Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, March 23, 2012


The real stars: Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood
HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941). Director: John Ford.

A look at the lives of several residents of a Welsh mining town, especially focusing on Mr. and Mrs. Morgan (Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood), and their youngest son Huw (Roddy McDowall)  and daughter Angharad (Maureen O'Hara). There are marriages, births and deaths, and a split between Morgan and his older sons, and indeed the other miners, when he doesn't support a strike. In the meantime Angharad marries the mine owner's son while pining for minister Gruffydd (Walter Pidgeon), causing some tongues to wag. Although Pidgeon and O'Hara are the top-billed "stars" [Pidgeon just sort of says lines while O'Hara is fine], the real stars of the movie are Crisp and Allgood, both of whom are superb; Allgood probably never had as good or large a part as this. Young McDowall is also excellent. The film is beautifully photographed by Arthur C. Miller, and has a fine score by Alfred Newman. There are some striking and touching tableaus throughout the movie. John Loder and Patric Knowles are two of the older sons. Barry Fitzgerald and his brother Arthur Shields [who overacts in this] have smaller roles.Ethel Griffies is a gossiping housekeeper. Some may prefer The Quiet Man, but this is a far superior film, and one of Ford's most memorable achievements.

Verdict: Just lovely. ***1/2.

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