John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY(1941),  being filmed on an 80 acre set in the Santa Monica mountains near Malibu.

The area in California is now the Malibu Creek State Park.

I always remember the first time  I saw this scene with the miners filing down the road past the houses, I thought I was in Wales!

The shot in the film;  the miners, led by Donald Crisp, descend form the mine.


The design of the village set by art director Richard Day was based on actual Welsh villages in the Rhondda Valley.

The Morgan family, with Donald  Crisp, Sara Allgood, Roddy McDowall and Maureen O’Hara.


On the set photo, with Patric Knowles, Sara Allgood, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp, Roddy McDowell, Maureen O’Hara, Walter Pidgeon (not in costume) and John Loder.


Walter Pidgeon, as the minister, was borrowed from MGM and Donald Crisp was on loan from Warner Brothers.


A company photo, with cast and crew. John Ford, Roddy McDowell, Donald Crisp, Sara Allgood, Rhys Williams.


Great cast, great film. One that lives in the memory.

Should it have been in colour? Maybe.

Were the accents a mixture of Scottish, Irish and English? Yes, but it didn’t harm the film (unless you are Welsh!)

The film won five Oscars including Best Picture, Director, Supporting actor (Donald Crisp), Best Art direction and cinematography.

Was  it better than THE LITTLE FOXES, THE MALTESE FALCON or CITIZEN KANE. Ah, that’s the question!


Roddy McDowell



7 responses »

  1. I find it distressing in a way that so many great films were made in a relatively short period of time. After looking at various lists I know that 80 percent of movies made then were not great in any way— but they sure made more great ones than are made now.

    • I guess we should be grateful that the Hollywood studios turned out so many memorable films amongst the many hundreds they made each year.

  2. When it comes to awards, “better” is problematic, but the quality of How Green Was My Valley and its fellow nominees is not to be questioned.

    Thanks for sharing those photos. Such a beautiful and emotional movie.

    • It must have been difficult in 1941 (and in other years in the classic era) to pick one film over another as Best Picture. All so different.

  3. As you say Vienna I wonder how Welsh audiences received the film on first release. Rhys Williams seems to be the only genuine Welshman in the main cast. Maureen and Anna started a lifelong friendship on this picture. Maureen called her daughter Bronwen after Anna’s character. Roddy McDowall also stayed in touch with Anna and always called her Bron.

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