Sara Allgood

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How Green Was My Valley Review


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If you were sitting next to me during a recent screening of John Ford's How Green Was My Valley, you'd probably ask "How Black is Your Heart?" After all, the movie won five Oscars in 1941, including Best Picture, and has a permanent home in the Good Honest Folk movie hall of fame. It's hailed as Ford's non-western masterpiece and the screen debut of Roddy McDowall. You might even be tempted to trounce me about the shoulders and cry "Get with it, old man!"

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.

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