Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Watching The Valley of Decision (1945)

I recently watched The Valley of Decision starring Greer Garson and Gregory Peck. It was definitely a treat, for the most part. Greer Garson, of course, I knew from Pride and Prejudice. And then there's Gregory Peck. Need I really say more?! The movie, as I've come to learn, was based on a novel by Marcia Davenport. Though I believe the movie only covers the first section or the first generation of the Scott family saga. (I think I'd remember if there was mention of World War I.) I'm basing this not on my own familiarity with the novel--though I'd love to read it if I can find it--but on the summary on Amazon and Wikipedia.

Like North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, it is a blend of workers' rights, strikes and unions, and romance. There are a few similarities between The Valley of Decision and North and South, but in many, many, many ways the two are completely different from one another. Both are set in the 19th century. Both are about mills--though one is a cotton mill, one is a steel mill. Both have good masters: Mr. Thornton in North and South and Mr. Paul Scott in The Valley of Decision. Both masters face rejection of marriage proposals--at various points. Both feature a strike and angry mob scenes. But it is how they are different from one another that matters. Of course, I could tell all. I'm tempted to list their differences, but I don't want to spoil the movie.

The Valley of Decision also reminded me of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. (With ONE very big difference.) The heroine is Mary Rafferty (Greer Garson) a young Irish woman who has just been hired as a maid for the Scott family. Her father, Pat Rafferty (Lionel Barrymore) is very, very, very angry and bitter. There is no one in the world he hates more than the William Scott (Paul's father). Her father, at one time, worked in Scott's mill, but he was injured on the job. The Scott family did do the right thing, they are providing for him and his family now that he can't work. But hate has poisoned him body and soul. So he's less than pleased that his daughter will be a maid in their household. But Mary has soon charmed herself right into the family. Especially with the son, Paul Scott. But also with the sister, who when we first meet her is a spoiled brat. Paul falls in love with Mary--as you might have guessed. And she falls in love with him. But she feels that they can never marry because of their different backgrounds. He's rich. She's poor. His family has social standing. Hers, well, her father is a mess to say the least. How can a maid really marry a master and be happy?

And that's just the beginning of this drama...

Watch The Valley Of Decision
  • If you love Gregory Peck, Greer Garson, Donald Crisp, or Lionel Barrymore. It also stars Jessica Tandy.
  • If you enjoyed Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton or North and South
  • If you enjoy romances with a lot of DRAMA
  • If you enjoy historical films with costumes

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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