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The Corn Is Green

(1945 b 114')

En: 6 Ed: 7

Based on an autobiographical play by Emlyn Williams, a teacher in Wales helps a young coal miner learn and win a scholarship to Oxford.

In 1895 Lilly Moffat (Bette Davis) arrives at her house in Wales; but the Squire (Nigel Bruce) expected a man, and they clash. Boys walking home from the coal mines sing. Miss Moffat asks Mr. Jones and Miss Ronberry to help her start a school. Boys come from the mine in the afternoon, but many in town resist the idea. The Squire says he owns the area and will not have it. Miss Moffat finds one good composition and questions Morgan Evans (John Dall). He agrees to come at seven to learn. Jones teaches class, and Ronberry leads singing. Miss Moffat works with Evans and starts him on Greek. Men in a bar mock Evans and throw him out. Miss Moffat invites the Squire and is courteous to him. She asks him to vouch for Evans so he can apply to Oxford. Evans tells Miss Moffat he is going back in the mine because of how she has treated him. Bessie Watty (Joan Lorring) walks with him and sings to him; they kiss.

Miss Moffat teaches class, and many in the town are learning English. Jones calls on Evans and asks him to come back. Evans tells Miss Moffat that he wants to try for Oxford, and he studies. Singing boys escort Evans to his exam. Bessie comes to Miss Moffat and says she is going to have Evans' baby. Miss Moffat threatens to hurt her if she talks before the exam is over. The Squire tells Miss Moffat that he bought a building for the school. Evans takes the test.

The Squire and students go to welcome back Evans from Oxford, but he got off the train early in order to see Miss Moffat first. He describes his interviews and thanks her for teaching him. After the others come back, he and Miss Moffat go for food. Bessie comes in and says she got checks, had a baby, and that Evans is the father. Jones offers to marry her, but she says no. Mrs. Watty (Rosalind Ivan) suggests that Miss Moffat adopt the child. Bessie wants to marry her friend and swears Evans will never know. She says she did it to spite Miss Moffat. Evans comes in and says he will marry Bessie. A telegram comes, and Evans won a scholarship. Miss Moffat asks Evans to become a man. If he marries Bessie, she will probably leave him, and he will drink. She says she will raise the child, and he must not see her again. She says his duty is to the world. Evans makes the decision that makes her proud and leaves for the celebration.

This drama suggests that a person can find happiness by educating others to find a better life. The stark contrast is drawn between a life in the mines with drinking or an intellectual education at Oxford that could open boundless opportunity.

Copyright © 2005 by Sanderson Beck

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