Valley of the Heart’s Delight (DVD Review)3 Dec, 2009 By: John Latchem
Stars Gabriel Mann, Pete Postlethwaite, Bruce McGill, Diana Scarwid, Tom Bower, Emily Harrison.
The noir runs thick in Valley of the Heart’s Delight, which explores the mystery of a fictionalized kidnapping and extortion plot that turns tragic for two men accused of the crime.
It’s the 1930s, and the Valley of the Heart’s Delight (today known as Silicon Valley) is seemingly run by Albion Munson (Pete Postlethwaite), who publishes the local newspaper and makes sure only his interpretation of the facts are printed.
His bias rankles young reporter Jack Daumier (Gabriel Mann), who is fired after Munson censors a story about union bosses getting murdered.
Working for a new paper, Daumier investigates the case of the kidnapped son of a wealthy department store magnate, only to be warned by Munson to stay away. Munson and the local sheriff are irked that federal authorities are involving themselves in the case, bringing dishonor to their small town.
Fearing the FBI will charge the suspects with only mail fraud, Munson organizes a “Committee of Justice” intended to hang the men, whom Daumier believes to be innocent.
Valley of the Heart’s Delight is an engrossing-enough procedural despite its over-reliance on narration — Mann as Daumier provides a voiceover for nearly the entire film. While this is a tired plot device, it does lend a literary feel to the story, which ties into the Daumier character’s love of old books.
This 2006 film is based on the kidnapping of Brooke L. Hart in San Jose in 1933, in which the alleged kidnappers were not only hanged, but their lynching was so widely promoted beforehand it was covered live as a news event by radio stations.