The Valley of Decision (1945)

The Valley of Decision PosterMary Rafferty (Greer Garson) comes from a family of poor Irish immigrants.  After living with her wheelchair bound father Pat (Lionel Barrymore) and widowed sister in a rundown house, Mary suddenly finds herself living with one of the most prominent families in Pittsburgh, the Scotts, when she lands a job as a live-in maid for them.  The Scotts own a steel mill where Pat had worked until he lost his legs in an accident at the mill.  Pat holds a grudge against the Scott family because of it and doesn’t approve of Mary’s new job, but she accepts the job anyway.

Mary has no problem adjusting to her new job at the Scott family home and she quickly becomes like another member of the family.  Matriarch Clarissa Scott (Gladys Cooper) considers Mary to be her closest confidante, she becomes a good friend to Constance (Marsha Hunt), and there’s an attraction between her and Paul (Gregory Peck).  Despite the attraction between Paul and Mary, it’s expected that Paul will marry gold digger Louise Kane (Jessica Tandy).  A year later, Paul proposes to Mary, but she turns him down because she doesn’t think it would be proper for him to marry a maid.

After Constance gets married, Mary goes to England to work for her and her new husband.  She stays with them for two years and while she’s gone, Paul’s father William (Donald Crisp) starts pressuring Paul to get married.  He hadn’t realized Paul was in love with Mary so when he finds out, he sends for Mary to come back to Pittsburgh immediately.  But when she returns, she comes home to find a strike happening at the Scott steel mill being led by none other than her father.  She tries to work out a truce between the workers and the Scotts, but a riot breaks out, killing Pat and William.  Mary is so heartbroken that she tells Paul they can never be married.

Ten years pass and Paul has since married Louise and Clarissa is nearing the end of her life.  Knowing Paul is the only one of her children interested in the family steel mill, she decides to leave her share of the mill to Mary in her will so she can help him keep the mill in the family.  Clarissa’s prediction comes true and after she passes away, her children start looking to sell the mill, with Paul being the only hold out.  Mary sides with him and helps convince Constance to change her mind.  With the mill saved, Paul decides to end his loveless marriage to Louise to be with the woman he’s loved all along — Mary.

The Valley of Decision is hardly a bad movie, but I just had a hard time getting into it.  Gregory Peck and Greer Garson are good, it’s not badly written, it boasts high production values, but it just didn’t grab my interest the way many other movies do.  But if you see it coming up on TCM, it’s worth giving a look. It may not have done much for me, but I can see how other people would enjoy it.