City Girl - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

City Girl Reviews

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rubystevens
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2012
'city girl' is kind of the inverse 'sunrise' and was a compromised project for murnau, only being released in a truncated sound version which is now lost. while i much prefer murnau's original title of 'our daily bread', there are some lovely and lyrical scenes here as impressive as anything in 'sunrise', most notably the sequence of lem and kate running through the wheatfields and the final runaway wagon race lit by a single lantern. good chemistry between the two leads and the earthier mary duncan is an interesting contrast to charles farrell's usual partner janet gaynor. it's somewhat of a miracle this full silent version has survived and there are some nice features related to the lost film '4 devils' on the disc as well
Super Reviewer
½ February 25, 2011
This F.W. Murnau melodrama starts off well, but goes sour with its archaic values.

Lem is a Minnesota farm boy whose father sends him to the big city to sell their wheat harvest. The transaction is crucial to the family's solvency, and Lem is sternly warned not to settle for a lower price. During his brief trip, he falls in love with a waitress named Kate. And she falls for him. They decide to get married after spending what amounts to a few hours in each other's company. Mainly because a vending-machine fortune suggests they do. Ah well. It has been a sweet romance until now, so one would like to forgive its quaint corniness.

But then Lem takes Kate home to his family, and the film's age becomes too obvious. The father is suspicious that she's a gold-digger (even though the family isn't rich), and actually hits her soon after they meet. Then the ridiculous, bumpkin farmhands hear Lem has brought back a wife who's a looker, and immediately figger one of them can steal her away if they just smile real pretty and spit-slick their hair back. Given how easily Lem won her heart, perhaps their hopes aren't so far-fetched.

The plot begins drawing steady eyerolls from here, though at least Kate stands up to the father rather than backing down. The issue of the wheat price is essentially thrown out without being resolved, and the same goes for a second crisis about an incoming hail storm. And of course we know a happy ending will arrive, even if its justification is shaky.

It's strange that Murnau made "City Girl" near the end of his career (and short life), following far more ambitious productions such as "Faust," "Nosferatu" and "Sunrise." It's solidly directed and, to its credit, has few of the exaggerated acting gestures found in typical silents, but Murnau doesn't really make his presence known beyond a few tracking shots -- most notably, an idyllic scene where the camera chases newlyweds Lem and Kate happily scampering through a wheat field. Such minor treats are not enough to make this film essential.
March 21, 2012
F.W. Murnau's filmography in Hollywood may have been cut short by his untimely death, but he certainly did fine work. Between this and "Sunrise", he was one of the great auteurs working at the time. Supposedly, a sound version of this film did exist, but has been lost; still, the silent version is very powerful, a credit to Murnau.
½ March 5, 2011
Pretty danged near perfect companion piece to Murnau's "Sunrise." While not as technically adventurous (save for one astounding, jaw-droppingly amazing shot of the central couple running through a sun-dappled wheat field), it's just as dramatically potent and just about as visually poetic as its predecessors. Wonderful performances. Great film. It was lost for ages, but it still feels like it was an inspiration for Malick's "Days of Heaven."
April 3, 2010
A mostly forgotten Murnau film, but it shouldn't be. It's really good, and I watched it on blu-ray and it looked AMAZING! I'm really in shock as to how good these old silent movies can look in HD.
July 10, 2009
Often undeservedly neglected, however, City Girl is one of Murnau's greatest and most poetic films. I just love when the camera jubilantly runs through a sunlit field with it's two leads--one of the great tracking shots of all-time.
February 12, 2009
City Girl was a real eye-opener for me. I always assumed that Murnau's leap from mobile camera in Sunrise to stationary camera in Tabu was necessitated by extreme remote location shooting, but City Girl shows Murnau already abandoning the dolly tracks. I can only recall two non-diegetic dollies: a brief one in the city and the extraordinary one in the run through the wheat field. Every other camera movement is associated with moving farming equipment. The result is a decoupage that is strikingly contemporary. It appears to me to be Murnau's first "sound" film. He could have recorded dialogue without changing a single shot, and it still would have worked.

Thematically, it's an interesting inversion of the City/Country dichotomy in Sunrise. The city brings morality to the country rather than treachery. And it's the country that supplies the lovers' playground instead of the city.
½ August 1, 2008
A very engaging story from Murnau, just about as good as Sunrise, and maybe even better in some ways. I would have preferred some kind of vicious comeuppance for "Mac" at the end, he's a real sleazy douchebag. Other than that, it's quite satisfying and sports a few lovely shots.
½ November 28, 2014
There is true beauty to behold in Murnau's pictorial view of Minnesotan farmland - amber waves of grain and all that. But I think some of the scenes in the Windy City, especially when Kate looks out of her apartment window and the passing El train creates flashes of light on her face, are equally stunning. You can see how this may have influenced Malick's Days of Heaven. However, the plot, elemental though it is, feels too rickety to support all these perfect images. Apparently, a producer tampered with the end product after Murnau walked away. So, we have Country Boy meets City Girl, marries her and brings her back to Minnesota where his Old Man does not approve. Their relationship is strained until the Old Man finally relents (after some lascivious farmhands show him his stupidity). No match for Sunrise (to which the plot, but not the images, bears some similarity) -if you are new to Murnau, start there (or Faust or The Last Laugh).
½ August 24, 2014
A waitress in a big city diner falls in love with a country guy visiting the city. They quickly get married and move to the country where she faces his stern father. As I was watching, I thought this is kind of lightweight for a Murnau film. I mean, the director of "Nosferatu" and "Sunrise"? But then as it progressed, I saw that it has gotten more complex and darker. It pretty much turned into somewhat of a companion piece of "Sunrise". It's not quite as great as that film. He uses some of the same notes but it's still a wonderful film worth checking out since hey, it's a Murnau film.
January 18, 2014
With a glowing performance from Mary Duncan, a suiting sweet original score by Arthur Kay, and impressive beautiful cinematography by Ernest Palmer, City Girl might not be F.W. Murnau's finest effort, but adds as an impressive piece of work.
June 19, 2013
I saw this movie for the first time 2 days ago, and I thought it was stunning. Why Hal Erickson thinks that Mary Duncan was untalented is a mystery to me. She brings a toughness and grit to her character that Gaynor could never have approached. And Murnau wanted to call the film "Our Daily Bread," not "Bread."
May 1, 2013
Definitely not the kind of expressionistic spectacle I expected from a Murnau film! City Girl is a simple, beautiful film that rewards its viewers with rich visuals and surprisingly rich story telling.
January 18, 2013
A city waitress marries the son of a wheat farmer, but struggles to be accepted by the man's family and especially the father, who believes she will be unfaithful. This tension unfolds one stormy night. This film, which was thought lost for a long time, portrays perhaps the most genuine achievement by Murnau to bridge realism with German expressionism. But while in the technical aspect he takes artistic liberties that are remarkable, with the light play and the camera movements resembling a celluloid dance, the narrative aspect and its dead beat rhythm seems frustrated, perhaps by the advent of the talking pictures.
½ May 6, 2012
From the master of silent films such as Last Laugh & Nosferatu comes I believe in my opinion his last silent masterpiece.

As the title suggests this is the story of a city girl falling for a country & goes back to live with him & then the story gets going.

All the characters in this a so well thought & written especially the city girl who gives a sensational performance & really moves the film forward.

It is emotional & engaging I was so surprised the quality of the story & acting ...and incredible silent film, supposively there is a talkie version just stick with this....
rubystevens
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2012
'city girl' is kind of the inverse 'sunrise' and was a compromised project for murnau, only being released in a truncated sound version which is now lost. while i much prefer murnau's original title of 'our daily bread', there are some lovely and lyrical scenes here as impressive as anything in 'sunrise', most notably the sequence of lem and kate running through the wheatfields and the final runaway wagon race lit by a single lantern. good chemistry between the two leads and the earthier mary duncan is an interesting contrast to charles farrell's usual partner janet gaynor. it's somewhat of a miracle this full silent version has survived and there are some nice features related to the lost film '4 devils' on the disc as well
March 21, 2012
F.W. Murnau's filmography in Hollywood may have been cut short by his untimely death, but he certainly did fine work. Between this and "Sunrise", he was one of the great auteurs working at the time. Supposedly, a sound version of this film did exist, but has been lost; still, the silent version is very powerful, a credit to Murnau.
Super Reviewer
½ February 25, 2011
This F.W. Murnau melodrama starts off well, but goes sour with its archaic values.

Lem is a Minnesota farm boy whose father sends him to the big city to sell their wheat harvest. The transaction is crucial to the family's solvency, and Lem is sternly warned not to settle for a lower price. During his brief trip, he falls in love with a waitress named Kate. And she falls for him. They decide to get married after spending what amounts to a few hours in each other's company. Mainly because a vending-machine fortune suggests they do. Ah well. It has been a sweet romance until now, so one would like to forgive its quaint corniness.

But then Lem takes Kate home to his family, and the film's age becomes too obvious. The father is suspicious that she's a gold-digger (even though the family isn't rich), and actually hits her soon after they meet. Then the ridiculous, bumpkin farmhands hear Lem has brought back a wife who's a looker, and immediately figger one of them can steal her away if they just smile real pretty and spit-slick their hair back. Given how easily Lem won her heart, perhaps their hopes aren't so far-fetched.

The plot begins drawing steady eyerolls from here, though at least Kate stands up to the father rather than backing down. The issue of the wheat price is essentially thrown out without being resolved, and the same goes for a second crisis about an incoming hail storm. And of course we know a happy ending will arrive, even if its justification is shaky.

It's strange that Murnau made "City Girl" near the end of his career (and short life), following far more ambitious productions such as "Faust," "Nosferatu" and "Sunrise." It's solidly directed and, to its credit, has few of the exaggerated acting gestures found in typical silents, but Murnau doesn't really make his presence known beyond a few tracking shots -- most notably, an idyllic scene where the camera chases newlyweds Lem and Kate happily scampering through a wheat field. Such minor treats are not enough to make this film essential.
September 12, 2010
Murnau's minor masterpiece is the yang to Sunrise's yin.
½ March 5, 2011
Pretty danged near perfect companion piece to Murnau's "Sunrise." While not as technically adventurous (save for one astounding, jaw-droppingly amazing shot of the central couple running through a sun-dappled wheat field), it's just as dramatically potent and just about as visually poetic as its predecessors. Wonderful performances. Great film. It was lost for ages, but it still feels like it was an inspiration for Malick's "Days of Heaven."
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