Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Farmer's Wife, The (1928)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Farmer Samuel Sweetland is left alone when is wife dies, looked after by his housekeeper, Minta. Some time later, his daughter is married, and Sweetland hosts the wedding party. At the party, the groom's elderly uncle, Mr Coaker, makes a long speech, in which he touches on the need for a partner, which strikes a chord with Sweetland and on three unmarried women at the table.

The guests leave, and Sweetland is left to his solitude and his memories. He begins to brood, and determines that the time is right to remarry. With the help of Minta, he draws up a list of eligable women, four in total, and sets off to woo the first, Widow Louisa Windeatt. But much to his astonishment, she refuses his offer. Unable to conceal his fury, he storms out.

Later in the week he is invited to a tea party at the home of the second on his list, Thirza Tapper. Minta and Sweetland's handyman, Churtles Ash are on hand to assist Miss Tapper's own maid, Susan, with the preparations for the party. Sweetland arrives early, while Miss Tapper is still dressing, and is forced to wait, with growing impatience. When she comes down, Sweetland shephards her in the drawing room, but when he manages to propose, she falls into a near faint. He presses on, but she too spurns him, becoming increasingly upset as he loses his temper. Finally they are interrupted by a tearful Susan, who has melted the ices by leaving them by the fire. Sweetland leaves.

He paces around outside, until the third on his list, Mary Hearn the postmistress, arrives, and he resolves to rejoin the party. Sweetland engages her in conversation and when the other guests have gone into the garden he takes her back into the house, where he makes his proposal. When she too spurns him, he becomes angry once more, and insults her, until she becomes hysterical and her cries bring in the other guests.

Back at home, Sweetland is dejected, and vows to abandon his search, but when he overhears Churtles Ash telling Minta of his shame at his master's undignified rejection, he decides instead to ride to the Royal Oak, the public house run by Mercy Bassett, the last name on his list. When he returns he again overhears Ash, this time telling Minta to expect him to return in a foul mood if he has been rejected again. Instead, Sweetland enters in high spirits, and Minta, who is secretly in love with him, is anxious. But when Ash has left, his face falls, and he sits, defeated and self-pitying. As Minta is attempting to console him, it dawns on him that she is the one. He takes his list and adds her name to it, then passes it to her. Minta is stunned, and he entreats her, this time with humility. She accepts.

At his suggestion, Minta goes upstairs to change from her work clothes into her best frock. Meanwhile, Mary Hearn arrives, with Thirza Tapper in tow. Having heard of Sweetland's proposal to Miss Tapper, Mary tells him that she has changed her mind, and now wants to accept his offer. At that moment Mr Coaker arrives, announcing that he has heard of Sweetland's predicament and has a suggestion for a suitable wife. Calmly, Sweetland guides them all to the table, informing them that he has made a decision, and that they should stay and have a drink to her. When Minta comes he announces his news, Mary becomes hysterical again, while Miss Tapper and Mr Coaker congratulate the bride. Sweetland proudly embraces his wife--to-be.