ⓘ The Harvester


ⓘ The Harvester

The Harvester is a 1936 American comedy film directed by Joseph Santley and written by Homer Croy, Robert Lee Johnson, Elizabeth Meehan and Gertrude Orr. It is based on the 1911 novel The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter, which had previously been turned into a 1927 silent film of the same title. The film stars Alice Brady, Russell Hardie, Ann Rutherford, Frank Craven, Cora Sue Collins and Emma Dunn. The film was released on April 18, 1936, by Republic Pictures.


1. Plot

In rural 1890s Indiana, farmer David Langston, a single man who has focused his time on his work, is pressured to wed the daughter of the wealthy Mrs. Biddle, Thelma. While Davids orphaned friend, Ruth Jameson, is in love with him, David ends up accepts Mrs. Biddles demands and agrees to wed Thelma. After technological advancements make their way to the town, Mrs. Biddle attempts to pressure David to leave his job as a farmer and join her husband, Mr. Biddle, in a career of real estate. However, Mr. Biddle, who is discontented with his current life, cautions David against selling his farm. Meanwhile, Mrs. Biddle, in an effort to secure Davids marriage to her daughter, has Ruths younger sister, Naomi, whom he adores, put into an orphanage.

Soon after, Ruths grandmother, who opposed Davids marriage to Thelma, dies, David and Ruth are drawn closer together, making David question his decision, and soon figures out Mrs. Biddle put Naomi in the orphanage. David then publicly confronts Mrs. Biddle, and boldly announces his intentions to adopt Naomi himself. Thelma, infuriated, breaks their engagement, and Ruth, David, and Naomi are reunited, with David deciding to remain a harvester.


1.1. Plot Criticisms of the Film

This adaptation of the original 1911 novel by Gene Stratton-Porter features many plot differences, which some claim detract from the overall quality of the film. This is especially true considering how well received the novel was at publication. According to a review published by the New York Times, there "has been lost the simple nobility of its central figure that made the book a best seller when it was written." The author of this review, referenced as J.T.M., claims the movie could not be seen as parallel to the vision Stratton-Porter had when writing the novel. The portrayal of the titular figure, David Langston, is seen as "a most naïve young man, far too easily urged away from his herb patches and the rural destiny that so patently befits him by an extremely transparent plot of feminine scheming."


2. Cast

  • Alice Brady as Mrs. Biddle
  • Grace Hayle as Mrs. Kramer
  • Phyllis Fraser as Gladys
  • Harry Bowen as Carl
  • Spencer Charters as Stubby Pratt
  • Burr Caruth as Dr. Carey
  • Emma Dunn as Granny Moreland
  • Russell Hardie as David Langston
  • Joyce Compton as Thelma Biddle
  • Fern Emmett as Miss Sophronia
  • Russell Simpson as Abner Prewett
  • Cora Sue Collins as Naomi Jameson
  • Ann Rutherford as Ruth Jameson
  • Frank Craven as Mr. Biddle
  • Roy Atwell as Jake Eben
  • Lucille Ward as Mrs. Griggs
  • Edward Nugent as Bert Munroe
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