Directed by: John Ford (won)
Screenplay by: Philip Dunne (nominated)
Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp (won), Roddy McDowall
IMDb rating: 7.8
My rating: 7/10
Blossoms in the Dust
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Hold Back the Dawn
The Little Foxes
The Maltese Falcon
One Foot in Heaven
Synopsis: Some years in the childhood of Huw Morgan, and the joys and tragedies of growing up in a Welsh mining town in the early 20th century.
For the longest time, I only knew How Green Was My Valley as the movie that shouldn’t have beaten Citizen Kane at the 14th Academy Awards. To be fair, Citizen Kane should have won, but this was by no means a bad film. In any other year, it would have deserved to win. I mean, John Ford had already done Stagecoach and The Grapes of Wrath by this point.
My biggest gripe is the same gripe I always have: accents. Accents, accents, accents. Not one of these people sounded like they had ever heard a Welsh person speak. Walter Pidgeon, as Mr Gruffydd, didn’t even try.
But other than that very distracting oversight, I enjoyed it. It’s a typical nostalgic slice of life story, as we see the Morgan family go through hardship, injury, marriages, births, deaths.
Some of the more dramatic moments, I feel, dated the film a bit. Old comedy can be charming, but old drama can often come off as somewhat cartoonish. Although this film did manage to get a few tears from me, I’ll admit.
It’s not all melodrama, though. There are some sweet moments of lightness, often brought on by the five older Morgan boys doing things in concert, or the family just generally being sweet and loving.
While the story is mostly composed of several snippets of life events, there are two consistent elements that bring it all together: the chaste romance between Angharad and Mr Gruffydd, and the mine itself.
But because it’s not a story that reaches a conclusion, if a scene is not especially noteworthy, it probably won’t be remembered. Case in point: the notes I kept while watching this conclude with “Ending packs an emotional punch.” But writing this post a week and a half later, I can’t for the life of me remember how it ended.
Bottom line: A strong dramatic film. Even though it’s not Citizen Kane, it’s still totally Oscarworthy.