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How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley(1941)

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teaser How Green Was My Valley (1941)


In Cwm Rhondda, Wales, the Morgan family consisting of the patriarch Gwilym, his wife Beth, six sons and a daughter, struggle to survive hard times and life in a mining community. A major conflict occurs when Gwilym leads his fellow coal miners in a strike against C. Evans, the owner of the mines, over a forced wage reduction, resulting in near starvation and poverty for the villagers. The youngest son, Huw, is almost crippled for life following the rescue of his mother from an icy river but recovers slowly and becomes the family's hope for a better life when he is accepted as a student in the national school. Huw later abandons his education to work in the mines instead but has a life-changing experience after a group of miners, including his father, are trapped in a mine cave-in.

Director: John Ford
Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenplay: Philip Dunne
Based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn
Cinematography: Arthur C. Miller
Editing: James B. Clark
Art Direction: Richard Day, Nathan Juran
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Walter Pidgeon (Mr. Gruffydd), Maureen O'Hara (Angharad), Anna Lee (Bronwyn), Donald Crisp (Gwilym), Roddy McDowall (Huw), John Loder (Ianto), Sara Allgood (Mrs. Morgan), Barry Fitzgerald (Cyfartha), Patric Knowles (Ivor), Arthur Shields (Mr. Parry), Rhys Williams (Dai Bando), Ethel Griffies (Mrs. Nicholas), Minta Durfee (Bit), Mary Gordon (Gossiper), Gibson Gowland (Bit), Mae Marsh (Miner's Wife), Irving Pichel (Huw Morgan as an Adult, Narrator).


How Green Was My Valley is one of the most touching of John Ford's films on a recurrent theme, the way old traditions are destroyed through time in order to make way for the future. The changing life of the mining village is viewed objectively as a fact of life that makes some happy and others miserable. Faced with a story filled with tragedy, Ford tempered the inherent sadness by focusing on the strengths of the Morgans' family ties.

This was one of the first Hollywood films extensively narrated by one of its characters (albeit, the adult version of young Huw Morgan). It was only the second Ford film (after 1925's Kentucky Pride) told from a character's point of view and the first with voiceover narration. He would return to that device in eight more films, including The Quiet Man (1952) and The Long Gray Line (1955).

With Ford's directorial viewpoint -- his objective view of history, superimposed upon Huw Morgan's more nostalgic rendering of the story -- How Green Was My Valley offers an example of the unreliable narrator, a critical concept not identified until the '60s (by critic Wayne C. Booth), but apparent as early as the 1920 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in which the storyteller is later revealed to be a madman. The transition from dismal, desolate countryside in establishing shots to idyllic village in the flashbacks, the juxtaposition of Huw's elegiac descriptions with the horrible events that fill his family history, the distortion of lighting and sets to reflect his point of view and even the staginess of some of the scenes have been singled out by critics as signs that Ford imbues the character's memories with a very pessimistic, even ironic outlook.

How Green Was My Valley was the film that beat Citizen Kane for the Academy Award®, as much for its own qualities as Hollywood's resentment for Orson Welles's wunderkind status and his appropriation of details from the life of star Marion Davies, mistress of publisher William Randolph Hearst. It won Ford the third of his record four Oscars® for Best Director and, following on the heels of The Grapes of Wrath (1940), made him the first director to win two Oscars® in a row.

The film introduced several actors to the John Ford Stock Company, the group of actors he carried with him from film to film that contribute to the unique texture of his work. Among those starting their associations with him here were Maureen O'Hara, Donald Crisp and Anna Lee.

by Frank Miller

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teaser How Green Was My Valley (1941)

For years after the release of How Green Was My Valley, John Ford gave regular parties for a group he called the Ladies of the Green Valley, including female cast members Maureen O'Hara and Anna Lee, along with writer Philip Dunne and actor Roddy McDowall. He also included Jane Darwell, who had won an Oscar® for his The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and whom he privately wished had played Sara Allgood's role.

A one-hour version of the film was broadcast on Lux Radio Theater in 1942 with Walter Pidgeon, Donald Crisp, O'Hara, McDowall and Allgood repeating their roles. Crisp would return for new versions in 1947 and 1954. The Screen Guild Theater did a 30-minute version in 1942 with the same cast members and Rhys Williams.

The film's title was spoofed in the 1950 Popeye cartoon "How Green Is My Spinach."

Richard Llewellyn wrote three sequels to the novel, Up into the Singing Mountain (1960), about Huw's emigration to Argentina; Down Where the Moon Is Small (1966), about his life there, and Green, Green My Valley Now (1975), about his return to Wales. None matched the original's popularity.

The novel has twice been turned into miniseries for the BBC. The 1960 version ran four hours and starred Eynon Evans and Rachel Thomas as Mr. and Mrs. Morgan. In 1975, it ran five hours and starred Stanley Baker and Sian Phillips as the parents, Gareth Thomas as Mr. Gruffyd and Dominic Guard as Huw Morgan.

A stage musical adapted from the novel, A Time for Singing, flopped in 1966. John Morris wrote the music and collaborated with Gerald Freedman on the book and lyrics. The cast included Laurence Naismith as Gwilym, Tessie O'Shea as Beth, Shani Wallis as Angharad, George Hearn as Ianto and Elizabeth Hubbard as Bronwyn.

The title was parodied in an episode of House in which one of the characters was watching a porno film called How Wet Was My Valley. In fact, a hardcore sex film of that same title was released to adult theatres in the seventies.

by Frank Miller

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teaser How Green Was My Valley (1941)

According to Fox publicity, the Welsh village constructed for How Green Was My Valley was so authentic that when the Welsh choir performing in the picture first arrived, they fell to their knees and wept.

The novel's title appears in the book after Huw Morgan's first sexual experience, a scene not included in the film. It recurs in the novel's final sentence.

Rhys Williams, as the boxer Dai Bando, is the only Welsh actor cast in a featured role. It was his film debut.

Roddy McDowall nicknamed Maureen O'Hara, who played his sister in the film, "Sister Maureen."

Anna Lee was pregnant during filming but did not tell John Ford. After shooting her collapse after her husband's death in the mines, she had a miscarriage. Ford blamed himself. From then on, whenever she worked on a film of his, the first thing he did was ask if she were pregnant.

Made for $1.25 million, the film brought in $6 million in domestic grosses on its initial release, making it 20th Century-Fox's top-grossing film for 1941.

Memorable Quotes from HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY

"I am packing my belongings in the shawl my mother used to wear when she went to the market. And I'm going from my valley. And this time I shall never return. I am leaving behind me 50 years of memory. Memory. Streams that the mind will forget so much of what only this moment has passed, and yet hold clear and bright the memory of what happened years ago -- of men and women long since dead. Yet who shall say what is real and what is not? Can I believe my friends all gone when their voices are a glory in my ears? No. And I will stand to say no and no again, for they remain a living truth within my mind. There is no fence nor hedge around time that is gone. You can go back and have what you like of it, if you can remember. So I can close my eyes on my valley as it is today, and it is gone, and I see it as it was when I was a boy. Green it was, and possessed of the plenty of the Earth. In all Wales, there was none so beautiful. Everything I ever learned as a small boy came from my father and I never found anything he ever told me to be wrong or worthless. The simple lessons he taught me are as sharp and clear in my mind as if I had heard them only yesterday. In those days, the black slag -- the waste of the coal pits -- had only begun to cover the sides of our hill, not yet enough to mar the countryside, nor blacken the beauty of our village. For the colliery had only begun to poke its skinny black fingers through the green. I can hear, even now, the voice of my sister Angharad." -- Opening narration by Irving Pichel, as Adult Huw Morgan

"Someone would strike up a song, and the valley would ring with the sound of many voices -- for singing is in my people as sight is in the eye." -- Pichel, as Adult Huw Morgan

"My mother was always on the run -- always the last to start her dinner and the first to finish. For, if my father was the head of our house, my mother was its heart." -- Pichel, as Adult Huw

"You will not make me a plank for your politics. I will not be the excuse for any strike." -- Donald Crisp, as Gwilym Morgan, squashing his sons' union talk

"We are not questioning your authority, sir, but if manners prevent our speaking the truth, we will be without manners." -- John Loder, as Ianto Morgan

"I have come up here to tell you what I think of you all, because you are talking against my husband. You are a lot of cowards to go against him. He has done nothing against you and he never has and you know it well. How some of you, you smug-faced hypocrites, can sit in the same chapel with him I cannot tell. To say he is with the owners is not only nonsense but downright wickedness. There's one thing more I've got to say and it is this. If harm comes to my Gwilym, I will find out the men and I will kill them with my two hands. And this I will swear by God Almighty." -- Sara Allgood, as Beth Morgan

"It is with me now, so many years later. And it makes me think of so much that is good, that is gone." -- Pichel, as adult Huw

"But remember, with strength goes responsibility -- to others and to yourselves. For you cannot conquer injustice with more injustice -- only with justice and the help of God." -- Walter Pidgeon, as Mr. Gruffydd

"Look now, you are king in the chapel. But I will be queen in my own kitchen."
"You will be queen wherever you walk."
"What does that mean?"
"I should not have said it....I have no right to speak to you so."
"Mr. Gruffydd, if the right is mine to give, you have it." -- Maureen O'Hara, as Angharad Morgan, and Pidgeon, as Mr. Gruffydd

"I will never leave you, Mama."
"Huw boy, if you should never leave me, I'll be sorry I ever had babies."
"Why did you have them?"
"To keep my hands in water and my face to the fire, perhaps." -- Roddy McDowall, as Huw Morgan, trying to console Allgood, as Beth Morgan, when his brothers announce their departure for America

"You've been lucky, Huw. Lucky to suffer and lucky to spend these weary months in bed. For so God has given you a chance to make the spirit within yourself. And as your father cleans his lamp to have good light, so keep clean your spirit... By prayer, Huw. And by prayer, I don't mean shouting, mumbling, and wallowing like a hog in religious sentiment. Prayer is only another name for good, clean, direct thinking. When you pray, think. Think well what you're saying. Make your thoughts into things that are solid. In that way, your prayer will have strength, and that strength will become a part of you, body, mind, and spirit. The first duty of these new legs is to get you to chapel on Sunday." -- Pidgeon, as Gruffydd, after McDowall, as Huw Morgan, walks again.

"How could you stand there and watch them? Cruel old men, groaning and nodding to hurt her more. That is not the Word of God! 'Go now and sin no more,' Jesus said."

"Angharad! You know your Bible too well, and life too little."

"I know enough of life to know that Meillyn Lewis is no worse than I am!...What do the deacons know about it? What do you know about what could happen to a poor girl when she loves a man so much that even to lose sight of him for a moment is torture!" -- O'Hara, as Angharad Morgan, berating Pidgeon for letting the deacons excommunicate an unwed mother

"What a dirty little sweep it is!" -- Morton Lowry, as Mr. Jonas, welcoming McDowall, as Huw to the National School

"And how would you measure a man who would use a stick on a boy one-third his size? Now, you are good in the use of a stick, but boxing is my subject, according to the rules laid down by the good Marquess of Queensberry...And happy I am to pass on my knowledge to you." -- Rhys Williams, as Dai Bando, confronting Lowery, as Mr. Jonas, after McDowall's beating

"Nothing is enough for people who have minds like cesspools. Oh, Huw, my little one, I hope when you're grown their tongues will be slower to hurt." -- Allgood, as Beth

"Huw, I thought when I was a young man that I would conquer the world with truth. I thought I would lead an army greater than Alexander ever dreamed of, not to conquer nations, but to liberate mankind. With truth. With the golden sound of the Word. But only a few of them heard. Only a few of you understood." -- Pidgeon, resigning his position

"He came to me just now. Ivor was with him. He spoke to me and told me of the glory he had seen." -- Allgood, realizing Crisp, as Gwilym Morgan, has died

"Men like my father cannot die. They are with me still -- real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever. How green was my valley then." -- Pichel, in the film's final line.

Compiled by Frank Miller

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teaser How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Richard Llewellyn's debut novel How Green Was My Valley became an international best seller in 1939 and brought him the National Book Award in the U.S.

Although he tried to pass the story off as based on his own experiences, later research has revealed that Llewellyn never lived in Wales. He gathered background material by interviewing miners from the Gilfach Gulf area.

After reading Llewellyn's novel in 1939, 20th Century-Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck picked up the film rights for $300,000, determined it would be the next Gone with the Wind (1939). He originally planned to shoot a four-hour epic in Technicolor with location footage in Wales.

Zanuck first assigned Liam O'Flaherty, then Ernest Pascal to write the screenplay for How Green Was My Valley, but ended up scrapping it on the grounds that it was too much about the labor issues and not enough about the family. He received similar responses when he asked other producers on the lot to read it, with some even suggesting he should not make a film so critical of England during World War II.

The first director hired for the production was William Wyler. With screenwriter Philip Dunne, who had already done considerable work on the adaptation, he spent three months on the screenplay, but couldn't come up with anything satisfactory. Fox's New York management still felt there was too much emphasis on labor issues. Eventually Zanuck took on the final polish himself, handing in a draft on December 3 that is remarkably similar to the finished film.

Zanuck and Wyler screened tests of four young men auditioning for the role of Huw. Before the last one, the casting director stood up and said "You don't want to see this kid. He's bandy-legged, he's not attractive and he has a turned eye." Wyler asked to see it anyway and was so impressed he asked that Roddy McDowall fly to Hollywood for another test, this time with Alexander Knox playing Mr. Gruffydd. They were so impressed that Zanuck put the child under contract.

At the time McDowall was cast in How Green Was My Valley, the script was excessively long, following Huw Morgan in both childhood and adulthood, with Tyrone Power slated to take over the role after McDowall. Zanuck and Wyler both knew the script had to be condensed, but had no idea what to remove. When he saw the child actor's test, Dunne said, "That solves our length problem, because they'll never forgive us if we let that boy grow up." They ended the movie at the moment Huw's father dies and the son grows up.

Zanuck suggested Walter Pidgeon for the role of village preacher Mr. Gruffydd because he needed star power on the marquee. He also pursued Sara Allgood and Donald Crisp to play McDowall's parents.

Unhappy with Dunne's early drafts and concerned with Wyler's reputation for working slowly, upper-level executives put the project on hold and ended Wyler's involvement. Zanuck was so determined to make the film he threatened to take it to another studio. His bosses gave in, particularly when he suggested John Ford was the one director who could turn the picture in on a reduced budget and still make it look good. Zanuck signed Ford for $100,000 to make the film and sent Dunne to work on the script with him. With scenes depicting the adult Huw cancelled, the character only remained in the film's voiceover narration.

When Wyler was directing How Green Was My Valley, Zanuck had been negotiating to cast Katharine Hepburn as Angharad. Although she and Ford were good friends after having worked together on Mary of Scotland (1936), he didn't think she was right for the role. Zanuck then suggested Gene Tierney, but Ford, who had worked with her in Tobacco Road (1941), didn't think she was right either. Zanuck also suggested Martha Scott and Geraldine Fitzgerald. Instead he met with the young Maureen O'Hara, fresh from her U.S. film debut in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). After a brief conversation about their memories of Ireland, he cast her without a screen test.

Fox executives only agreed to cast O'Hara in the important role of Angharad if they could negotiate a portion of her contract. After much dealing, her home studio, RKO, agreed to share the actress, giving Fox the right to cast her in one film a year.

British actress Anna Lee had met with William Wyler to discuss playing Bronwyn, only to have him tell her he had promised the role to Greer Garson. When Ford took over, she was concerned he would not consider her for the role because of her British heritage, so she invented an Irish grandfather. She impressed him enough to cast her as Bronwyn without a screen test. He simply asked her to improvise a short scene with McDowall. It was the first of many films she would make with the director.

O'Hara's lifetime friendship with Ford began before production even started. Shortly after her return from Reno, Nevada, where she obtained an annulment of her first marriage, she was invited to his house for dinner. With their mutual love of Ireland, the bond formed quickly, and soon she was a weekly dinner guest at his house. She also started calling him his preferred nickname, "Pappy," though never on the set. Through him she met many of his Hollywood friends, including future co-star John Wayne.

by Frank Miller

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teaser How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Production on How Green Was My Valley started January 9, 1941.

Fox technicians turned an 80-acre plot in Brent's Crags, near Malibu, into the Welsh mining village of the story. By that time, the budget had been scaled down to $1.25 million, which didn't allow for any shooting on actual locations. With the start of World War II in Europe, shooting overseas was almost impossible for the Hollywood studios anyway. Zanuck also abandoned his plans to shoot in Technicolor, partly because the Malibu countryside would not match the colors of Wales.

The mining village set cost $110,000 to construct and was modeled on the towns of Cerrig Ceinnen and Clyddach-cum Tawe. The studio brought in blocks of coal weighing over a ton apiece for the construction of the mines. To create the impression that coal slag covered the landscape in the opening and closing scenes, Ford had the hillside painted black.

Historians have called the way the wind plays with O'Hara's veil when she leaves the church after her wedding a stroke of luck for Ford. Far from it, he had instructed the crew to set up wind machines to fan the veil into a perfect circle behind her head then blow it straight up into the air.

For the most part, the atmosphere on the set of How Green Was My Valley was totally congenial, with Ford trusting his cast to deliver strong performances with a minimum of guidance. The one problem for O'Hara occurred when she pointed out -- in front of the cast and crew -- that the basket with which she and Sara Allgood were supposed to receive Donald Crisp's weekly wages was not of the period. In response to what he considered her breach of etiquette, he removed her from the scene. An hour later, an assistant called her back to the set and handed her a new, historically accurate basket, so Ford could shoot the scene with her in it.

Allgood was the only actor who gave Ford any trouble. At one point, she complained that a scene they were about to shoot wouldn't play. Ford called writer Philip Dunne to the set and relayed her opinion to him. Having worked with Ford before, Dunne knew what to do. He ripped the scene out of the script and said, "Now it plays!" Then Ford turned to Allgood and said, "The sonofabitching writer won't do anything to help us, so we'll have to shoot it the way he wrote it."

As was Ford's practice, he cut the film in the camera. Almost every shot he took wound up in the edited film. He also rarely shot more than three takes of any scene.

Initially, Ford had Welsh actor Rhys Williams record the narration as the adult Huw Morgan. When he became concerned that audiences would recognize the voice as belonging to Williams's on-screen character, the boxer Dai Bando, he had actor-director Irving Pichel re-record the lines, which had to be read in the same rhythms as Williams's to match sequences already cut to the narration. At one point, British prints of the film featured Williams's voiceovers.

Production on How Green Was My Valley wrapped August 13, with the film slated to premiere just over two months later, on October 28.

by Frank Miller

Scott Eyman, Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford

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teaser How Green Was My Valley (1941)

John Ford famously described himself as a maker of Westerns. He was, of course, but his films were in an even more primal way about family. Unlike Howard Hawks, with his studies of men at work, Ford concentrated with tough-minded sentimentality on more interpersonal family-style dynamics, starting with the extended family of Stagecoach (1939). He broadened his canvas with the shipmates of Eugene O'Neill's The Long Voyage Home (1940), the Dustbowl-fleeing, Depression-battling Joads in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and, quintessentially, the turn-of-the-last-century Welsh coal-mining family in How Green Was My Valley (1941). (Ford's West Point tribute, The Long Gray Line (1955), seems a How Green Was My Valley Lite, and in uniform.)

There are those who can't forgive How Green Was My Valley for taking the Best Picture Oscar® away from Citizen Kane (1941). But to dismiss it as sentimental nostalgia or ignore its accomplished craftsmanship, as some detractors have, seems willful blindness. Constantly and inescapably, it's played against social, political and economic forces ever ready to rip to shreds the fabric of its close-knit family. "Was" is the key word in the title of the film drawn by screenwriter Philip Dunne from Richard Llewellyn's autobiographical novel. The valley he loved is no longer green, a narrator declares bluntly at the outset. It is covered with black slag, waste from the coal mines.

The contrast sets the tone of the film, maintaining throughout a tension between the bedrock of family warmth and the harsh forces just outside the cottage door. It lays a heavy hand upon them all, trumping love, no matter how heartfelt, with dispersal and death. It's narrated by an older version of the 10-year-old boy at its center, Huw, finally leaving forever his village tacked on a hillside. The colliery looms over it, belching smoke, daily disgorging an army in blackface, covered in coal dust, which they scrub off each day in their small cottages, only to turn themselves into blank canvases for the next day's deposit. That's when things are going well. Sometimes they do not go well, as when the miners strike after the fact of more bodies than jobs cuts their wages, or when unsafe mine conditions end in shrieking whistles and alarms stab the village with dreaded bad news.

The film's center is the Morgan cottage, where six sons and a daughter are presided over with stern, loving, ever-ebbing authority by Donald Crisp's patriarch, and Sara Allgood's bustling matriarch. Crisp is a figure of almost touching dignity, a sort of tribal elder. His dispensing of fatherly love and unlettered wisdom that does not include an openness to such currents of modernism as unions won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® (Ford got a Best Director Oscar® to match the film's Best Picture statue). Allgood should have snagged one, too. She matches him every step of the way, and outsteps him when she tells the miners off for talking against her husband because he opposed a strike. In a scene that must have resonated with American workers, also in the throes of their own labor organizing, the eldest sons (John Loder, Richard Fraser) angrily rise from the dinner table and move out of the house because their father won't go along with their or the film's -- pro-union agenda.

Roddy McDowall, fresh from England, plays the youngest son, Huw, with the precocious assurance of a professional actor, bringing to the role what it needs most ardor, and blazing innocence in Huw's hungry eyes as they soak up every bit of his grimy, yet snug, world. Because the place is alive to him, it's alive to us. Without him, it would otherwise seem more studio-bound than it is. Producer Darryl F. Zanuck paid $300,000 for the film rights to Llewellyn's novel, wanted to turn it into his Gone With the Wind (1939), tapped William Wyler to direct, eyed Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn and Tyrone Power for the leads. But World War II intervened, filming in Wales became untenable, and so the filming was switched to the Fox ranch, near Malibu. The only authentically Welsh things in it are Rhys Williams' Dai Bando, the old boxer who brings a bit of pugilistic payback to the school where Huw is sadistically caned, and the full-throated Welsh choral singing that punctuates the film, filling it with idiomatic vigor and spirit.

Far from being a Hallmark card to a bygone era, the film convinces that while the boy's love for his corner of the world is genuine, it's a narrow, stifling place to which the only rational response was escape. The village chapel, despite the locals' veneration and respect for it, is depicted as anything but a fountainhead of consolation, much less God's embrace. Walter Pidgeon's idealistic minister, Gruffyd, and Maureen O'Hara, as the sole Morgan daughter, Angharad, make clear the system's shortfall on the social as well as the economic level. His kindness extends to helping Huw through a long convalescence and opening the boy's world to books. He also sympathizes with the pro-union sentiments, and doesn't hesitate to voice them.

But he can't bring himself to ask Angharad to marry him and in doing so embrace a lifetime of poverty. And so she enters into a loveless marriage with the mine owner's son as Gruffyd symbolically stands in the church's cemetery, watching them drive away in a coach. Pidgeon does what Henry Fonda's Tom Joad did in The Grapes of Wrath gives manly, idealistic voice to a respect for human dignity. But it falls to O'Hara to denounce the church deacons as vindictive bullies when they publicly shame and expel an unwed mother. Although playing the role of a woman in a time when women's roles consisted of home, hearth, and silence, O'Hara projects a wealth of temperament. She came by it naturally. Her memoirs include accounts of more than one skirmish with Ford, who could be a bully. When she pointed out that a basket in a scene was the wrong kind, he closed down the set and in effect banished her. But when she returned, she noted, the basket had been replaced. If Arthur Shields's revved-up hypocrite deacon in the church scene looks like Barry Fitzgerald, by the way, it's because they were brothers. Fitzgerald can be seen, too, as a pub regular.

How Green Was My Valley, made just before and released shortly after Pearl Harbor, was widely regarded as pro-British propaganda. It was, one supposes. But that's not primarily what it is. Yes, it gives aid and comfort to the WASP ethos. But far from seeming dated, it contextualizes uncannily with contemporary themes and issues immigration and emigration, the environment, religious oppression, keeping the poor intimidated by keeping them fearful. Long before the word "pollution" was common coinage, it recognized and decried the fouling of the environment. Ford's at the time liberal and progressive leanings, expressed in his film's pro-union thrust, resonate more urgently than in most of the years between its release and now. How Green Was My Valley isn't powerful just because it locates and ignites an emotive quality, or because it keeps sentimentality at bay by its constant acknowledgment of the brutal realities of a life dominated by a mine that eats the men who go down into it for a pittance. How Green Was My Valley is today what it couldn't have been in its own time prescient.

Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck
Director: John Ford
Screenplay: Philip Dunne, Richard Llewellyn (novel)
Cinematography: Arthur C. Miller
Film Editing: James B. Clark
Art Direction: Richard Day, Nathan Juran
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Walter Pidgeon (Mr. Gruffydd), Maureen O'Hara (Angharad Morgan), Anna Lee (Bronwyn), Donald Crisp (Gwilym Morgan), Roddy McDowall (Huw Morgan), John Loder (Ianto Morgan).

by Jay Carr

Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford
Searching for John Ford: A Life, by Joseph McBride
'Tis Herself: An Autobiography, by Maureen O'Hara with John Nicoletti

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teaser How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Awards and Honors

How Green Was My Valley placed second on the National Board of Review's annual ten-best list. It also placed ninth on The New York Times's ten-best list.

John Ford won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Director, and the film placed second for Best Picture, behind Citizen Kane (1941).

How Green Was My Valley was the big winner at the 1941 Academy Awards®, taking Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp), Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. It was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Allgood), Best Editing, Best Score, Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay.

In 1990, How Green Was My Valley was voted a place on the National Film Registry.

"Persons who have read the haunting novel by Richard Llewellyn from which the story is derived will comprehend at its mention the deeply affecting quality of this film. For Mr. Ford has endeavored with eminent success to give graphic substance to the gentle humor and melancholy pathos, the loveliness and aching sentiment, of the original. And Mr. Zanuck has liberally provided with the funds of his studio a production which magnificently reproduces the sharp contrasts of natural beauties and the harsh realities of a Welsh mining town."
- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

"Perfection of cinematic narrative...pure visual action, pictures powerfully composed, dramatically photographed, smoothly and eloquently put together."
- James Shelley Hamilton, National Board of Review Magazine.

"...a monstrous story of tears and coal dust..."
- David Thomson, A Biographical Dictionary of Film

"A stagey but oddly moving film version of Richard Llewellyn's novel..."
- Leslie Halliwell, The Filmgoer's Companion

"Moving drama....Beautifully filmed, lovingly directed...."
- Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide

"....moving and impressive in a big-Hollywood-picture way."
- Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies

"The backlot mining village (impressive as it is) and the babel of accents hardly aid suspension of disbelief in this nostalgic recollection of a Welsh childhood....An elegant and eloquent film, nevertheless, even if the characteristically laconic Fordian poetry seems more contrived here...."
- Derek Adams, Time Out

"The film is beautiful in both imagery and story and is full of rich, complex emotion without resorting to cheap, unearned sentiment...Befitting his start as a silent film director, Ford often favors actions over words, pantomime over verbal exposition. Despite the exquisitely written script, one could watch this film with the sound off and understand the story completely, so strong is Ford's command of visual language."
- Matt Bailey, Not Coming to a Theatre Near You (

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