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

35 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.

Don said...

So a post on the film's Facebook page says Gary Conway's publicist/assistant is working with him to get a Blue Ray/DVD release (that was around October 2019). Still waiting....

Unknown said...

2021 still waiting to see this film again . 1977 seems like a long long time ago . Come on guys this movie will make money . Release it

Unknown said...

Anyone have any ideas were someone could see this movie saw it once at the drive in with brother years ago .

Unknown said...

Saw this movie years ago with my brother does anyone know of how or were i could see it again.

Me said...

Finally up on YouTube as of four days ago

Don said...

What? The whole film? I have to check. If so that's quite the thing to celebrate!

Ed said...

Did anyone save this? If yes please let me know. I do not intend to share it everywhere or sell it, I only wanna watch it while Im still alive. And as far as Code Red goes, everyone who wants to see this movie will be buried or in ashes when (if) it's released!! If you saved it, please send me an email at mebinc@mail.com . Ive seen the link but it's not available anymore. Thank you!

Don said...

I tried to find it but it seems to be gone.

Unknown said...

Union fee is problem kids

Me said...

I just emailed it to you this morning

Don said...

Curses! Foiled again! Why this damned film is treated like the Oak Island Treasure I cannot understand. It's a decent movie and money can be made making it a available.

Me said...

What is your email address?

Don said...

rjmcready@duck.com

Kellog said...

It's finally been released! Only took 45 years

Don said...

What? Where? Did you find a copy?

By Peter Hanson said...

For all who are curious to finally see this thing, here's the sales link for the Scorpion Releasing Blu-Ray... Yes, "The Farmer" is actually available for purchase! This link is not offered as any sort of endorsement, but rather for informational purposes because "The Farmer" has long been among the most elusive of '70s movies.

https://www.diabolikdvd.com/product/preorder-the-farmer-scorpion-releasing-limited-slipcover-blu-ray-all-region/

Don said...

Thanks Mr Hanson for this info. Very much appreciated! I'm on the wait list and hope to hear soon! Best regards!

Kewrock said...

So. After 15 years, an old multi-gen VHS bootleg turns up on Ebay and then ripped to YouTube and the Archive. A month later Scorpion decides to officially release it. Coincidence? I guess they realized they sat on it so long that they missed the boat. It's now out in the wild. Stupid.
I wonder how that copy wound up on VHS? It looks multi-generation. So where are are the previous copies? where did this VHS come from and where has it been all this time?
I read a few years ago that the director said he recorded a commentary for Code Red's planned DVD release that never happened. There is no commentary on this release.
And why are there discs going for $70-$90 on Ebay?

Don said...

I'm guessing the discs are going for that much because for now, people will pay that much. I'm down for the preorder when that happens. Hoping it's decent quality and worth whatever they charge.

Unknown said...

Peter, Have you ever seen Cactus In The Snow starring Richard Thomas? I saw it when I was a kid but can't seem to find it anywhere these days. Hard to find.

By Peter Hanson said...

This is the first I'm hearing about "Cactus in the Snow," and it takes a lot to stump me with a '70s movie... Some quick research suggests that it fell out of distribution long ago and may never have been issued on video. However, given Thomas's prominence on TV, I imagine it was licensed for small-screen exhibition at some point, in which case a video master would have existed at some point, and those video masters are often the sources for bootlegs... Anyway, this one earns a spot on my list of titles to track down. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Peter, We saw it in a theater but it was probably shown on TV too.

Don said...

If anyone is watching. "The Farmer" is currently available from the DVD site "Diabolik" for $27.00. I ordered mine yesterday.

sitbak said...

I enjoyed the film but I really want to talk about the ending. I need someone to discuss this with.