Often referenced simply as the film that beat out Citizen Kane (1941) for a Best Picture Academy Award, this touching tale of family bonds during life’s struggles more than stands on its own as one of John Ford’s most important films. The tale of a Welsh mining family living through strikes, mine disasters and catastrophic illness gave the director a chance to develop one of his favorite themes—the painful inevitability of changing times. It also allowed him to work with a trio of actors who would become an important part of his unofficial stock company, following him from film to film: Maureen O’Hara, Donald Crisp and Anna Lee. Initially, the film was to have followed its narrator, Huw Morgan, into adulthood, with Tyrone Power slated to play the older Huw. Twentieth Century-Fox executives were concerned this would make the film too long, but when screenwriter Philip Dunne saw Roddy McDowall’s test to play the young Huw, he declared the length problem solved: “They’ll never forgive us if we let that boy grow up.” The role made McDowall a major child star.
World premiere restoration reconstructed from the original camera negative and presented in collaboration with 20th Century Fox.
Dir. John Ford
In attendance: Maureen O'Hara