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How Green Was My Valley (1941)

tomatometer

89

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 36
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 4

Though it perhaps strays into overly maudlin territory, this working-class drama is saved by a solid cast and director John Ford's unmistakeable style.

100

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 0

Though it perhaps strays into overly maudlin territory, this working-class drama is saved by a solid cast and director John Ford's unmistakeable style.

audience

82

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 7,594

My Rating

Movie Info

Spanning 50 years, director John Ford's How Green Was My Valley revolves around the life of the Morgans, a Welsh mining family, as told through the eyes of its youngest child Huw (Roddy McDowall). Over the years, the family struggles to survive through unionization, strikes, and child abuse. As they do so, their hometown and its culture begins to slowly decline. Donald Crisp portrays Gwilym, the patriarch of the Morgan household, who dreams of a better life for young Huw. Based on the novel of

Unrated,

Drama, Kids & Family, Classics

Philip Dunne, Richard Llewellyn

Mar 7, 2000

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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All Critics (36) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (4) | DVD (13)

The acting is strong, and Arthur Miller's Oscar-winning photography gives the images a spooky luster, but a little bit of Ford's salt-of-the-earth piety goes an awfully long way.

February 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Because his recollections ring true, they are certain to evoke a similar nostalgia in all but the most slab-sided of moviegoers.

February 17, 2009 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

How Green Was My Valley is one of the year's better films, a sure-fire critic's picture and, unlike most features that draw kudos from crix, this one will also do business.

January 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Expert performances from Donald Crisp, Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, and a host of brilliant character actors enhance a magnificent movie experience.

December 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An elegant and eloquent film, nevertheless, even if the characteristically laconic Fordian poetry seems more contrived here.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You can never expect to see a film more handsomely played.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is precisely the kind of movie that gave Hollywood film-making dignity and supremacy in its heyday.

January 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

A screen version of such a book is a bold project, but Darryl Zanuck as producer and John Ford as director have succeeded in capturing to a remarkable degree the atmosphere of the novel.

January 14, 2013 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

Beat out the much superior Citizen Kane for the Oscar for Best Picture.

March 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This John Huston film [is] typically epic with a faithful screenplay to Richard Llewellyn's famous novel.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine | Comments (2)
Empire Magazine

A complex account of family life and strife that takes in traumas, hardships, romances, conflicts and the odd happy moment without ever sentimentalizing or becoming unbelievable.

January 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

[Its] moralizing is dishonest and at times offensive. No matter how effectively a story is told, it's hard to buy into one that so often deceives its audience.

October 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinematic Reflections

Emotionally effective if also sentimental evocation of working class life in a Welsch mining community, reaffirming John Ford's populist ideology and strong belief in the family as society's most important institution

October 26, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Life in the working class generally determines where your life will lead. A young boy with the chance to break out realizes where his future is supposed to be.

October 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

The tough, but highly sentimental John Ford was one of the few great cinema artists who was appreciated in his time.

March 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A tedious working class drama that did not deserve the accolades it received.

September 12, 2003 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

While I can't say How Green Was My Valley is the most enjoyable movie ever, it's definitely well-made, and sticks with you.

August 24, 2003
Matt's Movie Reviews

Despite the exquisitely written script, one could watch this film with the sound off and understand the story completely, so strong is Ford's command of visual language.

April 4, 2003 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Valley still strikes me some kind of virgin artifact, a relic cast in mythology before it was even born.

January 26, 2003 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

A bit sad, often tragic, it seems like a downer of a film to win a Best Picture, and many think it doesn't hold up to "Citizen Kane" but that's not true. It's a classic.

August 16, 2002 Full Review Source: Zap2it.com
Zap2it.com

Audience Reviews for How Green Was My Valley

A boy comes of age in a Welsh village.
A sprawling, ambitious epic of a film, How Green Was My Valley wreaks of nostalgia, in the voice over, in the salt-of-the-earth characters, and the cursory treatment it gives its themes. While many of these nostalgia films achieve a universality, I found the characters ultimately unrealized and unexplored. For example, Angharad's love affair with the preacher, which is aborted by her marriage to an upper class man, is portrayed only slightly, and the next time we see her, she is miserable. But what about the interceding time? What about the preacher's life between then and now? Whereas a good epic like War and Peace leaves none of its main characters ignored, this one satisfies itself with episodic fragments.
Overall, epics like this one are tricky, and I think director John Ford bit off more that he could chew.
October 27, 2013
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

If I'm not mistaken, this film is probably best remembered as the won that scored an upset victory over Citizen Kane at the Oscars by nabbing five out of the ten awards it was nominated for (the most signicant being best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography (black and white), and Best Art Direction (black and white). Donald Crisp also won for his acting, but that wasn't an upset over CK.

The story here spans a few decades and concerns a working class mining family named the Millers in Wales in the early 20th Century in a small community going through significant change. The story is told from the perspective of the youngest Miller, Huw (a very young, but impressive Roddy McDowall). Maureen O'Hara plays his sister, and she's also quite good, but then again, when is she not?

A lot of what goes on in the film is still relatable- socio economic change and hardships, and they affect they have on family life and dynamics, but, to be honest, as decent as this film is, it's not really all that special or significant. Ford has never made a film I haven't gotten some sort of enjoyment out of, but this is one of his weaker ones for me. Also,, I really start to lose interest after a while and become fidgety. The film never totally failed to lose my interest, but still, boredom began to set in.

That aside, the performances are good, the cinematography is pretty nice, and the music (especially the music) is quite wonderful. This film isn't amazing, but it's still pretty decently made and an okay variation on a theme, despite its flaws.
November 19, 2011
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Other than getting to see a young Roddy McDowall, there wasn't anything of interest in this movie. I did just watch the beginning, really, but it's a very long movie spanning 50s years of the character's life! And what a boring life it was. Maybe some people like these real life dramas, but not me.
September 29, 2010
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

It's a rare quality in film to be able to look back at the safety of youth and remember long dead family members in their healthiest days, but director John Ford does the near impossible thing of inspiring nostalgia for the good old days we never lived. Roddy McDowall stars as Huw Morgan, the youngest son in a big family of welsh coal miners. With the same rose-colored glasses all older people view their youth, the adult Huw recalls his childhood in idealized fashion, where family members don't fight and the men come home from work with a song on their lips. In a little picturesque coal mining town in Wales, the turn-of-the-century family all live and work together- a household of 9 (6 boys and 1 daughter) where all the men work in the mine and turn their weekly wages into the family pot. All except young Huw, who's much younger than the rest. Things all start to go downhill for the family when the miner's wages are cut and the workers decide to go on strike. The american minister (Walter Pidgeon- at least I think he's supposed to be american, as he doesn't attempt any sort of accent) is a gentle and duty-bound man who tries to keep his feelings for the Morgans daughter (Maureen O'Hara) in check. The trials and tribulations of this family at times remind me of a welsh version of "A Tree Grow in Brooklyn", only shot better. Seriously, the sets and photography are just beautiful. It's easy to see why it won the academy award that year (even beating out the greatest movie of all time, Citizen Kane).
February 13, 2010
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

    1. Angharad Morgan: Go thou and sin no more Jesus said.
    – Submitted by Jeff S (2 years ago)
    1. Huw Morgan: Men like my father cannot die. They are with me still -- real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever. How green was my valley then.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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  • So schön war mein grünes Tal (DE)
  • How Green Was My Valley (1941) (UK)
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