Thank goodness for libraries!. Our local public library offers literally thousands of movies in both the VHS and DVD formats. My wife and I enjoy the movies of the 1940's and 1950's and each weekend we pick up 3 or 4 films. This past weekend we got a chance to view a film neither one of us had ever heard of. "The Valley of Decision" is a 1945 film starring a very young Gregory Peck as Paul Scott and the lovely Greer Garson as Mary Rafferty.
The plot of "The Valley of Decision" revolves around Mary's decision to accept a job as a housekeeper at the home of the owner of the local steel mill. Mary's father Pat (played by Lionel Barrymore) is outraged when he hears the news. Pat Rafferty is a bitter old man was paralyzed as the result of an accident at the mill and blames the Scott family for his misfortune. Despite her fathers strong objections Mary goes to work at the Scott family compound. She needs the job!
The Scott's quickly become quite fond of the sweet and vivacious Mary and begin to treat her as a member of the family. Mary becomes especially close to Mrs. Scott (Gladys Cooper). Upon his return from a business trip overseas young Paul Scott meets Mary and falls head over heels for her. The feeling was mutual. About a year later Paul proposes to Mary. Despite her deep love for Paul she was totally unprepared to handle the situation. Given her social status Mary feels unworthy and believes that it would be totally inappropriate for her to accept his proposal. Rather, she chooses to accept an offer to move to England to serve as a housekeeper for Paul's sister Constance and her husband. Mary leaves town without even saying goodbye to Paul. Paul is crushed and cannot stop thinking about her.
Several years later Mary returns to Pittsburgh at the behest of Mr. Scott who has discovered for the first time how his son feels about Mary. It turns out that Mr. Scott has absolutely no objections to such a marriage. So much wasted time! Upon her return there is trouble brewing at the mill.
The plant has been closed by a bitter strike and now the company is considering bringing in strikebreakers. Knowing people on both sides, Mary offers to step in as a kind of mediator and it looks for all the world like the matter might be resolved. But events spiral out of control and a bloodbath ensues. It is a tragedy of unspeakable proportions.
I found "The Valley of Decision" to be an absolutely captivating film. The writing for this movie is superb and the acting first rate all around. This is a film I would definitely like to see again. Very highly recommended!
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The Valley of Decision (1945) is a film set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which tells the story of a young house maid who falls in love with the son of the local steel mill owner. Their romance is endangered when her family, all steel mill workers, go on strike against his father. It stars Greer Garson, Gregory Peck, Donald Crisp, Lionel Barrymore, Preston Foster, Marsha Hunt, Gladys Cooper, Reginald Owen, Dan Duryea and Jessica Tandy.
It was nominated for two Academy Awards (1946) for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Greer Garson) and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.