Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

best picture – how green was my valley (1941)

Starring Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara & Roddy McDowall

Rating 7/10

Wales and wails. This film has both. Poverty overtakes a generation, people are desperate. Boys find themselves working in the mines at the order of their fathers and beautiful women are limited to marrying for money rather than love. Welcome to the world of How Green Was my Valley.

This is a story about brokenness. Not a lighthearted romp into the Welsh countryside but one that reflects a time and a culture under attack by the forces of the world and change. There’s gossip, innuendo, drama, families are falling apart, marriages built on lies and a boy left crippled by an act of bravery.

This film is a difficult one to watch. When I think of it, the colour brown comes to mind. Not sure whether it is because there’s so much dirt and coal around or that it shines light on the dirty side of life, especially in working class, poor towns where everyone is so desperate. There are strikes that rip families apart and dreams of greener grass for the generations to come. Perhaps they should have called it How browns was my valley instead?

Nevertheless, this is a classic, classic film. Here we are introduced to the cute as all get-out, Roddy McDowall who plays the sprightly youngest son, Huw. The story is told by an older Huw, this is how he remembers his childhood, green or brown. Music plays an important part in this film as it does in Welsh culture. Men singing with men provide the backdrop to this manly tale thick with manly dreams, work and suffering.

All in all, this is a film made of memories. It is a subjective view of life in a Welsh mining town. It is about love, duty, loyalty and bravery in the face of intense challenges. Can such a film be uplifting or does it simply leave you with a dry mouth and a hankering for a long warm shower?

How Green was My Valley Trivia –

  • Budget – $1 250, 000
  • Director John Ford was determined to film in Wales itself but due to a little tussle (WWII), he had to settle for Santa Monica. Thus it was filmed in black and white to hide the subtle landscape differences.
  • HGWMV was filmed in an incredible 2 months! One can only assume there were many late nights and early mornings.
  • This is based on a novel by Richard Llewellyn who initially claimed he wrote it about his indepth knowledge of the area  but he later admitted he wrote it after simply talking with miners.
  • HGWMV was so good it beat Citizen Kane to the Best Picture Award. I assume many tongues were stuck out and a rendition of “Na-na-ne-nar-nar” were belted out that night!!

We leave How Green… to graze on its memories and scoot forward a year to the incomparable Mrs Miniver, starring (once again) Walter Pidgeon and for the first Oscar time, Greer Garson. Happy Christmas to all Oscar Clubbers. See you after Chrissy for a look at this 1942 masterpiece.

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One comment on “best picture – how green was my valley (1941)

  1. Constance Glander
    December 30, 2010

    I usually get bored easily and close the tab but i honestly enjoyed what i read. Grats !

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