Valley Of Song

Valley Of Song


Reviewed by: Merlin Harries

Valley Of Song, set in the fictitious village of Cwmpant, boasts the singular claim to fame of playing host to the notable Bond mainstay Desmond Llewelyn, who for so many years delighted global audiences as the ingenious Q. The film is also one of the first on-screen performances of Kenneth Williams, before he was catapulted to fame by his off-the-wall characters in the Carry On series.

With Llewelyn and Williams in the backdrop, Valley Of Song finds London choirmaster Geraint (Clifford Evans) returning home to replace his deceased counterpart in Cwmpant. By sheer coincidence, as Geraint takes up the reins of the local choir he is charged with the dubious task of appointing local and much beloved vocal talents to roles in the prestigious upcoming village competition. Much hilarity ensues, as Geraint gets a taste of the somewhat murky waters of choral rivalry when he overlooks local mainstay Mrs Lloyd (Rachel Thomas) in favour of Mrs Davies (Betty Cooper), thereby ruffling the feathers of the local Lloyd and Davies clans who appear to both almost exclusively occupy the village.

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The central conceit of Valley Of Song rests upon the bristling friction between the two Welsh families, briefly soothed by the subplot of romance between Cliff Lloyd (John Fraser) and Olwen Davies (Maureen Swanson), who overlook their families’ rivalry in favour of fond affection. Aside from the rancorous angst over the forthcoming choral competition, their relationship provides a welcome respite, especially when coupled with the excellent performance by debutant Rachel Roberts, as the interfering local, Bessie Lewis.

Valley Of Song was only the second feature film for director Gilbert Gunn (Wings Of Mystery, The Strange World Of Planet X), who succeeds by allowing his players a degree of artistic freedom amid the picturesque Welsh countryside, where the apparent perpetual harmony is ruptured by the cantankerous and unashamedly eccentric residents.

The film offers an enjoyable if somewhat low-key story which, at 72 minutes in length, would make for a suitably harmonious Sunday afternoon. From the whistle of the steam trains, to the film’s score, provided courtesy of the London Welsh Association Choral Society, Valley Of Song is a pleasing if utterly unchallenging delight.

Reviewed on: 21 Feb 2013
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A village competition leads to rivalry and romance in a local choir.
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Director: Gilbert Gunn

Writer: Cliff Gordon, Phil Park

Starring: Mervyn Johns, Clifford Evans, Maureen Swanson, John Fraser, Rachel Thomas, Betty Cooper, Rachel Roberts, Hugh Pryse, Edward Evans, Kenneth Williams, Desmond Llewelyn

Year: 1953

Runtime: 72 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: UK


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