Favorite things about… How Green Was My Valley (1941)

The favorite film:

(Image via Bored and Dangerous Blog)

(Image via Bored and Dangerous Blog)

How Green Was My Valley, a 1941 drama directed by John Ford, from the novel by Richard Llewellyn

The synopsis:
A Welsh coal mining family, the Morgans, face the ups and downs of life through the strength of their close-knit bond.

The cast:
Donald Crisp as Mr. Morgan
Sara Allgood as Mrs. Morgan
Roddy McDowall as Huw Morgan
Maureen O’Hara as Angharad Morgan
Walter Pidgeon as Mr. Gruffydd
Patric Knowles as Ivor
Anna Lee as Bronwyn

Fun facts:

  • Unable to shoot in Wales due to the war, the crew constructed the mining town setting on an 80-acre plot of land in California.
  • TCM notes that this was one of the first films to feature extensive narration by one of its central characters.
  • A one-hour version of the story was broadcast on Lux Radio Theater, with much of the film’s cast reprising their roles. The same year, The Screen Guild Theater also aired a 30-minute version.
  • Richard Llewellyn published three sequels to his novel, though none were quite as popular as the original book.
  • Darryl F. Zanuck originally planned the film as a four-hour technicolor epic in the vein of Gone with the Wind.
  • The film was nominated for a whopping TEN Academy Awards, taking home trophies for Best Picture (famously beating out Citizen Kane), Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Crisp), Best Black and White Cinematography and Best Art Direction. One category in which the film lost was Best Screenplay, which went to Here Comes Mr. Jordan.
(Image via MovPins)

(Image via MovPins)

Favorite things/quotes:

  • “Yet who shall say what is real and what is not? Can I believe my friends all gone, when their voices are still 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.”
  • Huw’s guilty face after ALMOST taking a slice of bread before praying (and the rest of the family’s smirking)
  • “I never met anybody whose talk was better than good food.”
  • The reflective, nostalgic narration
  • Angharad and Gruffydd’s first look at each other, at Bron and Ivor’s wedding
  • The post-wedding party looks like the most fun celebration EVER.
  • *Fills hat with alcohol*
    *Spots preacher across room*
    *Puts on hat, drenching self in booze*
  • I love that this film celebrates the good times but doesn’t shy away from the bad times. A very touching, very HUMAN drama of life and all of its trials and tribulations — from marriages and prosperous times to illnesses and mine strikes.
  • “All the noble books which have lived in my mind ever since…”
  • I love the real sense of community that is portrayed of the valley in  many of these early scenes.
  • “Mr. Gruffydd, if the right is mine to give, you have it.”
  • “Fetch everyone from all the valleys ’round!”
  • That shot of the brothers walking away as a choir sings “God Save the Queen”
  • “Prayer is only another name for good, clean, direct thinking.”
  • Angharad standing up for the woman targeted by the deacons
(Image via MovPins)

(Image via MovPins)

  • Heartbreaking scene between O’Hara and Pidgeon in which he lets her go, hoping to allow her a “better” life than he could give her
  • Angharad’s dead-eyed look on her wedding day. SO SAD.
  • Mrs. Morgan making fun of the “bathtub full of holes” math problem
  • “Baths full of holes… and now, prize fighters!”
  • Mr. Jonas getting the crap slapped out of him — SO well-deserved. Violence is never the answer, but I can’t help feeling a bit of satisfaction watching him get hit, after how cruel he was to Huw.
  • Bronwyn still setting out Ivor’s clothes and boots every night after he has passed away. Absolutely heartbreaking.
  • “Why take brains down a coal mine?”
  • Huw trying SO hard to deepen his voice while talking to Bron
  • These scenes of young Huw in the mines always get to me, since I come from a family of Kentucky miners on my Grammy’s side
  • “Oh, Huw, my little one, I hope when you’re grown, their tongues will be slower to hurt.”
  • Gruffydd’s stirring speech to the judgmental deacons and townspeople
  • “Why do you come here? Why do you dress your hypocrisy in black and parade before your God on Sunday? For love? No — for you’ve shown that your hearts are too withered to receive the love of your divine father. I know why you’ve come. I’ve seen it in your faces Sunday after Sunday as I’ve stood here before you. Fear has brought you here. Horrible, superstitious fear. Fear of divine retribution.”
  • “‘Tis a coward I am, but I will hold your coat.”
  • Very few films make me cry, but the ending of this one brings on the waterworks for me!
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4 thoughts on “Favorite things about… How Green Was My Valley (1941)

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