Murnau's final Hollywood film is widely underrated, no doubt because Fox cut it against his wishes and turned the original silent film into a poorly synchronised part-talkie. None the less, the director's visual talents remain evident in the soft lighting and the pastoral landscapes, and the film is of more than passing interest. As in the superior Sunrise, Murnau is concerned with the difference between urban and rural life: a wheat-farmer's son marries a waitress who longs to escape the city, but the old man, suspicious of her fidelity, rejects her, turning against his son. If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, that may be because Malick's Days of Heaven trod somewhat similar ground.
Cast and crew
Marion Oth, Berthold Viertel