Oct 15, 2009

The Valley of Decision

64 years ago today, Dot wrote in her diary:
“Got out of school and went downtown in search of a job. But— started back home and instead went to the Southtown and saw Don Juan Quilligan and Valley of Decision. Very good.”
I've never seen either of those films. Don Juan Quilligan appears to be a lightweight, long-forgotten, B-movie comedy. But I recently found clips from The Valley of Decision (see below). The 1945 film features Gregory Peck (in his third picture) and Greer (Mrs. Miniver) Garson as lovers across class lines in the world of 1873 Pittsburgh steel mills.

The movie's opening monologue, delivered by Peck, is particularly poignant. Some of it could have applied to Chicago, too, as the city was during the 1920s-40s, when Dot was growing up:
This was Pittsburgh in 1873,
Here on the hills lived the owners of the great mills,
And here I was born, in the house of my father [...]
Below, where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers joined to form the Ohio,
Steel was forged into rails and wheels,
To follow the paths of the covered wagons,
Into the future of a new America.
I can't say if Dot made the right decision--to go to the show instead of looking for a job. But she says this one was very good, and so when it comes out on DVD or turns up on TCM, I'll be there.

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