Sometimes we remember better the films that undeservedly lost Best Picture (Brokeback Mountain). Some years, such as 1939, are packed with fine films, and only one can win (so The Wizard of Oz, Love Affair, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington lost to Gone With the Wind).
With modern hindsight, the 1941 Best Picture is an enormous upset—Citizen Kane, largely considered The Greatest Film of All Time, did not win. How Green Was My Valley, the John Ford-directed drama about a Welsh mining family, did. (Also nominated that year was The Maltese Falcon and Suspicion.)
Ford also won Best Director; Orson Welles lost Best Actor to Gary Cooper for Sargeant York. Valley was awarded Best Supporting Actor, Best Black-and-White Art Direction, and Best Black-and-White Cinematography. Today’s entry-level film classes expound on the virtue of Kane’s depth-of-field and cinematography.
But was How Green Was My Valley the Crash of its time? Probably not. Rated “Fresh” at Rotten Tomatoes with a 90% rating, the film is considered one of Ford’s best. The 1939 novel was awarded the National Book Award (after author Richard Llewellyn’s death it was revealed that he based his novels on interviews and had, in fact, spent very little time in Wales).
See for yourself and set your DVR: Valley airs tomorrow on Movies! at 5:20 a.m. and again on Sunday at 8 a.m.