When he angers Caligula (Jay Robinson) by buying Demetrius (Victor Mature), a slave he had wanted, military officer Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton) is exiled to Jerusalem. There, he encounters talk of a new 'messiah' named Jesus. When Pilate condemns this well-meaning man, Marcellus is placed in charge of the crucifixion. After the deed, he wins Christ's robe in a dice game. A strange event involving the garment shakes Marcellus to his core, causing Demetrius to steal it and disappear. Returning to Rome, Marcellus is charged by Emperor Tiberius (Ernest Thesiger) to retrieve the shroud and destroy it. Starting his search in Galilee, our hero begins to learn the teachings of Jesus. After coming in contact with former disciple Peter (Michael Rennie), Marcellus repents and returns to Rome to spread the word and win back his former flame Diana (Jean Simmons). Naturally, he too is condemned.
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I tried but I can't. Seeing Valley 60 years after its premiere only tells me that it hasn't aged well and maybe wasn't even supposed to. After all, America's paeans to ordinary people and their dreams hit their peak in 1941, hot on the heels of WPA murals and Dorothea Lange's photographs. And while we might be living in an age of renewed sincerity (the memoir, David Grey), Valley still strikes me some kind of virgin artifact, a relic cast in mythology before it was even born.
Continue reading: How Green Was My Valley Review
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