The Seventh Annual What A Character Blogathon: Sara Allgood

what a character

For the seventh year running, Aurora from Citizen Screen, Kellee from Outspoken & Freckled, and Paula from Paula’s Cinema Club, are joining together to co-host this blogathon. Their blogathon celebrates the great character actors found in films. Be sure to visit their sites to read all of the entries, I can’t wait to read them all myself. 

This is my first time taking part in this. I am really looking forward to finally being able to be a part of this wonderful event. I’ve decided to write two posts for this.

My first post celebrates one of the all time great character actresses. The name of this lady? It’s Sara Allgood. I think that Sara’s surname manages to perfectly describe the quality of all of her film performances. Sara was simply incapable of delivering a bad or dull performance.

Sara’s name may well be unfamiliar to some people today, but once you catch a glimpse of her warm and open face in a film, you won’t forget her in a hurry and I’m sure you’ll be eager to see more of her work.Sara Allgood is always a regular and welcome presence on the big screen for this classic film fan.

Sara Allgood 1

Formal photo of Sara Allgood. Image Source IMDb.

Sara appeared in so many classics over the years – The Spiral Staircase(the first film that I ever saw her in), The Lodger(stealing all the scenes she is in as the landlady), The Strange Affair Of Uncle Harry, Blackmail, How Green Was My Valley(deeply moving) and That Hamilton Woman(hilarious as the pushy mother of Vivien Leigh’s Emma Hamilton). 

Sara was one of those performers who you can never catch acting. She always gave such natural and convincing performances. She will command your utmost attention when she appears in a scene, even if she is doing nothing more than sitting quietly in the background. Sara is one of the best characters actors of all time in my opinion.  She often played mothers and housekeepers on screen. 

Sara was born in Dublin, Ireland on the 29th of November, 1879.  She was one of eight children. Sara joined The Daughters Of Ireland and studied drama. She worked predominately on the stage for much of her career. Sara toured on stage in America many times and would eventually move out to the States in the 1940’s. Sara Allgood died in America on the 13th of September,1950, after suffering a fatal heart attack. Sara was seventy years old when she died.  

Her personal life had much tragedy in it. Her father died when she was very young and one of her brothers was killed in WW1. Sara married her leading man on the stage, Gerald Henson, in 1916, sadly both her husband and their daughter died in the flu epidemic of 1918. Somehow she managed to carry on with her life after those terrible losses. Her sister Mary(stage name Maire O’Neill) also became a well known stage actress and appeared in some films, sadly the two sisters became estranged in later life.  

Sara’s film career began in 1929. Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, Sara ended up working with some of the greatest directors of the classic film era including John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Siodmak.

Sara is best remembered today for her performance as the strong Welsh mother in How Green Was My Valley


Sara and Roddy McDowall in How Green Was My Valley. Screenshot by me.

Sara is so convincing in her role in How Green Was My Valley, that you would swear blind that you were watching a real woman from the 1800’s. She has that radiating warmth, that unbreakable strength, and that inner kindness thing down so perfectly. She makes you love and admire her character and you believe that she is the glue that binds her mining family together. Whenever I watch this film, I never fail to be moved by the stoicism of her character, and I always marvel at how Sara so completely inhabits that character. 

I highly recommend Sara Allgood to anyone who has never seen her in a film before. She truly was one of the most gifted and natural actresses of the classic film era.I hope that my post will help to spread her name far and wide to those unfamiliar with her. 

Any other Sara Allgood fans here? What are your thoughts on Sara and her performances?

If anyone has ever seen the whole of the film Between Two Worlds, could you please tell me what it is like? I have only been able to see a couple of clips on YouTube one of which features a big speech scene for Sara. I long to see the full film due to Sara being in it, and also because the story intrigues me so much. 



22 thoughts on “The Seventh Annual What A Character Blogathon: Sara Allgood

  1. palewriter2

    Lovely article, Maddy! I really like Sara, too! She was so wonderful in How Green Was My Valley, as you said! I’ve lost count of how many movies I’ve seen her in, but she’s wonderful in all of them! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Nolan-Hall (@CaftanWoman)

    Over the years I have been so impressed with Sara Allgood on the screen that I wish I could have seen her on the stage as well. Certainly, How Green Was My Valley is a favourite performance and one worthy of her Oscar nomination.

    You asked about Between Two Worlds, I find it a very interesting and often moving updating of Outward Bound. Beryl Mercer played the role in the 1930 movie that Sara plays in the 1944 film.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. monstergirl

    Sara is one of the most endearing and strong character actresses of all time. Her performances added an extraordinary level of excellence to How Green Was my Valley, Between Two Worlds, The Strange Affairs of Uncle Harry, The Lodger and The Spiral Staircase –some of the finest suspense and dramatic films. And as you wrote, she worked with some of the most impressive directors. Thank you for paying tribute to this wonderful woman! Cheers, Joey

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mercurie80

    Great write up, Maddy! I think my favourite Sara Allgood role may be Bessie in Jane Eyre. It’s not a particularly large role, but she makes the most of it. I really can’t see anyone else in the role.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jordan R. Young

    Sara Allgood was renowned for her work at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, most notably appearing opposite Barry Fitzgerald in JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK–a role she reprised for Hitchcock.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Le

    I just saw her in One Touch of Venus and she was so lovely and natural as the innkeeper. She was also brilliant in How Green was my Valley. I didn’t know about all the tragedy she faced in her life, though.
    Great article! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person


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