May 20, 1997 (a) Jun. 3, 1997 (a)

Column Index - May 27, 1997

a)Between Political Comedy and Politics
- The environment surrounding "The Farmer's Daughter" directed by H. C. Potter

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"The Farmer's Daughter" IVCV-60027
The Farmer's Daughter

"The Farmer's Daughter"

Welcome To The White House

Filmography for Frank Capra

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

MM| Review: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Filmography for H.C. Potter

Farmer's Daughter, The (1947)

Filmography for Loretta Young

Filmography for Joseph Cotten

Filmography for Ethel Barrymore

Filmography for Charles Bickford

Filmography for David O. Selznick

Welcome to Republican Main Street

Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum

Encyclopedia Americana: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Between Political Comedy and Politics
- The environment surrounding
"The Farmer's Daughter"
directed by H. C. Potter


In its history of film-making, Hollywood has churned out a number of comedies featuring the White House or the Congress. The storyline about a country girl who finds herself running in an election and winning a seat in the Congress, in spite of mean interferences, leads us (inadvertently?) to think that this is a female version of Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939). When we read the explanation written on the video package of H. C. Potter's film, "The Farmer's Daughter", which describes it as being so "typically American", although it is only a comment for advertising, I cannot help feeling some concern. During the war, female labor was highly encouraged, but once the Second World War ended, the social trend was for "women to return to their homes". This is common knowledge in the history of American society. As it has been disclosed by many scholars of American studies, and in Mikiro KATO's book, "Eiga: Shisen no Politics (Movies -the Politics of the Gaze), Chapter 4", the post-war Hollywood films became the advocaters of that campaign. However, in "The Farmer's Daughter", just as the heroine gives up the election after being hurt from a scandal about her chastity, and is consoled by her sweetheart, who recommends her to settle down to start a family, her the father, who is an uneducated farmer, appears and says, "That is not like my should fight until the end.", making the situation extraordinary.

The Origin of Idealism

Unfortunately, this time, there is no room to write about this film's excellent casting, beginning with the heroine, Loretta Young, Joseph Cotton, Ethel Barrymore, and Charles Bickford. However, when we take a look at the characters, the heroine is a second generation of Swedish immigrants, her boyfriend is a Congressman from a W.A.S.P. family, and the political enemy the two fight against is the "100% Americanism". It is already clear from these facts that this film attempts to present the United States as a truly egalitarian country that accepts diversity despite the different genders and ethnicity. In the first half of the Pacific War, depicting the dignity of women and the minority was none other than the attempt of guidance offered by the Office of War Information towards Hollywood, to enhance the people's nationalistic spirit and war sentiment. It was very rare for Hollywood to follow the idealism spelled out by the OWI due to their dislike of taking commercial risks (that is why, in the latter half of the Pacific War, the OWI changed their direction and did not force their policy on Hollywood), but suddenly, after 2 years from the end of the war, against the social sentiment, it was realized almost in a perfect form. Why was this possible? Mentioning the name of the producer may partially answer the question. As one of the "Selznick Collection", this film was released as a video recently. Although the cast are those patronized by David O. Selznick, in actuality, this work was produced by Dore Schary, who had a close cooperative business relationship with Selznick at the time.

The future of idealism

Depite the difference between their political preferences, Schary enjoyed a lifelong friendship with Selznick, who was a Republican. Schary was known as the most enthusiastic liberal in Hollywood, and considering his political position within the context of the '30's and the '40's, his ideas probably overlapped with those who were called the "New Dealers". The principles depicted in the platform generated by the OWI was the New Dealer principle. Since there were many Republican Party supporters (and not the Democratic Party of Roosevelt) among the executives in Hollywood, there must have been a political reason for not being able to support the platform. Those who were active in cooperating with the OWI were the people mostly on the East Coast such as screenwriters, who absorbed the "leftist" atmosphere of the '30's. The people who were most cooperative towards the "national policy" during the war were dragged into a witch-hunt after the war as the "national enemies", and this cynical situation is related to what Shigehiko HASUMI wrote in "Hollywood Eiga-shi KougiiA Lecture on Hollywood Movie Historyj". In other words, "The Farmer's Daughter" with a narrative which was not welcomed by anybody, was a movie distributed in anunguarded moment (what was guarded?). However empty the result feels, this must be described as a feat. However, it is doubtful whether it can be called something very "American".

Film History, American Cultural History]

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May 20, 1997 (a) Jun. 3, 1997 (a)

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