''How Green Was My Valley'' is a 1941 American drama film
directed by John Ford
. The film, based on the best-selling 1939 novel of the same name
by Richard Llewellyn
, was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
and scripted by Philip Dunne
. The film stars Walter Pidgeon
, Maureen O'Hara
, Anna Lee
, Donald Crisp
, and a very young Roddy McDowall
. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards
famously beating ''Citizen Kane
'', ''Sergeant York
'' and ''The Maltese Falcon
'' for Best Picture
. It also won Best Director
, Best Cinematography
, and Best Supporting Actor, and Best Set Design.
The film tells the story of the Morgans, a hard-working Welsh
mining family, from the point of view of the youngest child Huw, who lives with his affectionate, kind parents and his five brothers, in the South Wales Valleys
during the late Victorian era
. The story chronicles life in the South Wales coalfield
s, the loss of that way of life and its effects on the family. The fictional village in the film is based on Gilfach Goch
[(February 7, 200]
"How Green Was My Valley"
BBC Radio Wales. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
where Llewellyn spent many summers visiting his grandfather, and it served as the inspiration for the novel.
In 1990, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry
of the Library of Congress
as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The Academy Film Archive
preserved ''How Green Was My Valley'' in 1998.
The film begins with a monologue by an older Huw Morgan (voiced by Irving Pichel
): "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." The valley and its villages are now blackened by the dust of the coal mines that surround the area.
A young Huw (Roddy McDowall
), the youngest child of Gwilym Morgan (Donald Crisp
), walks home with his father to meet his mother, Beth (Sara Allgood
). His older brothers, Ianto (John Loder
), Ivor (Patric Knowles
), Davy (Richard Fraser
), Gwilym Jr. (Evan S. Evans), and Owen (James Monks) all work in the coal mines with their father, while sister Angharad (Maureen O'Hara
) keeps house with their mother. Huw's childhood is idyllic, the town, not yet overrun with mining spoil
, is beautiful, and the household is warm and loving, the miners sing as they walk home (in this case "Bread of Heaven" in Welsh
). The wages are collected, the men wash then eat together. Afterwards the spending money is given out. Huw is smitten on meeting Bronwyn (Anna Lee
), a girl engaged to be married to his eldest brother, Ivor (Patric Knowles
). At the boisterous wedding party Angharad meets the new preacher, Mr. Gruffydd (Walter Pidgeon
), and there is an obvious mutual attraction.
Trouble begins when the mine owner decreases wages, and the miners strike
in protest. Gwilym's attempt to mediate by not endorsing a strike estranges him from the other miners as well as his older sons, who quit the house. Beth interrupts a late night meeting of the strikers, threatening to kill anyone who harms her husband. While returning home, crossing the fields in a snowstorm in the dark, Beth falls into the river. Huw dives in to save her with the help of the townspeople, and temporarily loses the use of his legs. He recovers with the help of Mr. Gruffydd, which further endears the latter to Angharad.
The strike is eventually settled, and Gwilym and his sons reconcile, yet many miners have lost their jobs. Angharad is courted by the mine owner's son, Iestyn Evans (Marten Lamont), though she loves Mr. Gruffydd. Mr. Gruffydd loves her too, to the malicious delight of the gossipy townswomen, but cannot bear to subject her to an impoverished churchman's life. Angharad submits to a loveless marriage to Evans, and they relocate out of the country.
Huw begins school at a nearby village. Abused by other boys, he is taught to fight by boxer Dai Bando (Rhys Williams
) and his crony, Cyfartha (Barry Fitzgerald
). After a beating by the cruel teacher Mr. Jonas (Morton Lowry
), Dai Bando avenges Huw with an impromptu boxing display on Mr. Jonas to the delight of his pupils.
On the day that Bronwyn gives birth to their child, Ivor is killed in a mine accident. Later, two of Morgan's sons are dismissed in favor of less experienced, cheaper laborers. With no job prospects, they leave to seek their fortunes abroad. Huw is awarded a scholarship to university, but to his father's dismay he refuses it to work in the mines. He relocates with Bronwyn, to help provide for her and her child.
When Angharad returns without her husband, vicious gossip of an impending divorce spreads through the town. Mr. Gruffydd is denounced by the church deacons
, and after condemning the town's small-mindedness, he decides to leave.
Just then, the alarm whistle sounds, signalling another mine disaster. Several men are injured, and Gwilym and others are trapped in a cave-in
. Young Huw, Mr. Gruffydd, and Dai Bando descend with others for a rescue attempt. Gwilym and his son are briefly re-united before he succumbs to his injuries. Huw rides the lift to the surface cradling his father's body, his coal-blackened face devoid of youthful innocence.
Narration by an older Huw recalls, "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." The movie ends with a montage of family vignettes
showing Huw with his father and mother, his brothers and sister.
File:How Green Was My Valley 1.jpg
File:How Green Was My Valley 2.jpg
File:How Green Was My Valley 3.jpg
File:How Green Was My Valley 4.jpg
File:How Green Was My Valley 5.jpg
File:How Green Was My Valley 6.jpg
File:How Green Was My Valley 7.jpg
File:How Green Was My Valley 8.jpg
File:How Green Was My Valley 9.jpg
File:How Green was My Valley 10.jpg
as Mr. Gruffydd, pastor of the village chapel
as Angharad Morgan
as Gwilym Morgan
as Huw Morgan
as Mrs. Beth Morgan
as Bronwyn, Ivor's wife
as Ivor Morgan
as Ianto Morgan
as Cyfartha, boxing manager
as Dai Bando, boxer
as Mr. Jonas, school teacher
as Mr. Parry, deacon
as Dr. Richards
as Davy Morgan
*Evan S. Evans as Gwilym Morgan Jr.
*James Monks as Owen Morgan
as Mrs. Nicholas, housekeeper
as Mr. Evans senior
*Marten Lamont as Iestyn Evans, his son
*Ann E. Todd
as Ceinwen, school girl
as Mervyn Phillips, school bully
as adult Huw Morgan (the unseen narrator)
The script was written by Philip Dunne. He later recalled reading the original novel "in horror, turgid stuff, long speeches about Welsh coal miners on strike."
, the original director, saw the screen test of McDowall and chose him for the part. Wyler was replaced by John Ford. Fox wanted to shoot the movie in Wales in Technicolor, but it was impossible to do so during World War II
. Instead, Ford had the studio build an 80-acre authentic replica of a Welsh mining town at Brent's Crags
(subsequently Crags Country Club) in the Santa Monica Mountains
near Malibu, California
The cast had only one Welsh actor, Rhys Williams
, in a minor role.
On Rotten Tomatoes
, ''How Green Was My Valley'' holds an approval rating of 89% based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 7.92/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Though it perhaps strays into overly maudlin territory, this working-class drama is saved by a solid cast and director John Ford's unmistakable style." Tim Dirks of Filmsite.org
lauded the film as "one of John Ford's masterpieces of sentimental human drama."
While the opinion among the Academy Awards committee that it was 1941's Best Picture has been disputed by some later critics, ''How Green Was My Valley'' continues to be well received in its own right and, in 1990, was added to the American National Film Registry
. Academy Award-winning actor and director Clint Eastwood
named it as one of his favorite movies.
*1990—National Film Registry
;American Film Institute
*AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
*AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes
**"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." - Nominated
*AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores
*AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)
''How Green Was My Valley'' was adapted as a radio play on the March 22, 1942 broadcast of the ''Ford Theatre
'', with Sara Allgood
, Donald Crisp
, Roddy McDowall
, Maureen O'Hara
and Walter Pidgeon
It was also adapted on three broadcasts of ''Lux Radio Theatre
'': on September 21, 1942, with Allgood, Crisp, O'Hara, McDowall and Pidgeon;
on March 31, 1947, with Crisp and David Niven
and on September 28, 1954, with Crisp and Donna Reed
A Broadway musical adaptation, entitled ''A Time for Singing
'', produced by Alexander H. Cohen
, opened at the Broadway Theatre on May 21, 1966. The music was by John Morris; book and lyrics by Morris and Gerald Freedman, who also served as the director. Cast included Laurence Naismith
as Gwillym, Tessie O'Shea
as Beth Morgan, Shani Wallis
as Angharad and Frank Griso as Huw.
*''How Green Was My Valley
*''The Proud Valley
*''The Stars Look Down
*1926 United Kingdom general strike
*English-language accents in film – Welsh
*''How Green Was My Valley''
at ''Reel Classics''
at ''Film Site'' web site; contains plot detail.
Category:American drama films
Category:Best Picture Academy Award winners
Category:American black-and-white films
Category:Films about the labor movement
Category:Films based on British novels
Category:Films directed by John Ford
Category:Films featuring a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award-winning performance
Category:Films set in Wales
Category:Films whose art director won the Best Art Direction Academy Award
Category:Films whose cinematographer won the Best Cinematography Academy Award
Category:Films whose director won the Best Directing Academy Award
Category:Labour disputes in the United Kingdom
Category:Mining in film
Category:Mining in the United Kingdom
Category:1941 drama films
Category:20th Century Fox films
Category:United States National Film Registry films
Category:Silver Condor Award for Best Foreign Film winners
Category:Films scored by Alfred Newman
Category:Films with screenplays by Philip Dunne
Category:Films produced by Darryl F. Zanuck