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City Girl (1930 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

City Girl
Poster art for 1930 sound version of the film
Directed byF. W. Murnau
Written byMarion Orth
Berthold Viertel
Based onThe Mud Turtle (play)
by Elliott Lester
Produced byWilliam Fox
StarringCharles Farrell
Mary Duncan
CinematographyErnest Palmer
Edited byHarry H. Caldwell
Katherine Hilliker
Music byArthur Kay
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release date
  • February 16, 1930 (1930-02-16)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguagesSound film (Part-Talkie)
English Intertitles

City Girl is a 1930 American part-talkie sound film directed by F. W. Murnau, and starring Charles Farrell and Mary Duncan. It is based upon the play "The Mud Turtle" by Elliot Lester. Though shot as a silent feature, the film was refitted with some sound elements and released in 1930 as a sound film due to the public apathy to silent films. While the film has a few talking sequences, the majority of the film featured a synchronized musical score with sound effects using both the sound-on-disc and sound-on-film process.[1][2] The film is credited as being the primary inspiration for Terrence Malick's film Days of Heaven (1978).[1][2]

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  • City Girl - One of the best films directed by F.W. Murnau
  • 'City Girl' (1930) directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Charles Farrell and Mary Duncan -- full movie
  • CITY GIRL (1930) Original Trailer - Charles Farrell, Mary Duncan, David Torrence



City Girl ad in The Film Daily, 1929

Lem Tustine is sent to Chicago by his father to sell the family farm's wheat crop. He meets Kate, a waitress who is sick of the endless bustle of the city, and she has dreams of living in the countryside. The stock market price of wheat starts to drop, and Lem hurriedly sells the crop for far less than the bottom line his father had given him.

Meanwhile, Lem has fallen in love with Kate, and they marry. They travel back to the countryside, but Lem's father, angry at the disastrous wheat sale, subjects Kate to hostility and physical abuse, mistakenly believing that she is simply after Lem's money. Lem fails to stand up to his father in support of Kate, and the relationship appears doomed. Matters are made worse when a group of farm hands arrive to help with the wheat harvest, and one of them named Mac tries to woo Kate. Lem's father interprets Mac's unwanted attentions as evidence of Kate's wanton nature, and he swears to break Lem and Kate apart.

When reports of a hailstorm destroying the country's wheat crops arrives, Lem's father tries to get the crop in early by working through the night. In an attempt to gain Kate's affections, Mac calls a strike to sabotage the harvest. Lem, reading a farewell letter from Kate, realizes that his own lack of action has caused all the misery, and he finally responds. He fights with Mac, berates his father and then searches for Kate. The workers abandon Mac and return to finish the harvest. Lem and Kate talk and finally agree to try again. Lem's father begs forgiveness from Kate as the film ends.



The film featured a theme song entitled “In the Valley of My Dreams” which was composed by Pierre Norman and James Hanley.


City Girl was shot on location in Athena[3] and Pendleton, Oregon. According to research by film historians, a farm was constructed for the making of the film.[4]

According to a newspaper article in the Heppner Gazette-Times on the arrival of Murnau and actress Mary Duncan in Pendleton, the film's original working title was Our Daily Bread.[5] Upon her arrival to shoot the film in August 1928, Duncan was granted the Round-Up Queen of the 1928 Pendleton Round-Up rodeo.[5]

The Fox Film studios for whom Murnau was working were subject to a takeover during filming. The new owners requested a number of changes to City Girl, including the addition of sound sequences which Murnau resisted, and eventually he walked away to begin filming Tabu, A Story of the South Seas. The sound version of City Girl was released at a time when all-talking pictures were the norm. Consequently, the film flopped at the box office because it was considered extremely outdated by the time it was in general release.


During the early sound era, silent versions were routinely made for theatres that had not yet converted to sound. A forgotten copy of the silent version of this film was among those rescued from the Fox vaults in 1970 by Eileen Bowser of Museum of Modern Art and screened at the museum.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b French, Phillip (May 21, 2011). "City Girl". The Guardian. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "City Girl. 1930. Directed by F. W. Murnau". Museum of Modern Art. May 27, 2018. Archived from the original on January 18, 2021.
  3. ^ Williams, Heidi (April 30, 2009). "Review: The Beaver State's film heritage: The Oregon sesquicentennial film festival". Oregon Live. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  4. ^ Danks, Adrian (October 2003). "Reaching Beyond the Frame: Murnau's City Girl". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Movie Star Chosen for Round-Up Queen". Heppner Gazette-Times. August 21, 1928. p. 6.
  6. ^ Hudson, David. "MoMA Presents Fox Rarities". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  7. ^ Weiler, A. H. (June 3, 1970). "Modern Art Museum to Show Series of 6 Vintage Fox Films". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 4, 2022.

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This page was last edited on 27 May 2024, at 06:56
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