Murnau's earlier silent masterpiece, 'Sunrise', is a brilliant film and really deserves a full re-evaluation.
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A farmer's son, Lem, is sent to the city to sell the families' harvest of wheat. They fall in love, marry, and set out for the wheat-fields.
The follow-up to Murnau's legendary masterpiece Sunrise, City Girl was made during the waning days of silents, and in a concession to the changeover cor sound it was re-cut before its release and given a recorded score featuring singing farmhands. If you are already a fan of silent film, you will undoubtedly know of Murnau, and the quality of both the film and the transfer are both high enough for me to unreservedly recommend this title.
If, however, you are new to silent cinema, Sunrose is an excellent place to start, and this release really does breath new life into this vintage classic. We are introduced to Lem on the train to Chicago, eating hand-packed sandwiches, oblivious to cpuntry flirtations of a vamp across the aisle whose interest is aroused by his bankroll we know right off this isn't going to be Sunrise II.
Kate loses faith in Lem when he is unable to stand bog to his father, and the marriage appears to be over almost before it began, until a series of melodramatic events force the various characters to examine their true motives and feelings. There is also a booklet inside, containing essays and some stills from the film.
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When the dour father enters, he rebukes her for wasting their cash crop; to him grain only means money. Murnau's City Girl is a perfect example of this artistry, and what happened to it. The image is clear and vivid, and really does give the impression of playing the original nitrate film through a projector, so stunningly sharp fro the picture.
Whilst on his eye-opening business trip, he meets Kate, a cafe worker. Was this review helpful?
The menus continue the theme of quality, depicting a of stills from the film. It's hard to believe he could be genetically linked to a sweet-faced, curly-haired cutie like Charles Farrell, but he does make Lem's anguished weakness believable. Happily, this stunning transfer by the Masters of Cinema series, allows just that. This film is a great starting point for anyone interested in silent cinema - there are title cards throughout, and with a fantastic soundtrack recorded init is easy to forget you are watching a film 80 years old.
City Girl was released injust as the silent film began to fall into rapid decline with the advent of the 'talkies'. Silent films from through dazzle with their fluid and sophisticated mastery of visual storytelling; the last thing they need is dialogue.
Once the scene moves to the country, the symbolism of wheat becomes the heart of the film which Murnau wanted to call "Our Daily Bread. Words can't do it justice - this really should be seen to be believed.
However, Lem's uncompromising lookijg is deeply suspicious of this city girl, and the film follows Kate's attempts to become accepted by the father. Mary Duncan is perfect as a feisty yet vulnerable working girl, a type that would become much more common in early talkies. However, by Subrise time Murnau really was a master of his craft, having cut his teeth with 's eerie 'Nosferatu', by the time he released 'Sunrise' six years later he had cemented his position as one of the world's most important not to mention successful filmakers.
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The sweaty, chaotic bustle of the lunchroom is captured with tremendous verve. The early interchanges between Kate and Lem are beautiful, and the scene with them playfully running through the wheatfields ahead of meeting Lem's family is one of the purest, happiest scenes ror committed to film. Not surprisingly, the hybrid film cuge like a stone. The most poignant aspect of this exquisitely directed film is not that it was one of the last silent movies made in Hollywood, but that its director would die in a car crash just three years later, at the age of forty-two.
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He also notices that Kate has put her cloche hat down on the family bible, and he is convinced that she's a floozy who sees Lem as a gravy train. Every aspect of this story is expressed through visual details. The p transfer by Masters of Cinema is truly breathtaking, I guarantee that only a few years ago no one would have ever imagined a film of this vintage could look so good. City Girl is marred by an ending that feels rushed and unconvincing, but it raises interesting, at times troubling themes concerning marriage, traditional gender roles and family relationships.
She lived to be 98, but her retirement was Hollywood's loss. It also defends the honor of city girls from the laughably caricatured vamp who causes all the trouble in Sunrise. Comparisons with 'Sunrise', then, are unfair, as Murnau wanted to create a different kind of film here. Like the earlier film, City Girl deals with the clash between urban and rural values, but here the countryside is no more pure or wholesome than the city.
But Kate's dreams are shattered by Lem's harsh, tyrannical father David Torrenceand she finds herself waiting on rowdy, leering farmhands who are even worse than the lunchroom customers.
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A wonderful sequence ensures, resulting in the girl being taken back to the farm with Lem as his wife. Kate Mary Duncan is a waitress in a busy Chicago lunchroom who lives in a dreary tenement and dreams of escaping the city. It was also, tragically, his penultimate film, as he was to die in a car crash the following year. That was cinema's loss.
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Murnau's earlier silent masterpiece, 'Sunrise', is a brilliant film and really deserves a full re-evaluation. Though I thought this would be a very dry commentary, I was pleasantly surprised - this interesting and informative commentary provides detail on everything you would want to know about the film.
The Torrence brothers, David and Ernest, specialized in hissable nastiness, but here David's worried, American Gothic face conveys the hard life that has turned this man into a monster. I would like to see this intelligent, natural, black-eyed actress in something else.
Miraculously, an original silent print survived and was rediscovered in the vaults at 20th Century-Fox. As far as extras go, there is a fantastic commentary by David Kalat, who obviously knows the subject inside out. We see Kate sassily quashing passes from customers "What do you do in the evenings?
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Duncan left the screen in when she married a polo player named "Laddie" Sanford. The story is a simple one. Unlike the vague, timeless setting of Sunrise, City Girl's milieu is the contemporary American Midwest.