The performances, not only of Bette Davis but of newcomers John Dall and Joan Lorring, together with those of Nigel Bruce and others, capture attention and admiration far and above that of the story itself, which is somewhat slow in the first half. Several sequences could have been edited more sharply. While the exteriors of the Welsh countryside are almost entirely dreary and depressing, they reflect the mood of the Emlyn Williams play and its locale.
Davis, doing the emotional and serious-minded school mistress of the story, whose sociological ideals spur her to untiring efforts in raising the IQ of lowly Welsh mining folk, is cast in the kind of role she does well. Dall, her protege, is much less an admirable character, though interest stays with him all the way.
The youthful Lorring is also a very intriguing type. As the trollop Bessie Watty, she is particularly socko in the final reel, when returning to the village with the news that she has borne Dall’s illegitimate child.
1945: Nominations: Best Supp. Actor (John Dall), Supp. Actress (Joan Loring)