on January 10, 2004
I was reluctant to watch this movie. After all, I am 21 and am used to seeing John Ford movies such as "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon". I was sure I would be bored with this movie. Was I ever wrong. This movie touches you in every way. It is quite possibly the saddest and most emotional movie I've ever seen. The cast is very solid: Maureen O'Hara, Anna Lee, Walter Pidgeon, and Roddy McDowall. There is something special about How Green Was My Valley that I cannot explain. I am glad it won Best Picture at the Oscars in 1941. I hope nobody tries to remake this film because no actor or director could do a better job. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
on November 21, 2005
Richard Llewellyn's poignant, nostalgic novel "How Green Was My Valley" appeared in 1939. Hollywood was quick to work on a film adaptation, requiring a top director and producer, the recreation of a Welsh mining village in California, assembling a Welsh male choir and all the other essential requirements. Its success might be measured by the swag of academy awards and nominations it received, triumphing over such contenders for best picture as "Citizen Kane" and "The Maltese Falcon".
There is an appeal to the heart here. Homely, sturdy values and speech idioms of long ago are displayed in their best light. There is also an appeal to the mind. Political issues are examined, as are the effects of capitalization, worker exploitation and unionism.
Because a reading of the book and a viewing of the film have always moved me deeply, I have avoided them for many years. I recently watched the DVD version however, and can report that the DVD remastering has been completely successful. Although 1941 was a good year for cinematography, sound track quality was far from satisfactory. Some slight enhancing has been done here to render the choral singing and orchestral sound at least tolerable. Dialogue is clear.
The film immortalizes the work of veteran actors Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood, who play the parts of Gwillym and Beth Morgan, the parents of the mining family. It also best shows the child acting talent of Roddy McDowell, then aged 13. And it is Irving Pinchel who provides the unforgettable narration.
on April 1, 2003
"How Green Was My Valley" is a story about the celebration and disillusionment of family. It takes place in a Welsh mining town (actually a Twentieth Century-Fox set built in California) and centers on the Morgan family, mum, dad and five adult sons and one child, played brilliantly by Roddy McDowell. The whole story is seen through McDowell's eyes. Director John Ford cuts a masterful swath in telling this tale. Maureen O'Hara and Walter Pigeon, as the ill-fated lovers, are superb. Donald Crisp and Sara Allgoode are brilliant as the elders of the Morgan clan. This is a wonderful, timeless film to share with your family and friends. A genuine classic in every sense.
The transfer from Fox is pretty much the same as the previously issued DVD. Contrast levels seema bit low at times but the black and white picture is pretty much pristine, especially when it comes to the stunning close ups. The remixed soundtrack is a bit too aggresive in its side channel output, often drowning out the more soft spoken bits of dialogue with music. Not to worry. The film's original mono audio is also included and it is properly balanced. Dialogue, though dated in fidelity is nevertheless well represented. On this incarnation we get a documentary on the making of the movie that is all too brief and some theatrical trailers that don't add anything to the enjoyment of the over-all film experience. BOTTOM LINE: If you have the previously issued DVD you might want to think twice before going out and rebuying this title again. The extras aren't worth it.
on February 21, 2003
John Ford's 1941 film How Green Was My Valley tells the story of a Welsh mining family, the Morgans, through the eyes of the youngest member of the family, ten-year old Huw (Roddy McDowell). Mr. & Mrs. Morgan (Donald Crisp & Sara Allgood) have seven children and struggle to keep their family afloat. Mr. Morgan is a miner, but he refuses to join a newly formed union and join in on their strike. This creates tensions within the family and violence erupts. Through it all the family survives, but their hometown and culture begin to decline. Mr. Ford poignantly portrays the fading of childhood innocence and the good side and down side of life in a small town. The film is still relevant today as Mr. Ford shows how technology dehumanizes society as machinery that is more efficient and cost-effective starts to replace many of the mine's best workers and renders them unneeded and forces them into unemployment. The film beat out what is considered the greatest movie of time, Citizen Kane, to win the 1941 Academy Award for Best Picture and Mr. Ford beat Orson Welles to win his second consecutive Best Director Award (and the third of his total of four). The film won three other Oscars including Best Supporting Actor for Mr. Crisp. The film was to be shot in color on location in Wales, but due to the escalation of World War II, filming was moved to California and shot in black & white to help create the dreariness of South Wales. This worked out brilliantly as the lack of color helps create more a bleaker mood and Arthur C. Miller was rewarded with an Oscar for Best Cinematography.
on August 27, 2003
You cannot give this film less then 5 stars. The story of a young boy growing up in the Welsh mine country touches on everyone. A young Roddy McDowell sees his family go though loss, redemption, hatred and love. If nothing else, the movie shows the strength of th family and in particular the English people.
An outstanding cast almost makes you feel like you are in old Wales. You can almost feel the coal dust on your tongue as you watch the miners traverse the dangerous coal mines. You can feel the suffering and the happiness of the family as they deal with trajedies and triumphs. Watch it-one of the greatest movies of all time!
on December 26, 2012
This movie was made before I was born, but I read the book for the first time when I was about 10 years old. It was a gift from my grandmother that I reread several times, before finally catching up to the film at a rep theater in the early 1960's. For reasons that many of you will recognize, I have never forgotten either of them. Both book and movie have left an indelible mark on my heart, on my mind and on my soul. I hope that as many of you as possible take the opportunity to share this beautiful experience with me, and with the people you love.
"How Green Was my Valley" was a great read. The movie that John Ford made from it surpassed the book in many ways, and slipped up once or twice. But John Ford was simply not capable of making an 'average' film, let alone a bad one. The casting is perfect. On paper Pidgeon and O'Hara may have seemed to be a mismatch, but they work because of the relationship of the characters. To support them Ford has selected few of his group of supporting actors, and selected a cast of superb actors who become the characters they play.
The plot may contain a few cliches by today's standards, but I doubt they were cliches in the 1940's. The miracle is that we can connect with so many of them in 2015, their joys, sorrows, disappointments, and coping with life in less than ideal circumstances.
The photography is still magnificently perfect. The sound is better than when I first saw the film in a revival theatre when the picture was perfect but the sound dated. Technically, there are few elements, other than colour, different from the best of today's films. The best advantage is that everyone here gives totally of themselves, knowing they are making a film for the ages.
on February 28, 2004
This is a captivating film about the Morgans, a simple coal mining family: strict rules, a pot of weeks' shillings, sorrows, love, and hardships. Roddy McDowall (who gives a frightningly strange and disturbing performance and jerks the most tears) is Huw Morgan, a young boy: quiet, meek, the epitome of childhood. His father is the blunt, strong Gwilym Morgan (an Oscar-winning performance by the great Donald Crisp), a father of six boys and the head of his household who almost loses contact with his sons beause of their different opinions through the new era. His mother is Beth (an Oscar-nominated performance by the funny Sara Allgood), a good-hearted mother, a poineer in a new era of thought and wisdom. Then we come to Angharad Morgan, his beautiful sister played wonderfully by Maureen O'Hara. Angharad has the same meekness and childness as her brother though already a grown woman. Angharad and the church's preacher, Mr. Gruffydd (Walter Pidgeon), have a love at first sight relationship even though he tells her they could never marry which devestates her into marrying her father's boss's son. Anna Lee plays Bronwyn, Huw's tragic brother Ivor (Patric Knowles)'s beautiful wife who Huw has a huge crush on. It is a great movie, a big tearerker, and a movie that'll make you glad for all the things avaliable to us today. The film's cast rounds out with Barry Fitzgerald ("Going My Way"), John Loder, and Rhys Williams as Dai Bando. I'd really give it 4.5 out of 5 stars or 9 out of 10 stars.
on June 27, 2003
Welsh Author Richard Llewellyn's classic (1940), in 1941 won an Oscar at the Academy Awards over 'Citizen Kane' for Best Picture. Also to recieve an award for Best Supporting Actor, Donald Crisp and Best Director, John Ford. Ford had previously won an Academy Award for Best Director in 1935 for 'The Informer' and in 1940 for 'The Grapes of Wrath.' With this track record it a wonder that the 1941 film's success claimed all the awards at the Oscars. Ford went on later to capture again the Best Director category in 1952 for 'The Quiet Man.'
Most movie-goers and critics who have seen both, 'Citizen Kane' and 'How Green Was My Valley' in comparation choose 'Citizen Kane' as the greatest American film in movie history. According to the American Film Institute (AFI) had been selected as one of the top 100 films of all time. Was it such a disappointment at the 1941 Oscars that left 'Citizen Kane' empty-handed in it's artistic achievement? Concerning at the time the approach of the film's story and Orson Welles are not to go unnoticed. The differences that probably considered at the time, that 'Citizen Kane' approach was a more documentary-type looking at the life of a newspaper mogul. Whereas, 'How Green Was My Valley' is a narrative look at one Welsh family seen through the eyes of the 10-year-old son. My guess that's what the public can relate to more of family values at a time in the early 40s just after the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II. That's what 'The Grapes of Wrath' did. It related to real people the same as 'How Green Was My Valley.' Maybe 'Citizen Kane' in some public's point-of-view at that time left a bad taste in their mouth. Or, maybe we can all just relate more in our life experiences. Isn't that what life and art is all about? If you've read Llewellyn's book you can hear the Welsh speak and the events that affect the Morgan family like that of a soap opera. The same is geniously done in the film.
Ford does a beautiful job creating this memorable drama about a loving, spiritual Welsh family of coal miners. It's gentle portrayal well deserves it's reward in this coming-of-age story in the best and worst times that hold a family together. A true masterpiece, that Hollywood could use as an example in their film notebooks of how a great film is made. There's a great cast that makes a great movie. There's plenty here. The story focuses on the events as seen through the eyes of 10 year old Huw Morgan (Roddy McDowell). His father and mother (Donald Crisp and Sarah Allgood) and five other brothers has seen the best and worst times when tensions of a miner's union causes some turmoil between the Morgan family members and the other villagers as they begin a long strike. Huw Morgan also learns the tougher side of life under the guardianship of local preacher, Mr. Gruffydd (Walter Pidgeon). Mr. Gruffydd has also developed permanent affections towards Huw's sister, Angharad (Maureen O'Hara). Crises arise throughout the film, like the cruel schoolmaster, the bully and the unfortunate accident of a fall causing Hwu to lose the use of his legs are endured. Even when the family are separated because of change or tragic loss the story just unfolds into a moving, lush family portrait of durable strength and sound morals. It was a time that was simple and innocent. The fondness of memory and the journey from childhood to adulthood we all have in common. Such a beautiful classic to cherish. If you like to read more about Richard Llewellyn's work try, 'None But the Lonely Heart.' You may also enjoy in the same gnere as this film, 'The Corn is Green' with Bette Davis.
on April 8, 2003
"How Green Was My Valley" is a rare, quality entry into that classic genre, the movie that is an unfettered, sentimental love letter to "days gone by." This particular Brigadoon is a small Welsh mining town, where every cause is righteous , where money corrupts and the very poorest have the purest of hearts and where the salt of the Earth earn their keep by digging deep in the coal mines.
If you are in the mood for it, if you can check you modern cynicism at the door, "How Green Was My Valley" is an excellent film. John Ford (The Searchers, The Quiet Man) is a master director, and creates an incredible authenticity of feeling and homesickness, especially for a man born in Maine. Young Roddy McDowall is a feisty Huw Morgan, and Maureen O'Hara is the tragic beauty Angharad Morgan. The film presents some interesting lessons on church morality, poverty and fighting back, though not always in the way expected.
There will always be room for this type of movie. "It's a Wonderful Life," "Madadayo" and "How Green was my Valley" are all in my movie collection. Sometimes you just need to sit back and let the nostalgia for "days gone by" wash over you.