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The World of Alfred Hitchcock


MissGoddess
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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> ?The Skin Game? is a really good movie.

>

> For those who haven?t seen it, it?s about a feud in rural England between two rival land owners. One has an upper-class background and the other has a working-class background, and they dislike each other. Later in the film a lady enters the picture and she gets mixed up in the middle of their feud. It?s a very interesting film.

>

 

I was really impressed Hitch took on a subject like that (He seemed to spend way more time in the country back in the day, before he went "metropolitan"). The interesting thing is both sides of the controversy had their good and bad points, so it was not all melodrama. I hadn't realized Edmund Gwenn went so far back with Hitch, and he has one of the largest roles in the picture as Hornblower, the greedy land grabber. In fact he, and the lady whose past becomes a key issue, played by Phyllis Konstam, were an intriguing "team" so to speak. He seemed quite attached to her, as much as to his sons, who, like the spawn of the other faction, the Hillcrists, seemed less vivid and defined than their parents, if more open minded. As for the Hillcrists, that Mrs Hillcrist was something else! Wow, don't get on HER bad side, she pulls no punches for a "lady". Loved her character, though, played by the interestingly named Helen Haye (without the "s").

 

 

> ?Juno and the Paycock? made no sense to me. It was just family members talking about nothing that I could understand. The accents were too rural British, and I couldn?t understand most of what they said. It needed subtitles. :)

>

 

Ha!!! Good point, I did have trouble not just with this movie but with most of these oldies because the sound on them was really poor, making it twice as hard to make out the British and Irish accents.

 

While I thought the bit about Mr. Boyle and his rapscallion pal was drawn out a bit too long, especially as most of their business followed so closely on the shooting incident that marked the end of Barry Fitzgerald's welcome appearance. I thought in most of these movies Hitch tried to balance humor with melodrama and without the smoothness he would acquire in time. Yet I like the movies, maybe their rough hewn aspects have a charm for me.

 

Juno's best aspect is Sara Allgood in the title character. I just love her and relish every no-nonsense moment she's on the screen. The way she's at first commisserating and then impatient with the woman who's son has been murdered...only to have the tables turn on her so tragically, showed how she had a wonderful grasp on the light and dark in this O'Casey tale. Thanks to JackFAvell, I learned she originated this role on the stage with the Abbey Players. Maybe this accounts for it's strange "staginess" for a Hitchcock movie (the camera seldom moves, except to track in on Juno's son, Johnny, who has a secret that will break his mother's heart).

 

The movie felt a bit like Ford's later and better film about urban Ireland, The Informer but standing on its own, it is one of the most unique Hitchcock films I have ever seen (I've never seen him try to immerse himself quite so much in anything but an Anglo/European milieu. Even Topaz, has tons of Europeans and Americans in it.)

 

> Hitchcock?s silent version of ?The Lodger? is unique and very exciting.

>

 

Only saw it once a while ago but I was scared proper.

 

> ?Blackmail? is one of his best films.

>

 

I may watch this one next. I have seen it only once, and remember it only sketchily. I tend to confuse it a bit with Murder!, which I like very much.

 

> I saw ?Secret Agent? years ago, and now it seems to be a rare film. It is based on a Somerset Maugham novel and it?s about the morality question of one spy killing another.

>

 

I read the book before seeing the movie, thought Hitch did a good job, I just wasn't thrilled with John Gielgud in the lead role. Maddy made up for it.

 

> ?Young and Innocent? is a lot of fun, filled with tension and chases, and the mine collapse scene is startling.

 

Another one I want to watch again, because I only remember the chase scenes, vaguely.

 

Edited by: MissGoddess on Apr 21, 2010 4:35 PM

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Hi, Miss G. Am enjoying reading about some of these early films I haven't seen. About the later films: I'm with you all the way about FRENZY. That is, I think a case could be made for FRENZY, but I am definitely not the person to make it, finding it as repulsive and misogynistic as you do. In some ways, it's more like a 1970s or 1980s imitation of Hitchcock than the real thing.

 

For me, Hitchcock as a major director ends with THE BIRDS. Every film after PSYCHO except for TORN CURTAIN is undercast. FAMILY PLOT desperately needs Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, not Bruce Dern and Barbara Harris. Hitchcock's kind of film needs stars, but the comparative lack of financial success of the later films left him with smaller budgets. I don't think these later films are awful, just comparatively slight. They have good sequences here and there, but they lack the energy and strength of his major period, which was quite long and remarkably productive.

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Hi kingrat!

 

> {quote:title=kingrat wrote:}{quote}

> Hi, Miss G. Am enjoying reading about some of these early films I haven't seen. About the later films: I'm with you all the way about FRENZY. That is, I think a case could be made for FRENZY, but I am definitely not the person to make it, finding it as repulsive and misogynistic as you do. In some ways, it's more like a 1970s or 1980s imitation of Hitchcock than the real thing.

>

 

I think FrankGrimes is one of the movie's fans, so maybe he'll show up again one day to

explain to us why we're just so wrong about Frenzy. :D

 

> For me, Hitchcock as a major director ends with THE BIRDS. Every film after PSYCHO except for TORN CURTAIN is undercast. FAMILY PLOT desperately needs Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, not Bruce Dern and Barbara Harris. Hitchcock's kind of film needs stars, but the comparative lack of financial success of the later films left him with smaller budgets. I don't think these later films are awful, just comparatively slight. They have good sequences here and there, but they lack the energy and strength of his major period, which was quite long and remarkably productive.

 

I'm glad you brought up the lack of stars. Because, oddly enough, this doesn't bother

me about his early films I've been watching. None of them have really big stars, not

until Madeleine Carroll in Secret Agent, and even in this case, she was still only a big

star in Britain and had not yet crossed the Pond. John Gilgeud was making a name

for himself on stage but can never be considered a "movie star". Mostly he used what

were probably well established Anglo/European feature players and character performers

and it works out well. What does not escape me, however, is the lack of feeling any

really solid "connection" to the characters that we often feel with a very familiar movie

star. We feel we "know" Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant and so they inform their characters

with who they are, not just the character as written. Hitch knew how to use their

personas and their built-in connection to the audience to the films' advantage.

 

Now, Frenzy, for example, almost reminds me of the earlier films in that it too lacks

any star power yet it also lacks charm. Only the inspector and his wife with her

odd little dinner experiments is "Hitch" at his unique best in the film and even there,

I couldn't for the life of me describe what either performer looked like. The inspector

was very colorless and dull and not at all like, say, John Williams who took these

roles on for Hitch and always added his unique, stiff-upper-lip "Britishness" that

made him endearing and familiar. He sort of took over from C. Aubrey Smith in a

way, with that style of character, only Williams added a unique twist of irony.

 

I wonder that Hitch did not seem to care that the performers in Frenzy are so

colorless and not calculated to engage the audience much. He used to be

much more cognizant of that aspect of his films. And it's not that the actors

are bad, they are most of them extremely talented but they are given to

expressing a rather depressed and disrespectful tone throughout. This

tone weighs heavily on the film and drags it down about as much as the

dreary dialogue.

 

I do hope you check out the early films you may have missed so far, most of them

are in a rather inexpensive box set available at Amazon, where I bought mine. The

condition of the films is not so great and the sound quality even worse (don't get

me started on the execrable music "scores" they tack on---in this respect, I understand

the more pricey box set of early Hitch is much better, they don't bother to add any

soundtracks at all).

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necktie-killerfrenzy.jpg

loverly, Loverly, LOVERLY

 

 

While I wouldn't include Frenzy in a list of Sir Alfred's best movies, it has its own

unique charms. No doubt the old boy probably wanted to stay current, but in terms of

language and sex, it's pretty tame, even by 1972 standards, and for Americans, bloody

just doesn't have the same significance it had for Englishmen. And since most of the

movie takes place in a working class environment, it's what one might reasonably expect.

in terms of verisimilitude. There's a definite grittiness and naturalism that is absent in Hitch's

1950s color quasi-fairy tales, like Vertigo and North by Northwest, which marks

Frenzy as an interesting change in sensibilities, more earthy, less ethereal. The main

character may be a bit of a lout, but being on the dole he might deserve a break, and he's

believable in a way that the characters played by Jimmy Stewart or Gary Grant just aren't.

Whether this was the intent of the screenwriter or Hitchcock, who's to say. The actors

seem to fit their roles well enough, including Jean Marsh in the supporting role of the sourpuss

secretary. Then there is that famous slow shot down the staircase, while the viewer assumes

Babs is being killed, and then out into the noise of the street, where the world goes on,

unaware of the nasty things that are happening in private behind closed doors. All in all, I'd

give Hitch a gentlemanly B.

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> {quote:title=FrankGrimes wrote:}{quote}

> Are you complimenting yourself... again?! :P

 

Don't you put that on me! Come on, give us ten reasons why FRENZY is prime Hitchcock.

And try not to include perversion and foul language in your list.

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Alfie-michael-caine-5143417-550-310.jpg

Now see, this is the way I look at it. Birds, you got to learn 'em. I come home from a hard day

driving like, and there'd be the little thing, all scrunched up like on the couch reading a

magazine or watching telly. Me dinner not ready, the flat a blooming mess. Well now,

I used to just yell at it, and it would hop to it, faster than you can blink, but no more. It just

sits there kind of, not paying me no attention, and me paying for everything. So mate, I says to

myself, bloody hell, things got to change. So, ever so gentle like, I takes off me tie, sneaks

up behind the little thing, and wraps it around her pretty neck and then I gives it a squeeze

or two. End of story. That's one less bird in this here world. Then I makes myself a little

drink and later disposes of the bird somewhere along the M5. Then, I picks up another

bird the next week. Sometimes, when I can't go to sleep right away I wonder, just a bit

before I pop off, what's it all about. Then I say bloody hell if I know and I go right off

like a top.

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All right, Hitchcock Blonde. I found the right tie.

 

What can I SAY? I hated this movie!

 

That's because you're a snob!

 

I only liked the scenes between the Inspector (Alec McCowan) and his wife (Vivian Merchant), where she tries all these terrible, exotic recipes on the poor man who cannot get a decent morsel out of them to eat.

 

And there you have Frenzy.

 

frenzy5.jpg

 

frenzy6.jpg

 

frenzy7.jpg

 

Frenzy is "working class." It's a pint at the pub not champagne on the Riviera. We are dwelling with the "regular" blokes not those of money. Anyone who enjoys the pure escapism of Hitch will be in for a serious jarring with Frenzy. And I loved such a jarring. I also consider Frenzy to be a very "masculine" film, ala Psycho.

 

By the way, I love Mrs. Oxford's (Vivian Merchant) look in the final cap. I think she speaks for the "cultured" and their opinion of the "crass." I really got the sense her and Mr. Oxford's (Alec McCowen) exchanges mirrored those of Hitch and Alma. It's how I picture their working out a script.

 

Other than that, though, I found myself fast-forwarding through half the movie, it was so

crude.

 

What?! That's not watching a movie! I'm going to break that remote of yours!

 

I blame most of it on the atrocious script. Gad, so much vulgar language, unfunny

"wit", and harsh treatment of women. I was bothered by a lot of it.

 

Yeah, it's slummin', all right. Cary Grant and Grace Kelly ain't in this Hitch. And I love that Hitchcock could make such a film.

 

And on top of it, no one in the cast is really interesting or sympathetic. Maybe the two women involved with Blaney (Jon Finch), Anna Massey and Barabara Leigh-Hunt, but they get treated so HORRIDLY and I don't just mean the violence, but how Blaney talks to them. Ugh. Someone needed

to wash his mouth with soap when he was a kid. And this is our "hero".

 

Blaney surely isn't a charmer. He's no Robert Donat. He's a fella who is at his lowest point in life. This brings out his ugliness. He's completely frustrated and rather ashamed of what's become of him. Is he easy to sympathize with? Absolutely not. But I do feel for the guy. Male pride is a tough animal to wrestle with.

 

I suppose this film has its fans?

 

Yes! Me, me, me! It's my tenth favorite Hitch film. It's very Hitchcockian but also quite unique. After my first viewing of the film, I said to myself, "Wow, that's Hitchcock!" It really struck me.

 

I have heard there is lots of "black humor" in Frenzy but I didn't find any of it. If certain sequences were supposed to be funny, they just felt uncomfortably depraved to me.

 

Dark humor can be depraved. The Trouble with Harry is a dark comedy on the light side and Frenzy's dark comedy is on the dark side. When Bob Rusk (Barry Foster) has to go back for his pin, it turns into a comedic bit. I'm sure that scene really broke Hitch up.

 

What a change from the first movie to this. But food was still important and like I said,

the scenes with the inspector and his wife are really good and the most "Hitchcockian"

to me in style and tone.

 

I saw a lot of "Hitchcock" in this film. Ultimately, I believe Hitch was attempting to make another Psycho. He falls short and you could say terribly short. But Psycho is my favorite Hitch film. When Blaney is ascending the steps at Rusk's apartment building, it strongly reminded me of Psycho. It was also reminiscent of films such as Notorious and Suspicion.

 

I also got a Dial M for Murder vibe with this film. The ending is quite similar. Actually, I think the end of Frenzy is one of the best in all of Hitchcock. It's brilliant.

 

And then you have the Shadow of a Doubt connection. You've got "Uncle Charlie" and "Uncle Bob." Both are presented as guys everyone finds likeable. They're the "fancy dressers."

 

frenzy10.jpg

 

frenzy3.jpg

 

And, of course, Frenzy is also quite similar to The Lodger, since both are about serial killers (rapists).

 

frenzy9.jpg

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> {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> > I just love Pat Hitchcock in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. She's the audience, expressing our fears and desires. You know how I feel about Ruth Roman, lol. Just not right for the part of an upper-class woman with dignified Leo G. Carroll as her senator father. Most of the time she goes around with her mouth half-open in an unintentionally funny lustful/sexy way, and this is just when she's sitting around on a couch. The rest of her scenes have her trying to look demure, which is something Ruth Roman couldn't do if her life depended on it.

>

> Hahaaaa!! Your comment about Ruth's mouth had me rolling! Yes, I find this character one of the least impressive of all Hitch's female leads. I don't know if it's Ruth or the character, I tend to prefer Ruth as a working class girl and in comedies, I admit. But I think primarily the feeling I get is that Farley Granger was not really in love with her...he was in love with her status. She was such a wide swing from Wifey Number 1, and he couldn't depend on his tennis revenues forever. I feel like this character was actually very similar to Ray Milland's in Dial M For Murder. It's Ray when he met his wifey Grace Kelly. He frankly admits it was her purse that really attracted him more than anything else and I wonder whether Farley would end up plotting his wife number 2's murder eventually, to get the old man's money. :D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've seen Ruth Roman in Quinn Martin and Warner Bros. t.v. dramas as full-figured blowsy earth mothers with a sense of humor. In fact, I prefer her that way. What was Hitch thinking, casting her as Guy Haines's upmarket love interest? I did have a few fleeting thoughts of nasty Ray Milland in DIAL M FOR MURDER, but the way Farley played Guy, it seemed like once he got his foot in the door with her and the influential father, he'd really work hard to become a political success. Ray's character was just a lazy bum.

>

> >

> > I'm always amazed by Robert Walker's performance. I mean, where did that COME from?

> >

>

> He pictured Jennifer Jones whenever he got his hands around some dame's neck?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMG, lol, I think you might be right about that. Talk about sense memories....

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>

> You know how I feel about Ruth Roman, lol. Just not right for the part of an upper-class woman with dignified Leo G. Carroll as her senator father. Most of the time she goes around with her mouth half-open in an unintentionally funny lustful/sexy way, and this is just when she's sitting around on a couch. The rest of her scenes have her trying to look demure, which is something Ruth Roman couldn't do if her life depended on it. - < Bronxgirl >

>

> Well now Ill have to check out the movie for Ruth after THAT characterization, Bronxie. But I think shes just too strong a woman for Farley Granger. She could grind him into dust. I wonder why Hitch didnt go blonde for that role. Barbara Bel Geddes or any other blonde would do. (It's not about her, it's about the relationship between Bruno and Guy. "ROPE").

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I agree -- Ruth was way too overpowering for Farley, and HItch should definitely have gone blonde, with either yes, Bel Geddes, or perhaps Ann Todd. (even if she already played the ultra loyal, supportive wife to Greg in THE PARADINE CASE)

>

> I'm always amazed by Robert Walker's performance. I mean, where did that COME from? -

> < Bronxgirl >

>

> Ha, what you said about Jennifer, Miss Goddess was funny. (I do wonder if Jen had seen this movie). Don'cha think he should be mad at Selznick? (Uh-oh...shades of "In A Lonely Place"?) You know Bronxie, every actor needs a good strong director with vision, who can see beyond the screen persona. I gather Hitch saw something a little dark in Robert Walker and used it. I think it is such a tragic shame that Robert Walker had personal demons he could not overcome. The trajec-tory of his career might have followed a different path. Hitchcock opened a door to allow us a glimpse of what might have been.

>

> Sad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh I agree, sooo sad, tragic really. I wonder which film of Walker's Hitchcock saw that convinced him Robert could play a part like Bruno.

Or perhaps they met socially and the director just had a "feeiing" about Bob?

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"Oh I agree, sooo sad, tragic really. I wonder which film of Walker's Hitchcock saw that convinced him Robert could play a part like Bruno. Or perhaps they met socially and the

director just had a 'feeiing' about Bob?" - < Bronxgirl >

 

Ooooh boy. I don't envy the heartache Robert Walker suffered after losing Jennifer Jones.

 

"Strangers On A Train." Even the title tells the story. Good solid Hitchcock fare with good solid Hitchcock flare.

 

Grimesy...you make a good case for "Frenzy." You might not win converts...but you make a darned good case for this film.

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>

> I've seen Ruth Roman in Quinn Martin and Warner Bros. t.v. dramas as full-figured blowsy earth mothers with a sense of humor. In fact, I prefer her that way. What was Hitch thinking, casting her as Guy Haines's upmarket love interest? I did have a few fleeting thoughts of nasty Ray Milland in DIAL M FOR MURDER, but the way Farley played Guy, it seemed like once he got his foot in the door with her and the influential father, he'd really work hard to become a political success. Ray's character was just a lazy bum.

> >

 

Ray was always looking for someone else to do his dirty work, so I guess he's more like Bruno in that respect. :D Still, I prefer Ray over that knothead, Robert Cummings. :D

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How do, Thirza Tapper?

 

farmerswife3.jpg

 

You're definitely one of the "impossibles," Snippy!

 

The Farmer's Wife is one of Hitch's few straight comedies, though it has a couple

of serious moments, mostly in the opening scenes which lead you to believe this is going

to be a rather creepy Hitchcockian thriller set in a rural English farmhouse (the scene

shows the farmer's wife dying in bed...not a really funny way to begin a comedy!).

 

You didn't think that was funny? :P Her final words were that of devotion, which I liked.

 

But then it turns into the broadest kind of comedy, lampooning some typical English rural

"types" who each do their "turn" in some very funny sequences. It's kind of odd to be

in the sticks with Hitch.

 

What I liked was Hitchcock's lampooning of certain female-types. Many of them still ring true today.

 

The funniest scene is the party sequence---all the village "characters" seem to pile

into the farmhouse and each guest is more absurd than the next. I have to say, I

laughed quite a lot. The pacing is the only thing that is "off" about it, but the

characters were pretty funny, very broadly drawn and eccentric. So English.

Especially the women and the farmer's old man-servant, who looks a bit like

a cranky Leprechaun. The climax of the sequence is when one of the farmer's

prospective brides breaks out in hysterics because he insulted her hat, ha!

 

I wasn't into that scene. What I found the funniest were the scenes of Samuel Sweetland (Jameson Thomas) "wife hunting." The contrast of his wife and Minta (Lillian Hall-Davis) with the prospective "to-be's" was wonderful. And I liked Sweetland's male ego reactions to rejection.

 

The plot is simply about how the farmer (Jameson Thomas), recently widowed

and his daughter married, seeks a new wife from this bunch. His maidservant,

"Minta" (Lillian Hall-Davis) is in love with him and, of course, the prettiest one in

the cast. Nevertheless, the farmer decides to make a list of all the other available

singletons in his district, and goes about one by one, asking them to marry him,

sure that any of them will die for the honor of it. He gets rejected one by one

and it's quite hilarious in the process.

 

That's a lovely little recap. This is where I found the charm and humor of the film to be best. Thirza's "chapter" is the one I liked the most. She's the "everything has to be just so" woman. The focus of each prospective wife is of self not other, which is the opposite of Sweetland's recently deceased wife and Minta.

 

Food is a big thing with Hitch and it's in his movies right from the start, it seems.

There's some funny business with the "spread" at the party and I spotted a tracking

"zoom" that Hitch must have enjoyed toying with...when a boy walks into the party

and sees all the candy and cakes and the food seems to rush forward toward him.

I think it was a fairly new technique, right? Maybe the experts can enlighten me on that.

 

That's a good catch by you, Eagle Eye. I'm not sure about when such a camera technique came into play. And you're very right about "food." It's the greatest link between the two films you chose to start your thread with, too. Again, I really liked Thirza's "chapter" and food is certainly a character in that scene. You also get the sense Hitch is that "boy," as always.

 

"Minta" is the sweetest and most traditional heroine I've ever seen in any of Hitch's

films. He usually doesn't feature that type. She's quiet, unobtrusive, dainty and good

hearted.

 

Now that's a fascinating point! Minta is Sweetland's servant. You get the feeling his wife was also somewhat similar. Both are about devotion, pleasing, and sacrifice. I believe it's a very traditional view of woman and her role in marriage. I get the sense Hitchcock loved such a woman, such a wife.

 

farmerswife5.jpg

 

In fact, I rather felt the farmer himself was a bit creepy looking and she could

do better.

 

Basing a man's worth on looks again, huh? We see how deep you run, Mary Hearn!

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