The Farmer's Daughter (1947)

The Farmer's Daughter
Ethel Barrymore, Joseph Cotten and Loretta Young

'The Farmer's Daughter' is a romantic comedy drama with a political message, a restrained satirical comment on American politics. It was made in 1947, directed by Henry Potter, and stars Loretta Young, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore, and Charles Bickford. Although elements are of course dated the movie is almost as fresh and certainly as funny today as when first made.

Loretta Young worked extremely hard on her Swedish accent for the film, and won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance. Charles Bickford was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Young's win is considered to be one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history as everyone had expected Rosalind Russell to win for her performance in 'Mourning Becomes Electra'. Also it was because the character she plays is largely absent from the second half of the film.


Loretta Young plays Katie Holstrum, the daughter of a Swedish immigrant farmer, whom we see leaving the family farm to study nursing in the big city. After being swindled out of her savings she finally ends up as a maid in the home of Congressman Glenn Morley, played by Joseph Cotten.

Also present in the house is Joseph Clancy, the family butler, played by Charles Bickford, and also Agatha, the Congressman's mother, a formidable presence, played by a formidable actress, Ethel Barrymore.

Soon Katie becomes unexpectedly caught up in a world of politics, while of course, falling in love with Cotten.


The movie was adapted from the Finnish play Juurakon Hulda by Hella Wuolijoki. The adaptation was by Allen Rivkin and Laura Kerr.

The screen rights to the play were initially bought by David O. Selznick who intended it as a vehicle for Ingrid Bergman. There were rumours that Bergman and Joseph Cotten were having an affair, but whatever the reason, Bergman refused it. Selznick then tried to cast both Dorothy McGuire and Sonja Henie in the role, but eventually sold the rights to RKO Radio Pictures and the way was left open for Loretta Young.

In 1947, when the film was made, Loretta Young was 34 years old but she manages successfully to give the impression of a naive teenager. In this immediate postwar period many people were starting their careers late. Also, it is made clear in the movie that she stayed on to help work the family farm while her three strong brothers, played by James Arness (in his first movie role), Keith Andes, and Lex Barker were all in the services during World War II.

RKO initially titled the film 'Katie for Congress', then decided on 'The Farmer's Daughter', a title they had to purchase from Paramount Pictures.

Main Cast

Loretta Young … Katie Holstrom
Joseph Cotten … Glenn Morley
Ethel Barrymore … Agatha Morley
Charles Bickford … Joseph Clancy
Rose Hobart … Virginia Thatcher
Rhys Williams … Adolph Petree
Harry Davenport … Dr. Matthew Sulven
Tom Powers … Hy Nordick
William Harrigan … Ward Hughes
Lex Barker … Olaf Holstrom
Harry Shannon … Mr. Holstrom
Keith Andes … Sven Holstrom
Thurston Hall … Wilbur Johnson
Art Baker … Anders J. Finley
Don Beddoe … Einar
James Arness … Peter Holstrom
Anna Q. Nilsson … Mrs. Holstrom
William B. Davidson … Eckers
Cy Kendall … Sweeney
Frank Ferguson … Martinaan
William Bakewell … Windor
Charles Lane … Jackson


Director … Henry Potter
Producer … Dore Schary
From the Play … Juurakon Hulda by Hella Wuolijoki
Screenplay … Ilen Rivkin, Laura Kerr
Music … Leigh Harline
Cinematography … Milton R. Krasner
Distribution Company … RKO Radio Pictures
Format … B & W
Release Date … May 25, 1947
Running Time … 97 minutes

Academy Awards

One Win:
Best Actress ... Loretta Young
One Unsuccessful Nomination:
Best Supporting Actor ... Charles Bickford