My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Best Actress 1947: Loretta Young in "The Farmer's Daughter"

To this day, Loretta Young’s win is mostly known for the fact that it was (and probably still is) one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history. Loretta Young plays Katrin Holstrom, a young farm girl with Swedish roots from Minnesota who goes to the big city to become a nurse. But fate has different plans for her and she becomes a servant and later enters the world of politics.

The Farmer’s Daughter is not a great movie, but it is charming and entertaining. Unfortunately, Loretta Young is not the main reason for it. She is clearly overshadowed by Joseph Cotton and especially Ethel Barrymore and Charles Bickford who offer amusing support. While these three have very entertaining and funny parts Loretta Young plays the “straight character”. The script barely offers her any chance to really shine and Loretta also never seems to want one. She plays her part as serious and straight-forward as possible which makes Katrin a very serious and honest character but it is not very entertaining to watch. As much as I like Loretta Young, an actress with more natural charm would have been better cast in this part. But Loretta has nice chemistry with all other cast members, especially Charles Bickford.

Even though Loretta has nice chemistry with Joseph Cotton, their love story never really convinces. The problem is that Loretta, as I said, plays Katrin in such a stern and no-nonsense way that she never becomes the loveable person the script says she is. Neither actor seems to be really interested in the romantic aspect of the script and so that aspect doesn’t really work.

Loretta Young obviously constantly tries to add some depth and complexity to the character with some unexpected seriously line-deliveries or other small gestures but the problem is that this simply does not work in the context of the movie. A lot of times she decided to underplay and be serious even when a scene could have used some comedy. Considering that The Farmer’s Daughter is supposed to be a comedy, it’s not a good sign when the leading lady doesn’t make you laugh once.

Overall, she does the most entertaining work with her accent which is very consistent and it’s obvious that Loretta was having a lot of fun with it which is amusing to watch. Her constant “Ja” is surely a highlight of her performance.

But even though Loretta may not be very humorous, the characterization of Katrin as a dependable, intelligent, good-hearted and loyal woman is consistent and played well. Loretta Young is surely better in the more serious scenes than the lightweight parts. Her disappointment after her name has been discredited by an old acquaintance is played very well and shows some new side to Katrin.

Loretta shows Katrin as a simple woman with simple views of the world but she is not naïve or dumb. Rather, she sees things clearly. She is not interested in politics in the way that she would actually plan to make a career in it. She just believes that the country needs good politicians and she knows when somebody is good and when somebody is not. Her own way into politics happens rather by accident.

Loretta has a very good and even moving scene when she is reading an old speech to Charles Bickford in the library. Loretta has a beautiful, soft voice that is able to deliver the words very gracefully, quietly, dignified and simple in a way that touches the viewers hearts. What’s so effective about this scene is even though Katrin is reading the words for the first time, there seems to be a deep understanding and an honest way of saying them.

It is clear that Katrin has a certain talent for making a speech, but the problem is that is hard to believe she could actually make public speeches in an election campaign with her quiet, dignified delivery. This is probably also the reason why, after all the practicing, the movie never even shows Katrin giving a real speech. Loretta Young may be impressive in these subtle scenes but they seem to be misplaced in the context of the film.

Overall, Loretta Young gives a very nice and harmless performance that could have been better but also suffers from the bad material she is given. She brightens up the screen with a lovely smile and creates a sometimes amusing, but always likeable character for which she gets

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