Monday, June 29, 2015

1947: Loretta Young for The Farmer's Daughter

At the beginning of the film, Loretta Young's character, Katrin Holstrom, leaves the farm on which she was brought up with hopes of becoming a nurse. Due to a series of bizarre circumstances, however, she ends up working as a Congressman's maid. Though she falls in love with her employer, she is opposed to his politics, and her outspoken nature leads to conflict.

It seems like about half of the Best Actress winners so far have won by speaking in accents that are not their own, to varying degrees of success. Young's Swedish accent isn't terrible, but you can tell it's not her natural way of talking. Personally, I was impressed that it wasn't worse, especially after some of the pitiful accent attempts I've listened to so far. All in all, I liked Young's performance. Her delivery of Katrin's sharp comebacks when men condescendingly implied that she knew nothing of politics was perfect. The scene when she stood up to challenge the politician that everyone had just been cheering for, and stood her ground and made her arguments even when they were booing her, was probably the best part. Her nervous but determined demeanor ensured that both the crowd and the audience would ultimately root for her. Loretta Young was very good at being wholesome and likeable, which she put to good use in this film, and when that was combined with resilience and strong opinions it made for an interesting, realistic character. If the movie had only focused on her political side, it would have been a fantastic performance. However, there was also a love story element, and in my opinion, that wasn't nearly as good.

I love Joseph Cotten as an actor, but I didn't quite believe that he was actually in love with Loretta Young, or that she was in love with him. They both just kind of pined for each other, without any real spark or conviction. I think I would have liked the movie much better if it had cut out the love story altogether. Admittedly, this is more the fault of the story than the performance, but if she had made her character's love seem more genuine, I don't think I would feel the same way. She acted more like a starstruck young girl in the presence of a great man than a strong-willed, intelligent woman in love with a political rival, and I think the film suffers for that. Otherwise, though, it was a mostly very good performance in an entertaining movie.

Loretta Young started making movies when she was a child in the 1910s, but this was her first Oscar nomination. She was nominated just once more, for 1949's Come to the Stable. She only made a few more films after that before moving to television with "The Loretta Young Show".

Coming up next: Jane Wyman

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