"Ladies and Gentlemen, Tonight I Want to Ask You for the Most Precious Thing You Own: Your Vote" - The Farmer's Daughter

Loretta Young for Congress! That's exactly what happens in this charming comedy from 1947, The Farmer's Daughter

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This is my entry for the Classic Movie Blog Association's fall blogathon, Politics on Film. It's running all week, so make sure to click through to read the other great entries!

Let's dive in!

The Farmer's Daughter stars Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten, and features Ethel Barrymore and Charles Bickford in supporting roles. 

Here's the summary: "When she goes to work for a congressman, a Minnesota farm girl takes Washington by storm."

Just as controversially as Katrin Holstrom (Loretta Young) takes Washington, so too did Loretta Young take Hollywood with this role. Young won her only Oscar for this role, and it's generally considered one of the greatest upsets of all time: Rosalind Russell had been heavily predicted to win for Mourning Becomes Electra, but alas, it was Loretta Young's name they called on Oscar night. 

I've never seen Mourning Becomes Electra, and Rosalind's such a terrific actress, but I can't say that I don't think Loretta Young wasn't deserving of an Oscar. 

Loretta plays Katrin Holstrom, a young Swedish-American woman who's about to leave the family farm to become a nursing student in the Capitol City. It's never explicitly stated in the film, but many believe that this movie takes place in Minnesota, which has a large Scandinavian population. 

Katie accepts a ride from a painter, Petree, but when they stop at a motel for the night, he rob her of all of her money. 

But Katie refuses to call her parents and let them know what happened, or to go back home, so she ends up taking a job as a maid at a Congressman's mansion. 

Meet Congressman Glen Morley, a representative from Minnesota who comes from a wealthy political family. 

His mother Agatha is played by Ethel Barrymore. She's smart, calculated, and knows how to get the outcome she wants. Katie's amazed by the motorized chair that guides her up the stairs (she uses it herself after, earning her the ire of the head of household staff, Joseph). 

At first it's your classic fish-out-of-water story: Katie's too trusting, so down-to-earth that she doesn't understand all the political machinations that happen in the mansion. She asks many questions, many of them earnest and straightforward, and it gets her in trouble with Joseph and Agatha. 

Over time, she wins over the Morleys and, naturally, begins a flirtation with Glen. In one of my most favourite scenes, Katie and Glen go ice skating on a frozen pond. She's a natural, but he falls through the ice and finds himself in knee-deep water. 

To help him recuperate, Katie makes a drink called glogg, which involves igniting it. 

In another memorable scene, Katie is asked to recite a speech. The whole house is transfixed as she reads confidently from the book. 

After the Congressman from the 13th Congressional District passes away, the Morleys get right to business picking their party's replacement (it's never stated what party they back, and I'm not familiar enough with the political landscape of the '40s to know if there's an implication that they're Democrat or Republican). 

The Morleys choose Anders Finley, and Katie doesn't like him. 

At a rally to introduce Finley to the people, Katie attends with Joseph...

...and asks him why he's even running for Congress. The audience boos her question and laughs at her. 

But Finley encourages everyone to be quiet and answers her question. They all love his answer, and he gets incredible support from the crowd. 

Back at the Morley mansion, Katie is told to stick close to the house until after the election's over: they don't want her embarrassing them or causing Finley's poll numbers to drop. 

There was a group of people at the rally who did like Katie's earnest questions: a group of men from the opposition party (again, not sure if they're Democrats or Republicans) who want her to run against Finley. 

She accepts the offer, which means she must quit her job with the Morleys. 

Now, the campaigning begins!

"This power and right to vote is something you must cherish and guard with courage and dignity. When someone asks you for your vote, you must be jealous of that vote. You must ask yourself, who is it I'm voting for, what kind of a person, what does he stand for, what does he believe in. Nothing wrong can happen to you, the people, if you will use your vote properly. And no one man or group of men can hurt you, if you will use your power of a free and honest election."

It's not a stellar start, but politicking is all about getting out there and making your voice and your platform heard...

...running campaign ads...

...and watching your support grow.

Suddenly, Katie's support grows to the point that the race is neck-in-neck. 

And two days before the election, it's so close, Finley's campaign headquarters is fit to be tied. How did she gain so much support?! 

Remember him? Petree? We're about to get our form of an October Surprise. 

Petree enters the room and tells the Morleys and Finley about the night he spent with Katie in a motel room; only he spins it like she's a "tramp" (his words, not mine) and is thus unfit for public office. Cad. 

A reporter comes by the Morley home to tell Glen about the story she's going to run: Katie and Petree's night together. Glen's disgusted, as are the rest of the family, and once Katie finds out...

...she runs back to the family farm. 

Glen follows her shortly after and confesses his love for her. He proposes and she accepts.

What a view!

Glen calls his mother to let her know about the engagement, and she tells him to sit tight at the Holstrom Farm: she might have news for him soon. 

She has a special guest, Finley, who she proceeds to get totally inebriated to the point that he confesses his extremist views, that he paid Petree to fabricate a story about Katie, and that Petree is currently hidden away at his cottage.

Joseph Clancy: Either you're leaving this house now or I'm going to throw you out!
Agatha Morley: Joseph! How dare you talk to one of my guests like that!
Joseph Clancy: You're not serious about this?
Agatha Morley: Joseph... I'm afraid we will have to speak about this later.
Joseph Clancy: Mrs. Morley, I'm not accustomed to speakin' about things later.
Agatha Morley: [to Finley] Mr. Finley, I'm afraid I'll have to let Joseph throw you out.

Agatha calls Glen back to let him know about Finley and Petree, and he and Katie's three big brothers take off for the cabin to find him. Katie tags along...

...and ends up knocking him out! 

Back on the campaign trail, the Morleys drop their support of Finley and back Katie totally. 

Petree gives an address on radio admitting to fabricating the story about him and Katie, and that Finley had bribed him to share it. 

Further proof that Katie's Congress-bound? All of the campaign posters have been torn off this Finley car and replaced with Katie for Congress signs. 

And, as expected, Katie wins by a landslide! 

And with that, the newly-elected Congresswoman, Katie Holstrom, strides up the steps of the House of Representatives with her finacé. As an act of love, he carries her across the threshold into the Capitol.



Did you like The Farmer's Daughter? Have you seen it? I think it's a rare film and only exists as a print-on-demand in the TCM Shop (correct me if I'm wrong)!

Don't forget to read the other entries in the Politics on Film blogathon!


  1. I haven't seen The Farmer's Daughter in many years and it was such a treat reading your look at the movie then I am aching to enjoy it again.

  2. The Farmer's Daughter is available on DVD, and I just requested a copy from my local library. Your review inspired me, and I am a fan of Joseph Cotten. I'm used to seeing him in film noir roles and this will be a pleasant switch for me.

  3. It's been along time since I've seen this one and your delightful post brought back so many charming memories. I love it when everything turns out just right (especially in politics)!

  4. What a great cast! It seems that there were quite a few movies made about Scandinavians in the U.S. made around that time. Regardless, I would love to see a 1940s film with a female candidate for public office. Wonderful selection for the blogathon.


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