Friday, March 13, 2009

Mrs. Miniver (1942)

The Minivers are an English family about to experience war up close and personal. As the war comes to their idyllic little town, they struggle to keep a normal existence and hold the family together. Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson) manages to keep her young children safe and happy while she worries over the fate of her husband Clem (Walter Pidgeon) and her oldest son Vin (Richard Ney) as they do their part for the war effort.


The Minivers in a tiny tin can (aka bomb shelter)

I really liked this one. What a moving story about a family that is determined to not let outside events disrupt or tear them apart. One of the most touching scenes, to me, was the one pictured above. Mr. and Mrs. Miniver, with their two young children and of course, the cat, all cramped inside a tin can of a bomb shelter while bombs are landing on their home. Rather than be upset, they take their tea and try to chat with each other as they did after dinner every night before the war tried to take over. Just the iron will of this family is amazing - what courage it must have taken to carry on light conversation while your house is a mere, 100 ft away and most likely being blown to bits. At one point her young boy says to her, "Mommy, they nearly killed us this time didn't they?" I can't even begin to imagine how horrible something like that would be to live through. The movie almost makes me feel ashamed for my whole pampered generation.

It is no surprise that this wonderful movie cleaned up at the Oscars in 1943. Greer Garson won for Best Actress in a Leading Role and I can see why on that point too. I thought Greer Garson was absolutely lovely in this. So beautiful and charming. Such a woman of character who tried to be kind to all and keep her family foremost in her mind. Of course, Mrs. Miniver's taste in hats should be reconsidered, but that might be her only flaw. :-)

One odd note I made when I watched the film was how Mrs. Miniver and Vin seemed to be unusually close. I thought that in one of the scenes where Vin kisses his girlfriend and then kisses his mom, Mrs. Miniver. I made a quick note of "He seems to be more interested in kissing his Mom than he does his girl." Well, I had a good laugh when I was discussing the movie with a friend and he mentioned that after the film wrapped, Mrs. Miniver married her son! Well, I mean Greer Garson married Richard Ney. Maybe I was imagining it, but I challenge you to go find that scene and compare kisses, then come back and talk to me.

Lastly, I think many people have complained that this movie had a propagandic message and they think that wasn't appropriate. I honestly don't know what "these people" expect, really? Artists use their talents for what they are passionate about. They draw inspiration, for better or for worse, from the events going on around them. The propaganda claim is very true as William Wyler admitted that he made this film for that reason. He wanted the Nazis stopped and even personally joined the war effort after the film was over. I don't see that as any reason to discount this film, no matter what your view on the matter of "propaganda" might be. "Those people" are silly, in MY opinion.

Anyway, all in all, I really have absolutely nothing negative to say about this film aside from her hideous taste in hats. It is a great film start to finish. I highly recommend this one, without hesitation.

10 comments:

Jennythenipper said...

I love Mrs. Miniver. Yes, British war era movies a propaganda, but so what! There are few of them, that I don't love. In fact most of my favorite films were made in the UK in this period (or in the US with ex pat Brit actors) and all of them have an element of propaganda.

I agree, April, this is a wonderful movie. And LOL about the hats.

kda0121 said...

Actually, this is a Hollywood production, using a British cast and it won William Wyler his first of three Best Directing Oscars. A terrific flag-waving movie, plus I have a nice sized crush on Greer.

AbbyNormal said...

I can't believe it took me so long to watch it? It really was a great one.

Thanks to both of you for the comments!

jksalon said...

This is one of my favorites. Plus I love her hats. I wish we still wore hats.

AbbyNormal said...

Kristy - you are so much more glamorous than I am. You could pull off a great hat look. I always look dorky when I try it.

Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

I too, found it difficult to find a hat that would suit my face. But, if you can find a great Milliner, then they can show you which style/shape would suit you. I now know that I can never wear a hat/cloche straight on. It needs to be tilted to one side for it to look any good on me. Perhaps you could try that sometime, and see if it makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the cat? The last scene I rember Napoleon in is in the bomb shelter?????

Anonymous said...

What happened to the cat? The last scene I rember Napoleon in is in the bomb shelter?????

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly loved this move too. But I do agree that the kisses, between both Mrs Miniver and her son, & Mr. Miniver and his daughter in law -seemed a tad romantic.

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly loved this move too. But I do agree that the kisses, between both Mrs Miniver and her son, & Mr. Miniver and his daughter in law -seemed a tad romantic.