Proud Valley, The

2455. THE PROUD VALLEY (The Tunnel) (1940-EngJand). With PAUL ROBESON. This stirring drama features the magnetic screen presence and magnificent baritone of the legendary African-American singer-actor Paul Robeson. The setting is South Wales and Robeson is cast as David Goliath. He is wandering across the countryside and eventually comes to a small coal mining village. David fits right into the community, especially after one of the miners who doubles as the local choirmaster overhears his lustrous singing voice which “floats…like thunder from the distance.” David is welcomed into the choirmaster’s home, and with his help secures a job in the local mine. Trouble comes when David’s benefactor is killed in a mining disaster. Next the pits are closed, resulting in unemployment and much strife and conflict within the community, When this film was produced, blacks in American-made movies were depicted as one-dimensional shuffling stereotypes. Had Robeson been appearing only in Hollywood films, he would have had no choice but to accept such roles. Instead he went to England, where he could play characters like David: three-dimensional and likable and even heroic, who could befriend white characters and be accepted as an equal. While the film remains fascinating for its depiction of a black man within a white world, it also works exceedingly well as an exceptional entertainment. 77 minutes. Drama