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The Stars Look Down

Overview

A. J. Cronin's novel was brought to the screen by director Carol Reed. The film is set in a northern England mining town far more realistically depicted than the back-lot Welsh village in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley. The parents of Michael Redgrave have labored long and hard so that their son can escape his grimy environs and make something of himself. While away at school, Redgrave is trapped into marriage by Margaret Lockwood, previously the lady friend of ill-tempered Emlyn Williams the actor was ...
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Overview

A. J. Cronin's novel was brought to the screen by director Carol Reed. The film is set in a northern England mining town far more realistically depicted than the back-lot Welsh village in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley. The parents of Michael Redgrave have labored long and hard so that their son can escape his grimy environs and make something of himself. While away at school, Redgrave is trapped into marriage by Margaret Lockwood, previously the lady friend of ill-tempered Emlyn Williams the actor was himself a product of the Welsh mining community. When Lockwood and Williams resume their romance, the disillusioned Redgrave returns home, where he becomes deeply involved in a labor dispute. He ultimately decides that it is best for all if he remains in the village of his birth, working tirelessly on behalf of his friends, relatives and neighbors. Denied the larger budgets indigenous to Hollywood films, Carol Reed invested a gritty documentary "feel" into The Stars Look Down; the film brought him international acclaim, serving as a stepping stone for even greater cinematic accomplishments. Curiously, Reed himself didn't subscribe to A. J. Cronin's opinions vis-a-vis the nationalization of the coal mines; he was simply attracted to the dramatic possibilities of the tale.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The Stars Look Down is a prime example of the sort of working-class drama that generations of filmmakers have tried to tackle with often mixed results. Such films are often overburdened by their own seriousness, but The Stars Look Down holds up remarkably well. Like many films of this genre, it can be accused of romanticizing the people it portrays, and there are some scenes that descend into blatant soapbox preaching. But the film also possesses a sincerity that helps it to overcome these distracting episodes. There is not a false note in the scene where the striking miners riot in the shop of the butcher opposed to the strike. Nor is there when the mine inevitably floods, which leads to an extended -- and emotionally gripping -- finale. It is at these moments that you can forgive director Carol Reed and the writers for indulging in the predictable domestic misfortunes of Davey and Jenny. Their story feels like a commercial concession, and their scenes distract from the more dramatically compelling story of the miners and their fight for safe working conditions. Nancy Price and Edward Rigby stand out as Davey's parents, using their body language and facial movements as much as their dialogue. And the presence of Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood, as Davey and Jenny, makes for interesting casting since just the year before, they were teamed as the bickering leads in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. Their roles here are miles from that film and speak well of their diversity as actors. The Stars Look Down may not be fully successful in avoiding some of the clich├ęs of the working-class drama, but it also continues to hold the power of its message.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/24/2012
  • UPC: 874757034898
  • Original Release: 1939
  • Source: American Pop Classic
  • Time: 1:41:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 52,798

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael Redgrave David Fenwick
Margaret Lockwood Jennie Sunley
Emlyn Williams Joe Gowlan
Nancy Price Martha Fenwick
Edward Rigby Robert Fenwick
Allan Jeayes Richard Barras
Cecil Parker Stanley Millington
Linden Travers Laura Millington
Milton Rosmer Harry Nugent
George Carney Slogger Gowlan
Ivor Barnard Wept
Olga Lindo Mrs. Sunley
Desmond Tester Hughie Fenwick
David Markham Arthur Barras
Aubrey Mallalieu Hudspeth
Kynaston Reeves Strother
Clive Baxter
James Harcourt
Frederick Burtwell
Frank Atkinson
David Horne
Edmund Willard
Ben Williams
Scott Harold
Technical Credits
Carol Reed Director
Reginald Beck Editor
James A. Carter Art Director
A.J. Cronin Screenwriter
Isadore G. Goldsmith Producer
Mutz Greenbaum Cinematographer
Henry Harris Cinematographer
Hal Mason Asst. Director
Hans May Score Composer
Ernest Palmer Cinematographer
J.B. Williams Screenwriter
Maurice J. Wilson Producer
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