How Green Was My Valley

(Schlagende Wetter / So grün war mein Tal)

USA 1941

by John Ford

with: Walter Pidgeon (Mr. Gruffydd), Maureen O'Hara (Angharad Morgan), Roddy McDowall (Huw Morgan), Donald Crisp (Gwilym Morgan), Sara Allgood (Mr. Beth Morgan), Barry Fitzgerald (Cyfartha), Anna Lee (Bronwyn), Patric Knowles (Ivor Morgan), Rhys Williams (DaiBando), John Loder (Ianto Morgan), The Welsh Singers (themselves), Mae Marsh (uncredited), Una O'Connor (uncredited)

How Green Was My Valley is fondly remembered by fans of director John Ford for its loving recreation of a Welsh coal mining village. Spanning some fifty years in the life of its protagonist, the film presents an often poignant portrait of the good and bad of small town life. At the center of the story is the dehumanization brought by increasing technology; the scenes in which more efficient machinery makes some of the mines' best workers unneeded and unemployed remain relevant to today's audiences and our environment of shifting corporations and uncertain security. Ford scholars differ on where to rank How Green Was My Valley — indeed there is no clear consensus on what film critics and historians consider to be Ford's greatest — but it was a popular choice as the best film of 1941, winning five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Richard Gilliam, All-Movie Guide

An elaborate Welsh village was constructed by Fox for this film, which was stunningly photographed by Arthur Miller and which, in this 35mm nitrate print, displays the uniquely poetic quality of John Ford's finest films. Ford's screen version of Richard Llewellyn's sentimental story of a Welsh coal-mining family at the turn of the century destroyed by the greed of industrialists was awarded five Oscars. The film is constructed in flashback, to the recollections of the youngest Morgan son (Roddy McDowell) as he heads out of his village for parts unknown. He tells of his parents (Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood), his four older brothers, all miners, his sister (Maureen O'Hara in her first featured Ford role), and the minister who loved her (Walter Pidgeon). In his book, The Cinema of John Ford, John Baxter writes, "To Ford, 'family' is a concept more than a group of people, a dynamic, not a static institution, an instrument for change rather than for stability.... As in The Grapes of Wrath, the family [here] is not so much destroyed as encouraged to change, and in changing to dominate its environment, a process that detaches some members but ends with the purpose fulfilled...".

Pacific Film Archive

This was one of John Ford's undisputed masterpieces, a film that does not fade after repeated viewings. The mining area in South Wales and its hard-working miners and their families are shown through the eyes of the juvenile McDowall, the youngest of seven children in a family called Morgan, headed by Crisp and Allgood. [...]
Master director Ford builds one simple scene upon another without much plot at all, using incidents affecting the Morgan family to tell the tale, and to record the tragedies. Crisp the patriarch, his loyal wife, strapping sons, beautiful daughter, and little boy are captured in these simple scenes: the father and his huge sons return from work at the beginning of the film to bathe in old wooden tubs, scrubbing the grime of the coal mine from their bodies; again in a later scene at the dining table, Crisp says grace and carves a roast they have all worked so hard to have. Crisp is wonderful as the family's tower of strength and courage, a man imminently worthy of respect. Matching him Allgood, as the heart of the family who miraculously endures all that fate throws her way, never bending but instead becoming stronger. None but Ford could take such a simple tale and make of it such a masterpiece.
Beautifully assisted by cameraman Miller, Ford received strong support from Fox chief Zanuck, who personally produced this film. Zanuck originally wanted to film the movie in Rhondda Valley, Wales, but WW II prevented the on-location shooting so he had the entire Welsh village, coal mine, and adjacent buildings constructed on 80 acres in California's San Fernando Valley (which brought forth some minor criticism in Wales that the film did not conform to the topography of the original novel). More than 150 workmen labored for six months to create the marvelous outdoor set. Zanuck, who had produced
THE GRAPES OF WRATH, also directed by Ford, a year earlier, was then in a period when he favored adapting significant novels to the screen, even though the compromises were considerable. But, like GRAPES OF WRATH, this film was about a family in stress, and Ford placed the emphasis not where it belonged in the literary work, but where it counted most in front of the camera. Just after completing this film Ford joined the photographic branch of America's super spy service, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), taking a host of Hollywood talent with him, including Gregg Toland, Budd Schulberg, Garson Kanin, Daniel Fuchs, Ray Kellogg, and Joseph Walker. The film won the Oscar for Best Picture and also won for Best Director (one of four times Ford would win the award), Best Supporting Actor (Crisp), Best Cinematography, and Best Interior Decoration. It was nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Allgood), Best Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Score, and Best Editing. Crisp, who had begun his long career with film patriarch D.W. Griffith in 1908, said in his acceptance speach "Others, old-timers, should be given a chance, and they, too, could win Awards." When he sat down, Walter Brennan, three-time Oscar winner, kissed Crisp on the top of his head.

TV Guide

Director: John Ford
Screenplay: Philip Dunne (based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn)
Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck
Director of Photography: Arthur C. Miller, A.S.C. (b/w)
Camera Operator: Joseph La Shelle 
Original Music: Alfred Newman
Music Orchestrator: Hugo Friedhofer, Edward B. Powell
Film Editor: James B. Clark
Sound: Eugene Grossman, Roger Heman
Art Direction: Richard Day, Nathan Juran
Set Decoration: Thomas K. Little
Costume Design: Gwen Wakeling
Makeup: Guy Pearce
Matte Artist: Chesley Bonestell (uncredited)
Special Effects: Chesley Bonestell, Fred Sersen (Special photographic effects, uncredited)
First Assistant Director: Edward O'Fearna 
Production Companies:20th Century Fox
Distributor:20th Century Fox (USA) / Centfox (BRD)

Runtime: 118 min
Cinematographic process: 35 mm Spherical, Black & White, Academy Ratio 1.37:1; Laboratory DeLuxe, Hollywood
Sound Mix: Mono
Budget: $1.25m
Release dates: 27 December 1941 (USA) / 28 April 1950 (BRD)

Awards: Academy Awards 1942 Oscar Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White Richard Day, Nathan Juran, Thomas Little; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White Arthur C. Miller; Best Director John Ford; Best Picture Darryl F. Zanuck; Best Supporting Actor Donald Crisp; Nominated Oscar Best Film Editing James B. Clark; Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture Alfred Newman; Best Sound, Recording Edmund H. Hansen (20th Century-Fox SSD), Best Supporting Actress Sara Allgood; Best Writing, Screenplay Philip Dunne // National Film Preservation Board 1990 - National Film Registry // New York Film Critics Circle Awards 1941 Best Director John Ford

Image: How Green Was My Valley is presented in its original 1.33:1 theatrical aspect ratio in black and white. The print used is in very good condition and quite clean for a film of nearly sixty years of age. There are instances of dirt and damage, but they are few and far between. The image is extremely sharp, so much so that some colored moiré patterning is apparent around the edges of objects and lines. Grain is held in check and is only slightly a problem. The image is very contrasty and a bit too bright. Whites glow and sometimes loose some of their bright-area contrast. Blacks are very dense and the whites are very bright. This might be a part of the original photography, as the result is sometimes quite beautiful rather than appearing washed-out as many films do from this period. Though not a new transfer, the quality is still quite good and in some instances excellent in its quality.
Audio: The audio is presented in 2 channel mono. The track itself is very clean and crisp. Noise is kept at a minimum and there seems to be little in the way of damage. Dialog is very direct and clear and even the music has depth and body to it. I'm surprised such a good soundtrack was possible to glean from an optical track of this time period. As good as this soundtrack is, I feel this DVD is lacking. The previous laserdisc release included a re-mixed stereo soundtrack, utilizing newly discovered multi-channel source elements in the Fox vaults. Fox's sound department was very advanced in this period and experimented with stereo, before fully adopting magnetic stereo soundtracks in the 1950s. The laserdisc also included the original mono mix and an isolated music soundtrack. The loss of this new mix as an option on this DVD was the result of poor judgment.
Extras & Highlights: As a supplement to How Green Was My Valley on DVD, Fox has included theatrical trailers for this film and four other films in their Academy Award winners collection. The theatrical trailer for this film is badly cropped, grainy, and in poor condition. The How Green Was My Valley trailer is washout out and badly damaged. Also included is a photo gallery, which contains eleven black and white stills of the stars and production. This is a nice supplement to the film. presenting publicity shots and advertising material for this classic Academy Award winner.

Chuck Pennington, DVD Angle

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Runtime: 118:55 min
Video: 1.32:1/4:3 Fullscreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono • Français Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English, Español • Closed Captioning: CC
Features: Theatrical trailer for How Green Was My Valley, An Affair to Remember, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, Gentlemen's Agreement and All About Eve • Picture gallery with 10 stills
DVD Release Date: 7 March 2000 • Chapters: • Keep Case • DVD Encoding: NTSC Region 1 • DVD-5/SS-SL