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Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.
The
Farmer’s Wife

(1928)
 

Alfred Hitchcock’s seventh film as a director was this pleasant little British comedy. And while a few of Hitchcock’s better-known films have comic elements to them — such as The Trouble with Harry (1955) and the black Family Plot (1976) — and Hitchcock was well known to have a wry sense of humor, the thought of a Hitchcock comedy will make many film buffs stop and ponder the incongruousness of a suspense master directing a light drawing-room comedy.

In the silent era, when he was just starting his tremendous film career, Hitchcock was something of a utility director. A small number of his silent films were love triangle films, others were dramas of manners. Only one, The Lodger (1926), was an indication of the suspense master Hitchcock was to come. Hitchcock’s next thriller was his first sound film and his tenth film as director, 1929’s Blackmail.

An English farmer (Jameson Thomas), a man of good means, has been recently widowed. At the marriage of his daughter, the farmer begins entertaining the idea of wedding again. With the help of his housemaid, he considers his local marriage options and creates a list of potential brides. Armed with his considerable arrogance and a farmer’s practicality, he begins ‘courting’ his future brides. After a small number of comic rebuffs, the farmer is thoroughly discouraged. His quest continues through the support of his housemaid (Lilian Hall-Davis), much to the consternation of the farm’s coarse and uncouth main man, Gordon Harker as Churdles Ash. The Farmer’s Wife is a pleasant little story that grows on the viewer over multiple viewings. — Carl Bennett

2007 Optimum Home Entertainment DVD edition

The Early Hitchcock Collection (1927-1932), black & white and color-toned black & white, 810 minutes total, Certificate PG,
including The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, ? minutes, Certificate ?.

Optimum Home Entertainment, unknown catalogue number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, nine single-sided, single-layered DVD discs, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, nine slimline DVD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, £34.99.
DVD release date: 26 February 2007.
Country of origin: England
This Hitchcock boxset contains the Optimum DVD edition of The Farmer’s Wife. It has been noted that the music accompanying the film is not the best.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
1999 Laserlight Digital DVD edition

The Farmer's Wife (1928), black & white, 129 minutes, not rated.

Laserlight Digital, DEL82038DVD, UPC 0-18111-99723-2.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 4.5 Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese language subtitles, 20 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $7.95.
DVD release date: 20 July 1999.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 5 / additional content: 0 / overall: 5.

Of this edition, the first to appear on DVD but far from the only home video version, we can say that it could have been better but is probably still worth the low cost to own. The material utilized for the video transfer appears to be a good 35mm print or a very-good 16mm print, and the transfer runs at a proper speed.

Some speckling and some print flaws are visible throughout the film. Some compression artifacts are visible in some flat light-to-middle graytones on both standard and HD monitors. At times, picture jitter can be distracting. The video transfer can be described overall as uneven. While some shots are quite pleasing, with good middle graytones and good picture detail, highlights are a little hot in places and shadow details are plugged up by too much print or transfer contrast. And while most of the picture framing is open, some intertitles (and the cast credits) will be cropped off on some televisions and are sometimes too dark to read. Hand-written identification numbers written in ink on the negative used to strike the print show up as large white distractions throughout the film. From the third reel, cropping feels tighter as some heads are cropped off at the top of the frame. Glitches in the video master used for the digital transfer mar the second half of the film.

The music score for this DVD edition has been cobbled together from various canned sources. Taped orchestral music has been combined with 78 RPM records and edited into a serviceable soundtrack that is as varied in quality as is the video picture. Some thought was put into the sequencing and the music does help to convey mood. A vocal recording was intelligently chosen to accompany a scene that features a men’s glee club.

Altogether, we still prefer and recommend the out-of-print Republic Pictures Home Video VHS videotape version of The Farmer’s Wife as the best version currently available. While the videotape has no soundtrack at all, the picture material is consistently of very good quality, being taken from a 35mm print source. The Laserlight DVD version is serviceable and will probably still be the version of choice of those collectors who adamantly prefer DVD over videotape.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2005 Brentwood Home Video DVD edition

The Essential Alfred Hitchcock Collection (1927-1939), black & white, ? minutes total, not rated,
including The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, 129 minutes, not rated.

Brentwood Home Video, 46304-9, UPC 7-87364-63049-3.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, five double-sided, single-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 8 chapter stops, five-disc DVD keepcase in cardboard slipcase, $19.95.
DVD release date: 23 August 2005.
Country of origin: USA

Our first look at this budget collection of Hitchcock films reveals a good full-frame video transfer of a very-good 16mm reduction print, only to have it compromised by a cheaply-manufactured disc that is marred by a higher-than-usual number of video master playback glitches.

The quality is pretty much a push compared to the Laserlight edition noted above, neither being ideal but merely passable.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2004 Westlake Video DVD edition

The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, 129 minutes, not rated.

Westlake Video, WLV 3099, UPC 7-98622-30992-1.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $6.98.
DVD release date: 10 February 2004.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 4 / additional content: 1 / overall: 4.

Another low-budget edition, compromized by deep image blacks that swallow up shadow detail and some of the intertitles. The video transfer speed is too fast in the first reel, reproducing the action at flitting speed when compared to other editions. The transfer runs at closer to natural speed later in the film, but also features some blasted-out highlights.

The film is accompanied by a number of preexisting recordings or varying sound quality, abruptly edited together in an attempt to appropriately accompany the current scene.

Not recommended, as there are other editions of the film that are marginally better.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2007 Mill Creek Entertainment DVD edition

Alfred Hitchcock: The Legend Begins (1926-1962), black & white, 1614 minutes total, not rated,
including The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, 130 minutes, not rated.

Mill Creek Entertainment, no catalog number, UPC 6-83904-20031-0.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, four dual-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 4 chapter stops, four-disc DVD keepcase, $14.98.
DVD release date: 25 September 2007.
Country of origin: USA

This collection has been transferred from a good to very-good 16mm reduction print.

The film is accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2007 St. Clair Vision DVD edition

The Ultimate Hitchcock Collection (1926-1962), black & white, 1695 minutes total, not rated,
including The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, 129 minutes, not rated.

St. Clair Vision, BX86149-6VD, UPC 7-77966-86149-4.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, six dual-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, six slimline DVD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, $16.98.
DVD release date: 19 November 2007.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 0 / additional content: 4 / overall: 5.

This edition has been transferred from a 16mm reduction print that is of reasonable quality.

The film is presented with a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2007 Westlake Entertainment DVD edition

Alfred Hitchcock Collection (1927-1939), black & white, 1083 minutes total, not rated,
including The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Westlake Entertainment, unknown catalog number, UPC 6-83904-20031-0.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, six dual-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, six-disc DVD keepcase, $14.98.
DVD release date: 4 December 2007.
Country of origin: USA
This boxset has likely all been transferred from 16mm reduction prints.

The film is likely to be accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2008 Echo Bridge Home Entertainment DVD edition

Alfred Hitchcock Classics (1927-1962), black & white, 720 minutes total, not rated,
including The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, four dual-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, four-disc DVD keepcase, $15.99.
DVD release date: 2 September 2008.
Country of origin: USA
This collection has likely all been transferred from 16mm reduction prints.

The film is likely to be accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2005 WHE International DVD edition

The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, 97 minutes, Certificate U.

WHE International, unknown catalogue number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 21 March 2005.
Country of origin: England
This inexpensive edition of The Farmer’s Wife may or may not be worth tracking down. It is unknown whether 35mm or 16mm materials were utilized for the video transfer.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2005 WHE International DVD edition

The Early Hitchcock Collection (1927-1932), black & white and color-toned black & white, 810 minutes total, Certificate PG,
including The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, 97 minutes, Certificate U.

WHE International, unknown catalogue number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, five single-sided, single-layered DVD discs, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, five-disc DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 28 November 2005.
Country of origin: England
This Hitchcock collection contains the WHE DVD edition of The Farmer’s Wife noted above It is unknown whether 35mm or 16mm materials were utilized for the video transfer.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2011 Entertainment One DVD edition

The Great Alfred Hitchcock Movie Box (1925-1928), black & white, 215 minutes total, not rated,
including The Farmer's Wife (1928), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Entertainment One, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, three single-sided, single-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, three-disc DVD keepcase, $16.98.
DVD release date: 8 November 2011.
Country of origin: USA
This inexpensive three-disc edition has likely been mastered from 16mm reduction prints, but we open for surprises.

The film is likely to be presented with a music score comprised of preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2009 Synergy Entertainment DVD edition

The Farmer’s Wife (1928), black & white, 129 minutes, not rated.

Synergy Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $9.95.
DVD release date: 2 June 2009.
Country of origin: USA
Enough of the cheap, low-quality editions, already!

The film is likely to be accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era ALFRED HITCHCOCK films available on home video.

Other BRITISH FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

Alfred Hitchcock filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
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