Best Picture Review: How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Actually, more gray than green, considering the movie was in black and white.
Actually, more gray than green, considering the movie was in black and white.

It certainly has been a while since Lauren and I have taken the time to watch another Best Picture.  Some probably figured our project had come to an abrupt end.  But tonight, we got back in the mood to sit down and watch an old movie and popped in 1941’s How Green Was My Valley, a movie which beat out the likes of the classic Citizen Kane.  (1940’s Rebecca was not available on Netflix last we checked.)

The movie is based in a small Welsh village at the turn of the century, not to be confused with a Walsh village like Watertown.  It focuses on a young whippersnapper named Huw Morgan, by far the youngest of many children.  His brothers and sister are all fully grown, leading this viewer to belive Huw was an accident!

Anyway, the Morgans are a coal mining family, and the older brothers all side against their father and form a union to earn higher wages.  “Together, we are strong!” yelled one chap.  One night, Huw and his mother fall through the ice, somehow paralyzing them both from the waist down for an extended period of time.  Despite the doctors’ grim forecasts, they both learn to walk again in record time.

While the other boys may have lost their father’s respect by forming a union, Huw sticks by his dad’s side.  He goes to school and gets beat up on his first day, which prompts his father to hire a boxer to teach him how to kick the kids’ asses.  Huw becomes a man overnight, and in an odd scene, puts the moves on his dead brother’s widow three times his age… I think… I may have missed something.

Huw has the makeup to be a doctor or lawyer, but insists on following in the family footsteps of coal mining.  77-year spoiler alert!  The dad is killed in a coal mining accident, leaving young Huw to ponder many years later, just how green his valley was when the Morgans were all together, getting along, living the Welsh dream.

Overall, it was an okay movie.  Of the movies we’ve seen, I’d put it somewhere near the bottom of the list.  But as I said before, most all of the movies so far have been very strong, and the gap between the good and the bad is large.  How Green is in with the good movies, likely placing eighth right behind You Can’t Take It with You.

Next up on the list is 1942’s Mrs. Miniver.  Can’t wait!

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