Valley of Decision, The (1945): Tay Garnett’s Period Romance, Starring Perennial Oscar Nominee Greer Garson and Gregory Peck

Tay Garnett directed The Valley of Decision, a period romance starring Greer Garson and Gregory Peck at the peak of their careers.

The Valley of Decision
The Valley of Decision.jpg

Theatrical poster

The movie was adapted by Sonya Levien and John Meehan from the 1942 novel by Marcia Davenport.

Set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1870s, the movie tells the story of a young Irish house maid who falls in love with the son of her employer, a local steel mill owner.

The romance between Paul and Mary become the subject of malicious gossip, when Mary’s family and friends, steel mill workers, go on strike against Paul’s father.

The romance is also defined by prevalent social problems of that era.  The steel industry is bought up, but the Scott family refuses to sell their mill. Paul, the only son who cares about the steel mill and the workers, delivers a stirring speech.

When rumors spread that the union is calling for violence and Will Scott Jr. wants to bring in strike-breakers, rocks thrown through the window hit Paul.  Mary then confirms that the union was not responsible for the attack.

The ending represents an ideological compromise in depicting the efforts of Mary, Paul, Mary’s father, and the union leader to reach agreement against obstacles.

The film was a huge commercial hit, earning $4,6 million in the U.S. and $3,53 million overseas, resulting in a solid profit.

Oscar Context:

The film was nominated for two Oscars, one for Greer Garson as Best Actress; the other for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. This was Garson’s sixth nomination and her fifth consecutive, a record for most consecutive Best Actress nominations that still stands, tied with Bette Davis.

Greer Garson as Mary Rafferty
Gregory Peck as Paul Scott
Donald Crisp as William Scott
Lionel Barrymore as Pat Rafferty
Preston Foster as Jim Brennan
Marsha Hunt as Constance Scott
Gladys Cooper as Clarissa Scott
Reginald Owen as McCready
Dan Duryea as William Scott Jr.
Jessica Tandy as Louise Kane
Barbara Everest as Delia
Marshall Thompson as Ted Scott


Directed by Tay Garnett
Produced by Edwin H. Knopf
Written by Marcia Davenport (novel), Sonya Levien, John Meehan
Music by Herbert Stothart
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Edited by Blanche Sewell
Distributed by MGM

Release date: May 3, 1945

Running time: 119 minutes
Budget $2,165,000
Box office $8,096,000


TCM showed the movie on September 29, 2020.