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The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935 film)

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The Farmer Takes a Wife
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVictor Fleming
Screenplay byEdwin J. Burke
Marc Connelly
Frank B. Elser
Based onThe Farmer Takes a Wife
by Marc Connelly and Frank B. Elser
Produced byWinfield R. Sheehan
StarringJanet Gaynor
Henry Fonda
Charles Bickford
Slim Summerville
Andy Devine
Roger Imhof
Jane Withers
Margaret Hamilton
CinematographyErnest Palmer
Edited byHarold D. Schuster
Music byCyril J. Mockridge
Fox Film Corporation
Distributed by20th Century-Fox
Release date
  • August 2, 1935 (1935-08-02)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Farmer Takes a Wife is a 1935 American romantic comedy film directed by Victor Fleming, written by Edwin J. Burke, and starring Janet Gaynor, Henry Fonda (in his screen debut) and Charles Bickford. It is based on the 1934 Broadway play The Farmer Takes a Wife by Marc Connelly and Frank B. Elser, with Fonda reprising his stage role as the farmer.[1] The film was released on August 2, 1935, by 20th Century-Fox.[2][3]


Dan Harrow goes to work as a driver for Samson Weaver on the Erie Canal, but his heart is set on buying a farm and settling down, even though his father was a canal man. This ambition and his distaste for fighting puzzle Molly Larkins, the girlfriend and cook of Jotham Klore, but she develops a liking for him anyway.

When Samson wins $5000 in a lottery, he gives Dan a half share of his boat. This prompts Dan to propose to Molly, but she wants to stay on the Erie Canal, not live on a farm, so she will only go work for him, much to Jotham's displeasure. Jotham arrives at a big fair at the same time as Molly and Dan. Samson warns Dan, so he asks Molly to leave for Utica. Molly is ashamed of him, thinking he is a coward, but he confesses that he is going to Utica to finalize the purchase of a farm. Molly is so disgusted by this news that she quarrels with him. He departs for his new farm, leaving his share of the boat to Molly and warning her that the Erie Canal's days of prosperity are numbered, as the railroads move in.

Molly is miserable, but refuses to admit it. She tells her friend Fortune Friendly that she might have gotten used to the idea of being a farmer's wife, but she could never marry a coward. Fortune decides to take matters into his own hands. He goes to see Dan. He lies and tells Dan that Molly is being shunned and insulted for having worked for a coward. Dan decides to have it out with Jotham. Molly then tries to prevent the fight, but without success. When Dan manages to beat Jotham, Molly tells him he is the new champion of the Canal and that he should stay, but he finally gives up on her. He tells that he no longer wants her and heads home. However, she follows him to his place, and he embraces her.



Andre Sennwald, critic for The New York Times, called The Farmer Takes a Wife "a rich and leisurely comedy of American manners" and singled out the performances of Fonda and Bickford for praise.[4] However, while he wrote that Summerville and Gaynor gave "pleasant performances", he felt that "Miss Gaynor is really too nice a person to be playing bad girls like Molly Larkins."[4]


  1. ^ "The Farmer Takes a Wife". IBDB.com. Internet Broadway Database.
  2. ^ "The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935) - Overview". TCM.com. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  3. ^ "The Farmer Takes a Wife". Afi.com. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Sennwald, Andre (August 9, 1935). "THE SCREEN; The Radio City Music Hall Presents Screen Version of "The Farmer Takes a Wife."". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-10-18.

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