Monday, March 12, 2018

The Farmer (1977)



          Despite being released by a major studio, The Farmer is a decidedly minor entry into the annals of ’70s revenge cinema. Starring and produced by Gary Conway, best known for his roles on the TV series Burke’s Law and Land of the Giants, this picture has a somewhat offbeat premise, inasmuch as the setting is the 1940s and the protagonist is a World War II veteran. (Vigilante flicks about Vietnam vets were more common in the ’70s.) Eventually, The Farmer tumbles into the familiar Death Wish rabbit hole, featuring sexual assault as a plot device and showcasing close-quarters ultraviolence. Those who enjoy grungy pictures in which villains get perforated by sawed-off shotguns will get their kicks from The Farmer. Those who prefer action stories that are grounded in believable characterization will find the film frustrating, because for its first hour, The Farmer tries to tell a relatively credible story, even though the filmmakers have a clumsy way of integrating subplots. Yet once the main narrative kicks into gear, The Farmer becomes a dreary compendium of brutality.
          Kyle Martin (Conway) returns from World War II as a decorated Army sergeant, only to discover his backwoods homestead in disrepair. Kyle’s father died broke, and the farm’s African-American caretaker, Gumshoe (Ken Rendard), isn’t up to the task of maintaining buildings and equipment. Kyle sets to work even as foreclosure looms. Then big-city gangster Johnny (Michael Dante) crashes his car near the farm. Kyle rescues him. After recovering and heading home, Johnny sends slinky moll Betty (Angel Tompkins) to deliver a gift of $1,500, which buys Kyle some time without fully covering his debts. Later, after a particularly nasty turn of events, Johnny sends Betty to hire Kyle as a hit man.
         The plot basically works in a contrived sort of way, but the execution is substandard. By lingering too long on peripheral scenes during the first hour, the filmmakers take forever to get the engine running, and thereafter they mostly adhere to trite formulas. Predicting which characters will die, for instance, requires little effort on the part of the viewer. That said, The Farmer has some interesting moments; not every revenge flick has both a grotesque rape scene and several playful Shirley Temple references. The Farmer also boasts a genuinely ridiculous ending, so there’s a treat in store for those who make it through the whole film.

The Farmer: FUNKY

11 comments:

By Peter Hanson said...

Since this movie is particularly elusive, here's the answer to the obvious question -- I watched the film at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Online chatter indicates that DVD distributor Code Red has both a print and the rights to release, but for mysterious reasons has not done so.

Unknown said...

In 1977 when I was 10, my father and I went to our local multiplex to see "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training." While my Dad waited on line at the snack bar, I stood near the still-open entryway of the auditorium showing "The Farmer" and watched the opening credits. More than 40 years later, that remains all I've ever seen of this film.

Unknown said...

Saw it on the last night of its run. It was raining. 20mins into film power went out.
NEVER have seen beyond the first 20mins !
I contacted Code Ref, was told they didn’t think enough people would buy it.
Seriously....
Don’t believe they have the rights or they’d release this sought after film.

greg6363 said...

Peter, in spite of the film's deficiencies, I trust you at least feel a sense of completeness for viewing the movie in order to add to the inventory on the website.

By Peter Hanson said...

Absolutely, Greg. Over the last couple of months I've been able to see, sometimes through my own enterprise and sometimes with the help of readers, titles that eluded me for years. Watch for even more obscurities as March marches along...

Unknown said...

Read somewhere Scorpion Releasing got the rights from Code Red , years ago.
Anyone who claims they have the rights to The Farmer and doesn’t release it...is either blowing smoke or a real Fool.

Guy Callaway said...

I only saw the trailer back then, and it stuck with me for years.

Unknown said...

Saw this back in '77. Not that good...but it was fun all the same. The Olsen twins(Code Red/Scorpion)do own the film. They paid $75,000(why?)for it...and because the Olsen's are notoriously obsessed with $$...they are reluctant to release it as they fear it being bootlegged(which will happen). Someday ....maybe.

Unknown said...

So ...notoriously money obsessed twins paid $75,000 for a film they won’t release because they might lose money ?! That explains the crappy movies ( no one would want to bootleg) they release

Unknown said...


Anyone who claims they have the rights to The Farmer and doesn’t release it...is either blowing smoke or a real Fool.”
I guess we now know the answer.

Don said...

I've been waiting for this to be released for years. I watched it when it came out and I was a young Soldier stationed by Colorado Springs. Can't figure why it can't be released.