By Arthur Flynn
When Darryl F. Zanuck bought the film rights to Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 best-selling novel How Green Was My Valley, William Wyler became the director. When Wyler withdrew after a dispute with Zanuck it was obvious that John Ford was the ideal choice to direct it.
Ford had already received acclaim for his powerful productions of The Grapes of Wrath and Tobacco Road. This would compete his social conscious trilogy.
Zanuck paid $300,000 for the rights to the novel. He originally intended the film to be a four-hour epic with a huge budget, to rival Gone with the Wind (1939).The novel was adapted for the screen by Philip Dunne on a budget of $800,000.
The fictional village in the film was based on Gilfach Goch where Llewellyn spent many summers visiting his grandfather, and it served as an inspiration for the novel. This claim was proved to be false as English-born Llewellyn spent little time in Wales. As it turned out he had gathered his facts from conversations with local mining families.
The film for 20th Century Fox lined up a strong production team headed by cinematographer Arthur Charles Miller, musical director Alfred Newman and editor James B. Clark.