September 1st, 2012: How Green Was My Valley

Cast and Crew: John Ford (Director); Darryl F. Zanuck (Producer); Barry Fitzgerald

What It’s About: Huw Morgan (Irving Pichel) recalls his youth in a small Welsh mining town as he prepares to finally leave it.  Huw (Roddy McDowall) is the youngest in a large family of respected and prosperous coal miners, and he idolizes his father (Donald Crisp) and older brothers, while his mother (Sara Allgood) is the heart of the family.  Ivor (Patrick Knowles) marries Browyn (Anna Lee), who Huw considers his first love.  Huw’s beautiful sister Angharad (Maureen O’Hara) and the idealistic new preacher Mr. Gruffyd (Walter Pidgeon) have eyes for one another.

Life in the valley is happy so long as the coal mine is doing well, but when times become tougher and displaced iron workers begin seeking work in the mine things begin to change.  The inhabitants of the valley, desperate for work, begin to talk about unionization, dividing even Huw’s family.  As Huw grows up and goes to school, one by one his siblings leave for greener pastures, driven away by economic pressures-and social ones, including the vicious and hypocritical deacons at the church.  Read our full review here.

Why Watch it Today?: Nathan Juran, known to fans of 1950s and 1960s sci-fi and fantasy films as Nathan Hertz, was born today in 1907.  Juran won an Oscar for Art Decoration for How Green Was My Valley before leaving the film industry to work with the OSS during World War Two.  When he returned he began directing special effects oriented films, probably most famously Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.  Other highlights include The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Deadly Mantis, and Jack the Giant Killer.

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