How Green Was My Valley (film)

1941 film by John Ford

How Green Was My Valley is a 1941 film about a close, hard-working Welsh mining family living in the heart of the South Wales Valleys in the 19th century. The story chronicles the destruction of the environment in South Wales coalfields, and the loss of a way of life and its effects on the family. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning five, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor.

Directed by John Ford. Written by Philip Dunne, based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn.
Rich is their humor! Deep are their passions! Reckless are their lives! Mighty is their story! (taglines)

Mr. Gruffydd

  • You've been lucky, Huw. Lucky to suffer and lucky to spend these weary months in bed. For so God has given you a chance to make the spirit within yourself. And as your father cleans his lamp to have good light, so keep clean your spirit, huh?...By prayer, Huw. And by prayer, I don't mean shouting, mumbling, and wallowing like a hog in religious sentiment. Prayer is only another name for good, clean, direct thinking. When you pray, think. Think well what you're saying. Make your thoughts into things that are solid. In that way, your prayer will have strength, and that strength will become a part of you, body, mind, and spirit. The first duty of these new legs is to get you to chapel on Sunday.
  • This is the last time I will talk in this Chapel. I am leaving the Valley with regret toward those who have helped me here, and who have let me help them. But, for the rest of you, those of you who have only proved that I have wasted my time among you, I have only this to say. There is not one among you who has had the courage to come to me and accuse me of wrongdoing. And yet, by any standard, if there has been a sin, I am the one who should be branded the sinner. Will anyone raise his voice here now to accuse me? No. You're cowards, too, as well as hypocrites. But I don't blame you. The fault is mine as much as yours. The idle tongues, the poverty of mind which you have shown mean that I have failed to reach most of you with the lesson I was given to teach. [He walks to the back of the Chapel to where Huw is seated] Huw, I thought when I was a young man that I would conquer the world with truth. I thought I would lead an army greater than Alexander ever dreamed of, not to conquer nations, but to liberate mankind. With truth. With the golden sound of the Word. But only a few of them heard. Only a few of you understood. The rest of you put on black and sat in Chapel. Why do you come here? Why do you dress your hypocrisy in black and parade before your God on Sunday? From love? No. For you have shown that your hearts are too withered to receive the love of your Divine Father. I know why you have come - I have seen it in your faces Sunday after Sunday as I've stood here before you. Fear has brought you here. Horrible, superstitious fear. Fear of divine retribution - a bolt of fire from the skies. The vengeance of the Lord and the justice of God. But you have forgotten the love of Jesus. You disregard His sacrifice. Death, fear, flames, horror and black clothes. Hold your meeting then, but know if you do this in the name of God and in the house of God, you blaspheme against Him and His Word.

Huw Morgan

  • I am packing my belongings in the shawl my mother used to wear when she went to the market. And I'm going from my valley. And this time, I shall never return. I am leaving behind me my fifty years of memory. Memory. Strange that the mind will forget so much of what only this moment has passed, and yet hold clear and bright the memory of what happened years ago - of men and women long since dead. Yet who shall say what is real and what is not? Can I believe my friends all gone when their voices are still a glory in my ears? No. And I will stand to say no and no again, for they remain a living truth within my mind. There is no fence nor hedge round Time that is gone. You can go back and have what you like of it, if you can remember. So I can close my eyes on my Valley as it is today - and it is gone - and I see it as it was when I was a boy. Green it was, and possessed of the plenty of the earth. In all Wales, there was none so beautiful. Everything I ever learnt as a small boy came from my father, and I never found anything he ever told me to be wrong or worthless. The simple lessons he taught me are as sharp and clear in my mind as if I had heard them only yesterday. In those days, the black slag - the waste of the coalpits - had only begun to cover the side of our hill, not yet enough to mar the countryside nor blacken the beauty of our village. For the colliery had only begun to poke its skinny black fingers through the green.
  • Someone would strike up a song, and the valley would ring with the sound of many voices - for singing is in my people as sight is in the eye.
  • Then came the scrubbing - out in the back yard. It was the duty of my sister Angharad to bring the buckets of hot water and cold. And I performed what little tasks I could as my father and brothers scrubbed the coal dust from their backs. Most would come off them, but some would stay for life. It is the honorable badge of the coal miner - and I envied it on my father and grown-up brothers. Scrub and scrub, and Mr. Coal would lie there and laugh at you.
  • After dinner, when dishes had been washed, the box was brought to the table, for the spending money to be handed out. No one in our Valley had ever seen a bank. We kept our savings on the mantelpiece. My father used to say that money was made to be spent, just as men spend their strength and brains in earning it - and as willingly - but always with a purpose.
  • Twenty-two weeks the men were out, as the strike moved into winter. It was strange to go out into the street and find the men there in the daytime. It had a feeling of fright in it. And always the mood of the men grew uglier as empty bellies and desperation began to conquer reason. Any man who was not their friend became their enemy. They knew that my father had opposed the strike and now it was they who opposed him.
  • Then the strike was settled - with the help of Mr. Gruffydd and my father. Work again. Work, to wipe out the memory of idleness and hardship. The men were happy going up the hill that morning. [The colliery gates are closed by guards, leaving some of the men on the outside and shut out.] But not all of them. For there were too many now for the jobs open, and some learned that never again would there be work for them in their own Valley.
  • 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.


  • Mrs. Beth Morgan: I have come up here to tell you what I think of you all, because you are talking against my husband. You are a lot of cowards to go against him. He has done nothing against you and he never has and you know it well. How some of you, you smug-faced hypocrites, can sit in the same Chapel with him I cannot tell. To say he is with the owners is not only nonsense but downright wickedness. There's one thing more I've got to say and it is this. If harm comes to my Gwilym, I will find out the men and I will kill them with my two hands. And this I will swear by God Almighty.
  • Ianto Morgan: We are not questioning your authority, sir, but if manners prevent our speaking the truth, we will be without manners.


Mr. Gruffydd: Where is the light I thought to see in your eye? Are you afraid, boy? You heard what the doctor said?
Huw: Yes, sir.
Mr. Gruffydd: And you believed it?
Huw: Yes, sir.
Mr. Gruffydd: You want to walk again, don't you?
Huw: Yes, sir.
Mr. Gruffydd: Then you must have faith. And if you have, you will walk again, no matter what all the doctors say.
Huw: [feebly] But he said, 'Nature must take her course.'
Mr. Gruffydd: Nature is the hand-maiden of the Lord. I remember on one or two occasions when she was given orders to change her course. You know your Scriptures, boy?
Huw: Yes, sir.
Mr. Gruffydd: Then you know that what's been done before can be done again - for you. Do you believe me, Huw?
Huw: Yes, sir.
Mr. Gruffydd: Good. You will see the first daffodil out on the mountain. Will you?
Huw: Indeed I will, sir.
Mr. Gruffydd: Then you will.

Mr. Gruffydd: Why do you think we of the Chapel talk rubbish?
Ianto: My remark was not aimed at you.
Mr. Gruffydd: Then aim it.
Ianto: Very well. Because you make yourselves out to be shepherds of the flock, and yet you allow your sheep to live in filth and poverty, and if they try and raise their voices against it, you calm them by telling them their suffering is the Will of God. Sheep indeed! Are we sheep to be herded and sheared by a handful of owners? I was taught man was made in the image of God. Not a sheep!
Mr. Gruffydd: First, have your union. You need it. Alone you are weak. Together you are strong. But remember, with strength goes responsibility - to others and to yourselves. For you cannot conquer injustice with more injustice - only with justice and the help of God.

Angharad: There's a man for you, spoiling his good handkerchief. Look now, you are King in the chapel. But I will be Queen in my own kitchen.
Mr. Gruffydd: You will be Queen wherever you walk.
Angharad: [pausing] What does that mean?
Mr. Gruffydd: I should not have said it.
Angharad: Why?
Mr. Gruffydd: I have no right to speak to you so.
Angharad: Mr. Gruffydd, if the right is mine to give, you have it.

Beth: [as two of her sons leave] America - my babies. This is only the beginning. Then all of you will go, one after the other - all of you.
Huw: I will never leave you, Mama.
Beth: Huw boy, if you should ever leave me, I'll be sorry I ever had babies.
Huw: Why did you have them?
Beth: To keep my hands in water and my face to the fire, perhaps.

Angharad: [after the church elders castigate an unwed mother] How could you stand there and watch them? Cruel old men, groaning and nodding to hurt her more. That is not the Word of God! 'Go now and sin no more,' Jesus said.
Mr. Gruffydd: Angharad! You know your Bible too well, and life too little.
Angharad: I know enough of life to know that Meillyn Lewis is no worse than I am!
Mr. Gruffydd: Angharad!
Angharad: What do the deacons know about it? What do you know about what could happen to a poor girl when she loves a man so much that even to lose sight of him for a moment is torture!

Mr. Gruffydd: You shouldn't be here.
Angharad: I couldn't spend another night without knowing. What has happened? Is anything wrong?
Mr. Gruffydd: Wrong?
Angharad: You know what I mean. Why have you changed towards me? Why am I a stranger now? Have I done anything?
Mr. Gruffydd: No - the blame is mine. Your mother spoke to me after Chapel. She is happy to think you will be having plenty all your days.
Angharad: [scornfully] Iestyn Evans.
Mr. Gruffydd: You could do no better.
Angharad: I don't want him. I want you.
Mr. Gruffydd: Angharad - I have spent nights too - trying to think this out. When I took up this work, I knew what it meant - it meant sacrifice and devotion and making it my whole life to the exclusion of everything else. That I was perfectly willing to do. But to share it with another - Do you think I will have you going threadbare all your life? Depending on the charity of others for your good meals? Our children growing up in cast-off clothing - and ourselves thanking God for parenthood in a house full of bits? No - I can bear with such a life for the sake of my work. But I think I would start to kill if I saw the white come to your hair twenty years before its time.
Angharad: [softly, with tears in her eyes] Why? Why would you start to kill? Are you a man or a saint?
Mr. Gruffydd: I am no saint, but I have a duty towards you. Let me do it.
[She comes closer to him, and with her hands on his shoulders kisses him, before leaving]

Dai Bando: A man is never too old to learn, is it, Mr. Jonas?
Mr. Jonas: [uncertainly] No.
Dai Bando: I was in school myself once, but no great one for knowledge.
Mr. Jonas: [angrily, shaking his cane] Look here, what do you want?
Dai Bando: Knowledge. [taking Mr. Jonas' cane] How would you go about taking the measurement of a stick, Mr. Jonas?
Mr. Jonas: By its' length, of course.
Dai Bando: And how would you measure a man who would use a stick on a boy one-third his size?
[throws Mr. Jonas' cane aside]
Cyfartha: Tell us!
Dai Bando: Now, you are good in the use of a stick, but boxing is my subject... according to the rules laid down by the good Marquis of Queensbury.
Cyfartha: [saluting] God rest his soul!
Dai Bando: And happy I am to pass on my knowledge to you!
[backhands Mr. Jonas, sending him reeling]
Dai Bando: Position again.
[Dai Bando and Cyfartha drag Mr. Jonas to his feet]
Dai Bando: Could I have your attention, boys and girls? I am not accustomed to speaking in public...
Cyfartha: Only public houses.
Dai Bando: But this - [backhands Mr. Jonas in the nose, sending him sprawling] never use. It's against the rules. Break a man's nose. Now then - [turns to find Mr. Jonas collapsed against the wall, unconscious] I'm afraid he will never make a boxer.
Cyfartha: No aptitude for knowledge.

Angharad: [about Mr. Gruffydd] How is he, Huw?
Huw: Not as he was.
Angharad: Is he ill?
Huw: Inside, in his eyes, in his voice. Like you.
Angharad: Please go home, Huw.


  • Rich is their humor! Deep are their passions! Reckless are their lives! Mighty is their story!
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