The Valley Of Decision

  • 1945
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Romance

A huge, sprawling poor-girl-meets-rich-boy story set against the steel industry in Pittsburgh in 1880. Garson, the Queen of MGM, is an Irish lass who takes a job as a maid in the huge home of Crisp, a steel magnate. Garson's father, Barrymore, is totally against her doing that because he, a one-time steel worker, has been permanently crippled in an accident...read more

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A huge, sprawling poor-girl-meets-rich-boy story set against the steel industry in Pittsburgh in 1880. Garson, the Queen of MGM, is an Irish lass who takes a job as a maid in the huge home of Crisp, a steel magnate. Garson's father, Barrymore, is totally against her doing that because he,

a one-time steel worker, has been permanently crippled in an accident at the mill owned by Crisp, an accident Barrymore feels might have been prevented had the needed safety precautions been in place. Once inside the estate, Garson soon becomes invaluable to Crisp's wife, Cooper, and is beloved by

all four of their children, Peck, Thompson, Hunt, and even Duryea, who is a sneaky type. Garson helps Hunt through her various trials and is elevated in status from servant to confidante and friend. Peck and Garson fall in love, but she believes that there is no way a marriage could take place

because of the difference in their social classes. Crisp adores Garson and reckons she would make a fine wife for Peck, but the couple's happiness is short-lived; a strike takes place at the mill, and Garson's father backs the action, thereby sending any thoughts of immediate marriage onto the

slag heap. Crisp calls for some professional strikebreakers, but Garson tries to put out the fire by arranging a face-to-face meeting between Barrymore and Crisp. The strikers arrive, led by Barrymore, but then the goons arrive as well, and an incensed Barrymore rallies his men behind him. The

result is a free-for-all, with heads broken and noses smashed. In the turmoil, Barrymore and Crisp are both killed, and Garson feels responsible. She quickly leaves her employment and the love of Peck and spends the next decade a lonely woman. Meanwhile, Peck has married Tandy, a world-class

shrew. He is not happy with this marriage but has nowhere else to go. Cooper suffers a heart attack and asks for Garson to come to her side. Tandy is riled by this development, fearing that if Garson comes back into Peck's life, he may leave her. Cooper passes away, and now the steel company is

owned by the four children and Garson. Cooper's will had asked that her share of the mill be ceded to Garson because she knew in her heart that the young woman would not do anything to harm the family's interests. Duryea, Hunt, and Thompson would like to sell out, but Peck insists that they keep

the mill. Garson sides with Peck, then persuades Hunt to do the same. By this time Tandy hates Garson and verbally abuses her, causing Peck to become angry. The picture ends, leaving us some hope that Peck will leave Tandy for Garson.

Peck had established himself in DAYS OF GLORY and KEYS OF THE KINGDOM and was being wooed by a few studios (RKO and FOX among them), but he wanted to maintain his independence. Mayer appealed to him in one famous meeting in which the little mogul actually began to cry in order to get Peck to sign

an exclusive contract. Peck suspected that Mayer did that regularly and held out for a nonexclusive deal, which he eventually received. THE VALLEY OF DECISION was filmed entirely on MGM's huge back lot, and the realism of the sets is a tribute to the art directors and set decorators. Stothart's

music was nominated for an Oscar, and Garson received her fifth Best Actress nomination in a row for her work, with the prior accolades being given for BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST, MRS. MINIVER (winner), MADAME CURIE, and MRS. PARKINGTON. This marked Thompson's first picture. He replaced Hume Cronyn when

it became obvious that the diminutive Cronyn and the lanky Peck could never be perceived as brothers. This movie was a huge success, earning nearly $6 million on the initial release. It also won the Photoplay Gold Medal and was high on the "Ten Best" list of Film Daily. It was right after this

that Garson decided to alter the image that Mayer had given her. Over his vociferous objections, she chose to play a tart in ADVENTURE and made several more films which tarnished the carefully conceived image Mayer had built. Mayer, for all his chicanery and phony theatrics, was an old-line

producer who could judge things instinctively, and his feelings about Garson and the aura she projected were quite right. Her career never again flourished as it had when he was choosing her movies.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A huge, sprawling poor-girl-meets-rich-boy story set against the steel industry in Pittsburgh in 1880. Garson, the Queen of MGM, is an Irish lass who takes a job as a maid in the huge home of Crisp, a steel magnate. Garson's father, Barrymore, is totally a… (more)

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