John Ford's beautiful, heartfelt drama about a close-knit family of Welsh coal miners is one of the greatest films of Hollywood's golden age--a gentle masterpiece that beat Citizen Kane in the Best Picture race for the 194... more »1 Academy Awards. The picture also won Oscars for Best Director (Ford), Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp), Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography; all of those awards were richly deserved, even if they came at the expense of Kane and Orson Welles. Based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn, the film focuses its eventful story on 10-year-old Huw (Roddy McDowall), youngest of seven children to Mr. and Mrs. Morgan (Donald Crisp, Sarah Allgood), a hardy couple who've seen the best and worst of times in their South Wales mining town. They're facing one of the worst times as Mr. Morgan refuses to join a miners union whose members have begun a long-term strike. Family tensions grow and Huw must learn many of life's harsher lessons under the tutelage of the local preacher (Walter Pidgeon), who has fallen in love with Huw's sister (Maureen O'Hara). As various crises are confronted and devastating losses endured, How Green Was My Valley unfolds as a rich, moving portrait of family strength and integrity. It's also a nod to a simpler, more innocent time--and to the preciousness of memory and the inevitable passage from youth to adulthood. An all-time classic, not to be missed. --Jeff Shannon« less
One of the best films about family ever made. Very moving.
Thomas Magnum | 08/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is impeccably crafted, written, performed, and directed. It's impossible not to be drawn in emotionally. Both HOW GREEN and Ford's pervious film, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, are realistic depictions of the effects of severe economic and social conditions upon a family. But while GRAPES centers more on the social conditions, VALLEY focuses primarily on the family itself. Indeed, it mourns the loss of family unity. The legendary Irish-American Ford was known for his gruff, crusty exterior, but pictures like this one show his sentimentality and his belief in the basic values of human life.HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY is about a large, close-knit family, the Morgans, in a small Welsh mining town. The family is headed by a firm father and a gentle, wise mother, and comprises six sons and one daughter. The five grown sons are, like their father, coal miners, and it is their hope that the sixth son, sensitive and intelligent Huw (Roddy McDowall), will become a scholar. It is through Huw's eyes that the story is told. He looks back as an older man and reflects on his family, his valley, and its people.He grows up in a time of change, watching in confusion as a secure way of life is altered for the worse by mine owners who overwork the mines and alienate the miners, leading his brothers to call for unionism, a concept which his father abhors. This is the central decision from which the other threads of this compelling story evolve, and the film is ultimately a beautifully moving drama, one of the best films about family ever made."
Into The Valley
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 02/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
"Trees" Also Grow in Wales
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 10/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Frankly, I had forgotten how excellent this film is until seeing it again recently. (It received the Academy Award for best film in 1941in competition with Citizen Kane and the other nominees.) The impact on me of a film at a given time is almost wholly dependent on how accessible I am when seeing it. I first saw How Green Was My Valley as a child and then again several years later. Probably because since then I have become a father and then a grandfather, I am much more appreciative now than I was before of what director John Ford achieves in his portrayal of a Welsh mining town and of a specific family there which struggles so courageously to enable one of its own, not only to escape from the mines but from the limits of a culture (albeit loving and supportive) to fulfill his human potentialities which would otherwise be denied. The film covers a 50-year period as an adult Huw Morgan recalls it (he is played by Roddy McDowell), with the primary focus on his ordeals as the youngest of several children. Donald Crisp received an Academy Award as best actor in a supporting role as Morgan family's patriarch. Many believe this is Ford's best film and I would be hard-pressed to disagree with them. It really has everything. With Philip Dunne's screenplay based on Richard Llewellyn's novel, How Green Was My Valley combines superior acting and cinematography with Alfred Newman's complementary musical score. For me, this film's greatness is found in its graphic portrayal of hardship and despair in a bleak mining town which are offset by a proud family's enduring faith in Huw and their determination to protect and support him. Ford affirms their essential dignity with a respect and admiration he invites us to share."
The past; seen through thick, nostalgic glasses
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 04/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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."
"Who Is For Wil Morgan?" ~ A Life In Retrospect
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 07/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the unforgettable classic b/w films made in the 40's during the "Golden Age" of Hollywood, `How Green Was My Valley' released in '41 is my personal favorite. Who could ever tire of watching this timeless tale focusing on a poor Welsh coal mining community at the beginning of the 20th century. Done in narration style you will be transported back to a difficult, but simplier time to relive the life of young Huw Morgan (Roddy McDowall) and his loving memories of family, friends and assorted members of the township. His lifetime unfolds before the viewer, moments of happiness and hardship, triumphs and failures, life and death.
Directed by the legendary John Ford and performed by a cast which includes some of the finest actors and actresses of that generation it's no surprise this film won numerous Academy Award in '41, including the Oscar for "Best Picture".
Starring Roddy McDowall, Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Donald Crisp and a myriad of notables. This is a film that belongs in everyone's DVD collection."