of sexual violence loom as Lem’s father (David Torrence)—pegging Kate as a big city harlot—attempts to force her out.
Unlike the stylized sets of Sunrise, Murnau instills City Girl with bucolic realism, capturing Oregon’s stunning landscape with cinematographer Ernest Palmer’s signature gleam. — ALICIA FLETCHER
Presentation format: 35mm courtesy of Fox Library Service
Silent Revue is curated by Alicia Fletcher
Live accompaniment by Marilyn Lerner
Sponsored by Hollywood Suite
. Produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.