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 Movie Review:
- One of the greatest movies ever made.

dir. John Ford at 20th Century-Fox
with Walter Pidgeon (as Mr. Gruffydd), Maureen OíHara (as Angharad), Donald Crisp (as Mr. Gwilym Morgan), Anna Lee (as Bronwyn), Sara Allgood (as Mrs. Beth Morgan), Roddy McDowall (as Huw), John Loder (as Ianto), Barry Fitzgerald (as Cyfartha), and Rhys Williams (as Dai Bando)

The first time I ever saw this film, I was bowled over by it. Itís one of the most beautiful movies Iíve ever seen Ė- visually, aurally and in terms of the story. The Morgans are a family of six sons and a daughter living in a Welsh mining town during the Industrial Revolution, and this film is the story of their lives, their way of life and the transformation of their valley as a result of the changing times Ė- all seen through the eyes of Huw, the youngest son, played by twelve-year-old Roddy McDowall in his first American movie. Every performance in this film is excellent and even those supporting characters with relatively small roles are memorable. The romance between Mr. Gruffydd and Angharad is one of the most moving Iíve ever seen captured on film, and I still hold my breath during certain scenes. The contribution of Alfred Newmanís score is also not to be overlooked -Ė subtle, yet extremely effective -- nor that of the Welsh singers who contribute several numbers which significantly enhance the "Welshness" of the film.

While I had probably seen this film fifty-odd times beforehand, and it was already among my all-time favorite movies, I never cried until I saw it on the big screen. Although HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY doesnít "suffer" when seen on television as the big, wide-screen, Technicolor epics do, you never realize how much subtle detail youíve missed until you see the film in a theatre. John Ford uses the combination of detailed images and Newmanís music more than dialogue to tell the story, and you canít appreciate the true subtleties of this technique (nor read the lips of the characters when they mouth silent dialogue to one another) until you see it on the big screen. If the opportunity ever presents itself to you, absolutely do not pass it up no matter how many times youíve seen the film before. I gave this film five smiley faces before I ever saw it in the theatre, but afterward I wanted to give it six.

Reviewed: December 24, 1999

Visit the HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY section.

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